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Posted by: RSSBOT
09-20-2023, 01:07 AM
Forum: NEWS - RSS
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New £230k Ford Mustang GTD is firm’s most powerful road car

Ford Mustang GTD 2024 front quarter

The new Ford Mustang GTD is essentially an IMSA race car made road legal

Fearsome GT3-based Mustang supercar will go after Lamborghini and Porsche at the Nürburgring

The new Ford Mustang GTD is a carbonfibre-bodied, aerodynamically optimised, track-ready “technological tour de force” that takes the crown as the firm's most powerful road car yet. 

It will be built in limited numbers from late next year and priced from around $300,000 (£234,000) in the US.

Autocar understands the UK will receive an allocation, but numbers and pricing remain to be confirmed at this stage.

The GTD is said to have been conceived “after hours” by “a handful” of engineers in an anonymous storage garage at Ford’s Michigan headquarters, with the aim of creating “a Mustang to take on the best of European sports cars”. 

Ford is targeting a sub-seven-minute lap time at the Nürburgring, a feat that would put the GTD on a par with European supercars including the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, Lamborghini Aventador SVJ and Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

Ford CEO Jim Farley said: “[The] Mustang GTD shatters every preconceived notion of a supercar. This is a new approach for us. We didn’t engineer a road car for the track, we created a race car for the road.

Ford Mustang GTD side

“This is our company. We’re throwing down the gauntlet and saying ‘come and get it’. We’re comfortable putting everybody else on notice. I’ll take track time in a Mustang GTD against any other auto boss in their best road car.” 

Designed and engineered in partnership with motorsport outfit Multimatic, which built the Ford GT supercar, the new arrival is effectively a road-legal reworking of the Mustang GT3 that will race at Le Mans next year. 

It has been named for the IMSA Sportscar Championship's GTD classification, for cars built to the FIA's GT3 specifications. 

Ford Mustang GTD receives power uplift to more than 800bhp

Ford Mustang GTD rear quarter

A targeted output of more than 800bhp from the supercharged V8 makes the GTD the most powerful Mustang yet created, outpunching even 2019’s snarling 700bhp Shelby GT500. It's even more powerful than the £1.4 million, track-only Ford GT MK IV revealed last year.

The bespoke 5.2-litre engine is larger than that fitted to the standard road-going Mustang and packs a suite of motorsport-derived modifications – including dry sump lubrication, dual air inlets and a titanium active-valve exhaust system (which generates “exceptional notes”) – in pursuit of Lamborghini-aping performance figures. 

Drive is taken directly from the back of the engine to a rear transaxle gearbox by a carbonfibre propshaft. The material reduces weight overall, but also reflects the fact that because it’s taking the drive directly from the engine rather than a gearbox, it spins at engine speeds of over 7500rpm. 

GTD hosts complex, race-honed suspension

Ford Mustang GTD rear

So too is the chassis radically different to that of the standard Mustang. Up front, the GTD's suspension set-up is a sophisticated take on the classic unequal-length double-wishbone design, with a single triangular wishbone at the top and two individual links at the bottom. The two front coilover suspension units also incorporate Multimatic’s Adaptive Spool Valve (ASV) damper technology, which can select from an array of damper settings on the fly in milliseconds under software control.

The coilovers have two coil springs each rather than the usual single spring. One is softer than the other, and for track mode, completely compressing it with a hydraulic mechanism increases the spring rate by leaving only the single, stiffer spring in play. Doing so also reduces the ride height by 40mm compared with the road setting. 

Ford Mustang GTD rear spoiler

The steering is rack and pinion and a hefty anti-roll bar runs across the front of the V8.

The eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox and rear suspension are mounted on a tubular steel frame in an altogether more race-like set-up, with horizontal in-board coilover units hooked up to the rear, integral-link double-wishbone suspension by pushrods and rocker arms. Like the front coilover units, the rears are based on ASV technology and are linked to the front. They are also fitted with two coil springs each.

Thanks to the rear-mounted transaxle, weight distribution is 50% front, 50% rear and there’s a variable traction control system the driver can adjust without moving their hands from the wheel.

Ford Mustang GTD badge

The GTD has a track that's nearly 100mm wider than that of the standard Mustang, which together with massive 325mm-wide front tyres (wider than the rear tyres of the GT) boosts grip and cornering stability substantially.

Stopping power is from Brembo brakes with carbon-ceramic discs all round – engineered to resist fade under repeated loads – and the rears are cooled by ducted air.

Styling inspired by GT3 racer

Ford Mustang GTD front wheel

Buyers are offered a choice of 20in forged aluminium wheels or optional magnesium items modelled on those worn by the GT3 racer.

The aero package is obviously lifted nearly wholesale from the GT3 racer, with a massive hydraulically adjustable rear wing, a vented bonnet, chunky air scoops, a beefy front splitter and a wind-cheating rear diffuser boosting downforce at speed and stability through bends. 

Inside, the GTD is closer to the standard Mustang than the race car, retaining digital displays and the standard infotainment system with over-the-air software-update functionality.

Notably, though, the rear seats have been removed in the name of weight-shaving, the front seats are swapped for track-ready Recaro buckets and the rotary dial, build plaque and paddle shifters are all 3D-printed using titanium recovered from retired F22 fighter jets.

Ford hasn't given a weight figure for the GTD, but the carbon body panels and stringent lightweight methods mean it's likely to tip the scales at substantially less than the 1768kg Mustang Dark Horse.

Additional reporting by Jesse Crosse

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Posted by: RSSBOT
09-19-2023, 11:12 PM
Forum: NEWS - RSS
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Jeep Recon is electric Land Rover Defender rival with near-600bhp

Jeep Recon no doors 1

The electric Jeep Recon can be optioned without doors... or a roof

American SUV brand's range will grow to seven models with Recon and Wagoneer S arriving in 2025

Jeep will take on the Land Rover Defender with the near-600bhp Jeep Recon electric off-roader as part of a big push to reinvigorate itself in Europe.

Launching in 2025 with a range of around 373 miles, the Recon will arrive as an unofficial electric sibling to the famed Jeep Wrangler

Sharing underpinning with the also 2025-bound Jeep Wagoneer S, the pair – along with the already released compact Jeep Avenger – will swell the brand’s UK range to seven models by the middle of the decade. 

This includes a fourth EV that CEO Christian Meunier has described as a look into the future of the brand. Covered teaser pictures indicate this will sit at the lower end of the lineup.

The Stellantis-owned American brand will go electric car-only in Europe in 2030. 

Jeep Recon Front

One of the most anticipated of those new models, the Defender-challenging Recon, will, like the range-topping Wagoneer S, be based on Stellantis’s new STLA Large architecture – making them some of the first models to be so. 

Although further technical details have yet to be released, a 0-60mph time of 3.5sec for both models has been confirmed.

Built in the US and released there first, the Recon will be offered and positioned as a raw take on off-road Jeeps of old, with options including removable doors and an open-top design, as on the Wrangler.

The Recon will sit alongside the Wrangler, confirmed Jeep’s European boss, Antonella Bruno, but the two cars will have slightly different sizes and positions in the range.

“The Recon in Europe will be a white-space car,” said Bruno. “It’s a unique car, very boxy and very capable. It will sit in a lower part of the [market] segment to the Wrangler.”

jeep wrangler

The Wrangler is offered outside of the UK as a plug-in hybrid, but Bruno said it wasn’t possible to engineer the current Wrangler 4xe in right-hand drive in this generation, so the off-roader will be the only Jeep not offered with an electrified drivetrain here by 2025.

“At a global level, we want to be the 4x4 leader in electrification,” said Bruno.

She noted that despite Jeep’s 4x4 heritage and positioning, it wasn’t targeting Land Rover as a rival in the UK and Europe, instead citing the likes of Volkswagen and Mini as brands from which it could conquer sales. 

Despite Jeep’s poor recent performance in Europe and the UK, Bruno believes the brand remains in good standing. 

“The brand is incredibly well known [in the UK],” she said. “The UK customer is ready to accept our new products with the Avenger.

"Starting with the Avenger and Grand Cherokee, we’re coming back to the UK with the right line-up. There’s confidence and expectation that we will change our presence in the UK.” 

Additional reporting by Mark Tisshaw

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Posted by: RSSBOT
09-19-2023, 08:32 PM
Forum: NEWS - RSS
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How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Lexus RZ 2023 charging front quarter

The details of EV charging and the cost of it remain hazy to some; we address the key questions here

If you’re considering ditching petrol or diesel, you might be wondering how much it costs to charge an electric car.

After all, they tend to be significantly more expensive than their combustion counterparts, so you’ll want to save as much money on running costs as possible. For example, you’ll pay about £20,000 for an entry-level Vauxhall Corsa with a petrol engine, whereas an electric Corsa starts north of £30,000.

The good news is that, if you plan recharges ahead and take advantage of the most EV-friendly electricity tariffs, huge savings are possible. The latter point is especially relevant, given a majority of current EV drivers do most of their charging domestically.

Even amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, this tends to allow them cheaper motoring per mile than those running petrol or diesel cars. Moreover, it gives the benefit of leaving home each morning with what is in effect a full ‘tank’, having topped overnight when electricity is typically at its cheapest.

Kia E-Niro charging at home

However, the gap between EV and internal-combustion running costs narrows if you need to rely on the public charging infrastructure. For instance, using a public charger you’ll pay 20% VAT compared with the 5% for people using domestic electricity – and that’s before you factor in the additional cost of using a high-power DC rapid charger. Indeed, filling up using these points can cost almost as much as brimming the tank of an equivalent petrol car.  Of course, there are cheaper options, but they’re not as quick and usually not as conveniently located.

So, with the UK government still planning to ban the sale of all new pure-petrol and pure-diesel cars by 2030, and with various global events continuing to rock energy markets, it’s more important than ever to take a deep dive into the costs of charging an EV.

Here’s Autocar’s complete guide to doing just that.

How much will it cost to charge my car at home?

Claire Evans charging a Fiat 500e

The vast majority of electric car drivers charge at home where it’s not only cheaper, but also far more convenient, as it allows you to start the day with a full battery. Obviously, this depends on the car you’re charging and your electricity supplier’s tariff, but even with the recent hikes in electricity prices, you will still be saving cash on every refill compared with a traditional petrol or diesel car.

For example, when plugging in a 64kWh Kia e-Niro with a claimed 281-mile range, it should cost around £20 for a full charge, based on the current average cost of 30p per kWh (according the government's energy price guarantee as of the second quarter of 2023). When the cap falls to 27p per kWh, between October and December, the cost of charging that e-Niro will be reduced by a further £1.92.

Pod point home wallbox

Some energy providers offer special tariffs for electric car owners, providing even cheaper rates for overnight charging. Octopus’s Intelligent scheme, which works with select EVs (or any EV connected to an Ohme ‘smart’ wallbox) gives a minimum of six hours of electricity per night at 7.5p per kWh. If you have a 7kW charger, that means you could recharge almost two-thirds of the e-Niro’s battery for just £3.15. If you’re able to complete a full 64kWh charge solely on that off-peak rate, it would cost just £4.80 – a fifth as much as on the energy price cap.

Moreover, if your home has solar panels, some chargers can use this ‘free’ energy to charge your EV, further reducing bills. There are even trials running for bi-directional charging that allows you to ‘sell’ any surplus power from your EV back to the grid.

Home charging for company car drivers is more complex, owing to the need to prove how the energy has been used. However, drivers can claim 9p per mile for business trips in electric vehicles, which is the easiest way to avoid administrative headaches.

How much will it cost to install a car charging point at home?

Cupra Born home charging

It's possible to use the factory-supplied three-pin plug charger when refilling your EV's cells, but charging times are lengthy and most manufacturers claim this device is for emergency use only. 

Either way, if you’re committed to EV ownership and you have access to a driveway or garage, it’s always best to use a dedicated wall-mounted unit, which can charge at up to 7kW, more than twice as fast as the three-pin alternative.

There are a number of different manufacturers to choose from, plus a choice of tethered (with a charging cable permanently attached) or untethered (allowing you to choose different sockets and cables for different cars) layouts.

Regardless of which one makes most sense for your EV, you will need a qualified electrician to check your household wiring is up to the task and then to install the box.

Prices vary, but you can expect to pay £500-£1000 for a home charger.

If you live in Scotland, bear in mind that the authorities there offer a £400 grant toward the cost of installing a charger.

Also keep in mind that if you're a home owner in a single-unit property and still haven’t bought your EV, a number of manufacturers are still offering a free wallbox and installation when you buy one of their electric models.

How much will it cost at a public charging station?

VW ID3 at Ionity charger

This is dependent on your car and the way you use it because there are numerous options when it comes to public charging stations. For instance, if you only need to charge when out and about infrequently, then a pay-as-you-go method is possible. It generally costs between 20p and £1 per kWh, with DC rapid chargers sitting at the higher end of the spectrum.

Instavolt works on this principle, requiring nothing more than contactless payment as when you need to top up, when it charges 75p per kWh. Other providers will charge an hourly rate (effectively a parking charge) plus a kWh charge for electricity consumed.

If you travel further afield more frequently, providers such as BP Pulse offer a subscription service with a monthly fee of just under £8, which gives you discounted rates (the brand reckons on a 20% saving compared with pay as you go) on many of its 9000 chargers, plus free access to a handful of AC units. 

You’ll need a smartphone app to access them (or an RFID card for some of the older units), but once connected, you will be billed at 63p per kWh on the rapid (50kW and 150kW) chargers and 44p per kWh on the 7kW devices. It’s also possible to use many of the chargers on a pay-as-you-go basis with a contactless bank card, with a rate of 59p per kWh for 7kW AC chargers or 79p per kWh for 50kW and 150kW chargers.

Renault Zoe at Gridserve charger

Rival oil company Shell has its Recharge network, which has been rolling out 50kW and 150kW rapid chargers at its filling stations across the UK. These can be used on a contactless pay-as-you-go basis on a flat rate of 85p per kWh for its 50kW chargers, as well as its faster 150kW and 175kW.

These prices remain unchanged if you sign up to the Shell Recharge account, which bills you monthly for your use but also allows you to use more than 250,000 chargers from more than 250 providers across Europe. It’s also worth noting there’s a £20 pre-authorisation requirement on your card each time you plug in. Shell claims all electricity for its chargers comes from renewable sources.

Some hotels and shopping centres offer free charging to customers. The widespread use of smartphone apps for all providers makes it easy to see where the charging points are, how much they cost to use and and whether they’re free, so you can easily tap into a provider that suits your needs and budget.

Many manufacturers also offer simplified charging by giving access to numerous providers under their own charging scheme. For instance, Audi’s E-tron Charging Service account gives access to nearly 20 different energy firms, while all new E-tron models come with a voucher that covers the first 1000 miles worth of charging for free.

Tesla Supercharger

Tesla owners get their own dedicated rapid-charging Supercharger network, plus a number of Destination fast chargers at locations such as hotels. Owners of a Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X registered before 2017 are eligible for free charging, while some owners received 6000 miles of free charging if they bought their cars between 15 December 2022 and 12 January 2023. 

For all other Tesla owners, there will be a charge: 49p during off-peak hours and 59p on-peak. Tesla also charges ‘idle fees’ if you remain parked up once you have a full battery, to reduce how long it takes for others to get connected. If the Supercharger station is more than 50% full, you will be charged 50p for every minute you’re parked in a fully charged car, rising to £1 if the station is completely full. 

Tesla has also made some of its UK Superchargers available to owners of other brands of EV. On 30 August 2023, to mark the 10th anniversary of its European Supercharger network, Tesla made all its charge points in the UK free to use for all electric cars for the day.

Tesla Model 3 at lamppost charger

If you need to charge an electric car at an apartment or flat and you don’t have access to a domestic wallbox, then the increasing number of lamp-post charging units will be of interest. Shell-backed firm Ubitricity is a major player with 7000 street-side chargers available, making it the biggest network in the UK.

With electricity trickling in at around 5.5kW it’s not the fastest, but you’ll pay 40p per kWh during the day and 37p per kWh between midnight and 7am. There’s a 35p connection charge and a £25 pre-authorisation fee to ensure you’ve got the funds for a full charge.

How much does motorway charging cost?

Porsche Taycan parked at Ionity charger

You will pay a little more to charge at a motorway service station, largely because most of the chargers there are fast or rapid units. Until recently, Ecotricity was the only provider at these locations, with around 300 chargers available, but it has now been joined by companies such as Ionity.

In the case of Ecotricity, it sold its Electric Highway network of chargers to Gridserve, which promises greater investment and more 350kW rapid chargers. Over the rest of the Electric Highway network, there’s the existing choice of both AC and DC charging options, all with a 45-minute maximum use time. There are only a handful of the 22kW AC fast chargers left, and these cost 49p per kWh. 

The rapid DC chargers offer 120kW, 180 kW or 350kW charging and can be all be used on a pay-as-you-go basis at both its motorway services locations and Gridserve Forecourts, which are essentially stand-alone hubs on main trunk roads and provide amenities such as cafés and newsagents. The firm also recently revised its prices, with all DC charging rated at the same 69p per kWh, although its pre-authorisation requirement has been slashed to just £1, with the exception of its Super Hub and Rugby Services in Warwickshire, where the fee is £35.

Rival firm Ionity costs a little more for pay-as-you-go customers, with a price of 74p per kWh, but commercial tie-ins with EV manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz entitle drivers of these cars to lower rates. On the plus side, all of its units are capable of charging at up to 350kW.

The price of rapid charging has risen significantly over the past year. In January, the RAC published data suggesting that average EV fast-charging costs had soared above petrol, increasing by 58% since May 2022.

Additional reporting by Charlie Martin

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Posted by: RSSBOT
09-19-2023, 06:51 PM
Forum: NEWS - RSS
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BMW i7

01 BMW I7 RT 2023 lead driving
Munich’s new flagship arrives as technology-laden electric luxury saloon to rival Mercedes-Benz EQS

Perhaps it’s the inherently traditional character of the full-sized limousine that has made it one of the slower vehicle classes to embrace electrification. The race is now on, however, to carve out a lead in the fully electrified luxury saloon market – and BMW is joining the vanguard.Mercedes struck first with the EQS at the end of 2021, before the Genesis Electrified G80 arrived in 2022. And in 2023, we will see the segment-defining Tesla Model S return to the UK market in its latest form, reportedly followed by right-hand-drive examples of the Lucid Air. An all-electric Audi A8 is expected in 2024. There’s clearly no time to waste for any firm to build an early lead in luring luxury car buyers who are ready to electrify.The seventh generation of Munich’s BMW 7 Series limo is designed to do just that. In UK showrooms now, the car has launched in all-electric form only, in the shape of this week’s road test subject: the i7 xDrive60. In due course, 7 Series buyers will also be offered two plug-in hybrid versions, and a range-topping M Performance model – the 651bhp M70 – has also now arrived.Unlike some of its opponents, this car shares its platform with combustion-engined alternatives – but, as we will explain, that doesn’t prevent it from offering what looks, in principle, like a very complete package of performance, range, space and features, all wrapped in the expected 21st-century luxury.Range at a glanceBMW’s 7 Series limousine now comes in long-wheelbase form only, and with either plug-in hybrid or fully electric power. Diesel engines are offered in some European markets, but not in the UK.All versions get four-wheel drive. While upper-level M Performance derivatives (M760e, i7 M70) are a trim level in their own right, on the lesser models the choice is between Excellence and M Sport trims, with additional option packs (M Sport Pro, Ultimate) also available.VersionPowerBMW 750e xDrive483bhpBMW i7 xDrive60536bhpBMW M760e xDrive563bhpBMW i7 M70651bhpTRANSMISSIONS8-spd automatic (750e, M760e)        1-spd planetary per motor (i7)      

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Posted by: RSSBOT
09-19-2023, 05:18 PM
Forum: NEWS - RSS
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2024 Mercedes G-Class takes aero cues from electric EQG

2024 Mercedes G Class front lead

The updated, ultra-rugged machine will arrive with a zero-emission equivalent with similar styling

Mercedes-Benz will launch a facelifted version of the G-Class off-roader next year, which will take learnings from its forthcoming electric EQG sibling to offer significant improvements in fuel economy.

The new EQG is set to arrive in 2024 and is conceived as a zero-emission equivalent to the ultra-rugged machine.

It features near-identical styling to the current G-Class, although Mercedes has introduced a number of bodywork revisions to make it as efficient as possible.

Dr Emerich Schiller, the boss of the G-Class business unit, said those changes will be carried over to a facelift version of the petrol-engined machine, which is set to arrive at a similar time to the EQG next year.

“With electric cars, aerodynamics are quite a big challenge,” said Schiller. “With the EQG our first task was to keep the design of the car, but to improve the aerodynamics as much as possible.

"When you really go into the details of the car, we have changed things. Most customers won’t see it, even if they stand in front of the car, but the change in some cases had a really dramatic improvement to the aerodynamics.

“We really improved the aerodynamics without changing the shape, and what we’ve learned with the electric version we will put to the combustion engine car. So when the facelift comes next year, the cars will have most of the aerodynamic improvements as well, with a tremendous reduction in fuel consumption.”

Schiller added: “It will be almost the same car. It comes with our philosophy: it’s not an electric car, it’s a G-Class and you can have it with a petrol engine, a Diesel engine or with electric power.”

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Posted by: RSSBOT
09-19-2023, 11:57 AM
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Mercedes GLC

mercedes glc review 2023 01 cornering front
Sales star of the Mercedes range is re-engineered to stay fighting fit

When the Mercedes GLC first arrived in 2016, we joked that the executive who decreed that its predecessor (badged 'GLK') would not be offered in the UK would be lucky to have remained in the job.Even back then, when the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport were already flying out of showrooms, it felt like quite an oversight not to offer the GLK in right-hand drive. In the seven years since, during which time the GLC has become Mercedes’ best-selling model, it seems even more confounding that the brand was so very late to the booming mid-size SUV party. However, Mercedes now seems keen to continue heartily making up for lost time. The second-generation GLC tested here was revealed last year and does very little to shake things up over its forebear. At a glance it can be difficult to tell the ‘X254’ GLC apart from the original, and the inherent message in that is clear: this is very much the same car to which buyers have taken so warmly, only updated and improved to better compete with new rivals. Under the skin is where the real changes lie. The model range is now hybrid-only, with mild- and plug-in hybrid powertrains. Developed alongside the new Mercedes C-Class saloon, the car also features rear-wheel steering, albeit as an optional extra, and is notably stiffer in its structure, which ought to improve dynamics. Inside, Mercedes claims to have used more desirable materials to further capitalise on the GLC’s reputation for relative opulence in this class. The range at a glanceModelsPowerFrom220d 4Matic194bhp£52,635300 4Matic255bhp£53,635300d 4Matic266bhp£61,175300e 4Matic308bhp£63,210300de 4Matic326bhp£65,460AMG 43415bhptbcAMG 63 S E Performance671bhptbcTransmission9-spd auto The GLC is well furnished with diesel options, which feels something of a novelty these days. Equally, when you boil it down, there’s not much variation: your choice is from four- cylinder diesel and petrol engines, either with a 48V mild-hybrid system or a full plug-in hybrid set-up. It’s a shame the straight-six 400d won’t be offered in the UK (for now), though upcoming AMG variants will add flavour to the range. Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic is standard across the range, as is one of three grades of AMG Line specification.

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Posted by: RSSBOT
09-19-2023, 12:53 AM
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Premium prices soar as insurers cover costs

Insurance Car crash lead

Autocar found that insurers are still quoting very different premiums for the same vehicle and driver

Cheaper policies fail to appear as insurers blame rising vehicle repair costs and personal injury claims

Despite insurers blaming recent sharp rises in the cost of motor insurance on inflation, many are continuing to charge wildly different premiums for the same vehicle, throwing doubt on the reasons given for the increases and putting some motorists at risk of paying much more for their insurance than other drivers. 

In its latest quarterly bulletin, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) reported that the average insurance premium paid by motorists between April and June this year was £511, an increase of 21% on the same period last year. 

Renewals were priced at an average of £471, while new policies hit £566. The figures quoted are for average prices paid rather than quoted, which tend to be higher and which, according to Consumer Intelligence, increased by 48% in the 12 months to June this year. 

The ABI blamed the increases on a number of factors: the £2.4 billion insurers paid out for vehicle parts and repairs, the costs of which have risen by 33%; the cost of replacement cars, which are up 29%; and on personal injury claims, which, in the first quarter of the year, were 14% higher than in the same period last year. 

Autocar has found that despite these universal increases, insurers are still quoting very different premiums for the same vehicle and driver. 

For example, for a Volkswagen Golf insured by a 63-year-old, Compare the Market generated 129 quotes ranging from £340 to £4464. Tim Kelly, an insurance expert and founder of Motor Claim Guru, says this proves that despite the inflationary pressures they claim to be under, insurers are still ‘cherrypicking’ business. 

“The issue of premiums rising because of inflation is an illusion on the part of some insurers who have increased them only to price themselves out of certain areas of the market for business reasons,” he said. 

He added they are doing this against the backdrop of declining investment returns. “Insurers make much of their profit from investing premiums, but this income has fallen, making them more exposed to the effect of inflation,” he said. 

“They could fill the hole in their revenues from the profits made during Covid when people were driving less and claims fell. But they’re passing all of the cost on to motorists.” 

Responding to Autocar’s research, Ursula Gibbs, director at Compare the Market, said: “Compare the Market’s latest data has revealed that average car insurance premiums have increased by up to £208 year on year, reaching £743 in June 2023.

The increasing price of premiums has been partly driven by a rise in the cost of claims for insurers as well as the rising cost of vehicle repairs. 

Drivers hoping to save money on their car insurance should compare prices online, where they could save up to £457 by switching their provider ahead of renewal.” 

The pressure on premiums was meant to be alleviated by tighter rules on whiplash claims that came into force in May 2021. The government said these would save motorists £1bn a year, equivalent to £35 per policy, but premiums have continued to rise since then. 

FCA rules on the pricing of motor insurance introduced in January last year were meant to achieve the same effect by ensuring existing policy holders no longer subsidised insurers’ business by paying higher renewal premiums than those offered to new customers.

But critics, including Ros Altmann, a Conservative peer and former government minister, say the move has simply prevented people who used to shop around from securing a low-price renewal. 

A spokesperson for the FCA said: “The ABI data for the first quarter after our rules were introduced showed average premiums fell by 5%. We recognised that some customers who routinely shopped around may no longer be able to access the lowest premiums.

"However, in our cost-benefit analysis we determined the rules would have a substantial net benefit on the average premium paid by customers as a whole.” 

The FCA also recognises that inflation remains an issue for insurers. In addition to the increases in vehicle repair expenses attributable to rising parts, labour and energy costs, a sharp increase in the cost of courtesy cars is forcing insurers to write off vehicles they would previously have repaired. 

Claims for vehicle theft are also increasing; earlier this year we reported how, in London, insurers have substantially increased the cost of cover for Range Rovers and other prestige SUVs, while some are refusing to insure them altogether. 

A rise in fraudulent claims is partly to blame (see above) and Chris Edwards from claims handling company QuestGates says this can in part be attributed to an inadequate police response to vehicle theft. 

“The police give claimants a crime reference number but rarely follow the incident up,” he said. 

“We suspect letting the insurer sort out the problem is easier.” Unfortunately for motorists, the result is higher insurance premiums.

Cost of living crisis blamed for increase in fake theft claims

While many theft claims are genuine, the cost of living crisis is believed to be behind an increase in fraudulent claims relating to stolen vehicles of all types and prices. 

According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), vehicle thefts rose 19% to 110,739 cases last year. 

Chris Edwards, motor development director at QuestGates, a leading loss-adjusting company that acts on behalf of insurers, believes that a “good proportion” of these claims are fraudulent and made by people facing financial difficulties. 

He said: “Inexperienced fraudsters think keyless theft is impossible for insurers to dispute. However, when we do our research, we find they have missed finance repayments and have hidden the vehicle away. We also suspect some people have their car stolen to order. 

We have various techniques, including voice stress analysis, for unmasking fraudsters, and often, when we apply them, the next day the ‘stolen’ car miraculously reappears.”

How to save money on your car insurance

1. Add an experienced driver, although they should also drive the car. A younger driver could save £240 doing this Increase your excess 

2. Describe your job accurately. Some descriptions, such as ‘cook’ instead of ‘chef’, are deemed a higher risk 

3. Consider taking out a black box or telematics policy 

4. Check out a pay-permile policy. If you’re a low-mileage driver, you could save £170

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09-18-2023, 09:01 PM
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Everything you need to know about hydrogen cars

toyota mirai front three quarter

Are hydrogen cars viable? We run through all you need to know about this alternative fuel

We’re all used to seeing cars powered by petrol, diesel, and even electricity in today’s world, but hydrogen cars are emerging and they could become a viable option in the future. 

In this guide, we’ll give you all you need to know about hydrogen cars, their pros and cons, plus what the future outlook looks like. 

What is a hydrogen car?

Hydrogen cars, or hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (often shortened to FCEV), are vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel. Hydrogen is stored in a tank at 700 bar, which generates high-voltage electricity to a small buffer battery which provides transient power for acceleration.

Cars draw their power from a fuel cell stack, where oxygen and hydrogen react to generate electricity, sending energy to an electric motor. 

Hydrogen cars produce zero tailpipe emissions, making them a much cleaner proposition, at least from the driver’s point of view. 

Hydrogen cars currently available

There are just two hydrogen cars on sale in the UK today, but some car makers have hydrogen very much in their plans for production in the future. In 1998, Mercedes-Benz produced the first road-legal FCEV with the A-Class-based Necar.

Toyota Mirai

The Toyota Mirai first went on sale in 2015 selling 10,000 units, before the smart saloon entered its second generation in 2021. The latest Mirai is equipped with a fuel stack capable of storing 5.6kg of hydrogen, with a WLTP range of up to 400 miles. 

Despite being heavier and larger than the first generation car, it takes just 8.7sec to travel from 0-62mph, and 25.5sec to hit 100mph. That’s thanks to a powertrain that produces 180bhp and 221lb ft of torque.

However, the Mirai wasn’t cheap when it launched in 2021. It commanded a price tag of £64,995, and you can’t currently order one directly from Toyota

Hyundai Nexo

Hyundai has been developing fuel cell technology since the 1990s, and the Nexo is the firm’s first production hydrogen car. 

Priced similarly to the Mirai at £65,995, the Hyundai Nexo’s powertrain produces 161bhp and 291lb ft. Meanwhile, 0-62mph is completed in 9.6sec. 

The Nexo can store up to 6.33kg of hydrogen, which supplies power to a 1.56kWh battery. It offers a range of around 380 miles, and we were impressed by its solid driving dynamics and rolling refinement. 

There are less than 30 Nexos on UK roads today, and, like the Mirai, it’s not currently available to order. 

BMW iX5 Hydrogen

BMW formed a partnership with Toyota based around hydrogen technology, and it plans to bring the iX5 Hydrogen to market in some form by 2030. 

With a 396bhp powertrain and 524lb ft of torque, it packs significantly more punch than the Toyota and Hyundai, backed up by its sub 6.0sec sprint from 0-62mph. 

Range stands at around 313 miles, and our drive revealed it was comfortable, capable and almost ready for the road. It certainly paved the way for BMW's entry into the world of hydrogen.

How do you fill up a hydrogen car?

Hydrogen cars can be refuelled using a pump at a hydrogen filling station. Hydrogen filling stations look much like a regular petrol or diesel forecourt.

Refuelling a hydrogen car is a simple task - just open up the fuel filler cap and insert the pump. According to Toyota, refuelling takes roughly five minutes. 

The hardest part of refuelling a hydrogen car in the UK is finding a filling station. Per#go-hydrogen_infrastructure" target="_blank"> UK H2 Mobility, there are just three hydrogen filling stations available for public motorists in the UK. 

They are situated in Hatton Cross, London, Tullos in Aberdeen and the Advanced Manufacturing Park near Sheffield. There are plans for filling stations to be installed in Stockton-on-Tees, Glasgow and the Welsh city of Newport.

British start-up Element 2 is also planning to open four filling stations in 2024. A further 30 pump locations will be identified with plans to install additional pimps by the end of the year.

Pros of hydrogen cars

One of the biggest benefits of driving hydrogen cars is that they produce zero emissions on the road apart from water. That means they’re a lot more environmentally friendly to drive than a petrol or diesel car, and would be welcome in the ever-increasing number of clean air zones popping up around the UK. 

Hydrogen cars are also faster to recharge than electric cars, refuelling in a fraction of the time compared to EV counterparts. Hydrogen is also the most abundant element on the planet. 

Some consider hydrogen cars to be more efficient than other powertrains, as hydrogen power uses between 40-60% of its fuel’s energy with a 50% reduction in fuel consumption. It’s not uncommon to see around 400 miles of travel on a single tank when using hydrogen. 

Unlike EVs, the range of a hydrogen car is not impacted by outside temperatures. 

Cons of hydrogen cars

While hydrogen cars can be more efficient and environmentally friendly for the driver, there are some drawbacks.

Emissions from the tailpipe might be zero, but there are significant environmental challenges with producing hydrogen on an industrial scale. 

Producing hydrogen at this level uses a significant amount of fossil fuels. According to tyre giant Pirelli, as much as 10kg of CO2 is produced for every kilogram of hydrogen. 

There are methods of producing hydrogen that involve using renewable energies, but these are currently far more expensive. Denmark, for example, produces hydrogen from wind, while Iceland makes use of geothermal energy to produce the element. 

Hydrogen cars are also quite expensive to buy due to their complexity, and obviously, the small number of refuelling stations is a significant black mark against this modern technology.

The future of hydrogen vehicles

Currently, hydrogen cars aren’t quite viable for the broader public. There are simply too few filling stations, and the hydrogen itself isn’t yet commercially or environmentally viable to produce en masse. 

But with investment from the UK government aiming to accelerate the implementation of hydrogen vehicles, we could see more car makers turn their efforts to this modern technology in the coming years. 

One such company hoping to drive the production of hydrogen vehicles is Williams Advanced Engineering, which revealed a platform for hydrogen electric vehicles in 2023.

It says the platform features a “cutting-edge" H2 fuel-cell system and a liquid-cooled battery pack with up to 576bhp available. 

Elsewhere, Alpine presented the Alpenglow concept at the 2022 Paris Motor Show but did not reveal any technical specifications. It serves as a vision of a hydrogen-combustion future, so it’s clear that carmakers are still interested in progressing with the technology. 

We will also see the application of hydrogen in motorsport. Toyota revealed the GR H2 Racing Concept in 2023, with plans to race the car in a Le Mans category specifically devised for hydrogen vehicles. It also presented the GR Yaris Hydrogen at the WRC, before the hatch appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, plus the Hilux Hydrogen in 2023, which boasts a range of 365 miles. 

For the general public, though, it looks like the future of cars in the UK will remain electric, at least until the infrastructure and hydrogen production methods have become more feasible.

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09-18-2023, 06:11 PM
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Clarity on autonomous vehicle laws needed ‘urgently’

autonomous 03

Transport committee says self-driving vehicles need more legislation

A group of MPs is urging the government to pass comprehensive laws for autonomous vehicles in order to prevent the UK falling behind other nations.

The cross-party Transport Committee says the government needs to legislate before the next general election because the current laws for self-driving vehicles (SDVs) are “archaic and limiting”.

Fully automated driving systems are not legal in the UK. They were mooted for a 2021 release date initially, before slipping to 2022, and are now being pencilled in for 2025.

The cross-party organisation has recommended legislating safety, security and liability as well as infrastructure and use of personal data.

Transport Committee chair Iain Stewart said: “Self-driving vehicles are a great British success story in the making and we have a competitive advantage over many other countries. 

“But all that hard work could be at risk if the government doesn’t follow through and bring forward a transport bill in the next parliamentary session, before the next general election.

“Widespread take-up of SDVs face various hurdles, including public confidence in their safety, security and their potential to have knock-on impacts on other road users. If the government is going to meet its ambitions for self-driving vehicle deployment, these knotty issues need to be addressed. 

“We believe the government should take a cautious, gradual approach, with SDV technologies only initially introduced in well-defined contexts, or else we risk unintended consequences.”  


MPs have questioned the government's proposed ‘safety ambition’ – that autonomous vehicles will be “expected to achieve an equivalent level of safety to that of a competent and careful human driver” – believing it is “too weak and too vague”.

The committee also said the government should set out a strategy for the future of human driving in a world of SDVs, including possible changes to driving tests and a plan to ensure all drivers fully understand SDVs.

Legal liability in SDVs will become more complex because it’s shared between owner and vehicle software operators. The committee has recommended the government think more about this.

The key

Vehicle technology specialist for Thatcham Research Tom Leggett said: “We support it. There are some good recommendations – the primary one being the data access. 

“We need access to the data of these autonomous vehicles to make them safe. We need to change how we share vehicle data between the government, manufacturers and the insurers. This is the key for making self-driving vehicles much smoother.

“The reason why we need this data is because we need to figure out if the car is driving or the human is. And the insurance companies need much more access to telematic than they currently have.”

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09-18-2023, 03:23 PM
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Why the tyre market is getting its biggest shake-up in a generation

Tyres 2

There are currently more than 700 tyre brands in the UK

Asian tyre brands are, like their car-making compatriots, bringing in high-quality, advanced products for lower prices

Asian tyre brands are set to create the biggest shake-up to the premium tyre market in a generation as they look to snipe customers from traditional marques, the boss of Pirelli has told Autocar.

This impending push, especially from China, will mean rivals will “quickly catch up, both in quantity and quality terms", predicted Piero Misani.

“In a competitive world, like the automotive one, you always have to watch carefully what competitors are doing,” he said.

“In the past, we were used to looking at the traditional competitors, but today we have to have a wider view. We can't neglect that there are newcomers, especially from Asia or China itself, that are extremely aggressive and are progressing fast.

“It isn't just a matter of innovation only, but it's a matter of speed of innovation, so they’re catching up.”

These new brands will be looking to follow in the success of their compatriots. 

A prime example is China's Triangle. A decade ago, it was used as ‘a typical economy alternative’ by some major European firms when demonstrating new premium tyres. Now it has launched its own high-performance Sportex range and is being tipped as one of the industry’s future leading brands.

Another, Japan’s Falken, which turned 40 this year, was once seen as a budget tyre but is now positioned as a mid-range brand and often embarrasses more expensive rivals in the respected independent tyre tests, according to European chief corporate officer Andreas Giese. As a result, the brand has subsequently gained original-equipment approval by several car makers, including Mercedes-Benz. 

This push from the far east isn’t a bad thing, though, according to Misani, because as the newcomers push to keep up, the established brands will have to drive forward harder to develop new technology and “again set a gap versus somebody who is catching up".

“That’s why we have to look at them carefully but also be fast with innovation in order to set a gap," he said. "They’re dangerous. They're investing a lot. They have a lot of resources. They’re clever. But you must be better than the others.”

One of Pirelli's new innovations is a remarkable one: tyres that talk to one another.

Called the Cyber Tyre, the goal is for rubber that will be connected to a data network, such as 5G, to alert other vehicles to upcoming road issues, such as potholes, wet surfaces or areas of low grip. These cars can then adjust settings accordingly to optimise safety. It also paves the way for a more advanced use within autonomous vehicles.

“We started a couple of years ago,” said Misani (pictured below, right). “We're already enlarging the application and we do think that it could be really the next step, the next revolution in the world of tyres.

Piero Misani Pirelli

“This is because the tyres have the capability of being able to transmit some important data for the control of the vehicle [as well as to other nearby vehicles].”

A very early form of this technology is already in use. Designed for the software-driven McLaren Artura supercar, the bespoke P Zero MC-C allows more details to be sent to the car and with greater precision than traditional sensors on the valve.

The supplied data is processed by software created by Pirelli and integrated into the car's electronics. Some information can be seen on the dashboard and the central display; other information is used by the car's electronics to calibrate the driver-alert systems.

In the case of the McLaren, some of these functions are for use on a race track too, with drivers notified about when the tyres have reached optimal temperature and when they need to cool them again.

Sticking to the track, Misani said Pirelli's ongoing 13-year exclusive supply deal with Formula 1 has helped it in some unusual areas of development, such as future electric car tyres.

“We talk about EV cars being heavy,” he said. “Something that we learnt to to deal with thanks to the Formula 1 is the extreme load on the tire. [F1 cars] aren't heavy cars, but they're cars with an extremely high downforce, which helps us to develop [these] tyres.

"These tyres are extremely efficient at absorbing downforces and transmitting torque. That's very similar to a [heavy] electric vehicle.”

Tyres could also be used to give bespoke characteristics to future EVs, said Misani, especially as more and more cars are based on related platforms and with similar high-range-targeting designs. 

“Absolutely the tyre could do this,” he said. “But why is this? There are performances that are intrinsic in the product, such as the noise, or the internal noise for an EV. But then there's something which is the flavour, the [ride] enjoyment, that is given by the tyre matched to the characteristic of the vehicle itself.”

These EV tyres also have to be different to their ICE-car counterparts, Misani said, to make them more hard-wearing, given the extra weight and higher immediate torque outputs of EVs.

This, he added, brings another plus: sustainability. Higher wear rates means fewer tyre changes, which is better for the environment. 

This outlook on sustainability can also be seen in Pirelli’s range of performance tyres. The Italian brand recently unveiled the P Zero E, a greener variant of its P Zero tyre, made with more than 55% bio-based and recycled materials but with the same wear rate as the rest of the range.

“It was a challenge for us,” said Misani. “Especially for a company like Pirelli that has a sporty image.

“So we decided to enter the world of sustainability. It's not something that we started right now; it's something we've been working on for years. This has brought us a product, the P Zero E, that is in our opinion the champion of eco safety.

"So that's why for us it's very important, because it's really the best [testament] of what is the ecosafety design for Pirelli. It's only the first step in a renewal of our range.”

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