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Car industry innovations: what the boffins are planning for the future

Car industry innovations

Innovate or die is a famous catch phrase and nowhere is it more true than in the car industry. Not only do engineers work on developing cars that are faster, stronger and more economical than those currently on sale. They’re also intent on making them more user friendly. All the buzz might be about self-driving cars but there are a host of other car industry innovations coming to a model near you in the not-so distant future.

We’ve had unique access to a company that specialises in inventing equipment for the car industry. German giant Continental might be best known for making tyres but it’s also an automotive technology business. Every year its boffins spend countless hours and millions of pounds working to shape the future of motoring. Here are five of our favourite innovations.

The self-parking car

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Diesel and petrol car ban: what does it mean for Britain’s drivers?

Diesel and petrol car ban what does it mean for Britain's drivers?

The government’s announcement that diesel and petrol cars will be banned in Britain from 2040, as a way of tackling air pollution, has led to widespread confusion amongst drivers.

Common concerns include the impact on residual values of used diesel and petrol cars; the relatively high cost of new electric cars; whether hybrid cars will still be available; and how the industry and infrastructure will cope.

We try to tackle these concerns, and more, based on the limited information currently available.

Why ban petrol and diesel cars?

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Quiz: How well do you know the most famous people from motoring?

Quiz: How well do you know the most famous people from motoring?

From Henry Ford to Enzo Ferrari, Nigel Mansell to Bernie Ecclestone, these are the people who’ve made a meaningful contribution to the car industry, drivers and enthusiasts the world over. So we’ve devised a tricky quiz to see how much players know about each famous face from motoring.

Spanning car production, Formula One, sport, technology and safety innovations, the topics are varied. But if you have a healthy passion for cars, you stand a good chance of scoring top marks. So take the quiz, and then share your result with friends and challenge them to beat your score. Continue reading

Where to take your driving test if you want to pass it first time

Where to take your driving test if you want to pass first time

To many people, the driving test is a rite of passage. Like turning 16, heading off to university or arriving for the first day of work, ripping up the L-plates is something we all remember.

However, some drivers look back and feel a chill run down their spine. The driving test may have been one of the most stressful times of their life. And to make matters worse, it may have taken several attempts to pass.

All too often, that’s because they unwittingly sat the examination in an area with one of the lowest pass rates in the UK.

Believe it or not, at the UK’s toughest test centres, less than a third of candidates get their licence. The most successful areas see a staggering 80 per cent pass first time.

So the 1.5 million new drivers looking to pass every year should think carefully about where they take their theory and practical tests. Especially in light of the changes to the test, due to be introduced this December.

Plan ahead, and it could be as easy as mirror-signal-manoeuvre. Pick poorly and it could be more bump and grind.

Where’s best to take the driving test?

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New-car problems: infotainment and driver aids cause most trouble

new-car problems

The Niro is one model that helped Kia be named maker of the most reliable new cars (Picture © Kia)

New-car problems should be few and far between. You hand over a vast amount of money or sign up to expensive monthly payments and expect everything to be perfect. However, it seems things don’t work out like that. A new survey by respected consumer organisation JD Power reveals that while new cars are getting ever more reliable, there are still problems.

Unlike other surveys, which monitor how reliable cars are when they’re a few years old, the JD Power Initial Quality Survey concentrates on cars that have just left dealerships. It monitors and assesses the problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) within the first 90 days of ownership. The results give an accurate reflection of the new cars that are reliable… And those that aren’t.

What new-car problems do drivers face?

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Why are car repair costs increasing and what can we do to prevent it?

Why car repair costs are accelerating like a supercar

Experts are warning that the very equipment that’s meant to protect drivers is hitting them where it hurts: in the wallet. Increasingly advanced safety technology is sending car repair costs soaring.

Experts at Thatcham Research, the not-for-profit agency that works with car makers and the insurance industry, claim car repair bills have increased by 32 per cent over the last three years. The average repair bill is now £1678, says Thatcham. But what can car owners do about these increasing costs?

What’s causing car repair costs to rise?

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Could traffic lights with artificial intelligence end road congestion?

Could traffic lights and artificial intelligence mean the end of congestion 2

 

That familiar feeling of waiting for traffic lights to wake up and turn green could be a thing of the past thanks to new intelligent signals.

Currently the majority of lights on Britain’s roads are programmed to change at timed intervals. And with the number of signals growing from 23,000 in 1994 to 33,000 in 2014, it’s estimated traffic lights add two minutes to every car journey made. Incredibly, that’s calculated to cost the nation’s economy £16bn a year, or one per cent of GDP.

So what can be done about traffic lights and hold-ups? Experts say the answer is a new generation of intelligent traffic light.

Aren’t some traffic lights ‘smart’ already?

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Quiz: Think you’re a safe driver? Tackle these 10 common hazards

What is the Highway Code advice for a school crossing patrol?

Roads can be a dangerous environment. Drivers need to have their wits about them and their eyes out on stalks even on the briefest trip. From passing parked cars to negotiating zebra crossings, each obstacle represents a hazard that needs to be approached with a certain mindset and technique to ensure drivers, passengers and fellow road users stay safe at all times.

On longer journeys, there are more hazards and greater speeds, which can call for fast decision making. So it pays to brush up on the rules of the road, whether that’s by sitting down with a mug of tea and revisiting the Highway Code, or seeking more general advice and practical tips from expert organisations, such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) or Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

To help drivers stay on their toes, we’ve compiled 10 common hazards that are encountered on the road, and challenge all to see how well they tackle them.  Continue reading

In 200 yards, turn left to pass your driving test: learner drivers must safely use sat navs

The driving test is entering the digital age, after the government announced changes that are designed to reflect the widespread use of satellite navigation systems in cars.

Learner drivers will be expected to safely follow directions from a sat nav system or they will fail their driving test. And they will spend twice the amount of time – now 20 minutes – driving independently, without guidance from the examiner.

The changes are part of a package of revisions that will come into force from 4 December. The objective is to provide a more realistic assessment of driving on today’s roads. Continue reading

Shifting up a gear: rising cost of motoring hits drivers

Shifting up a gear: rising cost of motoring hits drivers

If you’re convinced that the cost of driving has been creeping up, you’re not imagining it. At least that’s the conclusion of new research, which says that even owners of the cheapest cars have seen everyday motoring costs creep up by 10 per cent, over the past year.

Research carried out by CAP HPI, the vehicle valuation specialist, looked at the running costs associated with owning a car, rather than the purchase price of the car.

The price of scheduled servicing and general wear-and-tear maintenance were calculated, as were bills for fuel (petrol or diesel), road tax and the drop in value of the car – known as depreciation. Once combined, they were used to produce a pence-per-mile figure.

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