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REACHING INFINITI
DS ARRIVES IN NORTHERN IRELAND
MAJOR FERRARI EXHIBITION AT LONDON’S DESIGN MUSEUM
book review – Drive Ireland
Saltmarine Cars wins recognition as top Northern Ireland dealership
ABARTH EXPANSION IN NORTHERN IRELAND
New Dash Cams From Garmin

Mercedes Takes The Top Honour
New Products from Garmin
Top of the Class in UK CAR of the Year Awards
Firestone Launches New Tyres
The Rise of the SUV
Garmin Launch Four New Sat Nav Systems
MORE BUMPS IN THE ROAD FOR NI MOTORISTS
SIMI PRESIDENT HIGHLIGHTS INDUSTRY’S SUCCESSES AND CHALLENGES
BMW Award for JKC
Mazda Roadster Takes The Top Honour
SERE Ltd of Belfast has been named SsangYong Dealer of the Year
Charles Hurst Leads the Way in Future of Car Retailing
New Northern Ireland law to improve standards for young drivers welcomed
SEARCH TO FIND 2016 TEXACO CHILDREN’S ART COMPETITION WINNERS LAUNCH
Hyundai i20 takes Northern Ireland Car of the Year Award
SHOCK DISQUALIFICATIONS
Northern Ireland Road Safety Awards launched
Scottish electric roads project recruits innovative consultant
NIIB Finance to sponsor Northern Ireland Car of the Year Awards
New safety qualification designed for people driving at work

 

By Jim Mc Cauley

The luxury brand Infiniti has now arrived in Northern Ireland, having developed its network in  50  markets in six continents. Headed by an established and well respected dealer principal with experience in both volume and nice models, the new dealership is headed by Stephen Stewart.
Introducing the marque initially from temporary accommodation alongside his established dealerships on Belfast's Boucher Crescent, he has recently moved into all-new premises on the same stretch of Belfast's motoring hob. Belfast Infiniti is typical of the marque's expansion in Britain and this dealership uniquely serves the whole of Ireland with around 30% of sales to date coming from Southern customers.
Although Infiniti has definite Japanese parentage, integrated design and manufacturing activities see inputs from across Europe. While the Renault / Nissan Alliance provides much of the design and manufacturing expertise, power units are supplied by Mercedes-Benz, all of which contribute to the European nature of the vehicles .In addition to the expanding dealership network, Infiniti is also building up its satellite service units to provide convenient support for new owners.

(Photo caption: Stephen Stewart, dealer principal)

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By Jim Mc Cauley

Despite the wide range of dealerships in the North-West's motoring hub at Campsie on the outskirts of Derry, it is only now that the first prestige brand has arrived. The Halliday family, who have now committed to the Citroen marque for three generations opted to stay with the French parent company for the recently launched stand-alone DS brand. And if you are curious about the DS name, a closer look at the badge reveals that it is formed by regrouping the traditional Citroen chevrons.
As a stand-alone dealership, the commitment by John Halliday and family directors shows their confidence in the new prestige marque with the new premises currently under construction and due to open in January 2018.
With a recent change in company management, expansion was part of the new business plan and DS perfectly suited their aspirations. Part of the enticement to commit to DS was the opportunity to visit the company's design studios in Versailles and see the future direction of the model ranges. The 'DS Store Eglinton' is Northern Ireland's only DS dealership and the first UK independently owned store. The 3000 sq ft build features a 5-car showroom with an expresso-bar style customer waiting area. While the announcement was made featuring a yet to be launched DS7 prototype, test vehicles will be available from 1st December with first deliveries scheduled for the end of January.
To emphasise the standing of the Halliday family commitment to the Citroen brand, they currently hold the 2016 National Dealer Excellence Award and one of the team, Andrew Miller, has been  elected as the first national dealer chairman for DS.

Photo captions – single: Gary Mc Whirter, DS Expert Adviser
Group – L to R – John Halliday, Matthew Mc Cafferty, Victoria Crawford, Andrew Miller, Conor O’Hara, Gary Mc Whirter

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The Design Museum, London has announced a major Ferrari exhibition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Ferrari
The exhibition ‘Ferrari: Under the Skin’ offers an insight into the life of Enzo Ferrari, unique cars and rarely seen documents. It also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the design, manufacturing and engineering of one of the most iconic car brands on the planet. The show, created in collaboration with Ferrari, celebrates 70 years of precision design, from the launch of the first Ferrari car in 1947 to the latest car production. The exhibition will open on 15 November 2017 and run to 15 April 2018.
This ambitious display will bring together early design models, drawings, letters and memorabilia as well as some of the most famous Ferraris to be seen on roads and racing circuits around the world. Together, these artefacts and original documents provide an unprecedented study of automotive design.
Key exhibits include rare personal memorabilia and archival material relating to Enzo Ferrari’s life, early cars, wind tunnel models and hand-sculpted models in both clay and wood.
Dedicated displays will explore the design development, engineering and manufacturing of Ferrari together with the company’s phenomenal attention to detail in every element of the cars’ design. The exhibition will also present Ferrari’s racing heritage, the ongoing quest for innovation as well as the glamour of their well-known clientele.
The Design Museum is the world’s leading museum devoted to architecture and design; its work encompasses all elements of design, including fashion, product and graphic design. Since it opened its doors in 1989 it has staged over 100 exhibitions, welcomed over five million visitors and showcased the work of some of the world’s most celebrated designers and architects including Paul Smith, Zaha Hadid, Jonathan Ive, Miuccia Prada, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray and Dieter Rams.

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A must to have in the glovebox of your car- Drive Ireland- the best guide for motorists exploring Ireland.
There are many great drives in Ireland and there is nothing better than heading off on a road trip with the open road in front, leaving traffic clogged town or city a mere memory in the rear view mirror.
Penned by Bob Montgomery this guide provides favourite roads and most interesting places encountered by the author.
Featuring key attractions along the way, however many of the drives are not so well known, so a sense of adventure awaits.
The guide features a handy index of routes, a section of 50 places you must not miss and a special chapter detailing Places of Motoring Interest, which is designed to appeal to the enthusiastic driver who can appreciate the charm of the Irish roads.
Highlights include the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, the Gordon Bennett Trail and the Game of Thrones Tour.
I found the colour coding of individual sections very useful when planning a journey.
This guide will be appreciated by motorists who come to tour in Ireland as there are many tips on licence requirements, speed limits etc.
With 461 colour photographs, published by Dreoilin Publications excellent value at 19.99 euros.

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Saltmarine

Car buyers in County Tyrone can be sure to receive outstanding customer service at Saltmarine Cars after it was recognised as one of the top dealerships in the UK. The motor group, comprising of Saltmarine Ford, Hyundai, Mazda and Saltmarine Used Car Centre, has been named in the ‘Best Car Dealers’ category of the 2017 Auto Express Driver Power survey.
Data gained from nationwide surveys by Auto Express and data analyst Statista reveals the top 1,000 new and used car dealers in the United Kingdom based on overall customer satisfaction.
Saltmarine Cars, based in Dungannon, scored 9.1 out of 10, ranking them in the top 40 car dealers in the UK and as the best dealer for overall customer satisfaction in Northern Ireland.
Neil Salt, commented, “It is fantastic to know that we have not only been ranked as the best dealer for customer satisfaction in Northern Ireland, but that our excellent customer service has also made us one of the top 40 dealerships in the UK! Our team within Saltmarine work hard to provide our customers with the best advice, service and information throughout the entire business.”
The results are coordinated from a combined result of two online surveys. The first survey, completed by new car buyers, rates dealers on factors including the demeanour of sales people, price negotiation, after-sales service and the likelihood of recommending to a friend or family member.
The second survey targets industry associates, including car dealers, garages, repair shops and auto parts suppliers.
As a ‘peer-to-peer’ survey, this allows those in the industry to identify which car dealers (other than themselves) they would recommend to their family and friends.
Based just off the M1 Motorway near Dungannon, Saltmarine Cars was established in 1969 by Neil Salt. The family run business stocks the latest range of Ford, Hyundai and Mazda models  in Northern Ireland.
The team’s dedication to providing excellent customer service makes the dealership a firm favourite for customers and long-standing part of the local community.

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The Donnelly Group have extended the Abarth brand to all of their  Fiat dealerships in Northern Ireland. Abarth was originally introduced alongside their Newtownabbey dealership, and now the brand is represented at their other Fiat dealerships in Dungannon, Enniskillen and Eglinton.
To mark the official launch on Saturday 22nd April, members of the Northern Ireland Italian Motor Club drove a selection of their classic cars the 50 miles from Dungannon to Eglinton, having breakfast at the departure venue and lunch on arrival.

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The new Garmin Dash Cam 45 and 55 offer high-quality eyewitness recording with automatic incident detection (G-sensor) to save footage on impact, while also adding GPS capabilities for detailed time and location data.
Advanced driver alerts such as forward collision and lane departure warnings are integrated in both new dash cam models to help prevent drivers from either driving too close to the vehicle ahead or drifting off-road.
Now with the inclusion of voice control, drivers can start and stop audio recordings and more through voice commands to help keep their hands on the wheel and focused on the drive.
  “The rise of dash cams has allowed us to align our new models with the needs of our customer base,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of global consumer sales. “With the Dash Cam 45 and 55, customers can do more than just record a drive. Now they can take advantage of advanced driver alerts through a discreet dash camera that seamlessly blends into a vehicle without obstructing a driver’s line of sight.”
   The Dash Cam 55 provides high quality video captured in 1440p, 1080p, or 720p with a 3.7 megapixel camera while the Dash Cam 45 captures 1080p, or 720p with a 2.1 megapixel camera.
Both models project excellent fields of view with a 2.0-inch LCD display screen. The addition of Sensory TrulyHandsfree™ voice control allows users to speak straight forward commands to the dash cam, such as “OK Garmin, save video,” and “OK Garmin, take a picture”, or even “OK Garmin, start Travelapse,” to activate the video capture feature that compresses hours of driving footage into minutes of highlights.
   Helping drivers stay alert while on the road is one of the main staples of the new Garmin Dash Cam offerings. In addition to forward collision and lane departure warnings1 that can help drivers avoid incidents, the new dash cams also provide red light and speed camera warnings.
What’s more, the models are outfitted for the very first time with the useful “Go” alert – a helpful camera-assisted feature that notifies distracted drivers when traffic ahead of their vehicle begins to move. For monitoring purposes, the new parking mode option (cable sold separately) allows the Dash Cam 45 and 55 to automatically start recording a parked vehicle’s surroundings if motion is detected while the engine is turned off.
   Ease-of-use plays a major role for drivers with dash cams, due to the extensive amount of information a driver can experience on and off the road with advancements in technology and ever-increasing road distractions.
As soon as the Dash Cam 45 and 55 are plugged in, they automatically start recording video without the need for time-consuming setups to start and stop video. With the introduction of built-in Wi-Fi, drivers can now wirelessly sync their videos to the free VIRB mobile app downloaded to a compatible smartphone to effortlessly view and share recordings with friends or even insurance agencies.
In cases where close-up photography is needed, the snapshot feature allows drivers to easily remove the dash cam from its mount to snap photos of vehicles or property damage.   

For video storage, the new Garmin Dash Cams include their own replaceable microSD card and can accept memory cards (Class 10 required) of up to 64GB. 
Available now, the Garmin Dash Cam 45 has a suggested retail price of € 169/£129.99 while the Garmin Dash Cam 55 is € 199/£149.99. For more information, visit www.garmin.com

 

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The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class has claimed the top honour at the UK Car of the Year Awards 2017, which are supported by Cox Automotive, whose UK brands include Manheim and Motors.co.uk. Having already been awarded the accolade of Best Executive Car when the category winners were announced at the beginning of January, the E-Class has added to the triumph by sealing victory in the overall vote. Further success for the German manufacturer came as its S-Class Cabriolet won the Best Cabriolet category.
“Mercedes-Benz has a long history of creating impressive saloon cars and the new
E-Class continues this trend and raises the bar in the executive vehicle sector. Stunning inside and out, it takes driver and passengers into the realms of luxury. The level of technology – and the attention to detail – at your fingertips is astounding,” said John Challen, director of the UK Car of the Year Awards. Fellow director, Alisdair Suttie, added: “The E-Class has it all and does it very well. Refinement, comfort and style that mean you want for nothing else.”
Commenting on Mercedes-Benz’s success in the UK Car of the Year Awards, Krishan Bodhani, head of smart and product management, Mercedes-Benz Cars UK, commented: “The E-Class is one of our core models; it’s at the very heart of our brand. When we unveiled the all-new car last year it showcased a host of innovative technology which makes it one of the most advanced cars in its segment. Together with its modern, comfortable cabin the E-Class presents a very desirable package – it’s great to see it getting the recognition it deserves.”                                                            
The UK Car of the Year jury were only too quick to highlight the E-Class’ strengths. Top Gear’s Tom Ford said: “The E-Class reigns supreme: endlessly entertaining
interior, top-notch quality, comforting and comfortable dynamics”. David Ross, editor of HonestJohn.co.uk, added: “If you’re looking for a near perfect car – surely this is it. The E-Class is just sublime. Comfortable, quiet and quick – it’s a very easy car to love.”
Fleet World’s Alex Grant claimed the Mercedes was “a technological showcase”. “Beautifully built and a pleasure to drive, wherever your journey takes you, the
E-Class resets the executive class benchmarks,” he added. Finally, The Telegraph’s Paul Hudson concluded: “Class, comfort and quality with a good range of engines.”
In the overall category, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class triumphed over the Volvo V90 and Jaguar F-Pace which finished in joint second place, with Hyundai’s IONIQ and the Ford Focus RS in joint third.
Tom Callow, head of external communications at Cox Automotive UK, said: “We are proud to support the UK Car of the Year Awards, which through its independent and experienced judging panel, provides a highly credible verdict for consumers on the best cars on sale in the UK today.”
Launched in 2014, the UK Car of the Year Awards are judged by 27 of Britain’s most-read motoring journalists. Each judge uses their expertise to pick out the top performer in 12 vehicle categories, before deciding the overall winner from their favourites in each class. After a successful driving day in 2016, judges were once again given the opportunity to try out all of the category-winning cars at a media event hosted by Cox Automotive at its Manheim Bruntingthorpe facility in January.

Full list of UK Car of the Year Awards 2017 winners:

Best Small Hatch – Hyundai IONIQ
Best Family Car – Toyota Prius
Best Executive Car – Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Best Luxury Car – Rolls-Royce Dawn
Best Estate Car – Volvo V90
Best MPV – Renault Scénic/Grand Scénic
Best Crossover – SEAT Ateca
Best Large Crossover – Jaguar F-Pace
Best Coupe – Porsche 718 Cayman
Best Cabriolet – Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet
Best Sports Car – Porsche 718 Boxster
Best Performance Car – Ford Focus RS

Pictured:Krishan Bodhani, head of smart and product management, Mercedes-Benz Cars UK (right), with John Challen, director of UK Car of the Year Awards

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by Ian Lynas

Garmin

 

Garmin has announced an exciting update to the Garmin Drive product line. Easy to use navigation devices that now offer free live services, providing the freshest, most updated content with industry leading driver alerts to increase situational awareness and encourage safer driving.
The announcement reaffirms the company’s commitment to refine and modernise PNDs with enhancements to its four innovative models: Garmin Drive, Garmin DriveSmart, Garmin DriveAssist, and Garmin DriveLuxe.
The entry-level Garmin Drive 51/61 offers versatile driver alerts, while the Garmin DriveSmart 51/61 adds smart connected features.
Customers looking to record their drive can step up to the camera-assisted Garmin DriveAssist 51, and users favouring style can choose the premium Garmin DriveLuxe 51 with a sleek metal design. 
 Like its predecessors, the new Garmin Drive navigators equally boast a number of driver alerts. This includes warnings for upcoming sharp curves, railway or animal crossings, alerts for users driving the wrong-way on a one-way street and more. Drivers also receive alerts for red light cameras, speed cameras and more.
Garmin Real Directions simplifies navigation by guiding drivers using recognizable landmarks, buildings and traffic lights.
  The entry-level Garmin Drive 51/61 adds free real-time services, such as live traffic, when wirelessly paired with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. After pairing to a smartphone, drivers can also enjoy live parking information from Parkopedia, the world’s leading parking service provider.
Parkopedia conveniently provides pricing indications and availability trends for on-street public parking as drivers approach a destination. Other real-time services such as LiveTrack allow drivers to share their location and drive data with friends.
Every road trip will benefit from the new preloaded TripAdvisor data that comes with all 2017 Drive models. Drivers can see ratings for popular travel points of interest, such as hotels, restaurants and attractions.
The Garmin DriveSmart 51/61 boasts all of the features from the entry-level Garmin Drive models, and adds built-in Wi-Fi for easier-than-ever map and software updates when connected to a Wi-Fi home network.
Customers can choose from a 5-inch model or the new 6.95-inch edge-to-edge touchscreen that offers an impressive high-resolution, easy-to-read display.
Keeping drivers connected is an essential asset of the Garmin DriveSmart series and is done through hands-free Bluetooth calling, voice-activated navigation, and smartphone pairing to receive text messages and app alerts right on the navigation display.
The 2017 Garmin DriveSmart models can be paired with a Connect IQ-compatible Garmin smartwatch such as the new fēnix5 (sold separately) to provide helpful compass guidance from a parked vehicle to a destination and back to the parked vehicle again.
Garmin DriveAssist 51 builds on the Garmin DriveSmart feature set and adds a built-in dash cam with audio recording to continually record and save video footage on impact with the included microSD card.
The integrated camera enhances advanced driver awareness alerts such as Forward Collision and Lane Departure Warnings. 
To take some of the guesswork out of navigating to new address locations, Garmin Real Visio shows a live camera view on the display with an arrow pointing out the specific destination.
The “Go” Alert notifies distracted drivers when standstill traffic ahead of their vehicle begins to move.
Garmin DriveAssist has the added benefit of being a personal companion if users encounter an incident during a drive. This model can send an automatic text to a predetermined contact and provide them with the vehicle’s location.
The stylish Garmin DriveLuxe 51 is a premium navigator that includes the full feature set offered in the Garmin DriveSmart series, framed into a beautiful and sleek metal design. This refined navigator is secured with a powered magnetic mount to easily stow and go.
Additionally, the navigator’s Travelapse feature can turn long hours of driving footage into a short video recap of the adventure. By downloading the free Garmin VIRB app, drivers can create Travelapse videos and share them on social media. 

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by Ian Lynas

Cars from ten different manufacturers have been hailed best-in-class after the first round of voting in the UK Car of the Year Awards 2017, supported by Cox Automotive.
With the winners of the 12 categories now decided, the successful models go on to battle it out for the title of UK Car of the Year 2017.
Winning their first UK Car of the Year Awards were Hyundai, Toyota, Renault and SEAT.
In the Best Small Hatch class, the Hyundai IONIQ beat off stiff competition to win, while the latest generation of Toyota’s Prius was voted Best Family Car. Renault’s Scenic/Grand Scenic has been named Best MPV, and in the popular category of Best Crossover the SEAT Ateca took the honours. The UK Car of the Year Awards 2017 proved fruitful for two German manufacturers, as Mercedes-Benz and Porsche claimed two prizes apiece.                                                      
In the Best Executive Car category, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class took top spot, while the S-Class Cabriolet was hailed as Best Cabriolet. The Porsche pairing of the 718 Cayman and Boxster were voted Best Coupe and Best Sports Car respectively.                After winning the title of Best Luxury Car in 2015 with its Ghost, Rolls-Royce once again triumphed in the category with the Dawn. At the other end of the driving spectrum, Ford reclaimed the Best Performance Car crown with the Focus RS, having previously won the category in 2014 with the Fiesta ST.
  Best Estate Car was judged to be Volvo’s V90 and the new Large Crossover category was won by the Jaguar F-Pace.  
The overall UK Car of the Year 2017 will be announced on 24th February 2017. Previous winners of the award are: BMW i3 (2014); BMW i8 (2015) and Mazda MX-5 (2016).
Full list of UK Car of the Year Awards 2017 category winners:
Best Small Hatch – Hyundai IONIQ
Best Family Car – Toyota Prius
Best Executive Car – Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Best Luxury Car – Rolls-Royce Dawn
Best Estate Car – Volvo V90
Best MPV – Renault Scenic/Grand Scenic
Best Crossover – SEAT Ateca
Best Large Crossover – Jaguar F-Pace
Best Coupe – Porsche 718 Cayman
Best Cabriolet – Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet
Best Sports Car – Porsche 718 Boxster
Best Performance Car – Ford Focus RS

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by Ian Lynas

Firestone is aiming to shake up the mid-price tyre segment in the UK with the launch of a top performing new touring tyre and van product. Roadhawk, a tyre built to perform longer and offer drivers best in class wet grip and best in class dry braking, will supplement the Firestone range along with the Vanhawk 2 tyre.
 The new tyre has been tested and proven by TUV SUD, the largest independent institute for tyre and wheel technology in Europe and has received the coveted TUV SuD Certification Mark.
With its unique tread pattern and specially-developed compounds, Firestone Roadhawk has been designed to provide the highest possible level of wet control. The tyre achieves the top ‘A’ EU-label grade for wet grip, best-in-class performance. This even beats many brands in the premium-price tyre segment.
In addition to its best in class wet braking, independent TUV SUD tests show that the new Roadhawk also provides best in class dry braking performance, with braking distances up to three metres shorter than competitor tyres.
Roadhawk is designed to provide long-lasting performance throughout the tyre’s life span. Independent TUV SUD tests show that the new tyre outperforms its competitors in the wet after 20,000 kilometres’ wear.
Roadhawk also offers up to 20% better wear performance than its predecessor Firestone TZ300. In addition, construction of the new tyre features a lightweight carcass tuned for low rolling resistance giving motorists the reassurance of lower fuel consumption.
The new tyre will be offered in a wide line-up covering 15” to 19” rim sizes with the first wave of sizes available across Europe from January 2017.
Meanwhile, the Vanhawk 2 retains the renowned durability and wear life of Vanhawk, but boasts significantly improved wet weather handling and fuel economy.
The result is a tough versatile light-truck tyre that gives drivers total confidence on the road, however much it is put through its paces.
Engineers have upgraded the pattern design to achieve EU label B grade in wet grip  whilst also tuning the tread and compound to provide excellent rolling resistance (EU label C for the full line-up) to help decrease fuel consumption and reduce carbon emissions.
And in further good news, Firestone has retained the robust Vanhawk construction and long wear life, meaning that the tyre can stand the test of intensive commercial use and keep on performing day in, day out.
Both products are available from reputable tyre dealers across Europe in 20 popular sizes and will be available in two additional sizes in the second half of the year.

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by Ian Lynas

 

 

Currently in the automotive world the fastest growing sector is with the SUV and no major player can really be in business without such.
So why the SUV, it is not simply a case of a vehicle which has the capability to tackle changing conditions of terrain, could it be style or what?
True to say that each and every person who commits to such a vehicle has his or her own reason. With the ladies it seems they feel more secure behind the wheel of an SUV.
For the sporty minded all of the trappings of their particular sport can be transported with relative ease and for those in the world of agriculture it doubles as a workhorse during the week and transport to church on a Sunday.
How did the SUV come to be in existence? Many will have different ideas, but such a vehicle is not exactly new, I can take you back to 1935 and the Chevy Carryall Suburban.
However for many years we relied on the saloon, the hatchback and the estate car; now all three seem to be in decline at the cost of the SUV.
Fair enough the SUV may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but just take a minute and look at the spread of manufacturers who now offer such. Even at the top of the tree, Bentley and Maserati have joined in while Ferrari is determined to say never, never.
We may joke about the SUVs on the school run, but when I speak to a family who have just joined the club, in the main they are delighted with their purchase and it is quite plain to be seen that in many cases it is looked upon as something of a fashion statement.
I have to hold my hands up high, I am a fan and the reason I see them as an ideal multi use vehicle.
Two of the most popular SUVs in the Northern Ireland market are the Tucson from Hyundai and the Volkswagen Tiguan.
The Tucson is currently a best seller in the Republic of Ireland while it is rapidly gaining popularity in our market while the latest generation Tiguan is coming on our roads.
The new Tiguan is bigger and better than the outgoing model and in terms of quality it has moved up market; it drives like an Audi and matches the quality of the latter, but is quite expensive and that may very well slow down sales.
When it comes to Hyundai with the Tucson it is very much a case of the South Korean company reading the market correctly and delivering exactly what the customer needs.
Recently the opportunity came my way to get behind the wheel of both SUVs and both had diesel power, still the number one choice of the Northern Ireland market and could I choose one over the other? The answer is no, if you desire a Volkswagen and legendary German build quality then the Tiguan is an excellent choice.
The Tucson has edgy styling, is extremely well equipped and is the perfect example of just how far the South Korean car industry has moved and is moving.

driven September 2016

 

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by Ian Lynas

Today a large number of cars come equipped as standard with a sat nav system, however if you want the full works then you are looking almost exclusively at the premium end of the car market.
Garmin has moved the story on with the introduction of a comprehensive new range Garmin Drive and this opens the door to even the most modest form of transport being able to avail of a state of the art sat nav system.
The new devices from Garmin offer so much more than simply directing from A-B they major on safety and all round awareness.
There are four intuitively named models; Garmin Drive, Garmin DriveSmart, Garmin DriveAssist and Garmin DriveLuxe with prices ranging from £99.99-£299.99.
The range offers a number of driver alerts to encourage safer driving and situational awareness. Even an alert of a dangerous bend ahead, a one way street and how often have we made that mistake.
You also receive red light and safety camera alerts, timesaving alerts re traffic situation ahead and even a warning when fatigue beckons.
Garmin Drive includes preloaded data re shops, restaurants etc and all models in the range offer lifetime maps. Via Easy Route Shaping you can modify a route to include preferred towns or roads by simply touching the sat nav screen.
All of the afore mentioned features are included in Garmin DriveSmart with added customizable notifications so you can display text messages and app notifications.
There is also voice activated navigation, Bluetooth for hands free calling and live traffic updates through the Smartphone Link app. The updates are every minute.
With Garmin DriveAssist comes a built in dash cam and this continually records and saves video footage on impact on a micro SD card.
The camera delivers more advanced driver alerts including the ability to notify distracted drivers when the vehicle ahead begins to move.
On the approach to a selected destination you get an on screen view with an arrow pointing to the specific stopping point.
As the name suggests Garmin DriveLuxe is top of the range housed in a forged metal design and powered with a sleek magnetic mount. This device delivers automatic dual orientation and even more features for driver awareness.
An added bonus is that all four models can be paired with a wireless backup camera to aid reversing.

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Hundreds of local drivers hit by pothole damage every year, local legal expert says

Hundreds of drivers across Northern Ireland are being hit with big bills every year for damage caused by potholes – but not everyone realises they don’t have to be out of pocket or off the road, a leading local legal firm has warned.
According to JMK Solicitors, almost 600 drivers in Northern Ireland made claims against the NI Roads Service for costs incurred as a result of driving over or through potholes – but that those directly affected by damage to tyres, wheels, tracking, suspension and bodywork could be three times this figure.
“Potholes are becoming an increasing concern to motorists in Northern Ireland, with many being needlessly forced to pay out hundreds of pounds on car repairs just to get back on the road,” JMK Solicitors’ Una O’Neill said.
“It’s a growing problem, particularly during and after the winter, and it remains a constant worry,” said Una. “In the past, many drivers didn’t claim because they feared a long and difficult legal road ahead for little return. However, because of the frequency of incidents, motorists are quite rightly demanding their money back.”
To help local drivers, JMK Solicitors have produced a quick-tip guide on what to do if your vehicle is affected by a pothole, whatever its size, to help get your money back.

  • Put hazard lights on and pull over where and when it is safe to do so.
  • Check for immediate damage to wheels and tyres. If the vehicle shows signs of vibrating or pulling to the side, call a recovery provider as more damage can be caused by driving any further.
  • Record your direction of travel and exact location.
  • If safe to do so, take photographs from different distances. If you have any objects in your vehicle such as a water bottle, position these inside the pothole to show perspective of the depth and width.
  • Make a complaint quickly and report any defects immediately. Complete the form on the NI Direct website.
  • Take your vehicle to a reputable garage for repairs and wheel alignment. If applicable ask them to note the cause of damage on your invoice. Keep all documentation in relation to your vehicle repairs, including quotes, receipts, invoices etc.
  • Ask neighbours in the area if they are aware of how long the defect has been present.
  • Check Google maps online to see if the defect was there when the area was last photographed. This can be helpful if Transport NI allege that the defect was present only recently. 

 

Una added: “As a specialist claims handler, it’s important for every driver to be aware that there have been over 1,500 successful claims for damage to vehicles caused by potholes made in Northern Ireland over the last three years.”

For more information, visit www.jmksolicitors.com.

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The SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) held its 63rd Annual Dinner in February  with over 700 Motor Industry guests in attendance. Addressing the audience, SIMI President Mark Boggan recalled that 2015 had been a strong year of recovery for the Motor Industry, with a huge overall contribution of €5.4 Billion to the Exchequer. This positive momentum has continued on into 2016, with all indicators showing a marked improvement and the prospects ahead look bright.

Commenting on the increase in passenger car sales he noted that this year's registrations are almost at the same level as the full year of 2009. The SIMI President attributed this to the fact that “Consumer confidence is currently at its highest in 10 years along with improvements in employment and the availability of finance consumers now feel they are in a better position to change their cars.”

He outlined that while prospects for the Industry are very positive he was mindful that, “Many retailers are still finding market conditions challenging and are facing a range of issues from profitability and legacy debt concerns, to the funding of stock for both new and used cars and that the knock on effect of increased car sales will take some time to filter into some other sectors in the Industry”.

Mr Boggan acknowledged that the recent COP21 Climate Change Conference highlighted the challenges facing Ireland in reducing our CO2 emissions by 20% by 2030. While the EU has placed tougher CO2 targets for new vehicles with the decision to move from the current CO2 emission figures to a system based on Real Driving Emissions. The SIMI President commented , “These are challenges that our sector can meet through the technology and vehicles that our Industry can deliver. The Industry is potentially a provider of solutions in relation to the environmental challenges facing the state and as such we are a key stakeholder.”

The SIMI President commended the work of the Road Safety Authority and recognised the Industry itself has an obligation to continue to support and work closely with the RSA on a range of road safety initiatives.

In closing the President remarked, “Members should be proud of the SIMI which has been representing the Industry since 1922 and they should be proud of the contribution that both their businesses and their Industry make to the local economy and to the country”.

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BMW Retailer of the Year photo:
L-R:  Richard Hudson (Sales Director BMW Group UK), Niall MacFlynn (Head of Business - JKC BMW), Rob Brydon.


JKC have got the year off to a flying start winning a BMW national award, when the Coleraine based dealership beat off competition from 150 BMW UK retailers for the second year running. The company's Head of Busniess, Niall MacFlynn, was presented with the BMW “New Car Retailer of the Year” award at the London ceremony. While this was an outright win for the dealership they were also shortlisted for the BMW “Marketing Retailer of the Year” and the prestigious BMW “Dealer of the Year”.

The “New Car Retailer of the Year” award recognises outstanding customer service and business performance during 2015. Speaking after the event, Mr MacFlynn said, “I am truly delighted for our Sales Manager Andrew Hutchinson and the New BMW team at JKC. Our new showroom at Millburn Road, opened in January 2015, has proved to be a fantastic facility in which to showcase the latest models from BMW.

“This is a real credit to the entire team at JKC BMW who are the real driving force behind our success, not only in New & Used Sales, but also in Parts and Service. This combination of the right brand, the right people and a loyal customer base will help us build and develop our business for continued success in the years ahead.”

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by Ian Lynas

The Mazda MX-5 has emerged as the overall winner at the UK Car of the Year Awards 2016, which are supported by Cox Automotive, whose UK brands include Manheim and Motors.co.uk.
Having triumphed in the Best Open Top Car of the Year category, the latest generation of the world’s best-selling sports car beat off strong competition in the final round of voting to claim overall victory.
The Japanese company achieved triple honours at the awards, with the Supermini of the Year title for the Mazda2 joining the MX-5’s twin accolades.
Launched in 2014, the UK Car of the Year Awards are judged by 27 of Britain’s most-read motoring journalists. Each judge uses their expertise to pick out the top performer in 12 vehicle categories, before deciding the overall winner from their favourites in each class.
New for 2016 was a media driving day featuring all category winners, hosted by Cox Automotive at its Manheim Bruntingthorpe auction centre in January.
“With the latest MX-5, Mazda has created the perfect roadster. A lightweight engaging, simplistic and even practical vehicle, which is an absolute pleasure to drive,” John Challen, director of the UK Car of the Year Awards. Fellow director, Alisdair Suttie, commented; the fourth generation is true to the original spirit of the MX-5: light, nimble and enormous fun.”
Commenting on Mazda’s success in the UK Car of the Year Awards, Jeremy Thomson, Mazda Motors UK MD; “I am delighted that the all-new Mazda MX-5 has added another prestigious award to its growing tally of accolades. The MX-5 embodies all that is great about our products. Its fun to drive character has earned it a place in the hearts of driving enthusiasts the world over.”
The MX-5’s huge appeal was underlined by many members of the UK Car of the Year Award judging panel. CAR’s Tim Pollard commented; no other car launched in 2015 advanced the class standards so comprehensively, the Mk4 Mazda captures the essence of MX-5ness brilliantly. It is a fabulously polished  and democratic  sports car”. BusinessCar’s Paul Barker added that the MX-5 is till peerless in its ability to provide motoring joy on a budge 
Ian Lynas of autonorthonline.com;  “down the generations the MX-5 has lost none of its core values it has simply grown in terms of drive quality and sheer motoring enjoyment”.
The Express’ Nat Barnes declared the MX-5; the best car I drove in 2015. The 1.5-litre is perfect in almost every way,” while judge Anthony ffrench-Constant exclaimed; “delicious to gaze upon, beautifully engineered, eminently affordable, and positive proof that motoring pleasure need not be predicated on pure power alone.”
In a tightly-fought contest for Overall UK Car of the Year 2016, the contenders ranging from the Smart Forfour to the McLaren 570S, the Mazda MX-5 triumphed over the Volvo XC90, with the Skoda Superb Estate taking third place.

Full list of UK Car of the Year Awards 2016 winners:

Best City Car – Smart Forfour
Best Supermini – Mazda2
Best Small Hatch – Vauxhall Astra
Best Family Car – Skoda Superb
Best Executive Car – Jaguar XE
Best Luxury Car – BMW 7 Series
Best Estate Car – Skoda Superb Estate
Best MPV – Ford S-Max
Best SUV – Volvo XC90
Best Coupe – Ford Mustang
Best Open Top Car – Mazda MX-5
Best Performance Car – McLaren 570S

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SERE Ltd of Belfast have been named SsangYong Dealer of the Year and were presented with their award at a glittering gala dinner held on board the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh.  The dealership was congratulated on selling more cars than any other in the SsangYong UK dealer network. Their achievement was made all the more significant having only held the franchise since September 2014.
Speaking at the awards ceremony Paul Williams, CEO of SsangYong Motor UK said, “Sincere congratulations to everyone at SERE - sales, aftersales and management. This is a great achievement, and a beacon to all our dealers to demonstrate what can be achieved.”
The dealership’s  general manager, Bernard McCotter accepted the award and added, “The SsangYong franchise has done extremely well since we launched just over a year ago.  We are very pleased to have received the Dealer of the Year award and are confident the franchise will continue to go from strength-to-strength.”

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Charles Hurst Group, Northern Ireland’s biggest car retailer, has unveiled a new customer-led concept which it believes is the future of modern car retailing.
 The unique approach has been launched at the group’s newly refurbished Nissan dealership on Belfast’s Boucher Road and represents an investment of £250,000.
 Charles Hurst, the only car retailer in Northern Ireland to boast the new showroom design, has replaced the traditional sales desk with a more customer-friendly, paperless environment which utilises modern technology to give the customer better control and a seamless purchasing experience.  
 Alan Thompson, Franchise Manager at Charles Hurst Nissan, explains the thinking behind the changing face of car sales:
 “Through the internet, customers are now better informed, connected, and empowered in their purchasing experience and knowledge. The majority of our customers are spending more time researching online, utilising social media and car comparison websites before they contact the showroom. This new approach allows the customer to retain their lead in the sales process and enables us to provide a more transparent and holistic service which is seamless from initial contact, through to sales and after-sales services.”
Customers are able to book appointments online and are then checked-in using iPad technology and greeted by a host before being shown to one of the comfortable consultation areas which have replaced the formal sales desks.  This new format enables the customer to take the lead with the use of iPads to select or design their choice of car and its unique specifications, which avoid the use of brochures and other unnecessary paperwork.
 The showroom interior is bright and modern with feature walls, Wi-Fi enhancement points, PlayStation to entertain children and plasma screens which showcase the latest car models.
 Colin McNab, Operations Director, Charles Hurst, said the new showroom underlined the company's commitment and continued investment in customer focused services which is up to date with changing trends.
 “Charles Hurst is constantly adapting and investing in modern car retailing and the new approach at Charles Hurst Nissan showcases the future of car sales which puts the customer first.
 “We have worked closely with Nissan to ensure the new showroom delivers a first class customer interface. As the leading Nissan dealer in Northern Ireland, it is important to us that we are at the forefront of the latest technology and customer offering, not just in terms of car models but also world-class service, and this new showroom and approach allows us to do that.”
 In addition to the new Nissan showroom, Charles Hurst has also invested £250,000, in the opening of its new Van Centre which has adapted the same concept in modern motoring retail and offers the biggest selection of new and used vans in Northern Ireland as well as a van rental service. 
 Charles Hurst Group is Northern Ireland’s largest car retailer. A division of Lookers plc, one of the UK’s principal automotive retail and distribution groups, Charles Hurst covers 20 franchises across seven sites, offering customers across Ireland the most comprehensive choice of new and used vehicles, parts and servicing.
 Founded in 1911, its headquarters are located in Belfast on a 20-acre site, making it the largest automotive retail park in Europe.
 With more than 700 employees, Charles Hurst is committed to exceptional customer service, and its mission statement and policy of "Customers For Life".

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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has hailed a new law passed in Northern Ireland that will help young drivers to be safer on the country’s roads.

The family safety charity has welcomed the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, which will come into force in 2018 and includes tougher drink-drive limits, a minimum six-month learning period, night-time restrictions on young drivers carrying passengers, and will enable learners to drive on the motorway.

It has long been recognised that alcohol impairs a driver’s ability and the bill will provide for two new lower drink-driving limits – 50mg/100ml for all drivers (as is the case now in Scotland) and 20mg/100ml for novice and professional drivers.

RoSPA has been calling for the introduction of measures across the UK to gradually introduce young people to the challenges of driving on today’s roads and help them to deal with the dangers.

Drivers aged between 17 and 25 account for about one in five road deaths (25 per cent) in Great Britain, while accounting for just  8 per cent per cent of licence holders – a statistic that needs addressing if the roads are to be made safer.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety for RoSPA, said: “Young drivers are more likely to be involved in road accidents than experienced drivers, and yet they drive fewer miles.

“We commend the government in Northern Ireland for taking this important step in trying to save lives on the road, and we would like to see similar measures introduced across the UK. There is scope to reduce, significantly, the number of casualties caused by new and inexperienced drivers.”

Last year RoSPA, backed by an alliance of other influencers, charities and organisations, wrote to ministers to request a Green Paper on young drivers, which would include potentially life-saving options such as graduated driver licensing (a phased driving experience for young drivers), and telematics (or black box technology).

The charity believes the production of a robust consultation document would be a significant development in the drive to cut the number of crashes involving young drivers.

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The search to find the young artists who will excel in this year’s Texaco Children’s Art Competition has begun. Last year one student from Co. Derry won a top prize in the event which is now in its 62nd year.
The closing date for entries is Monday, 29th February with judging to take place in March. Winners will be announced in mid-April, with prize giving to follow in May.  Details are available through Texaco service stations and online at www.texacochildrensart.com.

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COTY

The Hyundai i20 took the top spot at the 2016 NIIB Finance Northern Ireland Car of the Year Awards held  at Cultra Manor, part of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum on the outskirts of Belfast.
Speaking at the awards, Jim McCauley, Chairman of the Ulster Motoring Writers Association commented that, "The i20 has immediate appeal in terms of its sophisticated styling and high quality interior. And the admiration continues as you take to the road with its stable and secure handling and an excellent choice of engines.
The initial fear was that Hyundai had priced themselves out of the market with this car, considering the contrasting interior finish, soft touch materials and the high level of standard specification in SE trim, including safety elements. But the final surprise was the very competitive price for an overall quality package that represents excellent value for money, underwritten by a 5-year warranty."
The awards are sponsored by NIIB Finance, part of the Bank of Ireland.  NIIB's Regional Manager James Dempster presented the awards saying, "With NIIB Finance being the leading independent funding provider to the Northern Ireland motor market  I am delighted to have teamed up with the Ulster Motoring Writers Association, delivering the 2016 NIIB Northern Ireland Car of the Year Awards.  Being the local name in lending remains and has always been important to NIIB, complementing our existing GB challenger brand, Northridge Finance. To me, as the No1 independent lender these awards reinforce our commitment to the Northern Ireland motor trade,  their customers and the wider economy."
Tony Whitehorn, President & CEO of Hyundai UK commented,
“We are delighted to receive this award from the Ulster Motoring Writers’ Association.  The i20 has been and continues to be a very important car for the Hyundai brand. It is a strong competitor in the popular B-segment and since the launch of the New Generation i20 in January 2015, we have sold nearly 12,000 units across the UK. It is also our 3rd biggest seller in Northern Ireland behind the ix35 and i10."
Other category winners at the awards ceremony included the Mazda2 (Small Car category), Seat Leon (Family Car), Suzuki Vitara (Lifestyle SUV), Audi RS3 (Sports Performance) and the Mazda6 Tourer won the Executive Car of the Year.

 

Caption:  Terry McLean, Regional Manager, Hyundai UK; Jim McCauley, Chairman UMWA, Natasha Waddington, Head of Press and PR, Hyundai UK and James Dempster, Regional Manager, NIIB Finance.

 

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More than 5,000 young drivers in Northern Ireland ordered off the roads since 2011, shocking figures reveal. New Driver NI highlights key challenges as young men account for 87% of those banned from driving.
More than 5,000 young drivers - the equivalent of around 100 a month - have been ordered off the roads in Northern Ireland in the last four years, according to shocking new figures obtained following a Freedom of Information request forwarded to the Department of Environment, which oversees the sector.
The official figures obtained show that more than 5,400 people under the age of 25 were disqualified (i.e. banned from driving for a given period) between 2011 and 2014. Of these, more than 85% were young men. In 2014 alone, six times as many male drivers were banned compared with their female counterparts, making up the 1,172 drivers aged between 17 and 25 who had their licences revoked.
The majority of disqualifications were made because those charged had no insurance, had been driving with excess alcohol, or were found to be driving dangerously. The figures confirm that young people below the age of 25, and in particular young men, remain most at risk of death or injury on Norther Ireland's roads.
The figures  also reveal that between 2011 and 2014, almost 1,000 young drivers had their driving license revoked for receiving six or more penalty points within two years of first receiving their licence.
Commenting on the findings, Stephen Savage from New Driver NI said, “I was astonished to see so many young drivers being disqualified from the roads every year for a variety of very serious offences and the huge challenges we still have in attempting to educate, support and guide them during those first few years behind the wheel.
"We know how much time, concentration and effort is made in both practice and theory by those trying to obtain a licence in the first instance, which is why these figures make such difficult reading. Clearly, more guidance and a regular reminder on the basics are still needed to ensure everyone's safety.
"We also know that the cost of insurance for new drivers can be a huge challenge and that many are tempted to avoid addressing the issue. For everyone's sake, we are urging all young drivers to make sure that they are properly covered for the vehicle they are driving and to be acutely aware of the rules around driving with alcohol or drugs, using a mobile phone and what constitutes dangerous driving."

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First call for NI Road Safety Awards nominations

Northern Ireland’s first Road Safety Awards have been officially launched, kick-starting a nationwide call for nominations for those deserving of recognition for the contribution they make in helping to reduce the number of injuries and deaths on our roads.

Entries for the competition, which are sponsored by leading accident management specialist, CRASH Services, and supported by the Road Safety Council NI, will recognise the work taking place within schools, emergency services, voluntary, public and private sectors across eight categories.

Details of how to enter are available at www.crashservices.com/niroadsafetyawards, which includes eligibility criteria. Winners will be announced at the inaugural awards ceremony at Cultra Manor on Friday 27th November as part of Road Safety Week.

Awards will be presented to individuals, businesses, educational institutions and community groups who have demonstrated a commitment to keeping Northern Ireland’s roads safe, and those within their communities, with entries accepted in each of the following categories:

  • Primary School Project
  • Secondary School Project
  • Driving Instructor
  • Emergency Services Person
  • Voluntary Sector Organisation
  • Best Public Sector Project
  • Business Award
  • Lifetime Achievement Award

 

The closing date for entries is Friday 6th November at 6pm.

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The TEV Project, a Scotland-based social enterprise designing the roads of the future for electric transport has appointed a senior consultant to its team to drive the project forward. Dr David Beeton, managing director of Urban Foresight, a UK based think tank focused on future cities, has joined the project and  will help to foster collaboration between likeminded stakeholders from universities, government and the private sector to advance the implementation of TEV.
The TEV Project (Tracked Electrical Vehicle) is a non-profit, open source transportation project bringing together universities, governments, companies and individuals to develop future-proof transport infrastructure. TEV consists of an electrically powered lane, where electric and hybrid cars can travel indefinitely without the need for charging and without using their batteries.  Electric cars and fleet vehicles will drive on a pre-fabricated, dedicated lane under full automatic control. This will allow passengers to travel safely at high speeds which, in turn, will enable vastly greater passenger carrying capacities compared with traditional motorways.
Developed by open-source as a social enterprise, the TEV Project is the vision of Will Jones, a respected inventor, an expert in battery design and founder of Philadelphia Scientific, a leading provider of products and services for industrial batteries and their infrastructure, operating from North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific.
Dr Beeton has an impressive track record in developing strategies that allow transport concepts to break into the accelerating electric vehicle (EV) market. Director of E-cosse, the public private partnership to advance EV adoption in Scotland, and leader of the EV4SCC collaboration platform for the European Commission, Dr Beeton is at the forefront of UK EV innovation.
Commenting on his appointment, Dr Beeton said, “I’m delighted to join TEV at such an exciting period in the project’s lifetime. With projections showing there will be more cars built in the next 20 years than have been built ever, issues of sustainability and congestion will need to be focal to government decision making in years to come.
“The car makers are embracing this as they evolve their EV offerings, but there’s still a dis-join in the infrastructure needed to support our future transport needs. As vehicle numbers and journeys continue to increase, we desperately need to innovate and address our transport infrastructure needs. To that end, TEV is seeking to engage with the wider transport community to generate ideas, opinions and contributions to make this happen.
“The TEV Project is attractive because it utilises technology available now, to offer a disruptive, radical, innovative solution. With TEV, cars would charge when moving autonomously at high speeds, negating any range issues and also significantly decrease fossil fuel use while cutting accidents.”
The UK Project Co-ordinator Caroline Jones Carrick welcomed Dr Beeton in her introduction, “Dr Beeton has an impressive track record in developing strategies that allow transport concepts to break into the accelerating electric vehicle market. By bringing David on board, TEV wants to work in collaboration with others towards a shared vision for the future of roads and highways. If we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t design a transport system which is locked in the 18th Century.
“From an infrastructure perspective, we know that one mile of new motorway costs on average £30m, according to the Highways Agency, and an elevated road costs roughly 10 times more. In comparison, TEV would cost just over £1 million for the same distance and would guarantee 10 times as much traffic throughput as a single lane on normal traffic.”

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The Northern Ireland Car of the Year Awards, organised by the Ulster Motoring Writers Association, returns to the fore this year with the
help of local finance company NIIB.  The resumption of the awards in association with a major sponsor is a sign of the growing improvement in the Northern Ireland new car market which rose by over 9 per cent in 2014, matching the UK average. The awards are judged by members of the Ulster Motoring Writers Association who test the cars on Northern Ireland's roads covering a combined mileage of over a quarter of a million miles every year.
Chairman of the UMWA, Jim Mc Cauley, said," The Association is delighted to have such a high profile sponsor for this annual evaluation which is intended to guide the buying public to what are the best value and most competent cars in each of the judging categories."

James Dempster is the Regional Manager for NIIB Finance who said, “For many years NIIB have aimed to provide the best service and support available to Retail Customers, Business Users, Fleet Users and Motor Trade. Sponsoring these awards demonstrate our continued commitment to the local Northern Ireland market whilst continuing our growth throughout the rest of the UK.  NIIB remains the local name in lending.”

Northern Ireland Car of the Year Awards

Caption:  Pictured at the launch of the awards at Cultra Manor where the awards will be held later this year are:  Paul Flowers, Editor and Motoring Correspondent, Spectator Newspapers; James Dempster, Regional Manager NIIB Finance and Jim McCauley, Chairman, Ulster Motoring Writers Association.

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The British Safety Council has launched a new qualification to help people who drive as part of their work stay safe on the roads.
The Level 2 Award in Safe Driving at Work provides learners with key knowledge of the hazards and risks associated with driving. It equips vehicle users with valuable guidance on the measures available for reducing these risks, such as vehicle inspection, behaviour and defensive driving.
According to estimates from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), up to a third of all road traffic accidents in Britain involve someone involved in work-related activity. In 2013, according to government figures, 1,713 people died on the road, with the total number of casualties standing at 183,670.
The Ofqual-regulated qualification, which is designed to be delivered by employers or training organisations, instructs learners on a range of topics including the particular risks associated with vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, the importance of regular vehicle safety checks and how to adapt driving style in response to changes in driving conditions or the actions of others.
Alex Botha, the British Safety Council’s Chief Executive, said: “Driving can be a risky activity, a fact borne out by the high number of injuries and fatalities that occur annually on our roads.
“However, simple steps can be taken by employers and drivers to manage and reduce this risk. Our new Level 2 Award in Safe Driving at Work provides learners with all the essential knowledge to help them stay safe on the roads.
“Learners can expect to leave the qualification with a thorough knowledge of the main risks posed by driving – whether to themselves or other road users – and how to reduce them.
“Once registered with us, employers or training centres deliver the training using the high-quality teaching and student materials provided. Qualifications are assessed through a 45-minute multiple-choice examination that can be either taken online or on paper.
“This is a stand-alone qualification designed for delivery as a short course. It is also well-suited for integration into wider vocational programmes of study or, for example, as part of an induction programme. Students need no former knowledge or experience, so can come from a diverse range of educational and employment backgrounds.
“Safer driving habits should also feed through into workers’ personal lives, providing employers with a valuable corporate social responsibility tool to help make our roads safer in and out of work.”

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www.autonorthonline.com 2011