Quieter Cars Lead To More Accidents

Tuesday, 17. January 2017

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

One of the great things about new cars is the quietness of them. Improved car design reduces wind resistance and wind noise. Drive a diesel car and you could be mistaken into believing that diesel engines no longer rattle, they do, but because the soundproofing is of such a high standard now, you can hardly hear the engine from inside the car.

Tyre compounds and new suspension systems reduce road noise dramatically and of course hybrids and full electric vehicles are as quiet as a mouse when operating in electric mode. The problem is that many of the changes have come about very quickly so when a driver moves from a 3 year old car to a new car the noise level drops so significantly that he or she loses all perception of speed.

The main indicators such as engine noise, road and wind noise have been all but eliminated in some cars so the fear of many safety experts is that we will see a significant increase in accidents and/or speeding tickets as a result of speeding. Having read about the latest Tesla challenging Faraday Future FF91 capable of developing over 1000 bhp out of its electric engine taking it from 0 – 60 in 2.39 seconds without making a noise, I’m very worried.

Even petrol and diesel engine’d cars pose a threat to safety. So if I or anyone else has convinced you to ditch your 5 year old car for a brand new model make sure that you acclimatise yourself to the noise levels before you start ‘opening her up’ on an A road or motorway. You don’t want to be writing your new car and/or you off in the first few weeks of taking delivery! By Graham Hill

Is There A Move Away From Diesel To Petrol?

Friday, 24. June 2016

Recently I have seen a move away from diesel cars towards petrol. Part of the reason is because petrol cars have seen an improvement in their resale values at the end of leases making them, in some cases, a little less to lease. Part is because fuel consumption has been improving as petrol engines become more efficient with some petrol engines capable of close to the same fuel consumption to that of their diesel equivalent.

Also, since the VW emission debacle people have become twitchy over the emissions credentials of diesel engines. The truth is that the new Euro VI engines are about as clean as petrol engines but with lower CO2’s so if that is your argument for moving to petrol it is flawed. But there is a new consideration, that of entering and parking in city centres.

Some authorities in London are imposing charges for polluting vehicles with a suggestion that all diesels are more polluting than petrol, which isn’t true in the case of Euro VI engines. Last April 2015 Islington Council brought in and annual surcharge of £96 if you drive a diesel car with Hackney proposing a £50 surcharge for 2017. They are thinking of increasing this further if the car is pre-2001 due to the higher emissions.

Other cities considering similar schemes are Birmingham, Bristol and Leicester along with congestion charges with a premium if you happen to drive a diesel. Maybe someone should suggest they get all the facts first! By Graham Hill

Sales Of Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles Taking Off

Thursday, 26. May 2016

The number of plug in car grants could reach the Government’s latest target much quicker than expected after 11,000 applications were made in February. The surge came about because the £5,000 Government grant was to be replaced by a new grant structure for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) as of 1st March.

The new structure, consisting of 3 tiers, is now in force. For cars with zero emissions and a range of more than 70 miles (category 1) there is a grant of £4,500 on offer from the Government. Vehicles with a lower zero emission range than 70 miles (category 2 & 3), such as plug in hybrids, with either a petrol or diesel engine there is a £2,500 grant.

There is also a price cap, so category 2 & 3 cars costing more than £60,000 will receive no grant although category 1 cars with a zero emission range of over 70 miles will attract the full £4,500 grant. According to the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) a total of 16,000 low emission plug in vehicles were ordered in January and February compared to 14,500 for the whole of 2015.

So clearly zero and low emission cars are gaining acceptance helped along by some very attractive deals from the leasing companies. OLEV explained that the new grants are set to run till March 2017 or until 40,000 sales of category 1 vehicles and combined sales of 45,000 category 2 & 3 vehicles have been reached. To date a total of 67,000 grants have been provided and on current trends the Government targets could well be reached before the end of the year.

The Department for Transport would not confirm that due to the increased pace of hybrid and zero emission car sales they would review their targets but given their ultimate objective that all vehicles should have zero tailpipe emissions by 2050 it is highly likely that they will continue to encourage the sale of low emission vehicles with grants, albeit that they are likely to reduce in time.

On the other hand support is likely through improving lease rates as manufacturers aim to hit their lowering emission targets across their vehicle ranges. So if you are looking to help save the planet keep an eye out for my great hybrid deals as a preference to buying outright. There could be even greater savings than the grants offered by the Government. By Graham Hill

Will VW Survive The Emissions Debacle?

Wednesday, 27. January 2016

We all knew that VW would be eased somewhat off the hook if another manufacturer was found to be fiddling with emissions but is it getting too late? The Americans are hell bent, it would seem, on bringing down VW whilst electing the most bizarre human being on the planet as its president.
Is it just me fixated on his amazing hair art every time he appears on the TV, trying to work out where it starts and where it finishes? Just me then! But with Renault coming to the rescue is it all too late? The chances are that VW will survive, not without a lot of pain but as the biggest manufacturer in the world it is highly unlikely that the company will collapse.
In fact if they continue heavily discounting cars whilst producing some of the best on the road (emissions aside) I can see them growing even bigger. So what has happened at Renault? Well so far they have recalled 15,000 cars because of ’emission inconsistencies’ in order to have them checked.
It is said that there is a difference between test rig readings and real life readings – what a surprise. But this isn’t down to a deliberate attempt to fool the testing equipment as was the case with VW. A question was raised with regard to Peugeot Citroen and why they didn’t seem to have the same problems? The answer was in the technology. Renault uses a somewhat dated and cheaper method of reducing NOx by using what they refer to as an NOx absorber or NOx trap.
It captures Nitrogen Dioxide and burns it as opposed to the Peugeot Citroen method called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). Whilst Renault is using the new method on its trucks it is yet to move across with its cars. The old method is cheaper and easier to fit but also makes the car less efficient and can lead to variations in emissions. I can’t see much happening to Renault as a result, especially as they are already in the throes of moving across to the better and more stable method anyway.
It also means that VW are still hanging out to dry! Incidentally the EU is working flat out (yer right) to come up with a new emissions testing regime which will closer reflect ‘normal’ driving conditions – whatever they are! By Graham Hill


The Next Frightening Step To Meeting Emission Targets?

Friday, 11. December 2015

2 years ago I reported on some comments made by an environmental and technical expert who said that European targets for emissions were not only becoming difficult to meet but impossible to meet.

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He explained that an internal combustion engine burns fossil fuel which has the negative effect of emitting undesirable gasses and particles that pollute the air. That is a fact that can’t be changed. The objectives to continually reduce the gasses is fine and very environmentally friendly but technology and additives can only go so far before the targets are impossible to meet.

We all know that the harder we drive our cars the higher the amount of fuel we use. We may get from A to B quicker but we use much more fuel in doing so and it goes without saying the more fuel we use the more gas we emit from the exhaust. So as we reach the limit of gas reduction is the next step a control on the way we drive.

The only measure used at the moment is CO2 but will NOx enter the equation following the VW debacle? And by halving the NOx emissions target (Euro VI diesel engines) have we created an impossible task for the manufacturers? As we know fuel consumption figures are shown using different driving conditions, urban, extra urban and combined.

They may not exactly reflect actual driving conditions but we have three, often very different figures so why do we have just one CO2 emission figure as well as other singular gas emission figures when clearly they must differ from 10mph to 100mph? It was clear, even 2 years ago when I expressed my opinion on this subject that some creativity would have to enter the equation if targets were to be met.

However, I didn’t expect that creativity to extend to out and out deception. And whilst there wasn’t a murmur when the new Euro VI emissions came into effect on the first of September, following the VW debacle many manufacturers have announced that they are struggling to meet the Euro VI targets – strange that isn’t it? So what next? Will we see driving style and speed controls?

Limits on motorways dropped to 60mph and a drop from 30 to 20 around town? Or maybe cameras that can measure acceleration away from lights to stop drivers from pretending to be Lewis Hamilton? All very worrying for us petrol heads! By Graham Hill

Fuel Prices Set To Drop To A 6 Year Low

Friday, 11. December 2015

Great news for motorists over Christmas as the oil price riggers, OPEC, fail to agree on output and therefore a price for a barrel of oil so it’s turned out to be a bit of a free for all with the cost of a barrel now dropping below $40.

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This should mean a drop of 5 pence per litre at the pumps for diesel and a drop to less than a £1 per litre for petrol. The average price for diesel is already at a 6 year low at an average of 109.18 pence per litre at the pumps. First to move is expected to be the supermarkets.

Experts suggest that we could be as close as a week away from the price drops whilst others will be reasonably quick to follow. So whilst the producers continue to refuse to cut production we will see a continued drop in prices as the world becomes awash with fuel. To put this into perspective in mid 2014 oil rose to $115 per barrel.

Compared to this time last year the RAC has calculated that we will save on an average fill up £9 on a tank of petrol and £11 on a tank of diesel. Not to be sniffed at. Keep an eye on prices as the Government has asked the sellers to pass on the savings but of course some will refuse so we should avoid using them.

Whilst some commentators have suggested that the rate drops won’t be long lived others have predicted a period of steady price drops till it flattens out around the time that OPEC are due to meet next in June 2016. With production outpacing demand it’s good news for motorists, so fill your boots! As well as your tanks! By Graham Hill

What Does The Expression Real World Actually Mean?

Tuesday, 13. October 2015

Have you ever heard the expression ‘Real World’? It’s used about our royalty, ‘They don’t live in the real world’. When talking about wealthy people, they don’t know what it’s like to be in the real world. Dating men or women on dating sites, it’s not like dating in the real world.

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And so on and so forth, but what is the real world? And where is it? Who are its inhabitants? Just recently journalists and reporters have gone into meltdown over ‘real world’ testing when it comes to emissions from vehicles as well as the miles per gallon they return in test conditions compared to ‘the real world’.

For years What Car has been testing cars in ‘real world’ conditions to provide a more accurate MPG reading. But in my opinion it’s an absolute nonsense because the real world simply doesn’t exist except in the minds of each individual. If a driver was to drive through the middle of London, would that be extra urban conditions in the ‘real world’ or would it be more accurate to drive through the centre of Leeds.

And what time of day would be more accurate? 11.00 in the morning or 5.30 at the height of the rush hour? How would you measure urban or motorway driving. I would measure it on the motorway I use most, the M25 on which I consider it to be my birthday and Christmas combined if I keep moving for the whole of the trip.

OK I might agree that the testing conditions could be tweaked a little which may result in cars seen to be achieving a few miles to the gallon less than currently shown in the manufacturer’s handbooks. But what about CO2 emissions? Supposing we find that the readings have been out by a few grams per kilometre as a result of the changes to the tests to make them ‘real world’ tests?

The Government has set its tables for benefit in kind tax and road tax for the next few years so would drivers be hit with additional costs? Yes, they probably would because the Government can’t suddenly say that they will increase a banding from 99g/km of CO2’s to 109g/km because of miscalculations by car manufacturers.

The changes would affect motorists’ pockets because the Government has already established that they want to pull down CO2 emissions to the 99g/km level and ultimately to zero emissions. Speed, weather conditions, temperature and the driver of the car can all affect the fuel consumption and emissions so should we change the way cars are tested when there are so many variables?

Maybe the activists should be careful for what they wish for. The changes might just come back and bite them, you and other motorists on the bum! The fact is that manufacturers will still continue to try to find ways to improve the emissions of their cars, they are obliged to, irrespective of the way that cars are tested. By Graham Hill

Graham Hill’s Gadget Prevents Miss-fuelling

Sunday, 6. November 2011

My gadget of the week is the latest solution to an old problem. It’s a fuel cap that prevents you from misfuelling a diesel car with petrol. The clever gadget replaces the standard filler cap and prevents the narrower petrol nozzle from entering the tank. The unit, called the Diesel Head is easy to fit, simply unscrew the factory fitted unit and place the Read more

Heart Attacks From Diesel Fumes?

Saturday, 6. August 2011

Edinburgh University has carried out a study into the effects of diesel fumes with some not so good results. They have found that after exposing volunteers to diesel fumes containing particles over a long period it led to blood clots forming in arteries that could lead to heart attacks or strokes. So whilst CO2 emissions are less with diesel the Read more

What Extras Add Value To Your Car When You Sell It?

Monday, 16. May 2011

When choosing a new car there are a few things you should take into account when deciding upon the spec. of the car. As What Car ran a feature this month on this subject I thought I’d give my own twist on this hairy subject. Obviously if you are going to own the car it becomes more critical because if you choose badly it can be an expensive mistake albeit Read more