And the key global trends in the automotive industry for 2014 are...
The New York International Motor Show played host to a press conference hosted by the World Car Awards (WCA) earlier this week, where an expert panel comprising 69 of the world's top automotive journalists gave their predictions for the top global trends in the industry in the coming year.
In conjunction with PRIME Research, the top trends were identified as being part of a "smart efficiency cluster" which includes the following elements:
More efficient motoring through downsizing of engines, significant weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and new energy powertrains; particularly plug-in hybrids. “Utilising this efficiency cluster is the challenge for all manufacturers and brands today and in the near future” remarked Dr. Rainer Mathes, Chairman of PRIME Research.
The research also noted that lightweight materials, which were not really a consideration a few years ago, are now starting to move into the spotlight as the second most important aspect driven by interest in the use of materials such as aluminium and even carbon fibre.
Following much hype in recent years, interest in mass market electric vehicles is losing momentum and after two years of being among the Top 3 ranked key trends, EVs now rank as the fifth most important trend, with Plug-in hybrids taking over as the most promising electric drivetrain option. However, the onset of more premium electric vehicles including the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S could bring electric vehicles back into the spotlight.
The World Car jurors also commented on the importance of connectivity, with "Digital cars" ranking as the fourth most important trend, with infotainment and connectivity systems seen as increasingly significant. Giants such as Apple, Google and Microsoft have now joined forces with automotive brands and will be working together over the coming months and years to create the next generation of digital cars.
An interesting although not totally surprising set of findings, with the news that the rise in popularity of plug-in hybrids has eaten into the pure EV share, rather than operating as a growth area on it's own, is particularly symptomatic of the alternative vehicle market and how it is still some way from making a dent in the market share held by more conventionally powered vehicles.
Labels: Automotive Trends, Electric Vehicles, EV, Plug-In Hybrids
Are the government finally admitting fuel duty reductions are GOOD for the economy?
A new treasury report (read the full report here
) released this week has concluded the cost of reducing fuel duty could be offset by the economic boost it brings.
Released by George Osborne’s office, Analysis of the dynamic effects of fuel duty reduction concludes that the recent reductions in fuel duty (in real terms) caused by the chancellor’s cancellation of planned fuel-duty rises will increase GDP by between 0.3 and 0.5 per cent in the long-term, about £7.5billion in today’s prices.
The modelling suggestions lower fuel prices will lead to increased profits within the transport sector, which would then have a knock-on effect on wages and consumption, which will ultimately all add to higher tax revenues. As a result of all of this, the cost of the policy falls by between 37 and 56 per cent in the long-term.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) applauded the Chancellor’s position with FTA’s Chief Executive Theo de Pencier stating: "FTA is pleased that the Treasury has accepted our key arguments that fuel duty can be cut without harming the economy. From the conclusions in this report today, it does appear as though the Chancellor has caught-up with our findings, and there is now every chance for him to go further and boost growth by cutting 3 pence per litre from current rates.”
The Road Haulage Association echoed these comments with Directory of Policy Jack Semple commenting: “The important thing to ensure now is that this economic and tax reality becomes imbedded as core Treasury and political thinking as we look ahead to the next Parliament.”
This is welcoming news for the UK motorist, but British rates of fuel duty still remain the highest in Europe so it will be interesting to see if government policy changes enough to ensure our rates fall in line with the rest of the EU.
We mustn’t also lose sight of the fact that lower fuel prices won’t do anything to help improve the environmental impact of driving vehicles; in fact it could almost do the opposite by encouraging people to drive more. The real long term solution does still need to come from the government, but more in the way of incentives and grants to make new and emerging vehicle technologies more accessible to the average motorist.
Labels: diesel prices, Fuel Duty, Government Taxation, petrol prices
£31m Pan-European Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Agreement Signed
A number of leading motor manufacturers, hydrogen fuel suppliers and energy consultancies from around the world have met in London to sign a £31m agreement to help develop and demonstrate the effectiveness of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as a viable and environmentally friendly option for European motorists in the future.
The agreement, known as the HyFive Project (Hydrogen For Innovative Vehicles), includes BMW, Honda, Toyota and Hyundai and will involve the deployment of 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles across a range of European cities, together with the development of clusters of hydrogen refuelling stations.
Fuel Cell Technology uses hydrogen gas combined with oxygen from the atomosphere to generate electric power with no harmful tailpipe emissions – only water vapour. What's more the potential for these cars to be twice as fuel-efficient as conventially powered vehicles, plus faster refuelling times and a longer range between re-fuels, could mean these vehicles provide an excellent future transport solution.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, commented “To sell this technology we need to show Londoners and the wider world that it is not science fiction. By building the vehicles and the filling stations and allowing people to kick the tyres we will be able to demonstrate that hydrogen is a viable option and that London is at the forefront of efforts to make it so.”
Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology is still in its infancy, but its environmental credentials are unquestionable and if an infrastructure can be built to help showcase and sustain this new alternative fuel, it could become an exciting option for the future. We'll be watching and reporting on HyFive's progress with much interest...
Labels: Alternative Fuel, Boris Johnson, Fuel Cell, Hydrogen Fuel, HyFive, HyFive Project
March fuel prices show slight fall
Figures from the AA.com have shown fuel prices continue their slow but steady decline in March, a much welcomed sight for the UK's motorists.
Their monthly Fuel Price Report
shows prices have fallen to an average of 129.5 pence per litre for unleaded petrol and 136.6 pence per litre for diesel, a marginal fall compared to February.
The regional spread is negligible, with supermarkets generally offering a 2 pence per litre saving over more conventional forecourts.
For a full analysis of the March report, visit our Fuel Price Watch section by clicking here
Labels: diesel prices, fuel prices, petrol prices, pump prices
Cost of fuel still tops list of worries for the UK's motorists
Latest research from BCA shows that despite prices falling and duty freezes confirmed by George Osborne at the last budget, the price of fuel at the pumps is top of the list of concerns for the UK's motorists.
Research carried out amongst a panel of 400 used car buyers in January confirmed over 70% of motorists worry most about the price of fuel – the same as 2013. With the top five concerns about motoring costs as follows:
1. The price of fuel
2. The cost of Road Tax
3. Insurance costs
4. Vehicle maintenance & servicing
Tim Naylor, Editor of the BCA Used Car Market Report commented “The reality is that fuel prices today are still much higher than they were just a few years ago – and for many motorists it’s hard to forget when unleaded was under £1 a litre. According to our research over one in five are convinced the fuel retailers are failing to pass on potential savings and a quarter of drivers are frustrated by the lack of action by the Government to tackle the cost of motoring.”
Naylor further commented “More than half of our survey said they have considered changing their current car for a more fuel efficient model in the last 12 months.”
It's nothing new to hear that the price of fuel is the biggest concern for the UK's motorists and although there are measures in place such as fuel duty freezes to limit rises in the future it's clear to see that fuel prices will not be coming down in the medium or even long term. The only way to cut the cost of fuel going forward will be to limit its usage and with new technologies being developed all the time to help improve fuel economy, as well as the introduction of electric/hybrid engines, the future is looking more and more positive. However, changes have to be made quickly.
In the meantime, we have compiled a list of a number of fuel saving tips right here
you can implement straight away on any vehicle to help limit your fuel bills.
Labels: fuel economy, Fuel economy tips, MPG