Sunday, September 23, 2007

Land Rover to add to SUV range

Solihull-based 4x4 manufacturer Land Rover has announced plans to build a small SUV-hatchback crossover in the mould of the successful Nissan Qashqai.

The new model, the only picture of which that's currently available is shown above, is about three years away from production and would enter the current line up below the Freelander.

It would be aimed more at on-road use
than Land Rover's traditional heavyweight 4x4s, and so potentially offer much lower CO2 emissions.

This week Land
Rover has also announced further steps in its programme to make its vehicles more environmentally-friendly.

Beyond the company's contributions to environmental charities and scheme to offset the emissions related to the manufacture of every vehicle and its first 45,000 miles of use, from early 2009 a stop-start system will be fitted as standard to all Freelander 2 TD4 manual vehicles.

The system turns off the engine when the vehicle is stationary and automatically restarts it when the driver is ready to move off, cutting CO2 emissions by 7% from 194 g/km to 179 g/km.

In addition, Land Rover announced a charitable partnership between the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the Land Rover G4 Challenge.

Land Rover is committed to generating £1m for the Federation.

Monday, September 03, 2007

100mph cars to be banned by the EU?

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies (pictured) has revealed himself to be a leading candidate for this blog's Idiot of the Year.

Davies - who last year had to resign as Lib Dem leader in the European Parliament over offensive comments he made in a letter to a Jewish constituent - has evidently been keeping himself busy helping to draft a new EU proposal that calls for a ban on the making of cars capable of more than 101mph, to help cut CO2 emissions.

Only military, emergency and police cars would be exempt from the law, which is being voted on in the European Parliament this month and could come into force in four years' time.

Davies argues that "between 1994 and 2004 the power of new cars went up by 28%, making them a lot heavier, and so increasing the amount of CO2 they put out, even though no country raised its speed limit to allow cars to use this increased power".

Flawed idea

But his idea that cars have only become heavier due to a pursuit of power and top speed have been condemned by many commentators as badly ill-informed.

In fact it's completely the opposite. Cars have mainly got heavier to accommodate compulsory new EU safety features, such as airbags and pedestrian impact zones, and to meet ever more stringent EU occupant safety requirements - measures in which Chris Davies himself has presumably also been involved in implementing.

Consequently, more power is then needed to maintain a heavier car's existing performance, particularly acceleration, and that will inevitably also result in a higher top speed.

So if he's worried about cars getting heavier and emitting more, Davies would do better to look a lot closer to home for the blame.

Second mistake

Beyond his mistake over the root causes of cars becoming more powerful, Davies also gaffes by making a simple link between power and more weight.

Often power outputs are increased merely by altering a car's computer chip, as with the Mini One to Mini Cooper, making no difference to weight whatsoever.

The big question is how does an MEP get to write proposals that could have such serious implications for the car industry, while evidently labouring under such fundamental ignorance?

Davies threatens tens of thousands of jobs

Elsewhere in the proposals, Mr Davies proves himself no friend to tens of thousands of British car industry workers and a major section of British industry, by suggesting that cars emitting double an average 120g/km of CO2 by 2015 should be banned.

That would very likely sound the death knell for major British sports and executive car-makers like Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin, which employ tens of thousands of people in this country and make a huge contribution to our economy.

What has Mr Davies got to say to them? Very little, probably.