TOPS NEWS March 2013

A UK bus operator flew staff to Poland to recruit 50 new drivers despite there being 2.6million people on the dole in the UK.


Millions of motorists who use motorways and trunk roads could pay an annual charge of up to £150 under controversial reforms being considered by ministers.


A flat-rate levy on drivers who use the biggest roads has been ruled out, according to Government sources, but officials are examining more sophisticated ‘access charges’ which would vary according to the CO2 emissions or even the weight of a vehicle.


VW is to implement its sophisticated and highly flexible platform MQB.  VW has sent out a long complicated press release praising Ulrich Hackenberg for his revolutionary idea of having all their cars use common parts. Virtually all of the groups small and medium front-wheel-drive family models, including the VW Golf and Audi A3, are being designed with MQB as their base.  It is expected to save them billions.  (Surely this was done by BMC years ago?)  

So we look forward to the economy version of Bugatti.


Peugeot, seen as a flagship of French industry, has taken a €4.1 billion  write-down on its plants and other automotive assets. The French Socialist government said it would do whatever it took to keep the ailing car make afloat but did not intend to buy a stake.  


The number of new car registrations in Europe fell by 8.2% last year to the lowest level since 1995.  The French car market slumped 13.9% in 2012.  


The automotive industry in Asia, Europe and North America are investigating the use of hydrogen as a power source which has caused the Obama administration to back away from its goal to put 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015.   


Renault, Ford and BMW are all due to launch new electric cars this year, BMW will supply an optional  back-up petrol engine. The UK government has released £37 million to help install electric car charging points both in the home and on streets.  They havepromised to pay 75% of the cost of installation. 


Ecclestone’s CVC F1 floatation is due to go ahead in October on the Singapore Exchange, targeting a value of £6,5 billion.


Insurers, Diamond, say that women are 51% more likely than men to have car park collisions and 61% more likely to hit a parked car but men are 79% more likely to sustain flood water damage, 43% more likely to fill their cars with the wrong fuel, 33% more likely to collide with crash barriers and drive off roads, 32% more likely to hit a tree, 91% more likely to run over animals and 29% more likely to hit a pedestrian. 

The Metropolitan police have admitted they received over £5 million since 2009 from selling details of road accident victims.  This should become illegal in April.


“Which” magazine claims a third of British motorists regret owning the car they bought.


Local authorities think there are at least 30,000 foreign-registered cars on British roads illegally, making it difficult to chase parking fines etc.  All cars should be registered with the DVLA within 6 months of arrival.

 Geely (Chinese) has paid £11m for black taxi cab maker Manganese Bronze.  It already owned 20%.  The London cab takes its place alongside Weetabix, in the list of ‘has-been’ brands which could get a new lease of life under Chinese ownership.


The 28-tonne armour-plated "battle bus" built in the 1980s for Margaret Thatcher’s visit to Northern Ireland has sold for £16,940.  The bus had 17,398 miles on the clock, a blast-proof floor and armour-plated glass, and a bomb-proof armour-plated body.  It was thought to be chemical, biological and nuclear-proof - once having its own auxiliary generator and air supply. It has a Foden chassis, body by Glover and Webb and is powered by a 12-litre Rolls-Royce engine. 


The Government is considering the abolition of the road tax disc.  By reading the number plate police can tell instantly via the DVLA computer whether a car has been taxed.  The paper element is already due to disappear by 2015.  About 36 million vehicles display a tax disc.


The number of new women drivers is rising twice as fast as men according to the RAC Foundation.   There are now 13.8 million women driving.


The number of people cycling to work in London has risen to 161,790, double that for 2012.


Boris Johnson is to create a cycle lane along 2 miles of the Westway A40 as part of a 15 mile ‘crossrail for cyclists’ linking west and east London.  It will cost c £1 billion and be the longest bike route in any European city.


ParkRight, a new parking app, is being piloted in Westminster.  It allows motorists to see if an on-street parking space is available on a particular road.  600,000 cars enter central London every day where 41,000 on-street parking spaces are provided by the Council.


Lamborghini has celebrated its 50th anniversary with the Lamborghini Veneno, its fastest car ever built.


Abridged version of News sent to TOPS membrs