TOPS NEWS September 2013

A truck overturned in Guizhou Province in China, releasing its load of squealing pigs. Police eventually managed to catch them after they ran under an emergency vehicle.

In the UK, Ferrari sold 415 of its cars in the first 6 months of the year, more than in any other country.

An outdoor parking space in Hyde Park Gardens, London, is on the market for £300,000. (£1,298 per sq ft!).

Peugeot lost €426m in the first 6 months of the year and in Germany, VW’s profit fell 50% in the second quarter.

A device has been launched which texts its owner if the inside of their car gets too hot for their pets.

Councils in England and Wales made over £500 million last year from parking fees and fines but Judge Mrs Justice Lang has told them they cannot raise the cost of residents’ permits and visitors vouchers to plug a gap in their finances. CCTV is regularly used to generate parking tickets but the DoT have stated that it should only be used when it is impractical to use traffic wardens.

A survey has found that 98% of drivers do not understand all the symbols on their dashboard and that there were 99 variations in symbols across 15 of the most popular new cars with only 12 consistent on all the vehicles.

The consumer watchdog has warned drivers that the worst tyres under braking are Marangoni Verso, and Kleber Dynaxer and the best are Continental ContiPremium and Goodyear EfficientGrip.

Mark Beckford spent the night trapped upside down in his MG in a 20 ft water filled ditch on the A2070 in Kent. He found an air pocket but could not get out and was luckily spotted by a lorry driver.

A Singapore bus driver has been fired after he was caught on video trimming his nails while driving along an expressway.

A New Zealand woman who had taken a sleeping tablet drove for 190 miles while asleep at the wheel, sending texts from her mobile phone as she drove.

Workmen were unable to find the owner of a Peugeot 206 so they worked around it, re-laying tarmac and leaving a neat square round the car in Torquay, Devon.

Since 16 August tailgaters and middle-lane hoggers could be hit with on-the-spot fines of £100 and three points on their driving licence.

London’s transport chief has confirmed he is considering closing 268 Tube ticket offices. Passengers would have to use automatic machines.

Figures in Britain for 17-22 year olds taking their driving test fell by 19% over the past 7 years, a drop of over 200,000.

Toyota has made a CamAtte, only to be driven on private land, designed for age 9+. There is a tiny seat in the back for ‘parental control of emergency handbrake’. So far only one has been made - £500,000 (!)

A third of motorists have admitted driving without a valid MoT certificate. (SMMT survey) and one tenth of people questioned about buying a secondhand car said they did not even test drive before purchase.

The Chinese government is investigating price-fixing on foreign cars. The luxury versions of Audi, BMW, Maserati and Ferrari are particularly under scrutiny. Audi sold over 405,000 cars in China in 2012 and forecasts an 11% increase this year.

The penalty for driving without insurance has risen to £300 but the AA want it raised with repeat offenders fined £5,000 - the average fine is £299. Uninsured drivers killed 116 people and injured 23,000 last year.

A parking meter repair man in Buffalo has been jailed for 2 1/2 years for stealing more than $210,000 (£135,000) from machines in the city. FBI investigators found $47,000 in cash in his home, and $40,000 in coins hidden in his bedroom ceiling.

BMW has launched a luxury electric car, the i3, for sale in November at £25,680. The i3 will be a package deal which includes the loan of a petrol car for holiday driving! The i3 accelerates 0-60 in 7 secs and has a turning circle of just 32 feet. In 2012 only 1200 electric cars sold compared with 2 million petrol or diesel cars.

‘Sheilas’ Wheels’ claims that 1.4 million accidents or near misses are caused by drivers wearing flip-flops which slows their braking by 0.13 secs or 11’ 6” at 60 mph.

North West Ambulance Service has 25 Range Rover Evoques, 10 BMW 520s and 4 Audi A4s for their managers. 168 staff have company cars and the Service hopes to save £10 million a year – somehow!

Volvo have designed the SunGift solar pavilion to work alongside its upcoming V60 plug-in hybrid and say it will take 12 hours to charge the car.

Nissan has applied to expand its Sunderland factory, the largest car plant in Britain. It currently produces 500,000 vehicles p.a. Nissan has made a smartwatch which allows drivers to monitor the efficiency of their vehicle with average speed and fuel consumption readings. It can also track the user’s social-network usage.

The MSA represents 32,000 competiton licence holders, 15,000 volunteer marshals and officials, 750 member clubs and issues permits for 4,500 motor sport events every year.

A study has found that cars are about 16% larger than they were 20 years ago, on average 2” wider than the parking gap they have to fit into.

The Lib Dem transport minister wants to ban all cars from high streets in order to help shops. However ‘transport chiefs’ in London want to stop road closures (for events) as harmful to traders and the City Corporation is trying to enforce 20 mph in the City of London. No doubt they will talk to each other.

Japanese scientists have invented a device which takes a picture of the interior of a taxi before a passenger gets in and again when they leave. If an item has been left an alarm is triggered. 53,346 items were left behind including 330,000 umbrellas in 2012.

Deloitte has been fined £14m for its role in the sale of MG Rover to the ‘Phoenix Four’ for £10. The Phoenix Four directors paid themselves £42m before the company collapsed with 6,000 job losses.

Motorists are due to pay £1.50 to use a new toll road between East Anglia and the Midlands, otherwise they face a 30-mile detour. The new toll road will have automatic number plate recognition cameras. Drivers who don’t pay the toll could face a £120 fine.

Financial adviser Michael Jones of Castleton has been jailed for 32 months for making false statements and transferring criminal property in order to fund his son’s racing ambition in the Renault Sport Clio Cup championship.

With a click on a smartphone, the experimental "Armadillo-T" electric car made in South Korea will park itself and fold in half to only 1.65 metres.

The Pope now drives himself around the Vatican in a 20 year old Renault 4 instead of the Popemobile, whenever he can.

Of the 9.5 million homes with garages it is estimated that in the past 3 years, a million have converted their garages to provide extra storage.

The Hunt/Lauda film ‘Rush’ has now been released and received good reviews.

Jaguar is to create 1700 jobs at Solihull for its new range of sports and cross-over cars featuring lightweight aluminium technology. This should provide 24,000 jobs in the supply chain.

Janice Lokelani Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele has complained to the Hawaiian authorities because her full name did not fit on her new driving licence. They are trying to extend the space to accommodate her.

A 1/8 scale model of a Lamborghini Aventador made by Robert Gulpen for £1.7m is covered with gold and studded with diamonds and expected to fetch over £3m at auction. The model has gold thread wrapped around the carbon fibre with wheel rims cast in gold. The interior is made of platinum and has diamond studded seats, steering wheel and headlights. The actual Lamborghini Aventador costs £250,000.

A woman returned to a Leighton Buzzard station car park to find that half her Vauxhall Corsa had been stolen. Thieves had taken the front panels, wheel locking nuts, radiator, front wings, bonnet, electrical parts, headlights and sat-nav.

The RAC has demanded a 5p reduction on petrol prices because the wholesale costs have fallen and the price has not been passed to motorists.

4 million drivers over 70 are to be offered safety advice.
Train passengers were delayed two hours when a cow got on to the track on the Bristol to Exeter line.

Parking tickets issued on a Sunday are up 13% on last year.
Porsche has launched its 918 Spyder hybrid capable of 72 mpg and 0-60 mph in 2.8 secs - cost £537,000.

Irv Gordon has claimed a place with Guinness World Records for driving 3 million miles in his 1966 Volvo which he bought new.

Abridged version of TOPS NEWS sent to members by Trisha Pilkington