New Ford Transit Connect - better than ever and available now

New Ford Transit Connect – better than ever and available now

Ford has revealed its new Transit Connect van at the Hannover CV Show and it’s on sale right now.

The diet Transit – if we can be so crude – offers even more attractive running costs for commercial vehicle users by coming with even more fuel efficient engines.

Buyers can choose between the new 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel engine or single‑litre EcoBoost petrol engine.

Both come linked to a six speed manual gearbox as standard, but an optional eight-speed automatic transmission has the ability to optimise fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions by up to 12 per cent.

Most fleets will be drawn towards the 1.5-litre diesel, which is offered with three different power outputs: 75PS delivering fuel efficiency from 60.1mpg and 124g/km CO2 emissions, 100PS –  60.1mpg and 123g/km CO2; and finally, 120PS – 56.4mpg and 130g/km CO2.

Meanwhile, the one-litre EcoBoost petrol introduces cylinder deactivation technology to the Transit range for the first time – a clever feature that rests some of the unit’s cylinders when the van is stuck in stop-start traffic in a bid to save fuel. This helps the petrol Transit Connect achieve fuel efficiency from 44.1mpg and CO2 emissions from 146g/km.

Ford says that the new Transit Connect will offer commercial vehicle operators an outstanding breadth of capabilities, with short and long wheelbase options providing load volumes up to 3.6 m3 (VDA), payload capacity ranging from 410kg to 900kg, and body styles including van, kombi and double-cab-in-van.

A new variant – the Transit Connect Sportvan – delivers a hefty dash of style to what can be a pretty drab vehicle, with an exterior styling kit, signature matt black sports stripes with silver or orange accents and 16-inch dark stainless alloy wheels.

This ups the number of Ford’s Sportvans to four, joining the Fiesta Van, Transit Courier and Transit Custom Sport models.

Hans Schep, general manager of commercial vehicles at Ford of Europe, acknowledged fleets’ constant need to reduce fuel spend.

“Fuel costs are critical for van operators and we have invested in advanced new technologies to bring savings to our customers,” he commented.

“Our new small vans line-up delivers practicality in stylish packages, and we’ve worked hard to reduce ownership costs, developing efficient new engines and transmissions to work with advanced driver assistance technologies.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “With the new Transit Connect, Ford has yet again shown that it is in tune with what CV operators need from their vans.”

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Are manual handbrakes on their way out? Apparently so...

Are manual handbrakes on their way out? Apparently so…

Manual parking brakes are nearing the end of the road it seems after it emerged that little more than one in three new cars are fitted with a physical lifting handbrake.

A study, conducted by CarGurus, discovered that only 37 per cent of new cars on sale in the UK right now come with a manually-operated handbrake.

Furthermore, we’ve reached the point that only two mainstream manufacturers – Dacia and Suzuki – have a manual handbrake available on every model in their range.

The norm in 2018 is that most car makers reserve the grab-and-lift handbrake for sportier cars or cheaper superminis.

Many premium car makers have phased-out the part completely and replaced it with an electronic parking brake, while a small number use a foot-operated parking brake.

Why are manual handbrakes disappearing?

This is because the electronic parking brake is considered to be safer, holding the car more securely, and doesn’t need adjusting like the traditional lever. It requires less physical effort too.

There’s the convenience factor too with most electronic handbrakes disengaging automatically when the driver pulls away. Additionally, they often offer an automatic hill-hold assist function – another safety benefit.

Aesthetically, a switch is tidier too, helping de-clutter cabins by taking up less interior space than a chunky lever between the front seats.

Rare sight

With so many benefits provided by the electronic alternative, CarGurus editor Chris Knapman expects the manual handbrake to become a rare sight in new cars.

“Within the next few years, we expect the number of cars on sale with traditional handbrakes to decline further, likely only to be found on a select number of niche models,” he commented.

“Of course, the benefits can’t be ignored, but as the latest technology trickles through manufacturer line-ups, many new drivers might never experience one of the most familiar of automotive features.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, added: “This looks like another major change in new cars but electronic parking brakes provide many advantages for fleets and company car drivers. We’ll get over it…”

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DVSA launches AdBlue cheat device crackdown

DVSA launches AdBlue cheat device crackdown

The DVSA has begun checking lorries for emissions cheat devices in a bid to crack down on illegal AdBlue systems that circumvent emissions rules.

A lorry with one of these cheat devices installed can produce up to 20 times more dangerous emissions, which contributes to poor air quality and exacerbates conditions such as asthma and even strokes amongst vulnerable groups.

During a year-long pilot, DVSA enforcement staff caught 449 emission cheats at five sites across the country.

Any drivers found with an emissions cheat device or a faulty emissions control system have ten days to remove the device and repair their emissions system or face a £300 fine and even have their vehicle taken off the road.

Furthermore, the offending company could have its operating licence revoked.

‘Unsafe’

The DVSA’s priority is to protect the public from unsafe drivers and vehicles, said the authority’s chief executive Gareth Llewellyn.

“A vehicle doesn’t have to be falling apart to be unsafe,” he explained.

“Any driver or operator who uses cheat devices to get around emissions rules is putting the health of the entire nation at risk. The DVSA will take the strongest possible action against anyone who tries to cheat emissions rules.”

How do cheat devices work?

Cheat devices cut the cost of operating and give false emissions readings, resulting in the release of excessive emissions into the atmosphere.

There are several ways a cheat device can function.

Some prevent emissions control systems from working properly or use cheap, fake emission reduction devices or diesel exhaust fluid.

Others use illegal engine modifications which result in excessive emissions. Removing the diesel particulate filter or bypassing the exhaust gas recirculation valve is another known method.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Using a cheat device is not only illegal but wholly irresponsible, affecting some of society’s most vulnerable people.”

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Carrera Cup battle goes to wire as Ellinas scores podium finish at Silverstone

DVF Racing remains in the hunt for its first-ever Porsche Carrera Cup GB title as Tio Ellinas scored a second place in race one and recovered to an important fourth place later on Sunday afternoon, and is just eight points behind championship leader Dino Zamparelli with 22 on offer at Brands Hatch in a fortnight’s time.

Cypriot Ellinas looked to have secured pole position on Saturday after topping the times towards the end of the qualifying session, but a late flyer by Zamparelli snatched the place by a mere 0.039 of a second. Lining up second on the grid, Tio worked hard in the early stages to fend off a rapid Tom Wrigley, before opening up a gap and taking his 11th podium of the season.

Things looked bright for Tio in race two as he ran third and was challenging George Gamble for second, while Zamparelli was down in sixth, when he was given a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits. This put him behind his title rival on the timesheets but Tio dug deep and passed Gamble on the road and pulled away. With Zamparelli then slowing on the final lap with a fluid leak, Tio managed to finish ahead and claw back valuable points in the standings.

It was a mixed weekend for DVF Racing teammates David Fairbrother and Richard Hawken in the Am category. David was given a ten second penalty in race one for a false start, costing him a shot at the podium and followed up with fifth place in race two. Richard was running fourth in race one before being taken out and finishing at the back of the order, hampering his chances in race two, where he finished seventh.

All three drivers will be back for the final two races of the season as the team pushes towards the title at Brands Hatch on its legendary Grand Prix circuit on September 29/30.

Tio Ellinas, driver #11
“It wasn’t a bad weekend to start with. We wanted to be on pole to get those two points, but we didn’t get it, so we started seven points adrift. Dino had a third set of tyres and we didn’t so he had the option of a third run. We were a bit off at the start of race one, Dino checked out, and I couldn’t get any closer, so we lost another two points to him. Race two was good until I got the penalty. Overall, it’s not the weekend we wanted it to be but we’re going to fight at Brands Hatch.”

David Fairbrother, driver #9
“Tio’s result was good. We’ve got to ride the penalty. My races were consistent, and the times were good. I’m getting back into the swing of things after the layoff. Qualifying was average for me but I’m chipping away all weekend. The penalty was disappointing because you work so hard and the differences around here are so minute that ten seconds is tough.”

 
Richard Hawken, driver #84
“It wasn’t the best weekend. I was punted out of fourth in race one and punted out of fifth in race two! I had high hopes coming here as it’s a circuit I’ve won on a few times, but we live to fight another day. The pace had grown all weekend. I didn’t test on Wednesday, so it was two practice sessions and straight into qualifying: that’s hampered us all year with the lack of budget unfortunately.”

Mark Jenkins, Team Manager Slidesports Engineering
“Tio had impressive pace in qualifying. It was interesting to see that we increased our testing pace. It was a bit cruel to lose pole position by that little, but it is what it is. Race one was pretty good. Tio was busy defending and couldn’t attack and Zamaprelli took off into the distance. In race two everyone was abusing track limits and it seems like we’ve been singled out. But the performance is good, the championship is not over, and we’ll fight to the bitter end.

“Richard reports that his car is in ‘perfect balance’ but he suffers from a lack of testing and has all year but he improves every time he gets in the car. David is still improving and got up to P4, but it was a tricky weekend.”

 

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Eight-year fuel duty freeze beginning to thaw as chancellor suggests tax hike

Fuel duty could be increased for the first time in almost a decade to help fund the NHS, chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond has suggested.

According to the Telegraph, Mr Hammond has refused to accept analysis from the Treasury supporting the fuel duty freeze.

Instead, he has hinted at hiking the tax on petrol and diesel in his next Budget announcement – expected some time in November – in a bid to help support the struggling health service.

Tory MPs claim that the government purse is £46 billion lighter due to the prolonged fuel duty freeze that has been in place since 2011.

Mr Hammond says that an extra £38 billion would be foregone over the Budget forecast period as a result of previously announced freezes – which is “about twice as much as we spend on all NHS nurses and doctors each year”.

‘Hammer blow’

The news has riled motoring authorities, which have warned that raising fuel duty would hit every part of the British economy, resulting in higher food prices and transport costs, and piling extra pressure on families already struggling to cope.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, believes that a fuel duty hike would be “a hammer blow to household budgets across the country”.

“Three quarters of the nation’s freight is transported by road, so if the chancellor carries through this threat we will also see shops increase their prices, as they simply pass on transportation costs to the consumer,” Mr Cousens warned.

“The government simply sees drivers as wallets on wheels. They are increasingly hit with higher charges for fuel, insurance and parking, but in return, they get a road network that is riddled with potholes, congested and is rarely repaired.”

Mr Hammond defended the idea in the Commons, saying that by April 2019, the freezes will have been in place for eight years running, saving the average car driver £850 and the average van driver over £2,100, compared to the pre-2010 escalator.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Upping fuel duty would have a devastating effect on so many aspects of everyday life; not just the prices we pay at the pump but the prices on supermarket shelves too.”

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