One in five motorists are driving on dangerous tyres

One in five motorists are driving on dangerous tyres

A fifth of drivers are putting themselves, fellow road users and pedestrians in danger by driving on unsafe tyres, a study by Confused.com has found.

The price comparison site found 21 per cent of drivers have at least one tyre with a tread below the recommended limit of 3mm, with three per cent having tyres under the legal limit of 1.6mm.

Edinburgh was perhaps the riskiest place of all, with 27 per cent of drivers on the city’s roads with at least one tyre below 3mm, although the city’s tally of four per cent with a tyre under 1.6mm was beaten by Newcastle and Ipswich with five per cent.

Manchester was just behind Edinburgh, with four per cent having a tread depth below 1.6mm and 26 per cent falling below 3mm.

Birmingham had some contrasting figures, with 23 per cent having a tread below 3 mm, but none falling below 1.6mm.

London had the best record for 3mm tread tyres, with only 16 per cent falling short, a percentage point better than Leeds.

The causes of this danger are not confined to deliberate carelessness. Confused.com noted that further research has shown 61 per cent of motorists do not actually know the minimum legal tread depth. In addition, 55 per cent do not know how to check their tyres.

A simple way to do it is to use a 20p piece and wedge it into the grooves. If the outer band is still visible the tread may be illegal and the tyre needs changing.

Not only does this mean drivers have less grip on the roads and are thus more at risk of accident, but if they do end up involved in an incident, the involvement of bald tyres could invalidate the insurance policy. This can also cause a car to fail its MOT.

Confused.com’s motoring editor Amanda Stretton said it is “worrying” that so many drivers are on the roads with bald tyres.

She added: “Tyre tread ignorance could land offenders with fines of up to £2,500 per tyre, invalidate their insurance or lead to an accident.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Bald tyres can be more of a problem than people think. Do the 20p test regularly to ensure you don’t break the law.”

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Petrol and diesel cars still much cheaper to run than electric, study finds

Petrol and diesel cars still much cheaper to run than electric, study finds

There has been plenty of hype about electric cars in recent years, but not everyone is getting carried away.

A study by Confused.com has revealed a number of problems faced by drivers who are keen on the idea of getting an electric car – until they realise how much it costs.

It revealed 59 per cent of drivers are put off by the hefty price tags on electric vehicles, not least the fact that they cost as much as £370 more a year to insure.

The Tesla Model S hatchback costs an eye-watering £127,000, but even the ‘cheaper’ models cost a hefty sum, such as Renault’s £20,670 Zoe.

A plug-in car grant may help produce some savings, but only 37 per cent of owners of electric cars or hybrids who have received such grants have been able to cut their driving costs in 2018.

This means that while the report found electric cars are cheaper to run, the overall costs are much higher than those for petrol or diesel cars.

If the higher costs were not problem enough, delays to the government’s £400 million EV infrastructure plan mean charging points are still scarce. Indeed, 73 per cent of drivers were discouraged from owning an electric car by this. After all, nothing can be worse than running out of power without a charging point nearby. Currently, there are 16,130 connectors in 5,602 places around the UK.

All this is definitely a good reason to think twice about buying an electric car for at least the next few years. The report advises that people should ideally hold off until 2023.

The message appears to have already got through to drivers. While 31 per cent of those surveyed for the report said they would like an electric car, only two per cent of new car registrations were electrics.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Electric cars have had lots of publicity, but often the problems of owning one are less publicised. For true savings, motorists are best sticking to petrol and diesel cars.”

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Internal combustion engine is here for the long-term, says Total boss

Internal combustion engine is here for the long-term, says Total boss

To read the views of some futurologists, it might be very easy to imagine that within a very short time all cars will be electric-powered, no doubt being covered with solar panels or even equipped with their own mini-turbines to generate power on windy days.

However, it may well be that such predictions will go the way of 2015’s flying cars of Back to the Future fame. If the boss of Total is to be believed, the internal combustion engine will be with us for a long time yet.

Chief executive officer of the company Patrick Pouyanné said the reality is that the adoption of electric vehicles will be much slower than some imagine. He predicted that by 2040, only between 20 and 30 per cent of light vehicles will be electric, and only half of cars will run off batteries by this time.

Some might retort: “He would say that, wouldn’t he?” After all, Total is a major oil company.

However, Mr Pouyanné drives an electric car himself and emphasised that Total intends to be a diverse energy company in the future instead of specialising in oil.

He remarked: “There is a clear future for electric vehicles, especially in cities in China and Europe because of air pollution, but there are still obstacles to a large adoption.”

The problem, Mr Pouyanné explained, is that there are structural barriers to the mass-adoption of electric vehicles, at least in some countries. This includes capacity constraints on some national grids and a lack of charging infrastructure. He also predicted that the cost of the basic raw materials of the batteries such cars will use – nickel, lithium and cobalt – are likely to go up, not down.

Cobalt is particularly problematic, as 60 per cent of the world’s supply comes from the unstable Democratic Republic of Congo.

Of course, new technologies may emerge to solve these problems. But for now, it seems the idea that the whole world will switch to electric cars within decades may be a bit too optimistic.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Electric cars are clearly going to play a growing role in the years ahead. But rumours of the imminent death of petrol engines have clearly been exaggerated.”

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BMW 8 Series Coupe - all you need to know

BMW 8 Series Coupe – all you need to know

BMW has not always made the headlines for the right reasons of late, but it certainly should with its new 8 Series, which has just been revealed at the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours Race.

While Fernando Alonso took the glory in the race itself, many eyes were trained on the new 8 Series. It may not have been out on the course like the M8 GTE version, taking part in the FIA World Endurance Championship race, but it has swiftly captured the imagination.

The latest 8 Series is high on aesthetics, with a futuristic sports car look to follow the James Bond style of its Z8 predecessor.

Some elements of its appearance are entirely unique. For example, it has the slimmest headlights of any BMW. If that makes it look sleek, the tapered glasshouse gives it what BMW calls a “muscular shoulder line”. There are some very well-honed contours at the front, along with exceedingly prominent air intakes. There is also a “low-set BMW design kidney grille” on the front.

Other visual characteristics include the sports car-style ‘double bubble’ top, the long raked rear window and the LED tail-lights embedded in the rear flank.

If the visual aspect is striking, so too are some of the specs. It has a 19-inch M Sport braking system, while those concerned with its environmental impact will be pleased to learn its combined CO2 emissions range from just 240-154g/km.

Above all, this is a car designed to move seriously fast with little drag. Among the elements that aid this quest are the frameless side windows, with the door mirrors being mounted to the side window strips in a bid to improve the airflow around them. The air curtains and air breathers are almost entirely located under the body, which should also help reduce drag.

All in all, it’s a BMW that exudes dynamism, power and speed in a package that many upper exec company car drivers will find utterly compelling. It will be available from November, which gives a few months to save up the £76,000-plus needed to own one.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “This is a superb BMW and we believe it will prove to be its most popular new model in years.”

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Photo: pcruciatti/iStock

Car still beats public transport in morning commute race

Commuters in cars beat those on public transport into city centres by at least half an hour, according to analysis by the AA.

For the UK overall, a morning city-centre commute by public transport takes an average of 117.76 minutes, but just 82.20 minutes by car; a saving of 35.56 minutes.

Motorists in the south-east face some of the worst road congestion in the country, but they still managed to cut an average of 39.79 minutes off a rush-hour trip into a city, compared to colleagues on public transport.

A morning peak-time trip from doorstep to city centre destination averages at 125.98 minutes by public transport in the South East. In a car, commuters complete the same trip in 86.19 minutes.

These numbers emerged in a recent report from the Department for Transport, adding further embarrassment for Britain’s increasingly inadequate public transport services.

Commuters in the north-ast enjoy the swiftest public transport, averaging 100.86 minutes. However, motorists are still significantly quicker with an average trip of 64.67 minutes, saving 36.18 minutes.

Public transport beat driving in just one region in the whole of the UK – Torridge in Devon – clocking 81.74 minutes to the car’s 95.51 minutes, saving 13.78 minutes.

‘Car remains king’

Edmund King, the AA’s president, said the figures explain why some car commuters are reluctant to swap their vehicles for public transport.

“For commuters wanting to enjoy more time in the day outside work, or spend longer with the kids and family and be more in control of their travel, the car remains king,” he commented.

“As the railways are struggling to implement new timetables, the roads are also struggling with record numbers of potholes which are causing damage and injuries.”

According to the National Travel Survey, cars account for 62 per cent of trips and 78 per cent of distance travelled in the UK.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Public transport needs to become cheaper, more reliable and quicker if it has any hope of getting commuters out of their cars.”

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