x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Motoring news round-up

Saab customer's can watch their car being built online, Britain's biggest driving school has to replace its entire fleet of minis and rabbits vandalise cars at Denver airport.

Too small for school

LONDON //Britain's biggest driving school is replacing its entire fleet of 3,250 Fiat 500 super-minis after government examiners declared the car was too tight a squeeze in the back.

The British School of Motoring (BSM) will be ditching the Italian cars and replacing them with Vauxhall's Corsa model, reported The Daily Mail, in a deal estimated to be worth around £30million (Dh176 million).

BSM had only introduced the Fiats 18 months ago, for the previous 18 years that used Vauxhalls. But officials from the government's Driving Standards Agency (DSA), who check that instructors and their cars are suitable, struggled to fit into the rear of the Fiat for the mandatory check-test.

A check-test is when a DSA examiner sits in the back of the car to observe the instructor giving a lesson. An instructor has to take the test every two to four years.

BSM is celebrating its 100th year in business. It currently teaches more than 130,000 learners a year and employs over 3,500 instructors, making it Britain's biggest driving school. Queen Elizabeth was taught to drive by the motoring school.


Watch your bespoke Saab being built from the comfort of home

SWEDEN // Before Saab buyers collect their new car from the factory in Sweden they can watch the car being built online.

Saab are planning to install cameras into its Trollhattan factory by 2011.

According to What Car? magazine Saab wants to put more focus on the customer experience now it is no longer owned by General Motors (GM), and plans to start installing cameras on the production line from next year.

Initially, buyers might get a text message and image showing them significant parts of the production process, such as the marriage of the drivetrain and body, but Saab's global product manager Christopher McKinnon said live feeds could eventually be used. McKinnon told the magazine customers will also be able to collect their cars from the factory next year.

The personal attention to detail will rely on a shift to building cars to order, rather than building them first and then looking for buyers as Saab did under GM, something that McKinnon is keen to see happen.


Car costs up in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO // Brazil's strong currency has created issues for car exports in the nation's otherwise buoyant economy.

The real, which is remaining high against the US dollar, has caused car production costs to escalate with materials such as steel becoming more expensive for automakers. Energy costs have also increased in line with the strengthening real.

Car production in the country is set to rise 13.1 per cent in 2010 and it is expected that at least 3.62 million units will be produced by the end of the year.

However, as Brazilians become more prosperous, they are choosing to buy foreign cars, adding further pressure to the automotive industry.

One solution has been to export unassembled vehicles, which are in greater demand than finished vehicles in many markets.

"Overseas economies are recovering and they are absorbing more unassembled vehicles from Brazil," says Cledorvino Bellini, president of Brazil's national automakers association, Anfavea, adding the exporters would prefer to sell fully assembled cars.

Brazil exported more than 569,520 cars in the first three quarters of 2010, a 76 per cent increase over the comparable period last year but lower than the exports of 735,000 vehicles in 2008.


Russia's accident rate declines, but it is still worst in Europe

MOSCOW // The high death toll and accident rate on Russia's roads has declined in January-September 2010 compared to the same period in 2009 but it still remains one of the world's highest, as well as the most deadly place for drivers in Europe.

From January until September 2010, the Russian Interior Ministry announced that "around 143,000 accidents" a 2.5 per cent decrease from the first three quarters of last year. A spokesperson for the ministry said that "more than 18,000 people were killed and another 182,000 suffered various injuries" but added that this represents a declining trend.

In November last year, Russia hosted the first global ministerial conference on road safety. The Moscow Declaration on road safety was drawn up as a result of the conference with resolutions to improve data collection, co-operation between government and non-government agencies and set ambitious but realistic road safety targets.


Bugged by bunnies: Rabbits vandalise cars at Denver airport

DENVER // Rabbits are generally known for eating carrots and lettuce leaves, but passengers at Denver International Airport have discovered that these creatures have a taste for some alternative foods.

Passengers who parked their cars at the airport's long-term car parks have returned from holidays to find the wiring in their cars had been munched on by rabbits.

One such unfortunate motorist, Dexter Meyer, told local television station KUSA-TV that after a nine-day vacation, he returned to his car, started the ignition and warning lights lit up on the dashboard.

His mechanic diagnosed chewed wires, the repairs cost Meyer $238 (Dh809) and he has filed a complaint with the airport.

Airport staff told Meyer they were aware of the problem but were not sure how it can be solved.

"They said, 'We have a fence,' and I said, 'I understand that, but it's clearly not working,'" Meyers said.

Denver airport staff have admitted they are aware of the problem but declined to comment further.