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France goes digital – soon! March 21, 2009

Posted by Richard Aucock in What randomly caught my eye today.
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I’ve got an in-car digital radio; it’s so awesome, I’d never be without it. This boy, he don’t need much.

Made by Pure, it works a bit like Griffin’s pioneering iPod transmitter – transmitting a low-power signal that the in-car stereo, tuned to the specified ‘blank’ station frequency, can pick up. All for £60.

It’s faultless, and means I can have BBC 6Music wherever I drive.

france-goes-digital-sooner-than-anyone-expected1I need this aftermarket add-on, though, because in-car DAB is still virgin territory. Despite being available for years now, few makers have picked it up. It’s still a rarity, even in the high-spec test cars we sometimes get in the Motoring Research office.

Things are about to change, though. In a surprise move, the French Government has made it law that all cars from 2013 must have standard DAB digital radios. Wow! That’s one way of imposing a digital switchover…

It’s certainly caught the industry on the hop. Standard on few, barely 20 percent of new cars offer DAB even as an option – and it usually costs £300 or more where it’s offered.

This means that standards are fragmented across Europe, too. Each country uses different digital bearers, which makes developing, for example, the successor to RDS TMC traffic reports – TPEG – hard.

France’s move is admirable, but the risk is that standards are rushed through that aren’t compliant with other countries. Could Britain risk missing out? It will be up to regulators over here to respond fast to France’s move, to ensure we’re not.

In the meantime, I’ll bear the faff of juggling mobile phone charger with DAB power socket in the 12v socket, if it means not missing George Lamb… yyyyyea!!


£3 billion classic car industry goes green March 15, 2009

Posted by Richard Aucock in What randomly caught my eye today.
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A classic car mag has launched something I’ve been wondering was possible for years. Making old cars green.

Classics Monthly has just launched the ‘Engenius Awards 2009’. This is a hunt for classics that have been made as green as a modern car.

Such as? Well, a fully-catalysed Mini, using a 60mpg Toyota Aygo 1.0-litre engine would be quite cool. If not, indeed, a version using the 85mpg smart diesel engine?

Or, how about a Golf GTI MkI with VW’s 50mpg 1.4 TSI engine? A Jaguar E-Type with a BMW 3.0-litre diesel? Let’s hang it way out – what about an NSU Ro80 with a full Toyota Prius hybrid drivetrain transplant?

3-billion-classic-car-industry-goes-green-and-ecoThis is proper inventor territory. Classic car nuts do amazing things, when they turn their minds to it. Creativity in the business is rife. By giving them a green agenda, Classics Monthly is focusing this spark of invention on sustainability.

And I, for one, can’t wait to see what readers come up with.

There are two awards on offer, one for the industry and one for enthusiasts. It’s going to run throughout the year, with shortlisted cars appearing at the NEC Classic Motor Show in November.

My challenge is to drive some of them beforehand… Maybe even adding a twist to my fledgling Mini project?

Oh, and how about this for a killer stat. Gary Stretton, Editor of Classics Monthly, revealed that the classic car industry’ contributed £3 billion to the economy in 2006.’

£3 billion!

That’s even more than the Government pledged to bail out the car industry back in January. Classic car owners to the rescue, then. sounds like just one more justification for me to buy a Mini.

How to lose readers in your first 3 words March 11, 2009

Posted by Richard Aucock in What randomly caught my eye today.
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I haven’t learnt (still with me?) any new reasons why speed limits should be cut. Or, indeed, why the should not.

It’s the usual argument that teachers in school playgrounds struggle to solve every term time day there is. And, true to form, the ABD has waded in with petulant melodrama.

‘Anti Car Extremists,’ screamed the press release, ‘Drive 50 Limit Proposals – Driving Skills to be Destroyed to Suit Eco Agenda.’ Well, I’ll be. Fancy that.


Notwithstanding the ABD’s ironic assertion that this is a ‘speed bully’ policy, the assumptions bandied about really are awe-inspiring. How about ‘the end of driving excellence’. Policies making ‘life more difficult and unpleasant for drivers’.

There’s the ‘implementation of a ‘surveillance society’ where your every move is monitored and no individual discretion is allowed.’ And chat of a ‘dictatorial regime’, just for good measure.

Scan past the hyperbole, and the ABD’s argument is sound. For, it is actually an argument. Speed doesn’t kill, inappropriate speed does. Also, speed doesn’t kill, but bad driving does.

However, instead of good old common sense and plain English stating this, the organisation lets its press room descended into mouth-foaming lunacy, which wouldn’t be out of place in the Daily Mailxpress.

Hence, the reason why the ABD is ignored.

Suzuki snares some celeb status… March 8, 2009

Posted by Richard Aucock in What randomly caught my eye today.
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This is tenuous. But intriguing. Clive Allen takes delivery of new Suzuki. Shock.

Or, so what. It’s an Altitude special edition, we’re told. One of 500. With lots of free kit as standard, yet a highly economical engine to ensure the former England international won’t be spending too much on fuel. The ITV pundit has also paid Hertfordshire Glyn Hopkin £10,250 for the car. Sorry, ‘just’ £10,250.

Interesting. Potentially. For, what’s this? Football man in sensible eco car surprise? Eschewing the Bentley Conti for a credit-crunched, in-touch-with-the-real-man supermini? Err, no. See, the picture is the giveaway.

57173suzThere is Allen.

There is beaming dealer.

There betwixt them is Allen Jr.

Clearly the car is for son Edward, not our Clive, which the press release makes but minimal mention of.

Because, ‘son of ex-England International buys new car’ isn’t really all that interesting, is it.

Still, it’s got my interest. What that’s more indicative of, I do not know.