Motoring News Roundup: An Expert's Take On October

By: James Ruppert
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Motoring news has had it's up and downs this month with Tesla finally admitting that their self-drive option isn’t quite what it seems.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen gives us a glimpse into the near future of selling cars which may not involve car showrooms anymore. Then again, manufacturers are having an even harder time advertising them as three companies get their ads banned.

Perhaps the most important news of all is that Top Gear is getting a new line-up again.


Top Gear Turns Lancastrian

So let’s start with the most pressing motoring matter. Matt LeBlanc will be around for one more Top Gear series. After that Paddy McGuinness, the primetime entertainment host and comedian, and former Ashes-winning England cricketer and TV presenter Freddie Flintoff, both proud Lancastrians, will join Chris Harris for series 27.

Just in case you wondered, Rory Reid, who has co-presented Top Gear since Series 23, will step down from the main presenting lineup and continue to be the face of Top Gear’s companion Extra Gear. 


So what do the new stars think?

Paddy McGuinness said: “Getting the Top Gear gig is a real honour and I’m thrilled the BBC have given me this opportunity. To be hosting a show I’ve watched and loved from being a small boy is beyond exciting. Top Gear fans worldwide are a passionate bunch and I consider myself one of them. Now let’s start up this Great British machine and see what it can do!”

Freddie Flintoff commented: “It’s not often you have the chance to do both of your dream jobs, but I’m now lucky enough to say I will have. I’ve always been passionate about cars and I’m so excited to be joining the Top Gear team.”


And the old one?

Chris Harris says: “I think you can tell just how much fun we’re going to have making Top Gear with Paddy and Freddie. They’re both brilliant, natural entertainers - and their mischief mixed with the most exciting cars on the planet is sure to take the show to the next level. My dream job just got even better.”


Tesla Offers Less Confusing Cars…

In a controversial move, Tesla has removed ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ from its options list in order to reduce “confusion”, after testing revealed the software’s marketing can be misleading. 

Thatcham Research the British safety and crash testing body has teamed up with Euro NCAP to test 10 cars fitted with systems such as autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist. 

Both organisations identified confusion among motorists over what these technologies are capable of, with a study claiming 71% of drivers globally and 53% of drivers in the UK believe you can purchase a fully self-driving car today. When in fact Tesla requires users to keep their hands on the wheel in case the car needs to hand control back to the driver.
The day after the results were released, Tesla’s website no longer featured Full Self-Driving Capability as an option, with only the Enhanced Autopilot function available.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham, said: “Some car makers are designing and marketing vehicles in such a way that drivers believe they can relinquish control. Car makers want to gain a competitive edge by referring to ‘self-driving’ or ‘semi-autonomous’ capability in their marketing, but it is fuelling consumer confusion. This is exacerbated by some systems doing too much for the driver, who ends up disengaged”.

Are Self Driving Cars The Future?


Petrol and Diesel Ban Brought Forward

The qualified environmental experts, better known as Members of Parliament, have published a report suggesting that the proposed ban on sales of petrol and diesel engined vehicles originally cited for 2040, should be brought forward to 2032.

The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee called the Government’s 2040 target “vague and unambitious” in the report. It also found the country’s limited charging infrastructure one of the greatest barriers to the growth of the electric vehicle market. Well, they are the experts and it is important to remember that none of this has actually happened yet and is many years away.

Diesel Cars Are 3 Times More Likely To Break Down Than Petrol


Volkswagen To Change Showrooms

The company are launching a new online sales and service channel by 2020. It will see Volkswagen sell cars directly to customers as well as offering mobility services, car hire, loans and maybe taxis. Showrooms may no longer be as glass fronted and full of potted plants, their intended online activity will be supported by a network of city showrooms and pop-stores.

The new digital sales and service channel aims to provide around-the-clock sales support, with each customer receiving a unique Volkswagen identification. Customers are able to opt out of the new online sales and service channel and still maintain contact with their preferred dealership. So don’t worry, not every showroom is shutting just yet.


Banned Car Adverts

Two ads for Ford Mustangs were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after some viewers complained that they showed driving as a way of releasing anger. 

The Ford advertisement, quoted a Dylan Thomas poem to "rage against the dying of the light" while showing typical office frustrations such as a jammed photocopier and spilt coffee. The ASA didn’t like the word anger.


A Nissan advertisement was also banned, for showing a car braking after a pedestrian stepped in front of it to demonstrate the car's intelligent technology and safety features. The ASA said it was implied that the driver was in a hurry. 

If that wasn't enough the ASA also didn't like Fiat's advertisement. It featured cars driving on a track which the carmaker said was designed to emulate ‘Hot Wheels toys’. The ASA said it encouraged irresponsible driving.

Welcome to the safe, predictable, sterile and rather boring world of modern motoring advertising.  It can only get worse.

That's all folks and after the excitement that October brought, I am already looking forward to sharing with you my take on November!

James Ruppert


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