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MAR 2    FIESTA ZETEC CLAIMS WHAT CAR PRIZE                General




The new Ford Fiesta 1.25i Zetec has won the What Car? Car of the Year 2009 award.
 
The What Car? judges praised both its exterior looks and interior features, nimble handling and strong grip.
 
Furthermore, the low CO2 emissions of 133g/km and average economy of 50mpg were also a major factor in winning the award.
 

"The Fiesta is the most complete small car we've ever tested," said Steve Fowler, What Car? Editor.

Additionally, the Mini Cooper S won the hot hatch award for third year running, while the Mercedes-Benz S-Class won the best luxury car award.
 

The small family car category was won by the Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 SE 5dr, the family car award went to the Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Zetec 5dr, and the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDI SX EGS won the MPV award.

 




FEB 19    HONDA HYBRID HITS NEW HEIGHTS                General




Honda's global hybrid sales hit the 300,000 mark earlier this month, a figure the company hopes will be bolstered by the April launch of its new Insight.

 

Having unveiled the Insight at the Detroit Motor Show, Honda has labelled the new model "the most affordable hybrid car on the market".

The carmaker has claimed over 10,000 Insight orders have been placed in Japan already, eleven days before going on sale there.

Honda hopes to sell 200,000 Insights per year.

As of September, Honda's hybrid sales accounted for less than three per cent of its annual sales - a figure the brand hopes to raise to 10 per cent by 2010.

The Insight is a five-door hatch that sits on an all-new platform, unlike previous four-door hybrids based on existing models.

Honda UK's environmental manager John Kingston told Motor Trader: "It will change customer perception of hybrids. Hybrids have to be made more affordable - the key barrier to sales is price and we want to break that barrier."




OCT 30    LADA TO RETURN TO UK?%%KEYWRUSSIAN. CARS, RIVA, LADA, FIAT, MOSCOW, CLASSIC, RENAULT, %%                General




Lada cars could make a return to the UK on the back of a new range of modern cars still under development, so it will not be any time soon.

The Russian cars have not been seen here since 1996 when the Riva saloon, Samara hatchback and Niva 4x4 were phased out - models so old that even the addition of fuel injection a couple of years before that was deemed high tech.
 
The Riva, based on an ancient Fiat, dates back to the factory's beginning in 1966 and, amazingly, is still being made and now called the Lada Classic.
 

The Samara is also still being turned out at the vast AvtoVAZ plant in Togliatti, 1000kms south east of Moscow.

The Niva is now made under a joint venture with General Motors in Togliatti and wears a Chevrolet badge. There are also a couple of other more modern cars, the Kalina and the Priora which are made in hatch, saloon and estate form.
 
Earlier this year, however, Renault, with an eye on the fast-growing Russian market, took a 25 per cent stake in AvtoVAZ and is helping the Russians develop new cars.
 
One, the Lada 2116, has been seen as Concept C, but now looks a very different three-box saloon sitting in the company's technical centre.
 
Although it looks ...

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OCT 28    GOVERNMENT TO INVEST IN GREEN CARS%%KEYWCARS, GREENHOUSE, ELECTRIC, JOBS, BRITISH, ROAD, HYBRID, CARBON, UK%%                General




The government has announced plans to invest £100m in developing electric and hybrid cars, with the aim of creating up to 10,000 new British jobs.
  
It is hoped the investment will accelerate the emergence of greener vehicles.
 
The government has plans to introduce 100 electric cars into UK towns and cities to help motorists become more familiar with the technology.
 
The UK is committed to cutting all greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050, about 20 per cent of which come from road transport.
 

Of the UK's 26 million cars, less than 1 per cent are electric and able to travel up to 40 miles fully charged.

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said electric cars and other low carbon vehicles would make a dramatic difference by cutting fuel costs and reducing harmful emissions.
 
"Their research and manufacture is an emerging industry with the potential to create new jobs and safeguard existing employment in the UK," said Hoon.
"Therefore exploring how to ensure they are a practical and affordable everyday option makes sense all round. That is what the cross Government package of measures announced will do."
 
The UK is committed to cutting all greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050, about 20 per cent of which come from road transport.
 
Of the UK's 26 million cars, ...

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OCT 28    NISSAN BITTEN BY WATCHDOG%%KEYWNISSAN, NAVARA, BBC, ENGINE, VEHICLE, DEALER, MAY, AUGUST%%                General




Nissan has been stung by claims on the BBC's Watchdog programme that its Navara pick-up suffers from a fault that causes the engine to explode.

Several owners of the D22 variant, which was built before August 2006, complained to the consumer affairs show about the problem after their engine blew up whilst they were behind the wheel.
 
Following tests by the BBC, a problem with the con-rods and the bearing that propel the drive shaft were discovered. It is thought up to 16,000 vehicles may be affected.
 
Nissan insists the problem is not a safety issue but a durability one, although it did extend the warranty on the Navara from three years to five in May after receiving hundreds of complaints about the problem.
 
But when Watchdog phoned ten Nissan dealers around the country and told them they had an engine failure on a four-year-old Nissan D22, six out of the ten said they had not heard about an extended warranty.
 

In a statement to the BBC Nissan said: "Nissan has openly stated for some time that the durability of a small number of D22 pickup engines, produced before August 2006, have not performed to our exacting standards.

"As a result, Nissan launched a five-year 93,000 miles extended warranty in May to formalise the support we were already providing to ...

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OCT 23    NISSAN EXPECT LARGE CAR SALES TO GROW.%%KEYWNISSAN, CAR, JAPANESE, CO2, SPAIN, SALES%%                General




Nissan believes the demand for larger cars will return and the sector will survive the economic downturn.

 
The Japanese carmaker's vice president for product planning Pierre Loing said long term demand for bigger cars would endure the current economic conditions.
 

Loing maintained that supermini and smaller sized cars couldn't meet all buyers' needs.

"There is a debate in the industry whether it (downsizing) is a fundamental trend," he said.

"My belief is that sentiment explains the collapse of the market. Cars are about individual mobility, and not everybody can have individual mobility in a car like the Nissan Pixo."

 
He said that established technologies were already in place to bring down CO2 for bigger models, and that in the longer term sales would be driven by customer needs.

"The volume decreases are very much due to economic conditions. If the economy rebounds they will improve."

Despite a precipitous decline in sales, he suggested that the British market would not become as polarised as Spain, where new car sales have dropped dramatically, and "you don't sell big cars".

 

 




OCT 3    NORWICH UNION REPORTS SOARING CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFTS.%%KEYWNORWICH, MOTOR, CATALYTIC, CHASSIS, CLAIM, EXHAUST, VEHICLES%%                General




Motor trade claims for stolen catalytic converters have increased by 500 per cent in the last year, according to new research by Norwich Union.
 
One dealership reported the theft of 40 converters on one occasion alone.
 
The insurer said the increase in incidents was due to the high value of metals such as palladium, rodium and platinum, which are all contained in the converters.

"Dealerships are easy targets for thieves who know what they are doing," said Barry Hogg, underwriting manager for Norwich Union's motor trade unit.

"We've heard of instances where whole exhaust systems have been stripped from vehicles, causing extensive damage to the under chassis and body-work."

 
Hogg said that while the average pay-out for a claim is around £2,000, his company had seen instances where the damage caused to a vehicle following a converter theft was far worse and the cost of repair much higher.

He added: "Those dealerships selling vehicles with high-ground clearances, such as 4x4s or trucks, are far more susceptible to these types of thefts."

 
Hogg advised dealers to keep stock within the perimeter of the dealership and avoid using overflow car parks, light their forecourts at night and to consider moving large promotional material that could conceal thieves.



SEP 25    STOP/START FOR NEW GOLF.%%KEYWVOLKSWAGEN, GOLF, BLUEMOTION, POLO, PASSAT, JETTA, JANUARY, EMISSION, SUMMER%%                General




VW dealers will be selling stop/start models again from the middle of 2009.

 
The sixth generation Golf that goes on sale in January will get a new Bluemotion version the following summer fitted with the fuel and emission-saving technology to help the car reach a VED-free 99g/km CO2 emission figure and 74.3mpg on the official combined cycle - the same as the current smaller Bluemotion Polo.
 
The 105PS 1.6 TDI diesel Bluemotion Golf is set to have a premium of £600 costing between £14,000-£14,500.
 
VW expects it to account for 10-15 per cent of all Golf sales - higher than the current Bluemotion sales percentage tallies for other models.
 
The new 1.6-litre engine is also likely to be launched into other model ranges already using the Bluemotion badge including the Polo, Passat, Touran and Jetta.
 
VW last used stop/start technology in the short lived Golf Ecomatic in 1994



SEP 24    PORSCHE AND VOLKSWAGEN TO BURY THE HATCHET.%%KEYWPORSCHE, VOLKSWAGEN, GERMAN, VW, UNION, COMPANY, WORKERS, CHANCELLOR, EU, COMMISSION%%                General




Porsche and Volkswagen may come together for a "peace summit" following the long-running feud sparked by Porsche's attempts to take over the volume brand.

 
The potential breakthrough has been brought about by German metal workers union IG Metall, which is pushing for fairer representation at supervisory board level.
 
The union has advised workers' representatives in the new Porsche Holding company to discuss the level of representation VW employees should have on the Porsche supervisory board.
 
While Porsche's rules require each company to have three representatives, VW has argued it should have more due to its comparatively massive workforce - VW currently has 324,000 workers to Porsche's 12,000.
 
IG Metall has backed proposals to make the board more democratic in this way.
 
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered her support to the labour unions' bid to maintain veto power at VW under the so-called VW Law.
 
Merkel's call to keep the law goes against the wishes of Porsche as well as the EU Commission, which last year deemed the law anti-competitive.
 
Earlier this month Porsche announced it had gained "de facto" control of VW but the VW Law has thus far prevented the luxury carmaker from attaining the power it desires.

 




SEP 24    JAGUAR PLANS TO CUT CAR PRODUCTION%%KEYWJAGUAR, CAR, PRODUCTION, UK, TOYOTA, BENTLEY, LAND ROVER, MARKETS,%%                General




Jaguar is poised to cut production at its Castle Bromwich plant as it attempts to come to terms with falling consumer demand.

 
Volumes will be scaled back at the end of the month and workers' shifts are being withdrawn to avoid a stockpile of new vehicles.
 
The cut follows similar action taken by other carmakers including Bentley, Toyota and stable mate Land Rover.

No redundancies are planned at present.

 
Jaguar attributed the production cut to the global economic downturn affecting the premium car sector particularly badly.
 
Its main markets, the UK and the US, have also been hit hard.
 
The Castle Bromwich factory employs 2,600 people to build the XJ, XK and the new XF.

 




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