Saturday 19 August 2017

Hello, hello, anyone there? Out of sight; €500m from Renault; Lexus on hydrogen

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BMW electric i3.
BMW electric i3.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Nothing infuriates me more than a voice control system that doesn't work. And many of them don't, though I'm glad to say more do than don't these days.

The question has been raised this past week: why after so many years of voice recognition systems in our cars is it still so difficult to get them to work properly?

A recent JD Power study in the US found 23pc of all problems car buyers reported involved their infotainment system. Voice-recognition was responsible for a big part of the problem. It remains the "No. 1 problem that we see" according to JD Power's Renee Stephens. "This year, we started to see some improvement, but it's been slow."

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New research suggests many of us are well overdue an eye test. A Vision Express study found that 15pc of drivers haven't had one for 14 years on average.

I'm confessing here - I hadn't had one for yonks until recently. I was thrilled that my sight was as good as it was way back. Go get your eyes checked. You need all the visual help you can get at the wheel of a car, day or night.

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The level of credit in the market right now is underlined by new figures which show the banking arm of Renault has loaned more than €500m to Irish motorists in the last five years.

The total has been significantly boosted in recent times by the surge in people taking out Personal Contract Plans (PCPs). According to Renault, this is now by far the most popular way for people to access a new car.

For the year to date, 58pc of their private car customers have chosen this finance option.

Renault also owns Dacia, as you know, and reports that 64pc of the bargain-basement brand's customers opted for PCP so far this year - up from 55pc in 2015. Overall, the bank's lending this year increased by 49pc.

Interesting that more than €25m has been loaned to van customers so far this year.

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Toyota are confident of developing an electric-car battery that will add 15pc more range within a few years.

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Volvo say their 90 series' smartphone integration, which already includes Apple CarPlay, will now come with Android Auto functionality as well.

Because of the split screen interface, you can use both smartphone functionality and in-car features without changing views. There will also be an Over-The-Air navigation update system which, they claim, means the latest maps are on-board.

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Still on Volvo... their senior vice president of R&D, Peter Mertens, is heading to Audi to replace their former head of research and development (R&D), Stefan Knirsch.

Mr Knirsch resigned in September following an enquiry into his involvement in the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Mertens worked at Volvo since 2011. I mention it as I interviewed him relatively recently and he was so immersed in Volvo I'm surprised he has left. Volvo's loss, Audi's gain.

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Some models of the new luxury car from Lexus, which will be based on the LF-FC concept, will have the ability to be powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology.

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We're told next year's facelift of the BMW i3 electric car will bring a 'hot' S model to the market. It is expected to be shown at Frankfurt motor show next September.

Indo Motoring

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