Friday 30 September 2016

Ploughing on; Russian roulette with tyres; a happy Note; Audi apprentices; VW filters

Published 10/08/2016 | 02:30

The Volkswagen logo sits atop the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg.
The Volkswagen logo sits atop the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg.

It is hard to believe that they are already laying down trackway (all 25km of it) for the 85th National Ploughing Championships.

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Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles are the official motoring partner - this is their sixth year in a row.

I'm telling you this because one of my most vivid memories of last year was a pre-launch drive, and visit, to the ploughing site.

And that was on the very day the great Volkswagen emissions scandal story broke. I'm sure history won't repeat itself.

• Judging by the outcome of one of the most comprehensive surveys carried out in a long time, I'd say it is fair to estimate that tens of thousands of us are driving with illegal or dangerous tyres.

The survey by TyreSafe in the UK found more than 10 million motorists - yes, 10 million - over there could be putting life and limb at risk due to neglect of their only points of contact with the road.

The study found more than 27pc of tyres were "already illegal" when they were replaced. Shocking.

On the basis of studies and special tests run here over the years, it's fair to say we are no better. Probably worse. There is, as the TyreSafe survey authors point out, a "poor attitude towards tyre safety". That is an understatement. Check at least once a week.

• A sign of things to come? The PSA Group has raised prices for its new cars in the UK after the pound plunged following the Brexit vote.

Others, say Automotive News Europe, have warned that car prices will have to rise to counter sterling's fall. How will that impact on used-car/imports' values?

• We will have a Mercedes sub-brand fairly soon if reports are to be believed.

The motor giant is reportedly going to do so for a line of its own electric vehicles. It intends to add at least two electric SUVs and two saloons. Wonder what they will call it. 'Merclectric'?

• Congratulations to Niamh Madden from Galway city who won a new Nissan Note after her name was drawn from 40,000 other participants in the VHI Women's Mini Marathon. Nissan supports the race as official car sponsor.

Niamh says: "We needed a new family car and it couldn't have come at a better time." She completed the race in 1hr 10mins.

• Audi here are fast-tracking certification for mechanics in their new Advanced Apprenticeship scheme. They say it will award mechanics Audi certification in four years rather than seven.

The scheme is available in dealerships. Apprentices will get Audi brand training at the same time as their general workshop learning and college studies, rather than afterwards.

And - here's the tasty bit - graduates are guaranteed an all-expenses trip to the Audi facility in Neuburg, Germany, where they will drive the Audi R8 supercar.

• Volkswagen say emissions of soot particles from direct injection petrol engines can be reduced by up to 90pc.

It has now decided upon near-universal use of particulate filters for petrol engines. They are calling them 'gasoline particulate filters (GPF)'.

From 2017 all the Group's direct injection TSI and TFSI engines will be fitted 'step-by-step' with the filters, the company says. It adds that there could by 7m vehicles with the technology by 2022.

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