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Ford chief calls for extension to VAT cut as Covid-19 hits industry hard

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The latest Mercedes S-Class heralds the start of a huge number of new cars arriving in Ireland this year.

The latest Mercedes S-Class heralds the start of a huge number of new cars arriving in Ireland this year.

Daimler AG

The latest Mercedes S-Class heralds the start of a huge number of new cars arriving in Ireland this year.

THE Government should extend the current VAT reduction until the end of March to help lessen the blow of the lockdown on the motor industry, according to Ford Ireland chief John Manning.

Anything that will help lower the impact of not being fully open for business is to be welcomed, and Mr Manning’s message is timely.

It is up to the government now to do all it can on that front.

January, as you know, is always the busiest month for new car sales. However, the current Covid-19 restrictions will seriously restrict business for dealers, perhaps into February, Mr Manning said.

“It will be really tough on our business as new car sales will now be much lower than what they would be for a ‘normal’ January. We will be limited to providing new vehicles to customers within the guidelines of ‘click and collect’ services,” he said.

However, he’s hopeful of a quick rebound when the new restrictions are lifted.

“My hope is February can be as buoyant as a ‘traditional’ January in the new car sector if the conditions are such that businesses can reopen at the end of January,” he said.

With that in mind, he’s calling on the Government to extend the current VAT reduction to the end of March.

“In this very tough environment, we need all the help we can get.”

S-Class arrives

The latest Mercedes S-Class has arrived and heralds the start of a huge number of new cars coming this year.

Prominent among them will be electric and hybrid models as well as conventionally powered cars.

The S-Class (pictured) will have two petrol and three diesel models for starters but a plug-in hybrid isn’t far off. All have V8, 6cyl in-line engines and 9G-TRONIC automatic transmissions.

Petrols include an S450 and S500 (both 2,999cc) 4-MATIC all-wheel drive. Diesels comprise a S350d, S350d 4MATIC and S400d 4MATIC.

Ciaran Allen, of Mercedes Ireland, told us demand is expected to focus on the “standard wheelbase 350d launching at €121,865”.

Yes, €121,865. Someone has money. Beyond that most models are likely to be bought by special order and on an individual-spec basis.

Overall standard specifications include nappa leather upholstery, heated rear seats, AMG design line, rear thermatronic climate control and special touchscreen with augmented reality.

The new flagship has more room inside, as driver and rear passenger elbowroom is up by 38mm and 23mm respectively, along with 16mm higher rear headroom. The 550-litre boot is increased by 20 litres.

With as many as five screens, the second-gen MBUX User Experience with 3D display has 50pc enhanced computing power, they claim.

And, I kid you not, Mercedes say: “Its features include eye-tracking spatial perception using cameras and algorithms that anticipate occupant wishes and interpret body language, head and hand movements to manage functions.”

There are improved driver assistance packages and an active body control element raises the vehicle by 8cm if there is the threat of a side impact.

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