17 July 2018

Local knowledge advantage with Volvo Cork Week

Local knowledge was a distinct advantage on the opening day of Volvo Cork Week where a fleet of 120 boats is in action until next weekend, writes Trish Whelan.

Juggling local tides and the light breeze on home waters, Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney took an early lead in the overnight race to the famous Fastnet Rock in the Beaufort Cup for military and rescue crews.

The former Minister for Defence helped initiate the competition that has a €10,000 charity purse at stake. Coveney’s boat this week is named Jedi.

While Commandant Barry Byrne of the Irish Defence Forces is leading the title defence from the 2016 regatta on Joker 2, former Irish Olympian Peter O’Leary is racing with the Baltimore RNLI team who were the early leaders in the 130 nautical-mile race. That was until the fleet ran into light winds at Roche’s Point and Coveney popped into the lead. Close behind him, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett as Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces is on the crew of Merdian and hoping to edge into the lead.

As the Beaufort Cup crews sailed out of Cork Harbour, their route took the 15 teams straight past the start of the bigger event where four classes were beginning their own four-hour coastal race around the scenic Cork coastline.

While the light wind made for a tricky start, the clouds soon pulled back and a perfect breeze kicked in as spinnakers were hoisted close to the beach at Fountainstown for a spectacular-run eastwards to Power Head.

However, that race ended as it began with tricky conditions at the finish off Roche’s Point where once again, local knowledge proved an advantage playing into the hands of Kieran Collins and his family crew on Coracle IV who won the day in Class 3 ahead of Paul and Deirdre Tingle’s Alpaca.

With nine countries and 28 clubs from around Ireland and the Irish Sea region represented in the fleet, visitors are also featuring in the results, notably Jay Colville’s Forty Licks from East Antrim, winner of Class One.

Racing continues today, Tuesday, with more coastal courses before tomorrow’s massed start of the full fleet that plans to sail past Cobh and its spectacular hillside backdrop that is the perfect grandstand for this regatta.

While events unfold on the water, a line-up of jam-packed entertainment continues on-shore throughout the week. Highlights include the sold out Fashion Show with special guest Francis Brennan and RNLI Ladies Lunch, Thursday night’s Corporate BBQ, and nightly musical entertainment at the Royal Cork Yacht Club. 

See www.corkweek.ie for more information.

13 July 2018

Windsor Motor Group take Renault/Dacia in Galway

Renault and Dacia in Galway are now represented by the Windsor Motor Group in the city, writes Brian Byrne.

Windsor Galway Renault and Windsor Galway Dacia are located on the Old Dublin Road.

Michael Butler has been appointed as the new dealer principal at Windsor Renault Galway and Enda Cantrell is Sales Manager with Pat Faherty as Service Manager.

The new Renault Store exterior signage will be updated at the end of this month, and the new Renault Store interior is planned for completion in late September.

The move has been welcomed by Paddy Magee (pictured), Country Manager of Renault Ireland.

Camry will return to Europe and Ireland next year

The Toyota Camry will return to the Irish market in mid-2019, after an absence of some 14 years, writes Brian Byrne.

The model, larger than the Avensis which is no longer being sold here from the end of the year, will be powered by a new 2.5 hybrid petrol engine, which offers similar economies as diesel.

It is a new generation of the car, which was originally launched as a derivative of the Toyota Celica in 1987. With 19m units sold, it is one of the Japanese company's most successful cars on a global basis.

Toyota ceased sales of the Camry in Europe in 2004 because it didn't have a diesel engine at a time when virtually all of its competition was diesel.

The new Camry is built on the same platform as underpins the current Prius and the C-HR crossover.

In an exclusive drive in a prototype in Spain on Monday I found a big car with handling characteristics that allowed it cope easily with a range of roads from twisty mountain cliffhangers to motorways.

Many staunch fans of the Camry in Europe will welcome it back. Mr Masato Katsumata, chief engineer with the Toyota Motor Corporation for the new Camry's development, said the company has endeavoured to create a car that will prompt people to say 'that's too cool to be a Camry'.

New Focus on sale this month

Ford's new generation Focus goes on sale in Ireland at a starting price of €24,900, writes Trish Whelan.

Initially available in four grades — Zetec, ST-Line, Titanium and Vignale — it will be joined by the Active variant in early 2019.

Engines for the new car, which represents the fourth generation of a nameplate first launched 20 years ago, include 1.0 and 1.5 EcoBoost petrol engines and a 1.5 diesel. A new 8-speed automatic gearbox will be available.

Connectivity includes the FordPass Connect system which among other features allows the car to be a mobile WiFi 'hotspot' for up the ten devices at a time. Other options include the FordPass mobile app with which drivers can easily locate their car in sprawling shopping mall car parks, check fuel levels, remotely lock and unlock their car, and even start it remotely (where permitted by law).

There will only be hatchback and wagon formats as Ford has decided to stop building sedan versions of the Focus for Europe — they will continue to be sold in other markets, including China.

The trend towards petrol engines is also clear with the new Focus, as Ford Ireland has ordered a 50:50 ratio for the car's launch here, against the 20pc petrol/80pc diesel sales of the outgoing vehicle.

Car prices surge looms under new emissions testing

Ford Ireland MD Ciaran McMahon with the new Focus ST Line.
It's a big mouthful in its name alone, but it threatens to have an even bigger effect on car prices in Ireland, writes Brian Byrne.

The Worldwide Harmonsised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) has already caused some car prices here to be pushed up, and unless the Irish Government adopts an EU recommendation that the change in assessing fuel efficiency and emissions in cars is 'cost neutral' to consumers, it could 'destroy the market' here, a leading car company has warned.

Ciaran McMahon, chairman and MD of Ford Ireland says prices could rise by an average of 8pc at the end of August, when the first 'compass' of the new regulations comes into play.

"And if the Government doesn't change its tax bands to compensate, there would be a further 10pc a year later when the full compass is implemented."

All carmakers have to provide their products' fuel economy and emissions figures under the WLTP, by the end of August.

The new figures, under the 'real world' motoring test conditions, will show higher consumption and emissions than has the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) system used for decades, and which carmakers have learned to 'game' to achieve unrealistic results.

The WLTP regime will particularly affect vehicles using older engine systems.

In Ireland and some other countries, both the VRT and Road Tax use the emissions figures to calculate the amount of taxation built into the retail price of cars.

But the real emissions as disclosed under WLTP will be higher, in some cases significantly, thus bumping up the wholesale prices of many cars. For instance, Ford Ireland's Kuga crossover price will go up by €1,000 under the new regime.

Car distributors here are currently gathering the data under the new system and have to show their results to the taxation authorities by the end of August.

They are also lobbying the Government, through the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) to change the VRT and Road Tax bands so that the new emissions figures don't increase the retail prices to consumers.

"If there's no change in the bands, the impact for the Irish buyer could be huge," says Ciaran McMahon. "Sales could be halved, it would destroy the market. And it would be political suicide."

The Ford boss notes that a number of other countries in the EU who use emissions figures for taxation have agreed to adjust their tax bands to make the move consumer neutral. "Obviously the Irish authorities won't be making any decision until they have all the data in from the local distributors, and there's a danger that even if they ultimately change the bands, the initial 8pc average increase will never be reversed."

Speaking at the international launch of the new generation Focus, he also said that the new regime is going to have a major effect on the numbers of options and grades available, 'because the system won't be able to cope'. "Instead of a big list of options, we're probably going to have three or four grades, and a couple of option 'packs'."

The new system already has forced Ford to drop the 1.5 diesel from its Mondeo range here, which in Ireland represented 50pc of sales. "Now we're leading with the 2.0 diesel, and it is much more expensive."

6 July 2018

New Freshii outlet at Applegreen Rathcoole on N7

Freshii, the global healthy eating fast food restaurant chain, and Applegreen, Ireland’s largest independent forecourt retailer, yesterday opened their fifth Freshii outlet in Applegreen Motorway Services at Rathcoole on the N7 from Dublin, writes Trish Whelan.

Applegreen currently operates Freshii food outlets in Applegreen Midway just outside Portlaoise on the M7, at Enfield Motorway Services on the M4 westbound, as well as two outlets on the M1 at Lusk (north and southbound).

Freshii is a health-casual restaurant brand that serves fresh food designed to energise people on the go. The diverse menu includes a wide range of foods including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free and wheat free.

The menu also includes tossed salads with homemade salad dressings made fresh daily, hot bowls, burritos, healthy wraps, soups, fresh pressed juices, smoothies, frozen yogurt and breakfast. 

Dave O’Donoghue, CEO of Freshii Ireland commented: “More and more people are becoming dashboard diners as they are eating meals on the go so it’s important for them to have healthy options on a journey.”

Freshii plan to become Ireland’s greenest fast food business. 

Almost every Freshii food container a customer eats from will be fully compostable, degrading into the earth in just six to eight weeks with only organic matter left behind. New cutlery and straws are also made from eco-friendly plant starches which decompose quickly. Compost bins will be provided in store so that every item can be disposed of correctly.

The Freshii team pictured above at yesterday's launch are Laurel Benny, Inesta Dapkuviene, Jana Karpovic, Charlotte Lahert, and Agne Stanisauskaite.