27 July 2020

Kia extend Rafa Nadal partnership

Rafa Nadal
This week Kia Motors Corporation, the major partner of the Australian Open, announced a five-year partnership renewal with tennis all-time great Rafael Nadal via a global livestream training session hosted on his official Facebook page, writes Trish Whelan.

The broadcast gave fans the opportunity to help get Nadal back to match fitness as he prepares for his return to the court.

The renewal signing will extend the Nadal-Kia partnership beyond the 20-year mark as then-young tennis phenom was first sponsored by Kia Spain back in 2004 before becoming Kia’s Global Brand Ambassador two years later at only 19 years of age.

Aired from the Rafael Nadal Academy in his hometown of Mallorca, Spain, the live stream aimed to #GetRafaMoving with fans joining to vote in real-time. Through a series of emojis, fans had total control and tailored the session based on what they wanted to see most from Nadal. Throughout the unique training, Nadal took on a range of drills from knocking down targets from baseline to returning over balls with amazing trick shots.

Rafa commented: “Fans have been without tennis for months now, particularly my own fans since besides my practice routines at the Rafa Nadal academy, I haven’t been active, so I really enjoyed putting on a special event for them.

"Kia has been by my side since I was 17 years old and has played a big part in my journey as a professional tennis player and as a person. I’m excited to see what the next five years bring both on and off the court,” he added.

Kia Motors President & CEO, Ho Sung Song, said: “Our 16-year partnership with Rafa has inspired millions of people to play tennis, so at a time when he needs his fans the most, we wanted to put them at the heart of his training and encourage his successful return to competition. We are excited about extending our partnership for the next five years and look forward to inspiring each other to continually move forward.”

The live stream was hosted on Nadal’s official Facebook page on Friday 24 July and can be found on Kia’s worldwide social channels.

26 July 2020

Podcast: The Gordon Bennett Times II Run 2020

On Saturday 25th of July 2020, a new milestone was added to the history of motorsport in Ireland. More than a score of vintage and veteran cars completed the original 1903 Gordon Bennett course twice in a day, the first time since that had been done since the actual race itself. Produced by Brian Byrne.

All the pictures available here.

22 July 2020

Mind-blowing Mustang Mach-E

If you're planning to buy a Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV when it comes available on this side of the big pond, this isn't it, writes Brian Byrne.

This is a one-off special Mach-E, from Ford teaming up with the US-based vehicles tuner RTR Vehicles, as a prototype for demonstrations at big motoring events.

The Mustang Mach-E 1400, as it is labelled, has seven electric motors that between them deliver more than 1,400hp.

Three of the motors are installed in the front, four at the rear. Using special differentials and complex software, the car can be switched between three drive modes — FWD, RWD and AWD. The system also allows set-up for different kinds of use, such as drifting or racing.

The production Mach-E comes with 255hp-459hp.

Discovery vehicle of choice for SEMRA rescue group

The South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association (SEMRA) has carried out its 500th operation and over the last three years has attended over 100 rescues using Land Rover vehicles, writes Brian Byrne.

The volunteer group uses a Land Rover Discovery for getting to difficult locations, which can carry a stretcher with a medic sitting alongside the patient.

SEMRA provides the only search and rescue service for those in difficulty on the mountains of south east Ireland and typically operates round the clock 365 days a year across the Galtee, Knockmealdown, Comeragh and Blackstairs mountains.

The Discovery has been lightly modified for operational duties and features a comprehensive list of emergency and first aid kit, powerful emergency lighting, a roof box, additional interior lighting and rear stowage nets.

Skoda's first electric car for 1 September debut

Skoda will be revealing its first fully electric car in Prague in 1 September, writes Brian Byrne.

The Enyaq iV will be an SUV based on the Volkswagen Group's dedicated MEB electric vehicle platform.

It will be available with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and the company says it will have a range of up to 500km.

The online broadcast of the car's premiere will be the highlight event of a year in which the carmaker celebrates its 125th anniversary.

'Casualties' in motor trade forecast

A reduction in the number of car dealerships in Ireland at the end of this year and through 2021 is being forecast by Deloitte Ireland, writes Brian Byrne.

In a report published today, Ireland’s Motor Industry – Driving Forward, the company says that redundancies in the Irish motor trade 'will be unavoidable'. "As it is perceived there are too many independent dealers to service the current levels of demand, there will likely be some consolidation of dealerships in the medium term,” says Andrew Byrne, Director, Financial Advisory at Deloitte.

He says that new car sales are reducing globally and Ireland is no exception. There will be significant reduction in new car sales this year — for the fourth consecutive year — coupled with a possible slowdown in the second-hand market over the coming 12 months. "Considering the level of overall economic uncertainty over and above this, it is difficult to see that that there won’t be casualties in this sector emerging in late 2020 or 2021. This will likely result in an overall reduction in the numbers of branded and independent motor dealers.”

The report also suggests that Irish car buyers will be seeking higher-spec, second-hand vehicles rather than opting for new vehicles. In addition, almost six in 10 of Irish consumers have indicated they were planning to keep their current vehicle longer than originally expected, up 1pc since the previous index.

15 July 2020

New MH diesel engines for Range Rover Sport

A range of new 6-cylinder diesel engines have been introduced by Jaguar Land Rover for its Range Rover Sport, writes Brian Byrne.

The 3.0 engines also bring 48v mild-hybrid diesel technology to the model for the first time.

The engines range in power output from 249hp to 350hp, and join the existing range of petrol and diesel power options for the model, which also has a PHEV variant.

Pricing for the Irish market is yet to be announced.

Volkswagen and Ireland's best road trips

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has produced a guide to the best road trips in Ireland to help those planning to stay in Ireland for holidays, writes Brian Byrne.

The results from querying the Volkswagen fans on the company's Facebook pages brought in a top ten of the Copper Coast Road in Co Waterford, the 'Eireball Run' along the Wild Atlantic Way, The Ring of Kerry, The Inishowen Peninsula, Keem Bay on Achill Island, Hook Head in Co Wexford, Rossnowlagh Beach in Donegal, The Dingle Peninsula Loop in Kerry, The Causeway Coastal Route and the Dublin to Wicklow Mountains.

The guide coincides with the launch of the new California Beach, an entry-level camper that sleeps four, includes a mini-kitchen and swivel front seats. It can be downloaded here.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles says there's has been a 500pc increase in demand for its California and Grand California models. Details on the California Beach will be available soon.

14 July 2020

All-electric iX3 from BMW here next year

A new BMW electric car coming to Ireland in 2021 will offer a range of up to 458km, writes Brian Byrne.

The iX3 is expected here in the summer, and a feature of the power system is that no rare earths are used in its making.

Already a popular compact SUV in the BMW range, the new version adds a fully electric powertrain that represents a fifth generation of the company’s electric drives.

More details on specification and pricing in the autumn.

Flat batteries biggest lockdown assistance issue

Flat batteries were the biggest reason for callouts to Allianz Partners roadside assistance during April-June, writes Brian Byrne.

That represented an almost 72pc increase compared to the same period in 2019.

On the other hand, due to the pandemic restrictions, roadside car recoveries and repairs were down significantly.

Allianz Partners handles some 45pc of the roadside assistance calls in this country, and is currently celebrating 30 years in business here.

SEAT Ireland launches roof box rental service

SEAT Leon with roof box fitted

SEAT Ireland has launched a roof box rental service, available to SEAT customers across its 23-retailer network, writes Trish Whelan.

The service provides the brand’s customers with a roof box and roof rails which will be fitted at their local retailer and offers SEAT customers a convenient travel solution that is ideal for those planning a staycation in Ireland this summer.

A qualified SEAT technician will fit the roof box in under half an hour while the customer waits. The roof box can be fitted on all SEAT models and offers customers up to 460 litres of storage in addition to their boot space. It’s designed with simple loading and unloading in mind; with the roof box being able to be opened on both sides. Customers can also be reassured that it comes with a central locking system that locks the box securely in three places.

SEAT Ireland say the purpose of the campaign is to make their customers’ staycations in Ireland more affordable. For example, the seven-seater SUV SEAT Tarraco roof box and bars normally retail at €1,087 but are now available to rent for a fraction of the price.

John Cunningham, Head of Aftersales at SEAT Ireland says roof boxes are often used once or twice a year for staycations and are difficult to store, hence their solution for customers to avail of a rental service. They can be used for holidays at home or abroad with installation as part of the rental.