23 July 2019

Emissions-free ice cream and sustainable buildings

Nissan Ireland's sustainable headquarters.
It might have seemed frivolous to be offering ice-cream cones at the launch of a sustainable energy building, but Nissan Ireland were making a very serious point, writes Brian Byrne.

That the ice-cream was being dispensed from an electric-powered Nissan van, with refrigeration energy from recycled EV batteries charged by solar panels on the van roof was just one point. The other was that the ice-cream, from top Scottish maker Mackie's, was produced in a dairy where all the energy is provided by solar and wind power.

Add in the notion that the cattle who provide the milk for the product graze in fields made green by nature’s own energy and you have absolutely ‘zero emissions ice cream’.

The exercise was part of the official opening today of Nissan Ireland’s new HQ in the Park West business campus, by Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

James McCarthy, CEO Nissan Ireland, and Minister Bruton.
An extensive refurbishment of the building has included a range of sustainable energy measures, including the provision of 350 solar PV panels on the roof, installation of LED lighting, and the Nissan X-Storage battery system to store surplus solar electricity for use when there’s no sun.

It even has a connection to electric cars being charged outside which can select that they are only charged using solar-generated electricity, reducing the car’s lifetime carbon impact on the planet. The system also allows for the cars to be used to provide electricity for use in the building, with the operator deciding how much of the car’s charge can be so used. This can make more efficient use of a car that’s sitting unused but charged for long periods of the day or night.

“We have been at the forefront of electro-mobility for ten years,” Nissan Ireland CEO James McCarthy said at the event. “We recognised that we were maybe being a bit preachy about it, and decided to have a look at our own sustainability performance.”

With the various elements of Nissan Ireland Group being in the same building, it was decided to refurbish it with sustainability in mind.

According to Krystyna Rawicz of KRA Renewables, who developed the solutions for the company, ‘it actually takes much less energy to refurbish a building to sustainable standards than to build a completely new one’.

The solution involved two strands — increasing the renewable energy supply to the building, and decreasing demand for electricity within it.

The first was taken care of by the solar panels, and indirectly by the X-Storage and EV car batteries ‘mobile energy hubs’. The second related to the use of energy-efficient lighting and smart controls, plus other details such as providing secure bicycle storage and showers for cycling staff, to encourage more of them to use bicycles. The company is also increasing the number of electric vehicles in its own fleet.

The solar panels used were chosen for quality and durability and have an estimated life of 30 years. The payback period for the installation is expected to be just five years.

“Ireland is surprisingly good for solar power,” Ms Rawicz said at the launch event. “It is an almost perfect climate, with low ambient temperatures and long summer daylight hours.”

The potential output is 100kW of peak power, and Nissan Ireland estimates that the solar power will represent 41pc of annual electricity demand in the building.

“It will save 38,000 kgs of CO2 emissions in the first year, and a million kgs over the lifetime of the system,” Ms Rawicz said. “In the first 10 days of operation, it had the same effect as what 50 trees would have done in absorbing CO2. And the projected savings for the company is €600,000.”

The X-Storage battery systems are designed for home-owner and business use, and are being trialled at the moment in the UK. It is understood that they will be made available in Ireland probably next year. No price has yet been given.

James McCarthy said it was incumbent on the entire business community in Ireland, and all government departments, to audit their carbon footprint and take the necessary steps to reduce it.

Minister Bruton said it was a ‘sad truth’ that we have for generations been doing things that are leading to ‘irreversible changes’ on the planet. “We do need to make changes in our lives, and the new Nissan HQ is a great example of some of those changes.”

He added that three-quarters of the things that we need to do to meet the emissions and energy commitments for 2030 can ‘pay for themselves’ in the long view. But he urged the financial services community to help meet the ‘difficult challenges’ for people and businesses having to manage the upfront costs of what meeds to be done.

“We have been down this road before,” the Minister added. “We had an ambition for 2020 but it failed. This time we must do it properly. We have laid the foundations at political level, but the real challenge is how we can do things in our homes and businesses and every other way so that we can reach our destination.”

The goals, he said, were to have homes and farms and enterprises that are ‘resilient’ ... that Irish people are saying they want to make them resilient ... so that the planet is resilient’.

22 July 2019

Weekend Cannon Run attracted big interest in South-West and West of Ireland

For those interested in exotic cars, there were lots of opportunities over the weekend in the south-west and west of Ireland to see some really serious vehicles, writes Brian Byrne.

As part of the Cannon Run Ireland 2019, some 70 examples of high-powered Lamborghinis, Ferraris, a Bugatti and many other extreme performance car models toured those parts of the country from Friday morning until last evening.

After spending more than an hour at the start point near Ashtown Castle in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, the cavalcade drove on the first day to Tralee, with stops at the Midway Food Court in Portlaoise, Mahon Point in Cork, and Moll's Gap in Kerry.

In addition to the participating performance cars, a number of powerful pick-ups and SUVs which are used for moving equipment and luggage, and providing music at stops, were also an attraction. The trucks included a Ford F150, a Chevrolet Silverado (driven by me for a day spent with the Run) and a Dodge Ram from the US, and a high-powered version of the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen.

Everywhere they stopped there were large crowds to view the cars and speak with their owners, in particular many families with excited youngsters.

Arriving for the overnight at the famous Rose Hotel in Tralee, more crowds gathered and through the evening there was a regular stream of visitors to the hotel's car park. That evening, the entertainment included a fire-eating demonstration outside the hotel by one of the 'Cannon Run Girls' who travel with the event.

On Saturday, the cars were driven to Castlebar, Co Mayo with stops at Bunratty Castle, Peacock's Hotel at Maam Cross and finishing up in Breaffy House Hotel after driving in convoy through Castlebar itself.

The final run back to Dublin on Sunday included a stop at Enfield Services, and then on to Mondello Park where the Run participants joined the 2019 Parts for Cars Irish Rallycross Championship, which included Round 3 of the Drift Games Extreme Championship

A live-streamed arrival and convoy drive around the track was timed for after the end of the Rallycross Finals, and then the Cannon Runners staying on for some track driving and drift games before heading back to Dublin. The official Cannon Run Ireland Awards were presented at an afterparty in the city's Number Twenty Two Club.

The event was organised by Cannon Run Ltd, a travel agency which specialises in organising road trips through the UK and across Europe, taking in the most iconic cities,  some of the best driving roads in the world, and stop offs with amazing motoring heritage.

The enterprise was founded by Jamie Cannon (above) from Telford, who inherited a love of high-powered cars and racing machines from his father Jim, a well-known businessman and race driver. Jamie began racing in karts at the age of eight, and still races today in the BMW Racing Club Drivers Class A, as does his father.

He set up the Cannon Run some years ago after having taken part in a similar event organised by another company and being unsatisfied at how it was managed.

The Runs are sponsored by some of the big names in automotive performance equipment, including Atturo Tyres, Bilstein shock absorbers, and Quantum44 forged wheels, as well as a number of other businesses, such as S6 Wraps who provide the decals given to decorate participants' cars during runs, and Monster Energy Drinks.

This past weekend's event was the second Run organised in Ireland — last year's one took in the North-West and Northern Ireland, including a leg through The Giant's Causeway and into Belfast.

18 July 2019

Stacey's Astra is wild in pink

This is a special and much-loved Vauxhall Astra owned by Stacey Donnelly from Limerick, writes Brian Byrne.

Her 2010 motor has been customised to her own designs, including the lowered suspension and the various mods. Power is from the original 1.7 diesel.

A car shows fan, Stacey's creation is in showroom condition and regularly wins trophies at events around the country, as well as garnering a lot of attention.

At a wild guess, I'd say she's fond of shocking pink ...

"I just wanted it to be different," she says. Yep, it is that.

Unique Mustang honours fighter ace, funds trainee pilots programme

If you're a fan of Ford's iconic pony car, this is something pretty unique ... in fact, it's the only one that comes with official USAF decals, writes Brian Byrne.

Ford produced it to honour a WW2 P-51 Mustang fighter hero, now 97-year-old Bud Anderson, for a famous Wisconsin Air Show.

Anderson flew 116 missions in his aircraft, nicknamed Old Crow. They included air support for Allied troops on D-Day.

Ford got specialist Roush Performance to detail the car. In addition to special grille, badges and the very distinctive decals, they boosted the 5.0 V8 to 700hp. For comparison, the Packard V-1650-1 engine used in the WW2 fighter place developed over 1,200hp.

An annual charity auction at the air show benefits from the car next week. Ford has been building special vehicles for the auction since 2008, which has raised $3.5m to support a trainee pilots scheme.

Lotus producing fastest electric car

Just in case you think electric cars are a passing fad, take a look at this beast, writes Brian Byrne.

The Lotus Evija is a pure electric sports car, and will have a 1,973hp output through electric motors in each of the four wheels.

The car is expected to be capable of 0-300km/h in around nine seconds, about the same as a decent family hatch does the sprint to 100km/h. That's how it gets the designation 'hypercar'. The range is claimed at 400 kms.

There will be just 130 built, at $2.1m each.

Lotus was taken over by Chinese carmaker Geely some time ago.

25 years of Audi RS

It's a quarter of a century since Audi first launched its RS performance variant, the RS 2 Avant that had a massive 311hp pouring from its 5-cylinder petrol engine, writes Brian Byrne.

The Quattro division that developed the RSs is now Audi Sport, and some 24 RS models have since been introduced.

The 2.5 engines used today are directly evolved from the unit that pumped rally and touring competition cars with the distinctive Audi badge first across many finish lines. There have also been 4.0 V8s in the motors lineup, and the RS 5 Sportback from 2018 has a 444hp 2.9 V6 under the hood.

Why so much power? Because they can.

Enhancements for Skoda's SUVs

Skoda is is adding some subtle enhancements to its Karoq and Kodiaq SUVs for 2020 model year, writes Brian Byrne.

Technically they include a Side Assist that warns of vehicles in the 'blind spot', from as far back as 70 metres.

The visual tweaks include Skoda lettering on the tailgate.

Meanwhile, I'll be getting to drive the upcoming Kamiq compact SUV, the latest crossover in the Skoda range, in Alsace next month. It's a smart looker, should go as well as it presents.

16 July 2019

New L200 here next month

The Irish launch of the new generation Mitsubishi L200 pickup will be in September, writes Brian Byrne, with first vehicles due in showrooms in mid-August.

The new vehicle will be available in three trim levels, at a starting price of €35,000.

A new off-road Mode technology offers a variety of traction characteristics to best traverse gravel, mud and snow, sand, and rocky terrains.

Power is from a 2.2 diesel and there's a new 6-speed automatic transmission option in addition to the manual version.

The styling is sharper than the previous version, and the company claims a higher quality interior including soft pad materials.

A range of driver assist technologies available include Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), and Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation 6System (UMS) which reduces accidents resulting from improper use of the accelerator when moving off or reversing in confined spaces.

The L200 nameplate was 40 years old last year.

Selling and buying in 192? Change your easytrip details

If you're selling on your car as part of buying a new one during the 192 registration period, and have an easytrip toll and parking account, then don't forget to change the car details on your easytrip, writes Brian Byrne.

Otherwise you are likely to be charged for any automatic toll charges incurred by the new owner of your old car.

The mobility solutions specialist notes two potentially costly scenarios:

Selling your old vehicle: if you’ve sold your old vehicle and inadvertently left your tag in the vehicle and haven’t updated your toll tag account, the new owner may continue to use your tag at most barrier toll plazas, racking up a bill connected to your account.

Buying a new vehicle: if you’ve bought a new vehicle and transferred your existing tag to it but forgot to update your account details, you’ll risk receiving a toll bill (billed at the higher rate) and penalty charge if you’ve travelled through the M50 toll plaza as your new vehicle registration is not connected to your toll tag account.

Easytrip customers can update their vehicle details through their online account at www.easytrip.ie or by contacting easytrip directly on 1890 676768.

12 July 2019

Ford, VW, to share autonomous and electric tech

Ford and Volkswagen are to expand their global cooperation to develop self-driving and electric vehicles, writes Brian Byrne.

Both companies are to invest in Ford's subsidiary Argo AI, a company developing an autonomous vehicle platform, to the tune of more than €7bn.

Each carmaker will independently integrate the Argo AI system into their vehicles. The system is aimed at providing Level 4 autonomous driving, particularly for ride sharing and delivery services.

Ford is to use VW's electric vehicle architecture and Modular Electric Toolkit to build one or more electric vehicles for its European customers. The first model will be available in 2023.

The two companies are already working to co-develop LCVs and pickup trucks, scheduled to begin deliveries in 2022.