5 April 2020

Kia extends vehicle warranties worldwide

Kia xCeed
Kia Motors are extending their comprehensive warranty cover to customers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, writes Trish Whelan.

Kia Motors Corporation has launched the Kia Promise, a global warranty extension programme for its vehicles and designed to support Kia customers whose movements may be limited because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Kia Promise covers 142 countries worldwide, and all vehicles with original Kia warranties that expired and will expire between 1 February and 30 April 2020. The programme extends the warranty of all eligible vehicles to June 30, 2020.

Kia Motors believes that more than 500,000 customers worldwide could benefit from the Kia Promise warranty extension. Here in Ireland, just over 1,400 cars registered between February 1 and April 30 2013 will benefit from the extension.

With many countries and businesses taking precautionary measures to counteract the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kia Promise aims to help customers who may be unable to visit a workshop during this time. It also helps customers who are not able to bring their car in for free servicing as part of a Kia Care 3 programme that may expire during the period when dealerships are closed due to Government guidelines.

Kia says “Our goal is to help to alleviate any concerns our customers have about vehicle maintenance during periods of social distancing.”

Peugeot Partner is Ireland’s best-selling van

The Peugeot Partner van, Continental Tyres Irish Van of the Year 2020, is Ireland’s best-selling van to date in 2020, writes Trish Whelan.

With 8.2pc share of the critical first quarter market, Partner van sales grew +28.4pc year-on-year.

Peugeot’s total LCV sales grew by +18.1pc in the first three months of 2020, driving the lion-brand up to now command 10.7pc of the overall LCV market.

With a modern, robust exterior styling, the Partner van is the first light commercial vehicle in the range to receive the Peugeot i-Cockpit interior comprising a compact steering wheel and heads up instrument panel.

The Peugeot Partner, a former International Van of the Year winner, is available in a choice of six trims to ensure business needs are met: Access, Active, Active Plus, Professional, Professional Plus and Grip trim. Standard items include USB, Bluetooth and Jack connectivity, 15-inch wheels, a spare wheel, dual front airbags, overhead storage, rear panelled doors and a full steel bulkhead.

Options include an Overload Indicator for safe loading within the maximum authorised payload and a Surround Rear Vision which provides blind-spot camera vision or rear view vision when driving (standard on Professional Plus trim).

Diesel are a 1.5 75bhp and 100bhp both with a 5-speed manual transmission, and a 1.5 130bhp 6-speed manual. A 1.5 130bhp automatic 8-speed is also offered.

Partner van is available in two lengths, payloads range from 650kg to 1,000kg and up to two Europallets can be accommodated.

The Partner range retails from €16,935 plus delivery related charges, or ex-VAT from €13,768 plus delivery. 

1 April 2020

Windsor adapts to online car sales/contactless deliveries

Windsor is the first motor group in Ireland to adapt to social distancing by enabling customers to buy cars online from the comfort of their home and to arrange for contactless delivery, writes Trish Whelan.

The motor group is experiencing a significant surge in interest from online car buyers as consumers adapt to the crisis and the temporary closure of car sales showrooms nationwide.

“Every car dealer is going to have to adapt to online selling and contactless delivery when sales activity resumes in the coming weeks and months. We know that consumers are spending a lot of time online during the lockdown and we are witnessing a big surge in our web traffic. In light of the current conditions we have added a contactless delivery service for our online buyers for when the market reopens,” said Peter Nicholson, Managing Director at Windsor.

“Visitors to www.windsor.ie can fully finance and buy a car without leaving their home and arrange to have it delivered to them fully sanitised with a contactless handover. The existing restrictions that apply to the motor industry clearly mean that we can not deliver the car until our showrooms reopen but that reality has done little to deter interest from online buyers,” he added.

Windsor invested over €1 million in the development and launch of its online sales platform in late 2018, enabling consumers to buy, finance and trade in cars without visiting a sales showroom.

“Digital has been re-shaping car sales for some time but we expect that this will accelerate as people continue to practice social distancing and Windsor is well placed to move with the times,” said Mr. Nicholson.

Windsor is an authorised dealer for Nissan, Renault, Dacia, Opel, Peugeot, Citro├źn and Mazda. It is also one of the biggest sellers of used cars and operates a rigorous certified programme allowing customers to buy with confidence and to enjoy peace of mind.

Visitors to the Windsor website can view, reserve and buy any Windsor used car online. Online payment is processed through Stripe or via their bank credit card. Buyers can also use the site to calculate and complete an end-to-end finance application.

“We look forward to re-opening our sales showrooms in due course. Those who have been cocooning are the ones most likely to adapt to online selling and contactless delivery into the future and Windsor will be there to meet their needs,” said Mr. Nicholson.

Windsor operates in Dublin, Galway, Meath, Wicklow and Louth.

Pictured below: the launch of the Windsor Online Car Sales Service.

AXA Insurance, Renault Group help returning medics

Renault's New Captur
AXA Insurance Ireland and Renault Group, along with its dealer network, have joined forces to supply Renault cars with insurance to overseas Irish doctors and nurses returning home to help the fight against COVID-19, writes Trish Whelan.

The only requirement from the medics is that they are Irish citizens, that they have proof of the fact that they have returned home to support the national response to the pandemic, and that they have a full driver’s licence (Irish or from another country).

This joint initiative is to acknowledge the exceptional contribution being made by returning medics to support the national response to the pandemic.

Speaking today, Antoinette McDonald, Director at AXA with responsibility for Direct, Partner and Customer Experience said: “Our frontline doctors, nurses and support staff have inspired the whole country and none more so that the many doctors and nurses now returning from as far away as Australia to help the national COVID-19 effort. We want to help these men and women get organised with practical things like cars and insurance as they prepare to return to hospitals around the country and this is the most practical way in which we can help.”

Paddy Magee
Paddy Magee, Country Operations Director for Renault Group Ireland said: “We as a nation are so grateful to all those working on the frontline treating patients and helping to combat the horrors of Covid-19. It shows real courage to come home from overseas to help us fight the battle and we really appreciate what these returning doctors and nurses are doing. We hope that supplying cars to these frontline medical staff will help to make their commutes to and from work a little easier and less stressful, and we and our dealer network are delighted to be of assistance in some small way.”

Returning medics who will be working on the frontline can apply for a Renault car and AXA Insurance on https://covidcarcover.com/

New car registrations down 63pc for March

Toyota Corolla Hybrid Saloon
New car registrations for March were down 63pc (6,174) when compared to March 2019 (16,687) as Covid-19 put the breaks on sales, writes Trish Whelan. Registrations year to date are also down 20.5pc (51,015) on the same period last year (64,126).

Sales of Light Commercial vehicles (LCVs) are down 52.9pc (1,434) compared to March last year (3,044) and so far this year are down 15.2pc (9,378). 

In contrast, Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) registrations are up 17.67 (313) when compared to March 2019 (266 and year to date are up 12.59pc (993).

Electric vehicle sales year to date (1,667) show a 16.17pc increase on last year (1,435). EVs for March this year (379) are up 21.86pc on 2019 sales (311). 

Fewer Irish people are buying used car imports with sales for March (4,656) have seen a decrease of 48.1pc on March last year (8,970). Year to date, imports are down 34.9pc (17,471) on 2019 (26,832).

The five top selling car brands for 2020 were: 1. Toyota, 2. Volkswagen, 3. Hyundai, 4. Skoda, and 5. Ford. 

The five top car models year to date were 1. Toyota Corolla, 2. Hyundai Tucson, 3. Volkswagen Tiguan, 4. Ford Focus and 5. Skoda Octavia. 

The top selling car for March 2020 was the Toyota Corolla.

Market share by engine type 2020 shows diesel at 43.86pc, petrol 38.42pc, Hybrid 12.17pc, electric 3.27pc and Plug-In Hybrid at 2.02pc. 

Commenting, Brian Cooke, SIMI Director General said: “The health of our nation is the overriding priority. The Motor Industry will assist the State in any way we can during this pandemic. While showrooms, service and other activities within the Industry are closed, members are available to assist in emergency call-out or delivery services.” He added that this will be vital in keeping essential and emergency services moving.

“The Motor Industry and its employees, like so many industries, is feeling the devastating impact of COVID-19. Even before the crisis commenced, the new car market was in decline, and this fall has accelerated rapidly in the last fortnight with new car activity down nearly two-thirds on last year. Whatever the duration of this crisis, once we emerge, we will need to see decisive and ambitious action from Government to protect the nearly 50,000 jobs in our sector.”

26 March 2020

Mercedes-Benz extends support to Sneem Digital Hub

Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles are continuing to support Sneem Digital Hub, writes Trish Whelan.

Mercedes-Benz will continue its support for the Hub by providing them with the use of one of its Vito vans for a further year. Last year demand for the Hub’s facilities far exceed expectations.

Fergus Conheady, Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles sales manager, said ‘branded with the Sneed Digital Hub logo, its use as a promotional unit to transport equipment, distribute materials and convey display items to events and exhibitions had made it a familiar sight around the Ring of Kerry and surrounding area’.

The Vito model 111L is equipped with all mod cons including colour coded bumpers, leatherette seats, multifunction steering wheel, reverse camera and air conditioning. It has been described by Sneem Digital Hub manager, Aidan Murray, as ‘creating a visual presence and shop window for the Hub as it travels throughout Kerry, the south-west and beyond’.

Sneem Digital Hub, situated on the edge of Sneem village, was created with the help of a dedicated group of community volunteers and provides a reliable digital infrastructure that includes high-speed broadband, hot-desking for remote workers, meeting rooms, a low-cost base for business start-ups and options for companies seeking to expand remotely. 

Pictured above with the Mercedes-Benz Vito van, seen in its Sneem Digital Hub livery, are Aidan Murray, Manager, Sneem Digital Hub; Stephen O’Flaherty, Chairman of Motor Distributors Limited; Lauren O’Flaherty, Marketing Manager, MSL Motor Group; and Niall Scott, Chairman of Sneem Digital Hub.

New Skoda Octavia model here in June

The Skoda Octavia has proven hugely popular with Irish buyers since it first appeared in 1998 attracting both private and fleet customers alike, writes Trish Whelan. 

Skoda in Ireland say this new fourth generation of the model ‘is the best Octavia of all time’, more spacious, practical and safer than ever before.

Sixty years after production of the Octavia started in 1959, Skoda is now unveiling the best model yet since its re-launch in 1996 and believe that this new Octavia ‘will continue to be the brand’s heart and engine as well as its top volume model’. 

With more than 6.5 million units produced, Octavia is the best selling Skoda ever. Customers buy it for the amount of space it offers and for its value for money including its good residual values.

The new car is also longer and wider than the previous generation model. The hatchback is 19mm and the Combi (estate) 22mm longer now; width has increased by 15mm. 

Boot space, the largest in the segment with the Combi’s increased by 30 litres to 640 litres while the  hatchback can now take 600 litres. 

The new interior combines big space with high-quality materials and clever details as well as a redesigned multi-level dashboard at different levels featuring a large, free-standing central display. A new two-spoke steering wheel can be heated as an option. There’s a choice of four infotainment systems from screens of 8.25 to 10-inches.

The 4.2-inch 16-colour display comes as standard while tri-zone Climatronic makes its debut in the model. 

New Octavia is also more connected than ever.

Octavia Combi boot
Innovative connectivity and new assistance systems raise comfort and safety to an even higher level and a whole range of new safety systems like Collision-Avoidance Assist, Turn Assist, Exit Warning and the local Traffic Warning function also make their debut in the new model.

Powertrains will deliver anything from 110hp to 204hp. The 1.5 150bhp TSI petrol will be offered initially with the 1.0 TSI versions arriving later. A 2.0 TDI diesel with 150bhp and 7-speed DSG transmission will be offered initially with the 1.0 TSI versions arriving later. Diesel-wise a 2.0L 150bhp with 7-speed DSG transmission will be offered while the familiar 1.6 TDI 115bhp diesel will make way for a 2.0 TDI variant with the same power output. 

For the first time, the line-up will include a plug-in-hybrid, called the Octavia iV (like the Superb iV) while the diesel engines come from the latest EVO generation and emit up to 80pc less nitrogen oxide. 

Raymond Leddy, Skoda Ireland Head of Marketing, says there are still around 56,000 Octavia cars on Irish roads today and nearly 19,000 of these have been bought since 2015. He believes this new model will see the car straddle a number of segments, and potentially worrying some more traditionally executive-segment rivals.

Irish specifications have yet to be finalised but with Irish customers looking for higher specced models, Skoda is expected to discontinue the entry Active version and offer Ambition and Style trims from launch. 

New Octavia will be available in Ireland from 8 June 2020. Prices have yet to be confirmed but are estimated to be starting less than €29,000 for the hatchback 2.0 TDI 115bhp Ambition version.

25 March 2020

Ford to use seat ventilation fans in Covid-19 fight

Ford in the US is planning to make respirator units for front-line medical staff in the Covid-19 crisis using off-the-shelf blowers for seat ventilation, writes Brian Byrne.

The company is partnering with the giant 3M group to make the systems, essential for protecting medical staff in highly infectious environments as when treating infected patients.

The blowers will push air through 3M-made purifying filters and into a face mask, which is also being developed by Ford's Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan.

The seat ventilation blowers are lightweight and can be powered by rechargeable batteries that will run for up to 10 hours on a charge.

A 1966 VW Microbus with 21st century electric drive

For those who fancy a modern electric drive MPV, but with a yearning for the 1966 Volkswagen T1 Microbus, a German company has just the offer, writes Brian Byrne.

The company is eClassics, and they will provide you with a fully refurbished Microbus powered by an 89hp electric motor with a range of around 200 kms.

The refurbishment uses mostly genuine Volkswagen parts, and the electric motor can be fast-charged to 80pc in 40 minutes.

Brakes, steering, and suspension are all upgraded, to provide modern response and also to cope with the extra weight of the battery.

The vehicle is available for €64,000 or so in Germany.

Driver Theory Tests postponed

The provider of the Driver Theory Test service, Prometric, is suspending the provision of the service in light of the Covid-19 restrictions.

Prometric has advised the RSA that, as a result of Covid-19, it is no longer in a position to provide a normal level of staffing that maintains the integrity of the service while adhering to HSE guidelines on Social Distancing.

The suspension takes effect as and from today Wednesday 25 March and will be subject to ongoing review.

Candidates who have a driver theory test scheduled up to 19 April, will be contacted to notify them that their test will be rescheduled free of charge when the service resumes. Updates around the re-starting of tests will be published on www.theorytest.ie.

Prometric has advised that it will continue to provide a service in emergency cases and arrangements for this will be published on their website www.theorytest.ie by Wednesday afternoon 25 March.

Mercedes-Benz EQV concludes Arctic testing

Mercedes-Benz has concluded its Arctic testing of the second electric passenger vehicle from the company, the EQV, and have concluded it is fit for purpose even in those most challenging conditions, writes Brian Byrne.

In temperatures as low as -20degC, the testers drove over lakes and roads normal for that region, and in measured the effects of extreme cold on the handling, ergonomics, and comfort.

The testing was augmented by 'cold cell' facilities checking of how the drive components worked, and investigated the thermomanagment of the complete vehicle.

The conclusion of the engineers was that the EQV, due for market launch in the second half of this year, performed 'very well'.

24 March 2020

Keeping your car clear of Covid-19

Skoda has issued this infographic showing the parts of your car you should disinfect regularly, writes Brian Byrne.

Disinfection should be done before and after you use the car, especially if you share the car with another, or you gave someone a lift.

It's best NOT to give people a lift, travel alone where possible. If you have to carry other people, try and wear a face-mask to help stop any spread of infection from yourself.

There are exterior places on a car that also need regular attention.

If you're using different types of disinfectant, don't use hydrogen peroxide on a car's surfaces, as they will most likely be damaged.

Carry some kind of hand sanitiser when you're travelling in your car, as well as a few rubber gloves. Because when you need to fill up, a glove is useful when handling the hose, and afterwards wash your hands where possible.

Pay by contactless means where possible.