20 October 2021

Large increase in automatics over decade

The percentage of automatic cars being sold in Ireland has increased almost five-fold in ten years, writes Brian Byrne.

Of the 100,491 cars registered to the end of September this year, 48,670 have automatic transmissions, or 48.73pc. This compares to 10.27pc of the 87,150 cars registered in 2011.

The strong uptake is probably due in part to automatics having become much more fuel-efficient, but also to the arrival of dual-clutch automated technology. The growing number of hybrid cars over the decade is also responsible for an increasing automatic percentage.

Battery electric vehicles are also classed as automatics because they don't have a gearbox.


15 October 2021

Ford reveals revised and upgraded Focus

Ford's mainstream Focus family car has been revised with new styling details and electrified powertrains, writes Brian Byrne.

The exterior changes include a new bonnet design, and the move of Ford's 'blue oval' badge to the centre of the grille. New LED headlights are standard, and the LED taillights have been restyled. Main grades have grille details to differentiate them, and the ST-Line sportier variant gets side skirts and changes to the rear elements including a discreet spoiler.

The 1.0 mild hybrid petrol engines are available in 125hp and 155hp outputs, and now come with the option of an automatic as well as 6-speed manual transmissions. There are also 100hp and 125hp standard petrols, and a 1.5 diesel in 95hp and 120hp options. A new Focus ST has a 2.3 petrol engine with 280hp, and a range of unique exterior and interior details.

The latest Ford Sync 4 connectivity is part of the revised Focus package, with a larger screen, and subscription options add a variety of features.

Wagon versions have an enhanced load area with full carpet trim and new cargo storage innovations.


Tesla opens orders for 2022 Model Y

Tesla Ireland has opened its online Design Studio for its Model Y SUV, where customers can select model options and pay for their car, writes Brian Byrne.

The Model Y is available in two versions, Long Range and Performance, at €63,990 and €72,990 respectively. Features which can be added include an enhanced autopilot, and a 'full self-driving capability' that includes traffic light and stop sign control — these features still require driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.

The rated range of the Model Y is 507km for the Long Range and 480km for the Performance version.

Orders placed now have an estimated delivery of mid-2022.


14 October 2021

Volkswagen Ireland gives TT for apprentices training

Volkswagen Ireland has given an Audi TT to Technological University Dublin's Vehicle Repair Workshop, which provides the only public sector provider of vehicle repair apprenticeships, writes Brian Byrne.

The car was formerly used by Volkswagen Ireland as a training vehicle, and its multi-material body will help students make full use of the VRW's curriculum. Apprentices who attend the workshop are in the middle of a four-year training programme run by industry body SOLAS.

Jason Phillips, Assistant Lecturer in Vehicle Body Repair, became an apprentice panel beater after completing his Leaving Cert 31 years ago. “Back in my day we used to rub down cars by hand with cold buckets of water but now everything involves sophisticated machines and the technology is constantly changing,” he says “Cars are made from high strength steel, boron steels and carbon fibre."

The workshop includes a brand new spray booth and materials analysis equipment.

The car was handed over by Oisin Daly, Volkswagen Group Paint and Body Business Development Specialist, who says apprentices have been the lifeblood of the motor industry for over a century.“By investing in leading facilities like this, we all benefit down the line with a highly skilled, motivated workforce and state-of-the art facilities."


Toyota investing big in further electrification

Although Toyota is not yet marketing a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) the company is pouring more than €11.6bn into battery development over the next nine years, writes Brian Byrne.

Building on the experience gained through the batteries in some 18m Toyota hybrid cars sold to date, the company is expecting to be able to cut battery costs through 2030 by half, and increase their efficiency by 30pc. In addition, the carmaker believes it can improve battery degradation levels so much that a 10-year-old battery will still have 90pc of its original capacity. The upcoming EV from Toyota, the bZ4X BEV joint venture with Subaru which has already been revealed in concept form (above), will be the first of a range of EVs to benefit from this.

Toyota is looking to solid state batteries as the future of affordable BEVs, and is testing a prototype in a car at this time.

More information about the bZ4X in the Irish context will be forthcoming towards the end of this year.


12 October 2021

Europe's EV adoption has passed 'tipping point'

Renault's Megane E-Tech Electric, due here in 2022.

The overall European car market is expected to remain the global leader in electric vehicle market share through the rest of this decade, writes Brian Byrne.

That's the conclusion of a new report from international management consultants McKinsey & Company, Why the automotive future is electric, which also suggests that the 'tipping point' in passenger EV adoption occurred in the second half of 2020 when the sector accelerated to 8pc of new car sales across Europe. This is against a consumer interest background where almost half of car customers are considering the purchase of an EV.

Regulatory targets in the EU and the US are now aiming for EVs achieving a 50pc share of passenger car sales by 2030. But the report also notes this trend is putting significant pressure on carmakers and their supply chains, and on setting up required charging infrastructures to meet the demand.

The authors also say that the current EV expected adoption of 45pc globally is far short of the necessary 75pc needed to achieve net zero emissions from the automotive industry. That said, it is expected that the three largest car markets — the EU, the US and China — will be fully electric by 2035. The designation includes battery-powered (BEV), fuel cell (FCEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV).


10 October 2021

Applegreen commits to major reduction in carbon footprint

Forecourt retailer Applegreen has committed to reduce the direct carbon footprint of its Irish operation by 90pc by 2030, writes Brian Byrne.

Under its 'Drive Change' plan, the company will focus on using 100pc renewable energy and what it calls 'increased EV solutions' to help it achieve the goal. These latter will include using EVs in the business's own staff fleet.

Applegreen will also use carbon offsets to to balance any residual emissions that cannot be eliminated.