Volvo is first to launch direct integration with Google Assistant-enabled devices

Owners can directly talk to Google in their car and remotely control a variety of vehicle systems

Volvo Cars will be the first car maker to directly integrate its cars with Google Assistant-enabled devices, a step in the continued partnership between Volvo Cars and Google.

The planned direct integration allows for the most seamless connection between Google Assistant and cars to date, letting Volvo Cars customers control functions in their car by issuing voice commands to Google Assistant-enabled home and mobile devices.

By pairing their Volvo car with their Google account, owners can directly talk to Google in their car and remotely control a variety of functionalities, such as warming it up on a cold winter day or locking the car.

With this integration, users can receive information related to their car remotely at any time.

Planned future functionalities include charging scheduling, which allows customers to set specific times when they want their car to start charging, and more.

Henrik Green, chief product officer at Volvo Cars said: “Volvo Car Group was first to introduce Google technology and services in our cars, and we are now looking to be the first to integrate fully with Google Assistant-enabled devices – it is a natural next step in our partnership with Google.

“This integration allows us to improve the customer experience immensely, because it gives customers the possibility to easily and securely manage their car while at home or on the go, through any personal device that has Google Assistant.”

For more sensitive commands – such as unlocking the car – a two-factor authentication process ensures that only the right people can hear or access the right information at the right time.

The functionality will be gradually made available in the coming months to all Volvo drivers with an infotainment system powered by Android that is connected to their Volvo Cars app and a Google Assistant-enabled device, and in select areas where Google Assistant is available.

Volvo Cars also aims for the integration of its cars with Google Assistant to support the company’s ongoing move towards full electrification.

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Firefighters tackle blaze at Birmingham garage

Six fire engines, a brigade response vehicle and a hydraulic aerial platform were sent to the scene

Thirty-five firefighters have been tackling a large blaze at a Birmingham garage this week.

Fire crews were called to the blaze at Auto Cars Ltd at 12.49am on Wednesday, January 5.

Neil Spencer, West Midlands Fire spokesman, said: “At 12.49am in the early hours of Wed 5 Jan we were called to a severe fire in a car repair workshop in Wellington Street, Soho, Birmingham.

“The first of our crews arrived in just over three minutes to find the entire single-storey building was involved in the fire.

“Six fire engines, a Brigade Response Vehicle and a hydraulic aerial platform were sent to the scene, crewed by a total of 35 firefighters.

“The police and ambulance services also attended, together with engineers from gas and electricity companies and a rail representative.

“Smoke was drifting across nearby railway lines during the incident, so train drivers were warned as a precaution.

“By 3am our crews had made good progress and, by 4.30am, the fire was confirmed to be out and our resources were being scaled down.

“This morning, one fire crew remains at the scene to ensure that no hotspots remain.

“Our investigators are working to establish how the fire started.

“Two cats were rescued from the premises by firefighters.

“They are understood to have been taken to a vet by a police officer.”

A fire investigation team is looking into the cause of the blaze.

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Petrol retailers refusing to pass on wholesale price savings, RAC reports

Drivers are being overcharged by £5M a day for petrol, RAC data suggests

Despite wholesale prices meriting big cuts at the pumps the average price of petrol in the UK fell by just 2p a litre in December meaning drivers paid £156m more than they should have, data from RAC Fuel Watch shows.

Unleaded dropped from 147.47p a litre to 145.48p when drivers should really have seen prices nearer to 135p had retailers played fair instead of taking far bigger margins than normal.

Diesel dropped by just under 2p a litre from 150.80p to 148.92p when drivers should have been paying around 142p.

Instead of their long-term margin of 6p a litre, retailers took an average of 16p a litre on petrol and 12.5p on diesel in December making forecourt prices far more expensive than they would have been, had retailers not changed their fuel pricing strategy.

The price of a litre of unleaded on the wholesale market, including delivery, averaged 106p across the month.

Had a 6p margin been taken drivers would have seen an average petrol pump price of around 135p after applying VAT at 20 per cent.

The average wholesale cost of delivered diesel was 112p a litre which, with the usual 6p retailer margin, would have given a pump price of around 142p.

It means it has cost petrol car drivers £6 more to fill up a typical 55-litre family car than it should have (£80 v £74) and for diesel nearly £4 more with a tank costing £82 at the end of the month instead of £78.

The RAC estimates retailers’ refusal to reflect lower wholesale prices at the pumps cost petrol car drivers a huge £156m in December, or the equivalent of £5m a day.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “In the past when wholesale prices have dropped retailers have always done the right thing –eventually – and reduced their pump prices.

“This time they’ve stood strong, taking advantage of all the media talk about ‘higher energy prices’ and banked on the oil price rising again and catching up with their artificially inflated prices, which it has now done.

“The trouble is every extra penny they take as margin leads to drivers paying even more as VAT gets added on top at the end of the forecourt transaction.

“This means the Treasury’s coffers have been substantially boosted on the back of the retailers’ action.

“We urge ministers to push retailers into doing the right thing for consumers.

“The only benefit of the current high fuel prices is the extra incentive for drivers to go electric as those driving 9,000 miles a year could save around £1,500.

“To help drivers afford to make the switch we are offering highly competitive EV leasing deals as well as an excellent value EV home charging tariff which can be fixed until June 2023 and currently costs just 6p per kilowatt hour overnight.”

An analysis of RAC Fuel Watch data reveals Asda had the cheapest petrol at the end of the year with a litre costing an average of 141.81p at their stores, with Sainsbury’s not far behind at 142.57p.

Asda also sold the lowest priced diesel at 144.9p a litre ahead of Tesco on 145.8p.

The average price of motorway unleaded at the close of December was 160.55p while diesel was higher still at 163.43p.

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UK motorists predicted to buy over 330,000 new electric vehicles in 2022

Half of new registrations will EVs by 2025, experts say

At least 330,000 new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) will be registered in the UK in 2022, according to figures from DriveElectric, one of the UK’s leading electric vehicle leasing companies.

The figure is based on DriveElectric’s own forecasts, and it represents a significant increase from 183,000 – the number of battery electric vehicles (cars and light vans) expected to have been registered in the UK in 2021.

The figure of 330,000, which is around 16 per cent of all new sales, does not include plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

Mike Potter, Managing Director, DriveElectric, said: “EV registrations will continue to increase, however issues such as the semiconductor shortage will still have an impact on the availability of vehicles as we enter 2022.

“We see this challenge improving by mid-2022 and sales for the remainder of the year should offset the slow start, helped by yet more new EV models coming to market.”

Looking further ahead, DriveElectric sees particularly high numbers of EV sales from 2025 onwards when it expects EVs to be around 50 per cent of registrations.

Registrations of petrol and diesel vehicles will decline naturally ahead of the 2030 ban, as people will stop buying them due to poor residual values, which means higher lease costs, and as EV prices become competitive with prices of ICE vehicles.

At COP26 electric vehicles were seen as a key solution to help the UK achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas targets.

EVs also help with the problem of local air quality, and have lower running costs than petrol and diesel vehicles.

However a key factor in the rapid increase in EV adoption is that the vast majority of motorists vastly prefer the driving experience of EVs compared to petrol and diesel cars and vans.

DriveElectric is an electric vehicle leasing company that has been helping organisations and individuals to adopt EVs.

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Record EV sales in 2021 show future direction

Plug-in vehicles account for more than one in six registrations while battery electric cars alone rise to one-in-nine

2021 new car registrations grew by a marginal one per cent on a pandemic-ravaged 2020, as 1.65 million new cars entered the UK market, according to new figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The figures underline the ongoing impact of Covid and the semiconductor shortage on the industry, with the market down 28.7 per cent on pre-pandemic 20191, representing the second worst year since 1992.

However, 2021 proved to be the most successful year in history for electric vehicle uptake as more new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were registered than over the previous five years combined.

190,727 new BEVs joined Britain’s roads, along with 114,554 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), meaning 18.5 per cent of all new cars registered in 2021 can be plugged in.

This is in addition to the 147,246 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) registered which took a further 8.9 per cent market share in a bumper year for electrified car registrations, with 27.5 per cent of the total market now electrified in some form.

Following billions of pounds of investment into new technology by manufacturers, more than 40 per cent of models are now available as plug-ins.

The shift in customer preference for these new technologies continues apace, with December seeing BEVs take a record market share in a non-locked down trading month, accounting for 25.5 per cent of all new registrations.

The UK finished 2021 as the third largest European market for new car registrations but the second largest by volume for plug-in vehicles and the second largest for BEVs.

Petrol-powered vehicles, including mild hybrids (MHEVs), remain Britain’s most popular powertrain, accounting for 58.3 per cent of all new cars registered in 2021, with diesel-powered cars including MHEVs making up 14.2 per cent of the market, followed by BEVs at 11.6 per cent, HEVs at 8.9 per cent and PHEVs at 7 per cent.

Registrations by private buyers increased by a moderate 7.4 per cent, while those by businesses and large fleets fell by 4.4 per cent and 4.7 per cent respectively, in part due to supply shortages.

Superminis remained Britain’s most popular cars, with 514,024 registrations, followed by the lower medium (449,631) and dual purpose (443,632) segments.

Looking ahead, the latest forecast for 2022 – published in October, before the rise of the Omicron variant – is for 1.96 million new car registrations.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “It’s been another desperately disappointing year for the car industry as Covid continues to cast a pall over any recovery. Manufacturers continue to battle myriad challenges, with tougher trading arrangements, accelerating technology shifts and, above all, the global semiconductor shortage which is decimating supply.

“Despite the challenges, the undeniable bright spot is the growth in electric car uptake.

“A record-breaking year for the cleanest, greenest vehicles is testament to the investment made by the industry over the past decade and the inherent attractiveness of the technology.

“The models are there, with two of every five new car models now able to be plugged in, drivers have the widest choice ever and industry is working hard to overcome Covid-related supply constraints.

“The biggest obstacle to our shared net zero ambitions is not product availability, however, but cost and charging infrastructure.

“Recent cuts to incentives and home charging grants should be reversed and we need to boost the roll out of public on-street charging with mandated targets, providing every driver, wherever they live, with the assurance they can charge where they want and when they want.”

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Honda glitch resets clocks to 2002

Fix for UK owners yet to be confirmed but US cars will automatically fix in August 2022

Honda owners are experiencing a bizarre problem with their dashboard clocks, after they were reset to January 1, 2002 on New Years Day.

The car maker doesn’t yet know what caused the problem with is affecting UK and US Honda vehicles released between 2004 and 2012.

Driving forums were flooded by dozens of concerned Honda owners in the days following January 1, 2022 after their dashboard clocks were reset to 00:00 on New Years Day, 2002.

Chris Callopy wrote on the Ridgeline Owners Club forum: “Today I drove to work. The clock reads January 1, 2002.

“The time is goofy.”

Poster VitaliyKuku added: “Same problem on my 2011 RTL.”

Within hours, hundreds of drivers had come forward via Twitter, Facebook and motoring forums to detail their experience with the issue.

Others pointed out the glitch means in-car sat navs are now showing incorrect arrival times.

Sandie, a Honda CR-V 2007 owner from Scotland, told The Sun: “This is extremely annoying to say the least.”

The sat nav issue can’t be fixed until the dashboard clock issue is sorted, she explained.

Sandie, added: “You can’t change the time as the GPS satellite changes it for you

“If I go on a 24-minute journey, the sat nav insists on telling me I’ll arrive at 00:24.”

A Honda UK spokesperson told forum Honda CR-V Owners Club: “We have just received some more information regarding this and were advised that the Honda technical department are currently working on this.

“Once there is a fix for this issue Honda authorized dealers will be made aware of it and will be able to assist with this at that point.

“It would be best to check with your local Honda authorised dealer for any updates as they would have the latest information for this and will be able to assist once the fix is released.”

However, Honda US said the issue will automatically fix itself in August 2022 – but there isn’t a solution till then.

A spokesperson said: “We have escalated the NAVI Clock Issue to our Engineering Team and they have informed us that you will experience issue from Jan 2022 thru August 2022 and then it will auto-correct.

“Please be assured that we will continue to monitor this and will advise you if a fix is available before that time.”

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IGA donates £20,000 to Ben

Donation is a thank you from IGA members, chief executives says

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) has made a donation of £20,000 to automotive charity Ben on behalf of its members, to help the charity provide vital support to people in the automotive sector.

Stuart James, IGA chief executive comments: “It has been another very difficult year for our industry as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ben has seen a huge increase in demand for their life-saving support and services.

“There has never been a more important time for our industry to come together to help those in need.”

“I am delighted to make this donation as a thank you from members of the association, and to help Ben continue to provide their indispensable support to people struggling in our sector throughout this unprecedented time.”

Ben offer free support for life for anyone who works or has worked in the automotive industry, as well as their dependents.

The charity can help with mental or physical health issues, money worries, crisis support, or any other challenges life brings.

For further information, please click here.

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UK needs to move away from private vehicle ownership, DfT says

Shared mobility must become “the norm” say ministers as they outlined support for a system “fit for the future”

Shared mobility must become “the norm” and favoured over private vehicle ownership, transport minister Trudy Harrison has said.

Speaking at the Collaborative Mobility UK transport conference, the minister said the country needs to move away from “20th century thinking centred around private vehicle ownership” and introduce “greater flexibility, with personal choice and low carbon shared transport”.

She said it was “staggering” almost two-thirds of trips were conducted by lone drivers.

Ms Harrison also added the UK was now at a “tipping point” where shared transport would soon be a “realistic option” for many.

She said: “[It will soon be a] realistic option for many of us to get around.

“Where mobility hubs become a familiar part of our street architecture, and where all these options will be available to book and pay for at the touch of a smartphone.

“The challenge is to move further and faster to make shared mobility less of a novelty and increasing the norm to make it as easy, as convenient and as accessible as possible.”

She added: “I think the benefits are really significant.

“From clean air to healthier populations to greater connectivity for more people, no matter where they live.”

The Government has repeatedly stressed the need to switch from a reliance on cars to other forms of transport.

Back in March, transport secretary Grant Shapps said public transport would soon become the “natural first choice” instead of vehicles.

He said: “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities.

“We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network.”

The Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan claimed journeys below five miles represented 58 per cent of all private car journeys in 2019.

They said this was one of the “biggest opportunities” to switch short car journeys to cycling and walking.

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan also called for the development of more shared mobility schemes.

They said schemes like this would “offer an alternative to traditional mass transit”.

Schemes which could be introduced in time include more “car club” programmes.

These allow drivers access to cars for a short-term rental often by the hour.

Peer to peer sharing is also an option, where privately owned vehicles can be rented out to drivers on a short-term basis.

Richard Dilks, chief executive of Collaborative Mobility UK said: “Shared transport is the key to a more sustainable future for the UK, enabling people to use transport without the need to own it – shifting to resources such as car clubs, bike share, shared rides and demand responsive transport – with a lower impact on the environment and transport infrastructure.

“By encouraging people to use public and active travel modes more, governments can help reduce the demand for privately owned cars and achieve the country’s net zero strategy.”

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OSRAM unveils “brightest LED on the market” for automotive front lighting

New range to be expanded in 2022 to include multichip variants

OSRAM has unveiled the brightest LED currently available on the market for automotive front lighting.

The Oslon Black Flat X offer market-leading brightness specially developed for use in low beam and high beam solutions in cars, OSRAM says.

Automotive lighting has become extremely versatile thanks to new technological advances.

LEDs require minimum installation space while impressing with outstanding brightness values, giving manufacturers enormous freedom in designing their lighting solutions.

“The Oslon Black Flat product family has been an ideal solution for high-quality and at the same time cost-optimized headlamp designs for many years,” said Philipp Puchinger, Marketing Manager Automotive Exterior at ams OSRAM.

“With the two new products in the Oslon Black Flat X line, ams OSRAM is once again underlining its innovation leadership in automotive lighting.”

The surface-mountable components can be processed particularly easily in manufacturers’ standardized production processes.

In addition to the market-leading brightness of typ. 460 lm at 1 A, the 1-chip variant is characterized by its compact dimensions of 3.75 mm X 3.75 mm.

The special QFN platform of the LEDs enables customers to perform particularly simple thermal management.

Depending on the system, heat sinks can be significantly reduced in size or even eliminated altogether.

The Oslon Black Flat X family’s leadframe package also achieves a lower thermal resistance than the leading ceramic packages in this context to date.

Together with a special TiO2 encapsulation, the black package of the LEDs delivers high contrasts of 1:200.

In addition, the new components are characterized by a very homogenic color over angle radiation.

The Oslon Black Flat X family will start with a 1- and a 2-chip version.

Various multi-chip versions will be added in mid-2022.

For further information, please click here.

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Schaeffler puts focus on popular 1.5-litre MINI Cooper to showcase range coverage

New A4 data sheets released each month include ‘unique to market’, ‘new to range’ and ‘vehicle focus’ information

Schaeffler manufactures genuine OE components and systems for original fitment by vehicle manufacturers around the world, and with its LuK, INA and FAG brands, delivers the same parts as ‘fit-first-time’ complete repair solutions to the UK aftermarket.

As part of Schaeffler’s commitment to keep the industry updated with key product and technical information, the company has started to provide a range of A4 data sheets each month, including ‘unique to market’, ‘new to range’ and ‘vehicle focus’ – such as the one for the Mini Cooper 1.5 just released.

Taking a popular model, such as the Mini Cooper, Schaeffler demonstrates its breadth of coverage by highlighting all of the products it offers across all key vehicle systems. The transmission needs are met by LuK, with five references covering everything from complete RepSet kits through to dual mass flywheels, concentric slave cylinders and bolt sets.

Turning to the auxiliary drive system and the INA brand comes to the fore, with seven references that include complete FEAD Kits, with or without the torsional vibration damper, and single components such as belts, tensioners, deflection pulleys and water pumps.

Finally, FAG are the chassis experts when it comes to wheel bearings and steering and suspension, with eight references that cater for all of the primary wear parts, including track rod ends, tie rods, stabiliser rods and, of course, wheel bearing kits.

Information on Schaeffler products and systems, fitting instructions, labour times and much more can be found on the REPXPERT app, which is a free download for all iOS and Android devices workshop portal – or by calling the REPXPERT hotline on 0872 737 0037.

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