Car News: Fuming

A weekly guide to all that’s rotten in the auto industry, plus some good bits


Now we’re smokin’!

Just as our English cousins thought they’d wrestled £350 million away from the European Union to rejuvenate their ailing National Health Service our friends in the continent have popped up to remind they still wield a stick on planet polluters.

The European Commission is taking to task EC member states’ seriously lax air quality standards, referring the United Kingdom and other malingerers to the EU Court of Justice over their failure to improve air quality.

Having been on business in London these last few days I can say I returned with an unstoppable chest ripping cough, but whether it was the hotel air conditioning, or London traffic fumes to blame on a hot day is debatable. The toxins pouring out of diesel taxis and buses alone must have an injurious affect on health.

Anyhow, the EC’s three ‘pillars’ of air quality improvement are pegged by the Commission: setting out air quality standards, targets for reducing emissions, and emissions standards for pollution sources. Happily, if I can put it that way, the UK is not the only offender. We are in good company.

King of car exports Germany is in the Black Book together with France, referred to the Court of Justice for “failure to respect limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible”. Ouch! Of the measurements cited in the referral, the UK’s recorded NOx concentrations of 102µg/m3 in London were the highest of the offending countries. Well then, that answers the source mystery of my cough.

Now, before our Cockney pals jump up and shout the EC is part of the EU a, super state that brooks no discussion, a summit was held in January to offer we offenders a chance to find solutions to air quality problems, but none of us offered a “credible, effective and timely” solution. Or put another way, we prevaricated, and put the profits of big business before the health and well being of our citizens. At least we are not like those piddling little nations going to court that are too busy stealing our jobs and soaking up our welfare funds, Hungary, and Romania. Their particulate levels are boaking.

We asked for stringent  levels and signed up to them, so we can’t complain though we will. In total, there are infringement cases pending against 13 member states, those being Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and the UK.

London likes to boast it’s in the vanguard of clean air campaigns – in 2019 the inner city congestion charge will be £200 – but it remains a chief  culprit. The Toxicity Charge introduced in October 2017 in Central London was one of the UK’s air quality measures dismissed as wildly inadequate by the EC, given that 16 air quality zones across the nation exceeded the limit in 2016. The UK can expect substantial fines, and serial liars in the Tory Party can blame Europeans for the NHS not receiving a penny of the money advertised and promised on the side of the diesel engine red bus.

The news comes as the EU has set out a plan for further improving air quality by setting out CO2 emissions guidelines for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and other heavy-duty big rigs and trucks. The EC’s advisers want a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions in 2025 over 2019, with this reduction doubling by 2030, but you know it will get smudged yet again. Tesla and his aerodynamic electric lorry designs arrive in the nick of time.


Diesel do

The British car industry continues to  produce propaganda in an effort to convince us to keep buying diesel cars. The number of diesel cars bought in Britain went up by 2% in the first quarter of 2018 but they were used cars, in contrast to the 10.5% fall in demand for new oil-burning cars in the same period. Why buy an old diesel? Some folk have less money in their pocket than others and a used diesel car makes an enticing second-hand bargain. The owner selling is probably delighted to get the lethal package off his back. Conversely, demand for second-hand alternatively fuelled vehicles grew 15.9% to 24,697 sales. What the industry is ‘hazy’ about is how many used electric cars are in that category. I’ll tell you: there was a 33.0% increase to represent 2,927 units, while hybrids rose by 14.1%. Car buyers are getting smarter.

TVR – the sequel

To British petrolheads a TVR sportscar is joy wrapped up in fibreglass – a vehicle that can smash window panes as it rumbles by and turn heads. After bought and sold and bought again, TVR, (short for Trevor its founder) has risen from the grave to show us a 200 mile supercar of dubious taste. They are build somewhere in deepest Wales. The first batch of limited edition hell raisers is sold out. Why anybody would want one when an electric car will probably outgun it is another matter, but TVR amassed hundreds of  fans over the decades all willing and able to live with a car that was great when it went, which was not very often because they had a tendency to break down a lot. This time around TVR is given a reliable engine, a Ford Cosworth, the bodywork clothed in aluminium, and a super structure designed by the great racing engineer Gordon Murray. What the running costs will be is anybody’s guess. I’ve a feeling you might see one in a lifetime.

Pedestrian penalties

Encroachers have taken over our pavements! Yet again I almost got mowed down by cyclists whizzing around a corner as if they expected nobody to be using it, three cyclists, one after the other at speed, a manoeuvre reminiscent of fighter planes strafing a target.

The misuse of pavements, (US – sidewalks) is endemic. They are hazardous paths to tread. Just a few of the obstacles stuck in our path are extensions of car and van parking bays, cycle tracks, bicycle racks, shop display areas, beggar’s pitches, inspection drain points, council wheelie bin areas, private recycling rubbish collection points, cable laying tracks, telecommunication box and police box areas, post-box points, intrusive railings, bollard hurdles, and dog tethering stances. And how can I forget all the cars and vans owners of which regard a pavement as a parking spot.

The list of encroachments goes on and on. I can  accept landscaping installations, the ones with actual flowers in them not cigarette butts.

We’ve reached the point where pedestrians are pretty well excluded from pavements, or if we insist on using them are in danger of injury. They must be a minefield to the partially sighted and the blind. It is time to regain pedestrian’s rights!

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7 Responses to Car News: Fuming

  1. broadbield says:

    Re pedestrians, don’t forget the cars and other vehicles parked on pavements. A car-crusher would soon sort that out, especially if the driver was still inside.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Drivers are among the worst pavement huggers.

  3. mikewr says:

    One for Grousey’s footwell.
    How about adequate loading bays for city centre delivery trucks. Everything we get comes via a truck but it appears to me that city centres are poor provisioned with loading zones?
    Anyway , that’s my observation as I pootle around town.

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    Indeed! And duly inserted in the piece. 🙂

  5. Towns and Cities are not future proof. Large lorries and silent cars, bicycles and pedestrians cannot live happily in our towns and cities. It is time that we designed defined areas for each. It might be a combination of time separation or lane division, more one way roads, leaving the other side for cycles and pedestrians to live with each other harmlessly. Most towns were built and expanded when horses and carts were plentiful. Good article.

  6. Ricky says:

    Car buyers are getting smarter , the big change will come when fleet managers change from buying in diesels and petrol engines , to bulk leasing electric , hybrid or even hydrogen cell cars . A bigger question might be , do we need to redesign our towns and cities , to fit in with modern living . Is it time to go underground for travel and deliveries ?

  7. Grouse Beater says:

    We need a rethink, but I’ hate it to include what town planners did to central Edinburgh’s Georgian town, and then buggered off to London for bigger salaries.

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