Search begins for future female rising stars.

The UK automotive industry is on the search for the sector’s future leaders as the Great British Women in the Car Industry awards returns for a second year. As part of ongoing efforts to encourage more young people to join one of the UK’s most exciting and vital sectors, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has once again partnered with motoring brand Autocar to identify its top 100 rising female stars.

The initiative raises the profile of the many and varied opportunities available in this cutting-edge sector. A shortage of skilled workers is one of the most significant barriers to continuing the record growth in UK Automotive, with thousands of jobs currently vacant and women under-represented in the workforce, filling just one in four manufacturing jobs.

Nominations for the Awards are now open, with categories including vehicle development, manufacturing, purchasing, retail, marketing, communications, apprentices, motorsport, design and executive. A winner will be selected for each, with an overall winner then being selected from that shortlist.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “The industry is in great health with record exports, record new car registrations and groundbreaking new technology, so it’s an exciting time to join the UK automotive industry. To continue this growth, we need to attract the most talented people to enter the workplace, so we are proud to be supporting this initiative again this year. We want to highlight successful women who’ve made a difference in UK automotive and to provide inspiration for many others considering their future careers.”

Rachael Prasher, Haymarket Media Group Automotive Brand Director, said,“I’m delighted that our hugely successful initiative has kick-started a number of ideas around celebrating and inspiring women in the automotive industry, and it is especially pleasing to move the focus on to rising talent. The opportunities for rewarding careers in the automotive sector are enormous, and we plan to put the spotlight on its brightest stars working across a wide variety of roles and, through our event at Twickenham Stadium, offer insight and debate around some of the topics associated with this area of the industry.”

Candidates must be nominated by friends, colleagues or their employer, and the shortlisted winners will be chosen by a judging panel, including Jim Holder, Steve Cropley and Rachel Burgess from Autocar’s editorial team, alongside SMMT’s Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, and Director of Communications and International, Tamzen Isacsson.

Winners will be chosen based on their influence – and potential future influence – on the industry and within their company, taking into account the size and strength of the business they represent. Dedication to a career in the automotive industry will also be favoured, as well as potential to inspire others to join the sector. The initiative is also backed by Direct Line Group, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover.

Nominations should be made to Jim Holder, Autocar’s editorial director, at jim.holder@haymarket.com by 3 April 2017. The winners will be announced at the Great British Women in the Car Industry event at Twickenham Stadium on 21 June 2017.

Christopher Macgowan

@chrismacgowan

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Blockchain explained in 500 words.


Written by ZD NET

Blockchain is an algorithm and distributed data structure designed to manage electronic cash without any central administrator. The original blockchain was invented in 2008 by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto to support Bitcoin, the first large-scale peer-to-peer crypto-currency, completely free of government and institutions.

Blockchain is a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). Most DLTs have emerged in Bitcoin’s wake. Some seek to improve blockchain’s efficiency, speed or throughput; others address different use cases, such as more complex financial services, identity management, and “Smart Contracts”.

The central problem in electronic cash is Double Spend. If electronic money is just data, nothing physically stops a currency holder trying to spend it twice. It was long thought that a digital reserve was needed to oversee and catch double-spends, but Nakamoto rejected all financial regulation, and designed an electronic cash without any umpire.

The Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain crowd-sources the oversight. Each and every attempted spend is broadcast to a community, which in effect votes on the order in which transactions occur. Once a majority agrees that all transactions seen in the recent past are unique, they are cryptographically sealed into a block. A chain thereby grows, each new block linked to the previously accepted history, preserving every spend ever made.

A Bitcoin balance is managed with an electronic wallet, which protects the account holder’s private key. Blockchain uses conventional public key cryptography to digitally sign each transaction with the sender’s private key and direct it to a recipient’s public key. The only way to move Bitcoin is via the private key: lose or destroy your wallet, and your balance will remain frozen in the ledger, never to be spent again.

The blockchain’s network of thousands of nodes is needed to reach consensus on the order of ledger entries, free of bias, and resistant to attack. The order of entries is the only thing agreed upon by the blockchain protocol, for that is enough to rule out double spends.

The integrity of the blockchain requires a great many participants (and consequentially the notorious power consumption). One of the cleverest parts of the BTC blockchain is its incentive for participating in the expensive consensus-building process. Every time a new block is accepted, the system randomly rewards one participant with a bounty (currently 12.5 BTC). This is how new Bitcoins are minted or “mined”.

Blockchain has security qualities geared towards incorruptible cryptocurrency. The ledger is immutable so long as a majority of nodes remain independent, for a fraudster would require infeasible computing power to forge a block and recalculate the chain to be consistent. With so many nodes calculating each new block, redundant copies of the settled chain are always globally available.

Contrary to popular belief, blockchain is not a general purpose database or “trust machine”. It only reaches consensus about one specific technicality – the order of entries in the ledger – and it requires a massive distributed network to do so only because its designer-operators choose to reject central administration. For regular business systems, blockchain’s consensus is of questionable benefit.

Christopher Macgowan

@chrismacgowan

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Laughter helps drive home the safety message.

Councils are using humour to raise awareness of road safety issues among children and parents. They are handing out booklets, by creative agency Serious Comedy, which feature amusing scenarios to shed light on dangerous parking and driving as well as offering children advice on how to cycle safely to school.

One of the guides – ‘Should You Sack Your Chauffeur?’ – shows parents committing offences such as using a mobile phone while driving, to the chagrin and dismay of their child passengers. 

Another, entitled ‘Why Animals Can’t Ride Bikes’, has a procession of ‘calamitous creatures’ committing a series of cycling errors.

The illustrated booklets are being used by councils across the UK including Peterborough, Hampshire, East Ayrshire, Dudley, Thurrock, Southend on Sea, Cambridgeshire and the London boroughs of Croydon, Lewisham, Harrow, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington.

Jeffrey Sarpong, Harrow’s senior road safety officer, says: “Humour is an effective way of influencing behaviour, especially for children. The humorous elements of the booklets make them memorable and help with interaction and keeping them engaged on the road safety message.”

Harrow council offer the booklets to every pupil in selected year groups, says Sarpong. “So, for example, all our Year 4 pupils will receive a copy of ‘Should You Sack Your Chauffeur?’ as the language and terminology is appropriate for that age group.

“Each school operates differently – some schools use them as part of a class discussion or incorporate as part of a ‘road safety/school travel’ themed activity. Others simply hand them out to pupils to take home.”

Sarpong believes that the booklets help reinforce key road safety messages to pupils. “Schools have submitted positive reviews of the booklets and have used them in initiatives such as road safety and school travel campaigns.”

This is echoed by Susan Martin, Croydon’s senior road safety officer. “Teacher feedback has been positive in respect of the style and the content of the different booklets,” she says. “As this is a relatively new project we are in early stages of gauging depth of behaviour change. The booklets all fit in with our other areas of work within road safety education such as Bikeability, sustainable travel, transitional package and scoot safe.”

‘Should You Sack Your Chauffeur?’ has been given to all Year 3 pupils in the borough and, in some cases, also to Year 4 children “due to increasingly dangerous driver behaviour on school runs and parking at schools”, says Martin.

Both Harrow and Croydon say that funding for the booklets came from Transport for London’s Local Implementation Plan (LIP).

Darren Ruddell, creative director at Serious Comedy, says: “Humour breaks down walls and disarms resistance. If you can make someone laugh, or even smile, you’ve got them on your side and they’re more open to taking your message on board.”

There is also the “evangelising effect”, he says. “If something makes you laugh you want to share it. That’s the holy grail for a lot of advertising agencies; to make something for a brand that people want to share. Kids in particular get bored of being told what to do, or even worse what not to do, and straight away the barrier goes up. But the content we produce is couched in terms they associate with fun and enjoyment. They want to read it and show it to their friends.”

Ruddell believes that “shock and horror” tactics are no longer seen as an effective way of conveying the road safety message.  

“We’ve been fortunate to find a number of forward thinking individuals within the road safety sector who are receptive to our methods. They realise we need to engage with our audience on another level. Those who’ve seen the success we’ve had with the road safety booklets now want to use the same approach in other fields.”

He adds: “In the main our booklets are given to each child in a specific year. We would love every child to be able to take a booklet home but understand that budgets might not always permit that, so they work as standalone booklets, which the children will love to read or in conjunction with lesson plans in the classroom.  

“To make it possible for everyone to have a booklet which they can keep we’re now looking to run a collective purchase scheme allowing boroughs to purchase 5,000 booklets at a greatly reduced price.”  

Serious Comedy is developing techniques to help generate feedback from readers to the booklets. An online feedback form is included at the back of ‘Should You Sack Your Chauffeur?’ “This enabled enabled the children testing their parents to input the test results,” says Ruddell. “This creates an analytic we send back to the councils showing the parental driving behaviours. To date, of the parents tested, 100% said that the test made them consider the way they drive. 

“This a direct and quantifiable effect of the interaction prompted by the booklet, without the need for the council to deliver any kind of finger-wagging lecture to the parents. In the future we hope to develop the booklet into an App that will allows children to email their parents a funny dismissal letter and at the same time gather data.”

Christopher Macgowan

@chrismacgowan

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New VED system will net government an additional £1.4 billion over next 4 years.

2017 road tax rules will add more than £500 to the long-term running costs of Britain’s most-popular and eco-friendly cars

Buyers of the most-polluting vehicles could save up to £245

The majority of new car buyers will lose out when new road tax rules come into force on 1 April, according to latest research from HonestJohn.co.uk.   http://www.honestjohn.co.uk 

The leading consumer motoring site’s figures show that new tax rules will add more than £500 to the long-term running costs of Britain’s most-popular and eco-friendly vehicles, while providing significant benefits for some of the most-polluting cars.

This means the UK’s best-selling car – the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 100PS – will cost £540 more to tax over four years, while buyers of the V8 Mustang stand to save £245 over the same period of time. This is despite the fact that the American muscle car emits three times more CO2 than the efficient Fiesta.

Until now, the government has offered zero VED to entice car buyers into eco-friendly vehicles; however, with 74 per cent of new cars emitting less than 130g/km of CO2, the government has made a U-turn on its policy and introduced rules to force buyers of new, efficient cars to pay more.

Under the current tax rules, vehicles that emit sub-99g/km qualify for zero VED for the first year and pay nothing for every year after; however, from 1 April 2017 the government will replace the current 13 band tax system with three new bands – zero, standard, premium – plus a surcharge for electric cars with a list price above £40,000.

This means all new cars bought after 1 April with sub-99g/km CO2 emissions will pay for road tax; a move that will add up to £540 to the long-term running costs of some of Britain’s cleanest and most efficient cars. Even hybrids won’t escape, with buyers of the Toyota Prius paying an extra £405 over four years, while Tesla S buyers will have to pay an additional £930.

However, while buyers of new cars over £40,000 will be forced to pay an extra £310 a year for five years, HonestJohn.co.uk has found a gap in the tax law that allows some of the UK’s most-polluting cars under the £40,000 price limit to benefit.

Buyers of the Mitsubishi Shogun 3.2 DI-DC automatic, for example, will save £265 over four years, regardless of the fact that the SUV produces a whopping 245g/km of CO2. It’s a similar story for the Subaru WRX and Nissan 370Z too, with both emitting over 240g/km and saving hundreds under the new system.  

Honest John’s Managing Editor, Daniel Powell, said: “Many motorists are unaware of the changes that are coming for VED, but the fact of the matter is this – the system is changing, and low emissions cars won’t be as tax efficient as they were before. It’s a bit of a mixed message to increase tax on fuel efficient cars while reducing it on less eco-friendly models when the government is trying to increase the uptake of low and zero-emissions cars.”

What’s more, with buyers now rushing to secure a zero-VED car, HonestJohn.co.uk has found that buyers are being given lead times of four to five months for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Volvo XC90. Buyers of the popular Fiesta face a three month wait, while Focus orders with the EcoBoost engine stipulate a wait of 3.5 months, making it increasingly difficult to get a tax-free car before the new rules come into force.

Five popular cars hit hard by 2017 VED changes over four years of ownership
1) Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 100PS Zetec                
Current VED cost over four years: £0

New VED cost over four years: £540
2) Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi 95PS ecoFlex Design
Current VED cost over four years: £0

New VED cost over four years: £540
3) Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi 120PS Zetec
Current VED cost over four years: £0

New VED cost over four years: £540
4) Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion 1.6 TDI 110PS
Current VED cost over four years: £0

New VED cost over four years: £520
5) Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110PS Visia
Current VED cost over four years: £0

New VED cost over four years: £540

Christopher Macgowan

@chrismacgowan

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Honda has reached the 100 million milestone.


Honda has reached the 100 million milestone for the number of cars it has built worldwide.

Honda began building automobiles in 1963 with the production of the T360 mini-truck and the S500 sports car. A year later Honda employed all of the company’s production technologies and know-how and constructed the first Honda plant dedicated to automobile production in Sayama City, Saitama Prefecture in the central Kantō region of Japan. The new plant began production of a further model, the iconic S600 roadster.

Christopher Macgowan

@chrismacgowan

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Vehicles fitted with autonomous technologies will most benefit people with personal mobility challenges says new survey.


Vehicles fitted with autonomous technologies will bring most benefit to the personal mobility of the disabled (56%), the visually impaired (42%) and the elderly (30%), according to a survey of the British public conducted by Nissan.

Improved mobility for everyone was considered to be the primary advantage of autonomous cars, accounting for the sentiment of more than 60% of respondents.

This benefit outweighed concerns of the possibility of a malfunction (49%), or not having full control of the car, which for 53% of the interviewees was seen as the biggest safety concern. However, half of those surveyed (51%) felt that a reduction in accidents caused by human error would also be a positive outcome of the new technology, followed by lower stress levels (45%) for drivers.

The survey conducted by Nissan canvassed the views of more than 6,000 people across Europe, including 1,000 from the UK, to create a report of Consumer Attitudes to Autonomous Drive Technologies.

One in three British residents (33%) claimed to be ‘excited’ about the possibility of more self-driving cars on the roads and almost half (45%) said they would be comfortable riding in one. Concerns about an overreliance on technology though, saw 55% of respondents stating they would be ‘uncomfortable’ being driven by the technology.

However, another benefit identified was the ability to do ‘something other than driving’ when in the car. Three in four (76%) Brits admitted to multi-tasking behind the wheel, such as eating (38%) or even illegally texting (11%). Therefore 44% of the surveyed liked the idea of autonomous vehicles taking care of the driving to provide more free or productive time.

Managing Director of Nissan GB, Alex Smith commented; ‘Mass-market autonomous technologies are very much in their infancy, so the vast majority of drivers won’t have had the opportunity to experience life on the road with them. Therefore we’d expect some hesitancies about such a revolutionary change to how we drive our cars – or indeed how our cars drive us.

However, these results are pleasantly optimistic, particularly with regards identifying the benefits to users who will rely on the technology more, such as the elderly or the impaired. The fact that more than one in seven (13%) buyers are already considering some kind of autonomously-equipped car for their next purchase also demonstrates an enthusiasm for these new innovations.’

Christopher Macgowan

@chrismacgowan

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Commercial vehicle registrations up 11.7% over eleven months.


Brussels, 22 December 2016 – In November 2016, demand for new commercial vehicles in the EU increased significantly (+13.2%) to 203,799 units, following a decline in the preceding month.

Source: http://www.acea.be

Total new commercial vehicles
In November 2016, demand for new commercial vehicles in the EU increased significantly (+13.2%) to 203,799 units, following a decline in the preceding month. Growth was sustained across all segments and all major markets. The Italian market posted the highest increase (+70.2%), followed by France (+15.0%), Spain (+14.2%), the UK (+3.7%) and Germany (+1.8%).

Eleven months into 2016, new registrations in the European Union remained positive (+11.7%), totalling more than 2.1 million vehicles. During that period, Italy (+44.2%), Spain (+11.1%), France (+8.9%), Germany (+7.4%), and the United Kingdom (+2.2%) all posted growth.

New light commercial vehicles (LCV) up to 3.5 tonnes
In November 2016, EU demand for light commercial vehicles grew considerably (+13.5%) after an October slowdown, totalling 168,667 units. Demand was mainly driven by Italy (+66.0%), France (+16.1%) and Spain (+11.9%), while the British (+2.5%) and German (+2.1%) markets only saw modest increases.

From January to November 2016, 1,741,498 new vans were registered in the EU, 12.1% more than in the same period a year ago. Italy (+44.8%), Spain (+10.9%), Germany (+8.9%), France (+8.7%) and the UK (+2.1%) all contributed to this positive upturn over the first 11 months of 2016.

New heavy commercial vehicles (HCV) over 16 tonnes
In November, registrations of new heavy commercial vehicle increased substantially (+12.1%) compared to November last year, totalling 25,156 units. Among the big five markets, Italy (+90.7%), Spain (+25.1%) and France (+14.4%) registered the highest growth rates, while demand for new HCVs in Germany (-1.2%) dropped slightly.

Eleven months into the year, demand for new heavy trucks continued to increase (+11.9%), with 267,987 new vehicles being registered in the EU. All major markets made a positive contribution to the overall upturn, especially the Italian (+41.9%) and French (+13.6%) ones with their double-digit increases.

New medium and heavy commercial vehicles (MHCV) over 3.5 tonnes
In November 2016, new truck registrations were up 12.8% compared to November last year. Overall, 31,555 new trucks were registered in the European Union. Among the major markets, results for trucks were similar to those of the heavy truck segment. Italian registrations more than doubled (+105.2%) in November, as the government stimulates fleet renewal (since last September). Spain (+23.0%), France (+15.0%) and the UK (+11.7%) also posted strong gains.

So far in 2016, 334,460 new trucks were registered in the EU, 10.9% more than in the same period last year. Italy (+43.7%), France (+13.4%) and Spain (+11.0%) made particularly significant contributions to this.

New medium and heavy buses & coaches (MHBC) over 3.5 tonnes
In November 2016, new registrations in the bus and coach segment increased slightly (+0.4%) after they had been declining for five consecutive months, now totalling 3,577 units. Growth was mainly driven by Italy (+159.8%) and Spain (+91.7%), while France (-35.8%) and Germany (-3.5%) performed less well than in November 2015.

Over 11 months in 2016, the EU market for buses and coaches showed a modest increase (+2.0%), counting 36,170 new vehicles. During this period, most growth came from Spain (+21.9%), Italy (+12.7%) and Germany (+10.8%), while France (-8.6%) saw demand decline.

Christopher Macgowan

@chrismacgowan

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