Category Archives: Motoring News

English Councils Have Made A £930 MILLION Surplus In Parking Fines

English Councils Have Made A £930 MILLION Surplus In Parking Fees

Councils across England have collectively raked in an eye-watering £930 million surplus via parking fees between 2018 and 2019. 

‘Raking’ It In 

Councils throughout England have collectively accumulated a surplus of £930 million between 2018 and 2019 via parking fees. This staggering figure represents a 7% increase from the previous 12-month period, where the figure stood at £867 million. This figure itself is a rise from £744 million surplus achieved between 2015 and 2016. That’s according to research conducted by the RAC Foundation.

Overall, English councils received an income of £1.74 billion from parking related revenues over the last 12-month period. Around £454 million of this was produced by issuing fines and penalties. The amount councils spent on the running of parking infrastructure and services stood at £816 million; not including depreciation of assets or interest rates. Legally, this must be reinvested in parking services.

Money Moving In One Direction?

Whilst councils are generating an extraordinary amount of money via parking fees, there are concerns it’s not being managed properly. Steve Gooding, the RAC Foundation’s director, emphasised that money being spent on road infrastructure was actually going down. He said, “penalties now seem to account for nearly half of all on-street parking income. What will surprise drivers is that even as parking income soars, the amount of money being spent on routine road maintenance by councils has been in reverse”.

The RAC Foundation’s research was conducted by transport consultant David Leibling. He scrutinised data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Just 41 of 353 councils in England reported a loss on their parking operations. The most lucrative operations were in Westminster (£69.2 million), Kensington & Chelsea (£37.3 million) and Wandsworth (£26.3 million).

David Renard, a spokesman for the Local Government Association, responded to the research. He said, “councils are on the side of motorists and shoppers when setting parking policies which aim to make sure that there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving”. He added, “any income raised through on-street parking charges and fines is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as filling potholes, supporting concessionary bus fares to help reduce congestion and other local transport projects that benefit high streets and local economies”.

Differing Accounts 

It’s clear that councils want to highlight the necessity of parking fees. According to their narrative, they pay for vital investments in the road network and transport-related infrastructure. However, as the RAC has pointed out, whilst revenues are going up, investment is actually going down. Precisely what’s happening with this money, then, isn’t entirely clear. But given that the UK is facing a  ‘pothole pandemic’, there does seem to be some room to doubt at least some of David Renard’s explanation…

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Coca-Cola Has 'Ruined' Christmas, According To A Recycling Company

Coca-Cola Has ‘Ruined’ Christmas, According To A Recycling Company

Coca-Cola, thanks to clever marketing, has made its Christmas Trucks ubiquitous with the Christmas Holidays. But for one recycling company, they’ve ‘ruined’ Christmas…

‘Holidays Are Coming’

Last week, Coca-Cola launched its ‘Christmas Trucks’ across the UK. Their tour will start in Edinburgh and conclude at the O2 Arena in London on December 15th. This will be the ninth year of the tour’s operation and will see variations of the famous fizzy drink  sold to onlookers in a ‘glittering winter wonderland setting’. Well, according to the enormous corporation’s website, anyway. But whilst the site of the illuminated HGVs may strike awe and festive spirit in some, others aren’t quite so convinced.

‘Ruining’ Christmas 

The waste and recycling company, Business Waste, wants Coca-Cola’s Christmas tour scrapped; claiming that it’s ‘ruined’ Christmas. A spokesman for the company, Mark Hall, didn’t mince his words when offering his own view. He said, “those fizzy pop guys might have invented the red-suited Santa, but they’ve ruined Christmas”. He explained, “the fact is, they’re driving lorries over 3,000 miles up and down the country, then up and down the country, then up and down the country one final time on completely unnecessary journeys, with zero route planning. That’s the same as driving from London to Moscow – and back again”.

According to Business Waste’s research, the American-styled Coca-Cola Scania T Cab lorries are exceptionally polluting. They claim they do just 10.6 miles to the gallon, have 11-litre engines and weigh 40-tonnes when loaded down with fizzy pop. That means they’ll use 287 gallons (1,305) litres of diesel fuel. In terms of cost, that’s £1,709 worth of diesel; the amount the average family will spend on fuel annually. The company joked that “even Santa spends less on fuel for his sleigh every year, which official figures tell us runs on one carrot per each of the eight reindeer. That doesn’t look good, no matter which way you look at it. All so you can queue in the winter cold and have your photograph taken with a lorry!”

Hitting Back 

Coca-Cola has formally responded to Business Waste’s allegations. In a statement, they emphasised the popularity of the tour and the amount of planning put in place. It read, “the Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour is now in its ninth year and is a moment of fun for families in the run up to Christmas. We work hard to plan a route which maximizes the amount of time spent in each city and work closely with local authorities to minimize any disruption”. The fizzy drinks giant also promised that it would offset emissions caused by the tour and donate 10p for every can recycled to Crisis; a homeless charity. It was also emphasised that 90% of the drinks sold via the Christmas Trucks would be a zero-sugar version of the drink.

To some, the Coca-Cola Christmas Trucks are ingrained the popular psyche; a sign of upcoming festivities and holidays. For others, they’re the commercialisation of the holiday and a public nuisance. What do you think, have they ‘ruined’ Christmas or is Business Waste simply being a Scrooge?

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Mercedes-Benz Is Axing More Than 1,000 Jobs In Cost-Cutting Move

Mercedes-Benz Is Axing More Than 1,000 Jobs In Cost-Cutting Move

Mercedes-Benz has announced that it’ll be cutting over 1,000 jobs in order to make substantial cost-savings. It comes at a time when the German automaker is struggling with the electrification of its models…

Cutting Back

Mercedes-Benz is seeking to make savings of £1.4 billion by slashing over a 1,000 jobs. It comes at a time when the automaker is struggling to meet new emissions standards and electrify its models. Like many other major brands around the world, it’s attempting to transform its business operations; all whilst the sales of traditional cars, petrols and diesels, are declining. The company’s premium vehicles division with bear the brunt of the cost-cutting, with over £1 billion being slashed from its budget by 2022. Its management and contractors will also be heavily hit, collectively cutting £650 million in staff-related costs. Its owner, Daimler, said it would increase investment in its plants and research & development initiatives.

Ola Källenius, the chair of Daimler’s board of executives, made it clear that the company’s challenges lay with meeting new emissions targets. He said, “the expenditure needed to achieve the CO2 targets requires comprehensive measures to increase efficiency in all areas of our company. This also includes streamlining our processes and structures”. He added, “this will have a negative impact on our earnings in 2020 and 2021. To remain successful in the future, we must therefore act now and significantly increase our financial strength”. In addition to these woes, Daimler also faces the prospect of enormous legal costs for allegedly breaching emissions regulations.

Grappling With Electrification 

The move from diesel and petrols towards EVs represents a revolution in car manufacturing. For legacy automakers, it’s a complete transformation of everything they know; and what they know is born of well over a century of engineering and business practice. New specialists need to be employed, factories need to be built or overhauled and demand generated. All of this needs to be brought about quickly if manufacturers are going to remain compliant with ever tougher emissions and environmental standards. This pace is causing disruption for even some of the largest and most well established brands. It’s important, then, that in the quest for sustainable transportation and greener vehicles we consider the broader implications; especially for workers who may be put at risk.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that EVs are the future (almost every automaker of note has). But it’s another thing entirely to actually produce them in large numbers and in a way that’s commercially viable. If the process is forced, or is attempted too quickly, the result isn’t more ‘green’ vehicles on the road. Instead, it means fewer and fewer sustainable car manufacturers. Whatever one may think of this, it’s quite likely that the many hundreds of thousands of people who rely upon them for employment will have something to say…

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Demand For SUVs Is Offsetting The Benefits Of Electric Cars

Demand For SUVs Is Offsetting The Benefits Of Electric Cars

The extraordinary popularity of SUVs has meant that many of the benefits of electric cars are being offset entirely…

‘Thirst For Oil’

Experts have warned that demand for SUVs, if sustained, will negate the benefits of adopting electric vehicles (EVs). In its annual World Energy Outlook report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the vehicles would add another two million barrels of oil a day to global demand. It stated, “if the popularity of SUVs continues to rise in line with recent trends, this could add another two million barrels per day to our projection for 2040 oil demand”. In addition, it explained that larger and heavier vehicles were harder to electrify. They also typically consume 25% more fuel per kilometre than medium-sized alternatives. SUVs made up around 42% of all car sales globally last year. In America, alongside pick-ups, they made up two-thirds all sales; and demand is rising in Europe and China. Numerous reasons have been given for this, including the idea they’re safer or that they’re a status symbol.

As it stands, the US remains central to the narrative. It will account for 85% of the growth of demand for global oil production by 2030. This comes after President Donald Trump announced his intention to take the country out of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Faith Birol, the IEA’s director responded to this saying, “as a global issue, it’s important to have concerted efforts to address climate change”. In response to the predictions, the report called on governments to adopt more ambitious plans in tackling climate change. This would consist of greater pushes towards increased energy efficiency, more wind and solar power generation and capturing more emissions from older power plants.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Automakers all over the world are under pressure to cut back their emissions and to embrace electrification. Volkswagen, for instance, is investing more than £30 billion in the process. However, many of them are simultaneously rolling out an increasing number of SUVs and larger models. Some of them, like Aston Martin, are also counting on them in order to maintain profitability. This is the irony of the where the industry has found itself. It has to meet environmental obligations in order to remain legally compliant, but it also needs to roll out SUVs in order to remain commercially viable. But ultimately, the issue primarily lies with consumers and the choices they make; they determine what rolls off of production lines.

That consumers are opting for SUVs, at a time when climate-related topics are endlessly circulating, fuel prices are rising and parking and road infrastructure is lacking is a curious development. SUVs can be practical and often are a pleasure to drive. But no matter how enthusiastic we are about our motoring, we have a responsibility to face up to the realities our preferences and driving habits have on the environment and the communities we live in.

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Tesla Won't Build A Gigafactory In The UK Because Of Brexit

Tesla Won’t Build A Gigafactory In The UK Because Of Brexit

Tesla has chosen Berlin as the site of its first European gigafactory. Its colourful CEO, Elon Musk, claimed that Brexit uncertainty made the UK ‘too risky’ for investment…

‘Berlin Rocks’ 

Tesla has chosen Berlin as the location of its first European gigafactory. The announcement follows many years of speculation, as governments and local authorities across the continent attempted to woo the electric car manufacturer. The announcement was made by the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, at an awards ceremony in Germany on Tuesday. He explained his reasoning saying, “some of the best cars in the world are made in Germany, everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding”. He added, “that’s part of the reason why we’re locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany. We are also going to create an engineering and design centre in Berlin”.

The German plant, which will be located near Berlin’s new airport, will be the company’s fourth largest. The other so-called gigafactories are located in Nevada, New York and Shanghai. Berlin’s plant will produce batteries, powertrains and vehicles; starting with the Model Y SUV, according to a Tweet from Musk himself. He also stated his own love for the country’s capital, saying “Berlin Rocks!”

Brexit Uncertainty 

Speaking exclusively to Auto Express magazine, Musk didn’t pull any punches as to why the UK wasn’t chosen. He said, “Brexit made it too risky to put a Gigafactory in the UK”. All the way back in 2014, Musk told Auto Express that he intended to open a research and development centre in the UK. These plans, it seems, have also been shelved. According to industry spokespersons and organisations, Brexit uncertainty has effectively crippled the UK’s automotive industry; driving investment to  a halt and making it difficult for automakers to plan for their futures. Most concerns involve changes to customs and the implementation of tariffs following the country’s split with Brussels.

Competition for the European gigafactory was fierce, with a number of countries vying to attract the company’s attention. French Ministers pitched using an old nuclear power plant. Finland drew attention to its cobalt refineries and nickel production. Other pitches came from Portugal, Estonia, Spain, Poland and many others. German authorities actually confirmed that talks were underway with Tesla back in 2015. So, whilst Brexit no doubt had an impact, it was by no means the sole cause. In fact, there were few stated or major attempts by UK authorities to woo the American automaker in the first place. Germany, with its vast automotive industry and the support it receives from the German government, was always going to stand out; not to mention its central location on the continent.

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The New Volkswagen Golf: Six Things You Need To Know

The New Volkswagen Golf: Six Things You Need To Know

The Volkswagen Golf Mk8 is nearly upon us, arriving at German showrooms in December. It promises to be be the best of an exceptionally good car. Here’s six things you need to know…

Retrospective Specifications 

Volkswagen has learnt from Tesla’s over-the-air software updates. As a result, features like auto high-beam, adaptive cruise-control and on-board apps no longer need to be included during the build. Instead, they can simply be subscribed to via the VW ID e-mobility platform. This can be used for all sorts of personalisation options. But, much more interestingly, the features can effectively be rented. So, you can opt-in for data plans and features precisely when you need or want them. Of course, some detractors will criticise the fact that they have to pay to activate what’s included in terms of hardware. However, we think it’s a good balance; offering motorists much more flexibility.

The Mk8 Will Talk To Other Cars 

All Mk8 Golfs will be fitted with C2X technology as standard, regardless of drivetrain or trim. What this means is they’ll be able to communicate with other cars and infrastructure within a 1,000 metre radius. It’ll pick up on traffic jams, stationary obstacles and evening oncoming emergency service vehicles. More importantly, it’ll be able to warn drivers well in advance. The safety and convenience applications of this are obvious. The technology won’t rely on mobile networks, but instead a type of Wi-Fi standardised by the EU. The immediate benefits will be modest, as VW is the first to install it. When other manufacturers catch up, however, it’ll be a game-changer. Crucially, none of the involved data will be recorded and none of it will be usable by police; but you can still opt-out if you wish.

You Can Choose From 15 Suspension Settings

Ok, this may simply be pure hedonism. It is, however, a testament to how customisable the driving experience is becoming. With the 15 options, drivers will have everything from settings designed for considerable comfort and extreme sport and performance options. It’s also a very clever strategy on VW’s part. Why? It effectively broadens the appeal of an already very versatile car. It’ll also help individual drivers develop a closer attachment to their wheels, encouraging more interaction and experimentation.

It’ll Possibly Save Your Life 

Cars are getting safer and safer, if Euro NCAP results are anything to go by anyway. More and more safety features are included within the industry as standard; and road-related injuries and fatalities are going down. The Volkswagen Golf has always been a ‘safe’ option, but the Mk8 takes things to the next level technologically. It can tell if another driver is about to cut you up and automatically active brakes and the horn. Adaptive cruise control is more advanced, using GPS to adjust speed. There’s also a ‘Travel Assist’ that is akin to Tesla’s Autopilot; it offers steering assist up to speeds of 130 mph. It’s effectively at ‘Level 2’ automation, so your hands shouldn’t leave the wheel. VW says it’s capable of changing lanes but EU law won’t let it.

There Will Be GTI, GTE, GTD And R Versions 

VW isn’t moving away from its more particular models. It’s confirmed a performance diesel in the form of the GTD; a pretty unexpected development given…Well, everything. The GTI is a front-wheel drive petrol (it’s fast), a plug-in hybrid GTE and an all-wheel drive, 300bhp-plus R version. Jurgen Stackmann, a VW marketing bigwig, said at the Frankfurt Motor Show that “if there is a future for R it must be electric”. Whether this will actually be the case or not, however, remains to be seen. We don’t know much else in terms of specifics or performance, but the fact that VW has quickly confirmed all of these models will no doubt console many Golf enthusiasts.

You Can Bet There Will Be A Golf Mk9

Where will the automotive industry be in seven or so years time? Will EVs have gone mainstream, or will they still be relatively niche? Will diesel have disappeared? And what about SUV mania, will it have killed off saloons and hatchbacks? This line of questioning reveals how quickly and unpredictably things are changing. So even models like the Golf, enormously successful and iconic as they are, can no longer assume that they have a future. Lars Hentschel, from VW’s powertrain department, is convinced the Golf is here to stay regardless. He said, “no way it’s 100 per cent electrification in 2030. Even my boss Mr Diess is not enthusiastic. That would be far too much. There has to be a next generation Golf, I’m convinced”. That’s pretty conclusive.

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Loved To Death: Cars Could Be Banned From Parts Of The Lake District

Loved To Death: Cars Could Be Banned From Parts Of The Lake District

Cars could soon be banned in large swathes of the Lake District. The measure has been proposed in order to protect the popular National Park from pollution and congestion.

Car-Free Zones 

Both the National Trust and the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) are considering car-free zones and traffic management schemes for the Lake District; with the tiny hamlet of Seathwaite being the starting point. Calls for the measures come at a time when the Lakes are said to be at risk of being ‘loved to death’.  Research has revealed that in 2014 93% of visitors arrived by car. The LDNPA has also noted that 50% of its carbon budget comes from visitors and mostly from those using cars. That said, motorists are clearly an enormous source of revenue for the park’s authorities. For instance, annual permits can cost as much as £500. As a result, they’re having to strike a balance.

Thomas Burditt, National Trust general manager for the North Lakes, emphasised that any plans would involve the feedback of local residents. He said, “we need to address traffic issues in the National Park. Car-free zones are an option we are considering. We are in discussions with residents, the Highways Agency and the parish council”. However, regardless of what form the plans take, residents would still be able to use cars in the otherwise restricted areas. According to The Times, research concerning the car-free zones will be published this Tuesday (November 12th).

‘Loved To Death’

The Lake District is exceptionally popular amongst tourists and holidaymakers. Around 15.8 million people visit every single year; a testament to the appeal of its natural beauty. But this level of interest, unfortunately, can threaten the very landscapes and wildlife that draw people to it. Kate Willshaw, an officer for the Friends of the Lake District, said “the Lakes are such an amazing place, but parts of it are being loved to death”. She added, “a lot of it is still wild and tranquil, of course. But there are certain areas that are getting congested, such as Bowness, Keswick and Windermere. We call these places honeypots. They attract people because they are an easy win. You can get to them without driving on single-track roads, and the views are magnificent.”

One slice of information that may support the viability of car-free zones concerns the behaviour of visitors arriving by buses or coaches. They spend more time in the Lake District, are more likely to visit tourist attractions and generally part with more money. A National Cycle Network also means it’s possible to traverse large parts of the region via cycling and rail transport. Whether electric vehicles will be exempt under any bans isn’t clear, but it seems unlikely. A 2018 report into the matter stated, “greater use of electric vehicles would reduce the carbon emissions from road transport at the point of use although it would not reduce the number of vehicles in the Parks”.

Resident Approval?

Local residents seem to approve of the proposals. A local farmer told The Times, “congestion is horrendous and getting much worse. There was a fire in one of the houses near us and the fire engine couldn’t get down, there were so many cars parked”. They added, “right now, today, there are dozens of cars parked from our entrance right down the road. That’s a normal Friday. I would love this to be a car-free zone.” But as ever, there are all sorts of potentially conflicting interests. The Lake District depends on tourism for care and protection, but current volumes could one day destroy the very things drawing people to it in the first place. Residents will naturally favour their own communities and comforts, but many will no doubt themselves benefit from the money invested via tourism.

What do you think, are car-free zones a good idea or would they simply discourage you from visiting at all?

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Electric Car Batteries May Create A 'Waste Crisis', According To Study

Electric Car Batteries May Create A Waste Crisis, According To Study

Electric cars promise to bring about an age of clean motoring. But a new study suggests that, without huge improvements to recycling, their batteries may cause a waste crisis…

Facing A Waste Crisis

A new study has suggested that the rise of electric cars could produce a waste crisis. This is due to their batteries and the inadequacy of current recycling technologies and infrastructure. Researchers from the universities of Newcastle, Leicester and Birmingham have petitioned the government to develop recycling facilities to meet future demand. This, they claim, is something the country is “relatively under-prepared” for. Electric car-ownership remains niche in the UK, but uptake is growing. It increased by 76.6% in 2018 when compared to the previous year. As it stands, there are now 195,000 electric vehicles registered in the country.

Based on the 1 million EVs that were sold in 2017 globally, the researchers discovered that 250,000 tonnes of unprocessed waste will be generated by the vehicles by the end of their life-cycles. The batteries themselves can last anywhere between 10 to 20 years; dependent upon the model, how much charge they usually receive and how often they’re used. Removing and recycling them is, at this stage, a dangerous, costly and time-consuming process. They contain hazardous chemicals that can pose a danger to factory operatives. In Europe, only around 5% of them are currently recycled.

A Recycling Revolution 

The study suggests that EV batteries need to be manufactured with easy disassembly and recycling in mind; making the process simpler and safer. It also wants new processes to be developed so that individual parts and components aren’t contaminated during the process. This is even more important given that the he Faraday Institution, an institute for electrochemical energy storage research, has claimed that the country needs 8 gigafactories to meet demand by 2040.

Professor Andrew Abbott, from the University of Leicester and co-author of the report, wrote “electrification of just 2 per cent of the current global car fleet would represent a line of cars that could stretch around the circumference of the Earth – some 140 million vehicles”. He continued, “landfill is clearly not an option for this amount of waste. Finding ways to recycle EV batteries will not only avoid a huge burden on landfill, it will also help us secure the supply of critical materials, such as cobalt and lithium, that surely hold the key to a sustainable automotive industry.”

The Plot Thickens

Electric cars are indisputably cleaner and less-polluting than petrol and diesel equivalents. No one can dispute this. But how clean or ‘green’ they are, in of themselves, seems to becoming less clear. They depend upon exceptionally rare-earth minerals as a part of their manufacturing process; many of these are extracted by extremely poor and exploited workers in the Congo. Their tyres and braking systems also produce emissions, like any other conventional car. Indeed, a study produced in 2011 went as far to claim that there’s simply no such thing as an ‘environmentally-friendly’ car. In the likes of Japan, China and Korea, a different approach is also being taken to the West. Hydrogen is receiving just as much attention as a possible powertrain.

As it stands, electric vehicles are hailed as a magic bullet to the climate crisis. But the terms and conditions seem to be getting longer and longer; with more and more changes and overhauls being required to best exploit their capabilities. The fact of the matter is, their advocates are always going to come across critics who say more electric cars simply isn’t the answer. Instead, they argue, that the answer lies with moving further and further away from them and car-ownership. How the industry, and EV advocates, react to this line of questioning may prove to be critical.

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Drones Are Now Being Used To Deliver Car Parts And Components

Drones Are Now Being Used To Deliver Car Parts And Components

Drones are becoming a staple of the 21st century; the good and the bad. But SEAT is focusing on the good, using them to deliver parts and components at its factories…

Spanish Innovation 

Drones are arguably the incarnation of a looming technological boom. Not only do they promise a vast range of applications, they also embody all of the hopes and fears of modern innovation; being used positively and sometimes nefariously. But Spanish automaker SEAT is focusing on the positives. It’s using them at its Martorell factory, northeast of Barcelona, to deliver a range of parts and components. This pilot scheme sees the drones make 15-minute deliveries between logistics centres and workshops. The first delivery consisted of a steering wheel, but they’ll also haul airbags and more moving forward.

When orders are placed, parts are secured in carbon fibre capsules at logistics centres located 2km away. It’s attached via a powerful electromagnet. They then travel at a speed of 25 mph and at a height of 95 metres; being in the air for just 4 minutes for each delivery. Because they use electric batteries they’re carbon-neutral, too. SEAT believes they’ll save up to a tonne of CO2 every year.

Safety is tantamount though, with the project being overseen by the Spanish Aviation Safety Agency (AESE).  Pilot Toni Caballero also described the features of the drones themselves. He said, “we’ve tripled safety on this project. The most important aspect was that the drone had a large load capacity and to streamline its construction to the maximum. In addition to its six motors, we’ve equipped it with three GPS, six batteries and three IMU (Inertial Measurement Units), which are the inner workings of the drone.”

What The Future Holds 

Drones remain fairly embryonic, but they’re rapidly being integrated into more and more business models. Amazon is using them, some eateries are delivering pizzas and Highways England is using the tech to speed up construction work. For the automotive industry, it seems they have an especially natural place. For the most part, it relies upon ‘last minute’ supply-chains as stockpiling millions of parts would be logistically impossible and financially unsustainable.

No doubt drones will get bigger, stronger and more efficient as time goes on; probably more autonomous as well. All of this means they’ll ripe for exploitation by criminals and bad actors. But as SEAT has demonstrated, they’ll also make our lives easier and more productive. It’ll be interesting to see what the results of the trial are. If it’s successful, perhaps it’ll be rolled out across the Volkswagen Group more broadly (which owns SEAT).

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Bentley Motors Has Lost A Trademark Dispute With Bentley Clothing

Bentley Motors Has Lost A Trademark Dispute With…Bentley Clothing

Bentley Motors won’t be able to use ‘Bentley’ on its UK clothing range. And it’s all because of Bentley Clothing…

More Than Just Cars 

Car manufacturers have realised that they can make a pretty penny out of selling more than just motor vehicles. Luxury brands in particular have started to capitalise on their ‘premium’ character by offering a wide range of merchandise. You can get a ‘starry’ ceiling in your Rolls Royce Wraith for around £10,000. Aston Martin offers a watch that acts as a key, it fetches a price of £20,000. More accessible are Ferrari’s coloured seat belts, available from £750, but you get the picture.  Bentley has been selling branded clothing for more than 30 years in the UK, but that’s about to change.

Clash Of The Bentleys 

The Volkswagen Group subsidiary, based in Crewe, has lost a legal battle in the High Court against Manchester-based Bentley Clothing. As a result, it’ll only be able to use ‘Bentley’ on a limited range of caps, scarves, silk ties and jackets. Bentley Clothing, completely unrelated to the automaker, was founded in 1962 and registered ‘Bentley’ in 1982. However, Bentley Motors began producing branded clothing in 1987 in a move it’s described as  ‘honest concurrent use’. However, the judge disagreed and argued that the company had made a “conscious decision” to develop the clothing range. This, he said, was a “steady encroachment on Bentley Clothing’s goodwill”.

The history of the conflict actually dates back to 1998, when Bentley Clothing approached Bentley Motors. But the High Court action wasn’t launched until 2017. As a result of the Court’s verdict, the car manufacturer may be forced to pay damages and even “hand over or destroy any items in its possession which infringe the trademark”. In a statement, Bentley Motors said it was “extremely disappointed” with the decision and that it would consider appealing. It argued, “we have been selling clothing for more than 30 years in the UK and at no point has there been any evidence of confusion with another company’s trademark”. According to reports, the luxury car manufacturer had tried to cancel Bentley Clothing’s trademark via the UK Intellectual Property Office. Something which it failed to do.

But Why All The Fuss?

The case’s outcome demonstrates that no matter how big a company is, or how strong its brand is, the law comes first. Bentley Clothing won because it secured its trademark first and, from the outside, appears to have acted in good faith. One can only imagine how protective Bentley Motors would be if a newcomer even tiptoed over what it considers to be its intellectual property! But there’s a reason Bentley Motors tried fighting so hard over this issue. Car manufacturers can’t just rely on selling cars anymore. Luxury brands are often more resilient than mass-producers, archiving more brand-loyalty and far healthier profit margins. But this is no longer always the case, as Aston Martin’s financial woes illustrate. As a result they’re looking at new revenue streams.

Automakers are investing in clothing, jewellery, toys, mobility solutions and lifestyle offerings. Not only do these things increase the brand’s visibility, they can foster loyalty and penetrate fresh markets. For Bentley Motors, then, they’ve lost a considerable source of income and to a company that (as far as they’re probably concerned) is a complete unknown that’d confuse and confound their marketing. So, if you were hoping to cruise around in your Bentley with a matching jacket and scarf, it’s really not your day.

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