| 11th December 2013
Ford has big and exciting model plans for the UK market and very recently these have grown. The manufacturer is now planning to add 25 new additions or replacements in the next five years, up from 15 announced just over a year ago.
This growth in spectacular future plans has emerged following the reveal of the new Ford Mustang to European motorists. Other new Ford models already confirmed for the future include the new Fiesta-based Ecosport and the large Ford Edge SUV.
New specifications for existing Ford models will include a new version of the Focus with the 99bhp 1.0-litre Ecoboost. This updated model will deliver the same power output but CO2 emissions will be reduced from 109g/km to 99g/km.
This month Ford has also committed to investing in new technology, particularly in relation to connectivity aimed at improving safety and easing traffic congestion.
Ford’s European executive vice-president, Stephen Odell, commented: “The plan was not about surviving - it was about growing the business profitably,
“We have just had 10 straight months of retail growth and we are on track to return to profitability by 2015. We see modest growth in Europe next year and a market that could increase by 20 per cent over the next five years."
The Ford executive chairman, Bill Ford, remarked: “This has been a historically challenging period,“I remember the challenges we faced in North America. The turnaround in Europe will be every bit as gratifying."
With plants closing in Genk, Belgium and Southampton, Ford’s European production capacity will have taken a drop by the middle of 2014.
However this doesn’t mean Ford is slowly backing away from European markets and the growth in its future product offensive only emphasises that thought. Ford has plenty of reason to be ambitious, after all the company continues to enjoy great success in the UK market.
The brand has consistently topped UK new car sales over the past couple of decades and the Fiesta and Focus continue to lead the way for model sales here.
The previously-mentioned new Ecosport will signify the start of Ford’s new product offensive. Also next year, Ford will introduce long awaited replacements for the Mondeo and Mondeo estate.
In 2015 there will be a new Ford Ka plus the arrival two new Ford models from America, the Edge and the Mustang. The Edge has never been sold in European markets before while the Mustang has not officially been in the UK market for over 40 years.
Ford has also promised to expand its ST range of high-performance cars. New commercial vehicles from Ford will include an expansion of the Transit range with the Courier and two-tonne versions, both in 2014.
| 10th December 2013
Renault and Orange have joined forces to explore potential uses for 4G connectivity on future vehicles from the French manufacturer.
The partnership between the two popular brands provides both companies with a real-life testing framework for the use of exploring new connectivity applications on vehicles using high-speed technologies.
Many manufacturers see the vehicles of tomorrow as being ‘hyper-connected’, with motorists able to access both their professional and personal digital worlds from their vehicles with ease.
In order to prepare for such a future, car manufacturer Renault and mobile network operator Orange have joined together as part of a research project, testing high-speed 4G/LTE (Long Term Evolution) connectivity in vehicles.
With the partnership underway, Orange has rolled out its 4G network in advance at Renault’s research and testing facilities, with the aim to enable teams from both companies to test in real-life situations the uses offered by very-high-speed mobile technology.
Such uses that are enabled by ultra-high-speed connectivity range from virtual office and cloud gaming to video conferencing.
An initial test of the technology is currently underway on Renault’s NEXT TWO prototype, which is based on the Renault ZOE. The prototype will be presented on the company’s stand at the upcoming Le Web’13 conference.
The Head of Engineering Innovation at Renault, Remi Bastien, commented: “This partnership is an example of an effective working relationship between two very different worlds.
“We were able to benefit ahead of time from a high-speed LTE network and from Orange’s expertise, with an opportunity to take advantage of the network for our prototype of the connected vehicle of the future."
Natalie Leboucher, Head of the Smart Cities Program at Orange, added: “We are delighted to provide Renault with the unrivalled performance of our 4G network and thereby contribute to the development of new web-mobility uses and services for the vehicles of the future.
“Connected cars make travelling more efficient through communicating services and stand as a major development priority in Orange’s strategy."
Renault is no stranger to the concept of connected vehicles, as the company has fitted numerous models with its R-Link system.
Renault R-Link has been rated by the SBD firm as Europe’s most user-friendly multimedia system and offers motorists an integrated and connected seven-inch touchscreen.
The R-Link system features on models such as the new Clio, Captur, Scenic range and the pure-electric ZOE.
| 10th December 2013
This week Nissan is celebrating the third birthday of its all-electric family car, the LEAF, which has made a significant impact on the green car market.
The Nissan LEAF first began production back towards the end of 2010 over in Japan - it was launched to the UK car market in March 2011.
As part of its celebrations, the official social media channels for the Nissan LEAF, including Twitter and Facebook, posted a photo of the Nissan LEAF with a single balloon attached on top. For every retweet or “like" on Facebook from the public, an additional balloon was added to the top of the LEAF for the next photo.
By the time an updated photo was published around six hours later, the number of balloons above the LEAF had hugely increased as fans showed plenty of support for the car.
Following its initial launch, the Nissan LEAF was well received by critics across the globe. The Nissan has won a large number of awards including the 2011 European Car of the Year accolade and 2011 World Car of the Year.
Since May 2013 the Nissan LEAF received major updates including an expansion from one to three specifications.
Fans show their support online for the Nissan LEAF
Another big change was that up until this year the Nissan LEAF had to be bought with its battery but now that can be leased by customers. This can reduce the initial purchase price of a new Nissan LEAF substantially.
Nissan LEAF models bought with leased batteries will be referred to as 'Flex' models and they reduce the car's initial purchase price by £5,000. This reduction comes on top of the Government’s plug-in car grant which is also worth exactly £5,000.
The 2013 Nissan LEAF range starts with the basic Visia trim priced from £15,990. Like the rest of the range it is driven by a 107bhp electric motor which gives the hatchback a travel range of 124 miles and zero CO2 emissions.
Standard equipment on Visia-trim LEAF models includes air conditioning, Bluetooth and satellite navigation.
The mid-range Acenta trim for the Nissan LEAF starts from £18,490. This model features more luxury equipment including cruise control, a reversing camera and automatic headlights.
At the top of the 2013 LEAF range is the Tekna trim, priced from £20,490. Standard kit on this specification includes LED headlamps, 17-inch alloy wheels and a energy-efficient sound system with seven speakers.