Britain producing cars again, but they don’t come cheap
It was recently revealed that Britain was at last a net exporter in cars and car parts for the first time since 1976. Although Britain’s once mighty automotive industry might nowadays be in the hands of foreign owners, at least we’re busy producing vehicles and parts and sending them off to Russia, America and the emerging economies of China and India.
What do Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Range Rover, Lotus, McLaren, MG, Mini, Rolls Royce, Vauxhall, as well as the less British seeming names of Honda and Toyota have in common? They’re all building cars in Britain, bringing jobs as well as pride and status back to the British manufacturing sector.
Another thing that strikes me about the list is that, generally, these are not cheap cars. Compared to the average family vehicle, these are high-end models that come at a real premium both in the showroom and when it comes to buying car insurance, which, in the main, is a positive I guess.
When manufacturers look for a really first-class product, it seems they know they can rely on Britain to produce them. The only question that remains is, will our economy bounce back in such a way as to give the average Briton a good shot at buying one?
Baked beans or car insurance, the choice for young drivers
Not only are they having to pay for the economic extravagance of their forefathers by coming to terms with years of likely austerity, they are also, compared to us, having to pay through the roof for their car insurance.
According to one comparison site, which teamed up with professional services giant Towers Watson, drivers between the ages of 17 and 20 are having to pay an average of £2,500 for their car insurance.
This is a huge figure, but actually pales into comparison besides the average figure for a male driver – £3,635.
Perhaps most shockingly of all, this £3,500 plus figure is actually more than a quarter of the average annual salary for a young man.
Fine enough if you don’t need to drive, but many, such as my nephew, live miles away from bus services and have no choice but to commute to and from work.
All of which makes it more important than ever that customers are shrewd about finding the cheapest car insurance on the market.
Sea Lion, the amphibious car
The futuristic-looking vehicle, which has been built on top of a 174hp Mazda rotary engine, can do 125mph on tarmac and 60mph in water (that’s on top of it like a boat, not under it like a sub).
The Sea Lion, as it has been lovingly named by its creator, is being sold for $259,500 – about £163,355 – and I don’t know how much it will cost to insure.
I can imagine a car insurance company would look at this vehicle and just see ‘very high risk car’ written all over it. Not only is there a risk that it will crash on the roads, but there’s the added risk of it crashing into a boat or sinking.
Would they still sort out maintenance and pick-up if you were stranded on open water? I’d like to see a road-side repairs company try their hand at some boating.
Nevertheless, I have no doubt that the car has been well built – after all it took six years to make it.
The creator states, “Building Sea Lion has been an enjoyable exploration. I have provided the basic architecture for the car and resolved every conflicting interaction between car and boat.”
I’d love to have a car-boat, but this model’s a bit too speedy-looking for me. When an amphibious mini or VW camper comes along, I’ll be buying it no matter the cost.
Well if you answered no to the first and yes to the second, you might not be too gutted that Honda’s latest creation is not available for public purchase yet and has not been given a release date either.
The creation, the Uni-Cub, is a motorised unicycle. Riders can steer it by leaning to one side or another, just as you would on a peddle unicycle. The difference is that you don’t have to work your legs to move the machine and reportedly it is brilliantly easy to get the hand of riding one.
As clever an invention as the Uni-Cub is, I’m not surprised the manufacturer hasn’t come out with a release date yet. It doesn’t go any faster than 3.7mph – some people walk faster than that.
However, to give you a more balanced view of the machine, it apparently folds up into a carrycase, and is safe enough to use indoors.
I wonder how much it would cost to insure this strange machine? Would it even need insurance?
Age the new growth market
Against this background, some will find that they are unable to keep their driving licence or have to face up to a reality of more expensive car insurance, certainly compared to what they might have paid previously.
But, at just a time when we’re facing up to the reality of an older than ever before population, technology is beginning to offer some hope to those who might otherwise lose the capacity to drive.
A team at Newcastle University has converted an electric car into a mobile research station which has navigation tools, night vision systems and intelligent speed adaptations.
As well as being able to monitor concentration and stress levels it can track eye movement and assess potential hazards in older drivers.
Phil Blythe, one of the professor’s behind the Newcastle University study, comments, "For many older people, particularly those living alone or in rural areas, driving is essential for maintaining their independence, giving them the freedom to get out and about without having to rely on others.
"And people base their whole lives around driving a car, having mobility.
"But we all have to accept that as we get older our reactions slow down and this often results in people avoiding any potentially challenging driving conditions and losing confidence in their driving skills. The result is that people stop driving before they really need to.
"What we are doing is to look at ways of keeping people driving safely for longer, which in turn boosts independence and keeps us socially connected."
All good news. And it seems that car insurance for older drivers may be about to become the next growth area of the motor insurance market. Who would have predicted that?
Labels: car insurance for older drivers
Welcome to the future
Could video games make you a better driver?
Researchers tested 25 participants who had never tried video games before. The test subjects were split into two control groups, with 16 playing first-person shooters and nine using 3D puzzle games.
After a total of ten hours gaming, in sessions lasting no longer than two hours, those who played shooters demonstrated improved visual attention.
Professor Ian Spence, University of Toronto, said this skill is crucial in many important everyday activities.
He said, “Studies in different labs, including here at the University of Toronto, have shown that action video games can improve selective visual attention, such as the ability to quickly detect and identify a target in a cluttered background.
“It's necessary for things such as driving a car, monitoring changes on a computer display, or even avoiding tripping while walking through a room with children's toys scattered on the floor.”
However if you are into mystery games, prepare to be disappointed – the 3D puzzle group did not display any improved brain functions.
A Ferrari for £23 thousand
Yes, it’s a lot of money, but considering that they usually cost closer to £150k, it’s an amazing deal, isn’t it?
Well, yes and no, because this £23k Ferrari, is actually just a Ferrari camera.
Apparently though, the H4D-40 is actually a very good camera, and it looks great too in Ferrari red with the famous logo on the side.
Sounds like you should look into insuring this piece of kit if you buy it, just like you’d have to get car insurance for a Ferrari vehicle (and in fact any car you purchase at all).
If I had a thousands of pounds spare, I might be tempted to buy this camera, but I imagine I’d never take it anywhere with me because I’d be frightened of it getting lost, stolen or dropping it by accident.
Similarly, if I had a Ferrari car, I’d keep it in a garage all the time, safe from harm. I think I’m better off with the little second-hand car I have now. It may not be flash, but at least I’m not scared to use it.
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