Title: How do Hybrid Cars Work?

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Summary: According to the BBC, It’s been predicted that by 2044, car manufacturers will only be producing hybrid models.

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Meta Description: How do hybrid cars work and how are they changing the car industry and most importantly our lives, find out here with the guide from Bristol Street Motors.

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Hybrid Car Charging

According to the BBC, It’s been predicted that by 2044, car manufacturers will only be producing hybrid models.

Whilst we might not quite be at that stage yet, it’s safe to say that hybrid car ownership is at a higher level than it’s ever been. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 9955 “Alternative Fuel Vehicle’s” were registered in 2014, a 54% increase on the previous year. As the number of hybrid models on the market and their availability increases, this number is set to rise in turn.

However, many people are still confused about what exactly hybrid cars are, how they work differently to traditional petrol or diesel vehicles, and whether they’re actually worth investing your hard earned cash in.

If you’ve ever found yourself asking “how do hybrid cars work?”, our guide should help you out.

How are hybrid cars different?

Traditionally, cars have relied on only one fuel source, most commonly petrol or diesel.

Energy is created by the burning of petrol or diesel, which in turn powers pistons in the car. This energy is then converted into manual power, which propels the car forward; simple stuff so far.

However, hybrid cars differ from solely petrol powered vehicles in that they are powered by two fuel sources rather than one.

How do hybrid cars work?

As well as a petrol engine, hybrid vehicles also contain an alternate energy source; typically, an electric motor. These two sources of energy can be used by the car separately or simultaneously.

Most hybrids will solely use the petrol engine whilst driving at relatively high and steady speeds; for example, on a motorway or A-road. However, when hybrids are driving slowly – as in through city traffic or low speed suburban areas – they will be powered by the electric motor.

When powered by the electric motor, the car will sound much quieter, as the noisy mechanical equipment used by the petrol engine is not in use. These motors are powered by batteries, which in the majority of hybrids are rechargeable. When the car is moving by its own momentum, such as freewheeling downhill or when braking, these batteries will be recharged. This is known as regenerative braking, and happens as the wheels turn the electric motor.

As well as this, most hybrid car batteries can be recharged at home or at selected charging points. While slowly increasing in number, hybrid charging points can still be few and far between when compared to petrol stations, so availability of these in your area could make or break your decision to whether to get a hybrid.

Are petrol/electric cars the only type of hybrid cars?

At the moment, petrol/electric hybrids are by far the most common on the market. However, car manufacturers such as Toyota and Nissan are increasingly focusing on producing cars powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. In 2003, the US government launched an initiative to make fuel cell powered vehicles available and cost effective by 2020, something motivated by their energy efficient nature.

Why buy a hybrid car?

The main positive to hybrid cars is their energy efficient nature. Although hybrids contain a smaller petrol engine, they will need to be refilled less often than single energy source cars. This means that owning a hybrid could even save you money.

Another incentive to buy a hybrid is their lower environmental impact. Petrol consumption can contribute to negative environmental factors such as global warming. As hybrids use less petrol, they’re viewed as being friendlier to the environment than petrol cars.

Which hybrid car should I buy?

There’s a wide range of hybrid cars out there to choose from, in a variety of body shapes and price ranges. Luckily, we’ve selected a few for you here, all available at Bristol Street Motors dealerships.

Peugeot 508 RXH 2.0

One of the newest Peugeot models, the energy efficiency and long term cost effectiveness of this hefty SUV far outweigh its initial price. Running on a hybrid diesel/electric engine with a power output of 200bhp, this Peugeot comes with a panoramic glass roof, automatic head lights, cruise control, and an integrated Sat Nav system.

Ford Mondeo 2.0 Hybrid

The most recent release of this ever popular Ford has also been released in a hybrid version. Designed as a facelift of the Mondeo model, this diesel/electric combo comes with all the usual Mondeo specifications. Noticeable is a slightly larger interior space, making this model an affordable car ideal for a family conscious of their energy use.

Citroen DS5 2.0 Hdi Hybrid

This Citroen doesn’t sacrifice power for energy efficiency. Another diesel/electric hybrid, this is a sleek mix between a family hatchback and a sporty estate. With a combined output of 200bhp and a selection of 4 driving settings, this hybrid is powerful and suited to all driving conditions.

If you’d like to know more about hybrids, or would like to see alternative models to the ones mentioned in this article, get in contact with your local Bristol Street Motors dealership to see what we can do for you.

Author: Tom

Title: How Long Does an MOT Take?

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Summary: Ever wondered how long an MOT takes, why you need an MOT, or how much an MOT costs? At Bristol Street Motors, we’ve put together a guide to the most frequently asked questions about the MOT test.

Meta Title: How Long Does An MOT Take

Meta Description: If you want to find out how long an MOT takes you can find it here with the Bristol Street Motors guide. You can also book your MOT online today.

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Car MOT

Ever wondered how long an MOT takes, why you need an MOT, or how much an MOT costs? At Bristol Street Motors, we’ve put together a guide to the most frequently asked questions about the MOT test.

What is an MOT?

The MOT test is a test that checks that a vehicle is in a roadworthy condition. Designed to ensure that a vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards set out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), all cars must receive an MOT test at some point in their driving life.

Driving without a valid MOT test is illegal and carries a potential £1,000 fine. No points can be issued for driving without an MOT, however, 6 – 8 points can be issued for driving without vehicle insurance. An expired MOT voids most – if not all – vehicle insurance, because insurance companies have a section in their terms and conditions which states that the owner of a vehicle must keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition, and an expired MOT test breaches this.

So, it pays to keep up with your MOT tests.

When do I need an MOT?

You must get an MOT test once every year if your vehicle is over three years old or in some cases once your vehicle is over one year old.

You can renew your MOT up to one month before its expiry. So, drivers have a fair amount of flexibility as to when they can have a new MOT test carried out (in other words, there’s no real excuse for not getting one). If you are unsure of when your vehicle needs a new MOT, details of the earliest date you can have a new test will be printed on your existing MOT certificate.

Points to consider:

Always book your test in advance if your certificate is due to run out.

How much will my MOT cost?

The price of your MOT will be dependent on the type of vehicle you own. For example, an MOT for a goods vehicle will cost more than an MOT for a family hatchback.

MOT test centres can only charge up to the official maximum for an MOT. Most companies promote cheaper rates than the official maximum, but it’s important to know what the maximum is so you have a good idea of how much a test is going to cost.

If you’d like an MOT cost estimate for your car, you can always get in touch with Bristol Street, and we’ll be happy to give you a quote.

Points to consider:

The maximum price of a car MOT test is £54.85, but this will often be cheaper.

Where do I get an MOT?

You can get an MOT test carried out at any approved MOT test centre, such as a Bristol Street Motors dealership. This is often your best bet, as a dealership will employ technicians who specifically deal with specific manufacturers and models, meaning you’ll know your car is in good hands.

Approved centres must always show an official ‘MOT Test: Fees and Appeals’ poster on a public notice board on their premises. It is illegal for a test centre to advertise or perform MOTs if they are not approved to do so, and an MOT carried out at such a centre will not be valid.

What do I need for an MOT?

Once you have booked your vehicle in for an MOT at an approved centre, it’s important to collect all necessary documents. You will need to produce your V5C, or Vehicle Registration Document, and take with you a means for payment. It’s a good idea at this stage to account for any work that may need to be carried out on your vehicle to ensure it meets road safety and environmental standards. So, make sure that you have enough money to cover any unexpected bills. Common failures include faulty windscreen wipers, non-working lights, and worn tyres.

How long does an MOT take?

There is no golden rule when it comes to the length of time an MOT takes, however the test itself will usually take no longer than 60 minutes. If your vehicle requires work to ensure that it meets road safety and environmental standards, then depending on the level of work required, your car may be at an MOT test centre for a couple of days. This reaffirms the position that it’s incredibly important for you to plan ahead with your MOT test and ensure that you have another means of transport.

After the MOT test, what happens?

If your vehicle passes the MOT test, you will be presented with an MOT pass certificate. Your vehicle will also be registered on computer databases for the record.

If your vehicle fails the MOT test, you will be presented with a ‘notification of failure’ from the test centre. This failure is recorded in the central MOT database. If your existing MOT test certificate is still valid, you will still be able to drive your vehicle, however if your prior certificate is no longer valid, you can only drive your vehicle to pre-arranged appointments with a garage or MOT test centre.

How to check the MOT history and MOT status of a vehicle?

You can easily check the MOT history and MOT status of a vehicle by heading over to this webpage on the Direct.gov website. You can check the date of a test, odometer (mileage) reading, and expiry dates of a test pass. All you will need to use this service is your V5C Vehicle Registration Document, or your VT20 test certificate and VT30 refusal certificate.

Think you’re ready to book your car in for an MOT test? At Bristol Street Motors, we can provide MOT testing that is thorough and professional. Get in touch with a dealership near you today, to see how we can help you out.

Author: Tom

Title: A Guide to New Car Technology

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Summary: In 2015, cars that could safely be described as budget options feature technology that a decade ago would have been viewed as high end. With electric ignition, power steering, automatic wipers and all round enhanced safety features, car technology once viewed as futuristic is now commonplace.

Meta Title: A Guide To New Car Technology

Meta Description: Bristol Street have uncovered the latest new car technology and how it will change our lives and driving experience, check out the guide here.

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New car technology

In 2015, cars that could safely be described as budget options feature technology that a decade ago would have been viewed as high end. With electric ignition, power steering, automatic wipers and all round enhanced safety features, car technology once viewed as futuristic is now commonplace.

However, as with all technology, as certain features become standard across a majority of models, manufacturers will begin to test and install new technological advances into their high end models. Not yet available to the majority of the car buying public, new technology brings a sense of excitement and futuristic innovation to the vehicle market. We’ve put together the new car technology that might seem cutting edge, but we’re certain will be standard in the coming years.

Vehicle to Vehicle communication

From mirrors, to seatbelts, to airbags, many features now standard in all cars have been introduced to improve the safety of the driving experience. Vehicle to Vehicle communication, aside from being a little more high tech than a simple seatbelt, is no different, and if widely introduced has the potential to drastically cut down on accident rates. By using wireless communication, this new car technology sends signals between cars, informing drivers about the speed, location, and driving direction of other vehicles on the road. This information isn’t only useful for drivers to know, but can also be used by the cars themselves. For example, if the car detects another vehicle running a red light ahead, then it could automatically hit the brakes, cutting out error in part to human reaction time.

Video Streaming Rear View Mirrors

Allegedly set to debut in 2016 – although already available in the Japanese market – this future car technology is another feature designed to cut out human error and improve safety. Cars featuring this innovation will replace the rear view mirror with a live video stream, provided by a camera strategically installed on the rear end of the vehicle. This should provide drivers with a clearer view of the rear end of the car, reducing sunlight glare, and cutting out obstructions caused by headrests, passengers, or luggage. The stream can be switched off easily at the flick of a switch, meaning that drivers can easily revert to using a standard mirror if needed.

Automatic Parking

For many out there, this new technology will be a more than welcome innovation. For those who have a little trouble parking up, or who haven’t attempted a parallel park since their driving test, this feature can take away a whole load of worry. With automatic parking, you’ll never need to be backed in again, as your car will be able to park itself. Using laser systems, a car with automated parking technology will make a map of the surrounding area, taking note of objects to avoid, then find an available space and park up. However, there’s a catch – at this stage, the car will need a digital copy of the area it’s in in order to park automatically, meaning that prior preparation will be needed for the technology to work.

Self-Driving Cars

Previously the stuff of Sci-Fi films, the notion of a self-driving car is becoming increasingly close to being made reality. Amongst others, Google have been making big strides into researching and testing the necessary technology, having reportedly already trialled self-driving cars on public roads in the U.S.A. This is another technological advance that could drastically improve safety, as if the cars are “smart” enough the possibility for human error could be greatly reduced. Self-Driving cars would have better vision than human drivers, better special awareness, and with vehicle to vehicle communication, would be able to automatically avoid other cars on the road. Traffic jams may become a thing of the past, as with GPS cars will be able to seek out and follow alternative routes. For those thinking this is merely fantasy, don’t be so sure; it’s been estimated that some kind of self-driving car will be on the market within the next 10 years.

Whilst many of these new car gadgets and technologies aren’t currently on the market, it’s highly likely they’ll become more popular in the coming decade. Who knows – by 2035, driving tests and mirrors may become things of the past, as we all drive around in our video-streaming, self-driving cars.

Want to see some of the newest technology available now? Get in contact with Bristol Street Motors, and we’ll show you some of the latest technology from the greatest car manufacturers.

 

Author: Tom

Title: New Car Tax Rules Explained

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Summary: In October of last year, the government finally retired one of the longest serving British motoring institutions; the tax disc. First made mandatory in 1921, the disc was finally sent on a permanent leave of duty in 2014 after a solid 93 years of service. However, new ways of checking Vehicle Excise Duty have been created to take its place, meaning you’ll need to find another use for that little plastic disc.

Meta Title: New Car Tax Rules

Meta Description: Find out about the new car tax rules and what you have to do in this guide from Bristol Street Motors.

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Car Tax

In October of last year, the government finally retired one of the longest serving British motoring institutions; the tax disc. First made mandatory in 1921, the disc was finally sent on a permanent leave of duty in 2014 after a solid 93 years of service. However, new ways of checking Vehicle Excise Duty have been created to take its place, meaning you’ll need to find another use for that little plastic disc.

To help you get to grips with a tax disc free world, we’ve put together a full guide to the new Vehicle Excise Duty laws, and explained what the rules mean for you.

What are the new road tax changes?

Effective from the 1st of October 2014, motorists in the UK are no longer required to display up to date tax discs on vehicles. Instead of relying on the colourful little discs to check whether a vehicle is properly taxed, authorities will now solely rely on a number plate recognition system. Using cameras, visual checks will be performed on a vehicle’s number plate, informing authorities whether a vehicle has been taxed or not.

In theory, the changes should make it easier for motorists to pay for and display car tax, requiring little effort on a driver’s part. The changes are also expected to make the system of car tax easier to run, completely getting rid of the costs needed to produce tax discs.

What do the changes mean for motorists?

In theory, the new rules shouldn’t affect motorists too much. Instead of purchasing or receiving a tax disc in the post, vehicle duty will simply have to be paid online, over the phone, or in a post office. Once this is done, the purchase should take effect automatically, and your car will be taxed for an extended period.

Motorists still have the option to purchase car tax annually or bi-annually, as before. However, with the removal of the tax disc comes the introduction of option to purchase car tax monthly. If you choose to purchase car tax monthly, you will incur an extra 5% surcharge, which is still less than the 10% surcharge on 6 months tax.

Another change noticeable to motorists is the option to pay for car tax via direct debit, which will surely come as a blessing to those of us out there who serially forget to update our road tax on time. The decision to pay for car tax by direct debit further streamlines the process, as an automatic payment will be made to the DVLA when your tax is due to be renewed on either a monthly, 6 monthly or annual basis.

What happens to road tax when selling a car?

Whilst the changes make it easier to purchase and renew road tax, they have led to some confusion over what happens to existing road tax when selling a car. In fact, clamping figures have soared from 5000 per month to 8000 a month, simply due to misunderstandings about what happens to car tax when you sell your car.

Whilst previously road tax could be transferred to a vehicle’s new owner, under the new regulations this is no longer the case. Now, when selling a vehicle, the seller will be able to receive a refund on the amount of road tax still remaining (minus any monthly or 6 monthly surcharge). When selling a car, the seller will need to inform the DVLA as soon as the vehicle has been sold. This can be done via a VC5 registration form, more commonly called a log book. As soon as the DVLA receives notification that the vehicle has been sold, the seller will automatically receive the refund.

On paper, this process might seem simple, but in practice it has resulted in a fair bit of confusion from both buyers and sellers alike. As stated, when an owner sells their vehicle they’re eligible to receive a refund, calculated from the beginning of the month following the sale. However, when the new owner taxes the vehicle, they have to pay from the beginning of the month. This effectively means that when a car is sold, the government collects two sets of tax for the same month, something that many motorists – perhaps for good reason – feel is a bit of a swindle.

How will the new rules be policed?

If you’re thinking that lack of an immediate way to check road tax now means it’s easier to get away with sneakily not paying, think again. Although on slow days the more eagle eyed police and traffic officers may have caught people out by manually looking at tax discs, this hasn’t been the primary way of checking for up to date tax for quite a while.

Even before the death of the tax disc, most policing of road tax was done by checking number plates. This is set to continue, with automatic number plate readers and number plate recognition cameras now being the main way to separate the taxed from the untaxed.

Whether you think the new system is simply a streamlining of a slightly outdated system, or a way to catch out previously law abiding motorists, the changes are set to reduce government spending by £10million annually. For that reason, it looks like they’re here to stay; if you’re still clinging on to that tax disc, it might be time to let go.

Contact the team if you need additional advice.

Author: Tom

Title: Top Tips for New Drivers

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Summary: So you’ve finally managed to earn yourself the privilege to get rid of those L plates and trade in that provisional once and for all. At any age, it can be exciting passing your driving test, giving you independence and opening up new opportunities.

Meta Title: Top Tips For New Drivers

Meta Description: Check out the Bristol Street Motors top tips for new drivers, if you want any additional advice or want to buy your first car contact the team today.

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New Driver

So you’ve finally managed to earn yourself the privilege to get rid of those L plates and trade in that provisional once and for all. At any age, it can be exciting passing your driving test, giving you independence and opening up new opportunities.

However, as the old cliché goes, you only really start to learn how to drive once you’ve passed your test. For new or young drivers, passing your driving test is only the first step. Whether you’ve already got a car sorted, or are scanning the market for a car that’s right for you, there are some important points to consider. To help you drive safely, save time, and hopefully save money, Bristol Street Motors have put together what we think are some of the top tips for new drivers.

  1. Order your new driving license

This one might seem like a no brainer, but it’s surprising how many new drivers forget to order their full license. Not ordering your new license can be costly. If you don’t apply for your new license within 2 years of passing your test, you’ll have to take both your theory and driving test again, meaning you’ll have to fork out valuable money and time. It’s easy to apply for your new license; all you need to do is send off your pass certificate alongside your provisional one to the DVLA, and they’ll send you your new license in no time.

  1. Get more training

Once you’ve passed your test, it can be easy to convince yourself you’re the next Lewis Hamilton. However, it’s likely that your actual real world skills pale in comparison to more experienced drivers. Although it might seem like it at the time, driving lessons don’t completely represent the everyday driving experience.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to enrol on a Pass Plus course. These courses give you a wider experience of real world driving situations, and only take about 6 hours on average to complete. They’re also ideal for new drivers; if you complete a Pass Plus course within 12 months of passing your driving test, it can serve to lower your car insurance costs by up to 35%. Insurance for new drivers can often be astronomical, so any way to lower these costs is a benefit.

  1. Get insurance savvy

The average car insurance premium for drivers between the ages of 17-22 is a staggering £1096 a year. If you want to avoid paying out your teeth for insurance, it’s worth informing yourself of some of the insurance saving tips out there. For a start, you should get quotes from a wide range of insurance providers. Whilst it might be quicker to do this on comparison sites, it’s worthwhile contacting providers yourself, to see if they can offer you any deals not listed online. Also, some of the larger car insurance companies aren’t taken account for on these sites, so if you only search this way you’re likely to miss out on some potentially good deals.

  1. Minimise your risk factor

Shopping around isn’t the only way to ensure you get a good deal on car insurance. New and younger drivers pay more money as they’re perceived as riskier than more experienced road farers. However, there are certain procedures you can take to show insurance companies you’ve made an effort to minimise your risk of accident. Something as simple as fitting an alarm or immobiliser can work to lower your insurance costs, and any costs you pay for installation will be reclaimed from the money you’ll save.

Another way to lower your premium is to add someone known as a low risk as the car’s second driver. This person should ideally have no points, no history of claims, and be over 25; a parent or guardian is generally a good bet.

Although it may sound obvious, one of the best ways to show insurance companies you’re low risk is to drive carefully. This means no speeding, no accidents, and no points. The New Drivers Act stipulates that anyone earning 6 points within their first 24 months of driving will lose their license; bear in mind that new drivers get 6 points for using a mobile while driving.

  1. Get a real feel for driving

Once you’re finally insured and behind the wheel, one of the most important steps to take is to let yourself get familiar with the car you’re driving. It’s normal for driving a new car to feel unnatural for a while, especially considering most learner drivers will have only ever driven in one or two specific cars.

Before setting off in your car, familiarise yourself with the interior; notice where the pedals sit under the dashboard, adjust your seat to a comfortable position, and make sure your mirrors are set up properly. For the first few times you drive, you should try driving alone. It might be tempting to bring friends or family with you, but riding solo lessens the chance of distraction and allows you to properly get a fear of the car you’re in control of. Again, it might be tempting to go on long, aimless drives, but don’t over face yourself; try going short distances in familiar places for the first few weeks.

It’s tempting to get on the road as soon as possible once you’ve passed your test, but it’s important that new drivers remember these tips; they could help you drive safer, more confidently, and even save you a few pennies.

Author: Tom

Title: What is a Crossover Car?

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Summary: In November 2014, it was announced that the Nissan Qashqai had broken British records. Over 2 million units of the car have been made in Britain since production started in 2006, and in 2010 the Qashqai became the 10th bestselling new car in Britain; the first Nissan to make the top 10 since 1983.

Meta Title: What Is A Crossover Car

Meta Description: The crossover car is one of the best selling car body styles of recent years. But what is a crossover car?

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In November 2014, it was announced that the Nissan Qashqai had broken British records. Over 2 million units of the car have been made in Britain since production started in 2006, and in 2010 the Qashqai became the 10th bestselling new car in Britain; the first Nissan to make the top 10 since 1983.

Whilst representing an upsurge in British vehicle production, the hasty production of the Qashqai also indicates another thing; the increasing popularity of the crossover car. Often regarded as a relatively new body style to the British market, crossovers have been popular in the U.S.A for a while. In fact, the popularity of the crossover even served to lift automotive sales out of the dip caused by the recession.

However, many British consumers may be unfamiliar with the term, and what it actually means. Luckily, we’ve put together a guide to some common crossover features, and set out what differs them from other types of cars.

So, what is a crossover?

How is a crossover different to an SUV?

SUV’s, or sports utility vehicles, are large 4 wheel drive cars like Land Rovers, Range Rovers, and Jeeps, that may have the capacity to drive off road. With this in mind, the simplest way to describe a crossover has often been as a car that functions and drives like an SUV, but with the smaller build typical of an estate or hatchback.

However, this description doesn’t quite take in the exact qualities that crossovers can have. Crossovers aren’t simply small SUV’s or 4×4’s, as it’s possible to buy them in rear, front, and four wheel drives. Some crossovers come with the 5 seater capacity typical of a hatchback, saloon or estate, whilst some have a capacity more expected of a people carrier or SUV, seating up to 8 people. With such variable features, how is it that crossover cars have been identified as a distinct category?

Well, despite their visual differences, crossovers do share common manufacturing, build, and running similarities. One of these is the low running cost when compared to traditional 4×4’s and SUV’s. Crossovers have a much lower fuel consumption than these cars, meaning they cost less to run and produce fewer emissions than cars of their size traditionally would.

Again, while SUV’s have a body on frame build, crossover vehicles are generally made from a unibody construction. This means that the frame and body of the car are manufactured and constructed as a single unit, rather than a body and frame being manufactured and joined together separately. This works to make crossovers an affordable choice when compared to SUV’s, as the less intensive manufacturing process works to trickle down into their market price.

Why should I buy a crossover car?

Part of the attraction of crossovers lies in their body style bridging qualities; their “crossover” nature.

If you’re looking for a car with the power, driving feel and capacity of an SUV, without the fuel consumption, a crossover might be the car for you. Most SUV’s are designed to be able to tackle off-road driving, a feature that it’s safe to say may be largely unused by the general car buying public; after all, what use is off-road drive when you’re stuck in midweek motorway traffic? However, most crossovers don’t incorporate off-road drive as a main feature, and are designed to handle day to day urban driving.

Crossovers have lower fuel consumption, lower emissions, and larger focus on everyday drivability and functionality than traditional SUV’s. As such, they’re the ideal option for a family wanting something a little larger and meatier than a hatchback or estate, without having to resort to buying a people carrier or SUV.

Which crossover car should I buy?

The specification of crossover cars currently on the market differs substantially from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer. To help you choose that car that’s right for you, we’ve put together a showcase of a few models that we think illustrate the different takes manufacturers have on crossovers.

Ford EcoSport

ford-ecosport

Ford’s latest foray into crossover territory is the Ecosport. Coming with front wheel drive, and with a build and looks transplanted from the Ford Fiesta, the EcoSport lies at the large hatchback end of the crossover spectrum. Initially created to cope with driving conditions in developing countries such as India and Brazil, the car’s chunky features and hard wearing specifications make it ideal for those wanting a slightly larger car that’s still suited to urban UK settings.

Citroen C4-Cactus

c4 cactus

With its unique build, the C4-Cactus certainly stands out when on the road. Another crossover with an urban mind-set, the side panels of this Citroen are padded with “airbumps”, designed to protect the car from the scrapes and nudges that are often a common problem of city driving. As expected from a crossover, the C4-Cactus has the interior space of an SUV without the fuel usage, with a weight starting from only 965kg.

Vauxhall Mokka

Vauxhall Mokka

 

Branded as a compact crossover, the Mokka is perhaps the smallest car on our list. However, this doesn’t mean that it lacks the punch expected of a crossover. Though it might not first appear so, the Mokka is significantly larger than its relatives the Adam and the Astra, with all models coming with 5 wide opening doors and more luggage space. The Mokka is also more powerful, with each model holding the capacity to safely tow a 1200kg trailer.

Nissan Juke

Nissan Juke

Launching in 2010, the Nissan Juke has arguably proved even more successful than its predecessor the Qashqai. With a sturdy build and quirky looks, the Juke is one of the most distinctive crossovers available on the market at the moment. Folding rear seats and a 354 litre boot capacity have made the Juke a favourite with families, providing something with a little more punch than your average hatchback. However, this isn’t just a run-around, as the range of powerful engines make the Nissan Juke an attractive option for both petrol heads and drivers looking for a utilitarian option.

If you’d like to know more about crossover cars, or would like to see the full range of crossovers we stock, why not get in contact with your local Bristol Street Motors dealership to see what we can do for you.

Author: Tom

Title: The Future of Taxis

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Summary: It’s estimated that the UK taxi industry is worth an all-time high of around £9billion. With interest in the taxi and private hire industry booming, the area presents a valuable, and relatively untapped area for investors.

Meta Title: The Future Of Taxis

Meta Description: Find out what the future of taxis hold and how they will make big changes to the industry. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact the team.

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The future of taxi cars

It’s estimated that the UK taxi industry is worth an all-time high of around £9billion. With interest in the taxi and private hire industry booming, the area presents a valuable, and relatively untapped area for investors.

For many years, much of the taxi industry saw fairly little innovation. However, in recent years, we’ve seen a shift in interest in the taxi industry. With companies like Uber and Hailo offering customers a new way to ride, new emission restrictions set to affect how taxi and private hire firms operate, and technology companies conducting ground-breaking research, the taxi industry could be in for a big change.

Here at The Taxi Centre, we’ve decided to take a look at what all these potential changes and innovations could mean for the taxi industry, and the future of taxis; take a read of our predictions below.

Driverless Cars

Driverless vehicles have been one of the largest and most talked about sectors or innovation and investment in the motor industry in the past few years, with most of the big manufacturers putting work into creating vehicles that vastly reduce the input of human drivers. However, research hasn’t just been limited to the auto industry, with large companies like Google often being at the forefront of creating and testing the necessary technology.

Due to legal tangles and safety concerns, it’s unlikely we’ll see driverless vehicles completely take over the roads any time soon. However, if and when driverless technologies become commonplace, you can bet anything that driverless taxis will become a fixture. In fact, London could be set for a potentially driverless future, if the goals outlined in Transport for London’s 2050 plan come into fruition. The document speculates that driverless vehicles could help the city to reach a “goal of eliminating death and injury on the roads”, and also help to provide “taxi like” services at a reduced cost to consumers.

Although it’s been speculated that autonomous vehicles could be on the roads as soon as 2018, the actual date is likely to be much further away. Driverless technology at the time of writing is incredibly complex and expensive to produce, before even getting into the infrastructure changes that would need to take place for vehicles to be able to safely drive on current roads. So, to any drivers worrying about being replaced by a robot, don’t start to worry just yet.

Taxi Apps

Whether you like them or not, rideshare companies have arguably introduced a new way of ordering taxis to the UK. Previously, if you wanted a cab you’ll have had three options; hail one down in the street, wait at a rank, or call up a private hire or mini-cab company and have your ride come to you.

For many years this has been the only way, with an alternative only being introduced fairly recently. With the ubiquity of smartphones, it was only a matter of time before you were able to order a taxi through a downloadable app, and it’s perhaps surprising how long it took for this to become a widely known option.

Now, it’s no longer just rideshare services that lead to a taxi being a few clicks away, with many local private-hire operators taking their services to the app store too. This represents a significant change in an industry that hasn’t seen too much change over the years, providing an extra level of convenience to customers. Now, those who find themselves stranded in an unfamiliar city needn’t trudge around to find a city cab, or ask around for a minicab number. After a quick search in the app store, you could be just a few clicks away from getting home.

Eco Taxis

With prospects like London’s Ultra Low Emissions zone, many people will surely be considering investing in vehicles that are a little more eco-friendly. The zone has been created to help reduce the heavy pollution caused by vehicles in the city, which reportedly contributes to the death of around 30,000 people a year.

Set to come into effect “24 hours a day, 7 days a week” in 2018, the Ultra Low Emissions Zone regulations state that “all cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses and Heavy Goods Vehicles will need to meet exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay an additional daily charge to travel within the zone”.  The zone will currently only affect a small portion of some of the most congested areas of central London, although there is pressure for further expansion.

The regulations mean that taxi drivers, who may have to travel through the zone out of sheer occupational duty, could end up paying a high price simply for working. With this in mind, drivers and private hire firms may need to switch their vehicles to those that meet the ULEZ standards in order to avoid paying a premium. It’s already been announced that around £90 million will be spent to make sure that London’s black cabs meet these standards, with a £250 million state of the art factory set to assemble around 36,000 new electric taxis a year.

It looks like concerns over pollution are set to be here to stay, and it’s likely that other cities in the U.K could make moves to follow London’s example. Eco taxi firms, albeit private hire, do already operate around the U.K, showing that the demand from consumers for taxi services that put less pressure on the environment does exist. With that in mind, more and more taxi firms could start to invest in hybrid and electric vehicles, to meet both public interests and the tightening laws of local authorities.

Whilst we might not quite be at the point where you can order a driverless electric cab by chatting to your phone or smartwatch just yet, the future is perhaps a little closer than you might think. For now though, why not check out the cars we’ve got on display at The Taxi Centre, before they start to look old fashioned.

Author: Tom

Title: How to Become a Taxi Driver

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Summary: Taxi drivers carry out one of the most valuable – and perhaps underappreciated – public service occupations around. Whether it’s to and from the shops, to work or school, or as that essential post night out beacon to home, it’s likely that most people will have taken a ride in a taxi at some point in their life.

Meta Title: How To Become A Taxi Driver

Meta Description: Learn how to become a taxi driver with this comprehensive guide from The Taxi Centre. If you need any additional advice please contact the team today.

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Taxi Driver

Taxi drivers carry out one of the most valuable – and perhaps underappreciated – public service occupations around. Whether it’s to and from the shops, to work or school, or as that essential post night out beacon to home, it’s likely that most people will have taken a ride in a taxi at some point in their life.

If you’ve taken a trip in a taxi before, you may also have found yourself wondering what life behind the wheel of a taxi might be like. The individual responsibility, apparent freedom, and working hours of being a taxi driver might seem appealing to many; perhaps the reason for the recent rise of “self-employed” rideshare services.

If you’ve ever found yourself daydreaming about a life on the road, we’ve put together a step by step guide telling you everything you need to know about becoming a taxi driver. From qualifications, tests, and even personality requirements, we hope we give you a good insight to what it takes to make a living behind the wheel.

  1. Who do you want to work for?

So, you’ve decided to investigate becoming a taxi driver. Firstly, we’ll need to ask you a few questions about exactly what kind of driver you’re looking to be. The fact of the matter is, taxi-driver is a bit of a blanket term, covering a few different types of taxis with separate requirements and working expectations.

The first and most well-known taxi you could potentially drive is a hackney carriage, commonly known as “black cabs” in the London region. When driving this type of taxi, you could pick up passengers when flagged down, from a specified taxi rank, or from a pre-booked destination. Hackney carriages are usually licensed by a local public authority, the Public Carriage Office, or the Department of the Environment, and licences for these types of taxis are less readily available than other types

The other most common type of taxi is a private hire vehicle, or “minicab”. Unlike hackney carriages, private hire cars generally only pick up passengers who have pre-booked from a specified location, and can’t be flagged down or ordered from a roadside rank. When operating on behalf of a private hire company, you’ll either be able to use your own vehicle or hire one from the company itself. Rather than being on the books, you may also be registered as self-employed, meaning you could be able to choose when and how frequently to operate. However, you may also have to work to a rough shift pattern.

  1. Get a license

Once you’ve decided which type of firm you’d like to work for, you’ll need to work on getting licensed. Presumably, you’ll already have a regular driving license – if not, it might be a good idea to work on getting one.

Obtaining a taxi license is usually a fairly simple process, conducted through your local authority. Although the exact conditions differ from council to council, there are some general requirements:

Be a registered UK citizen, or have proof of a legal right to work in the UK.

Pass a criminal records check.

Have a clean driving license.

Hold a driving license for at least 12 months, although longer is preferred. In London, the minimum is 3 years.

Be over 21. However, many firms may not hire drivers under 25, due to the insurance premiums associated with this.

Complete some form of driving assessment.

Pass a geographical test of the area you’ll be driving in.

Pass a medical. If you have poor eyesight, severe heart problems, epilepsy or diabetes, you may be refused a license.

Any tests you take may be carried out by different authorities. Driving assessments will most likely be carried out by your local council, or the DVSA. The geographical test will also be carried out by a local authority, and in London this test – colloquially known as “The Knowledge” – will be carried out by the Ministry of Transport. You’ll be expected to build up a solid knowledge of the area you’ll be driving in, although in an era of satellite navigation knowing every highway, road, by-way and ginnel in your area is perhaps becoming a less strenuous requirement.

A license is usually issued for a period of 12 months, and after this, it will need to be renewed. This is a much easier process than initially obtaining a taxi license, and generally involves completing an updated criminal records check and medical form, and sending this off with an updated passport size photo.

  1. Choose your car

So you’ve decided who you’d like to work for, passed all the requirements, and obtained your private hire license. But it feels like you’re missing something…

Perhaps the most important decision you’ll need to make when choosing to become a taxi driver, is which car you’ll license to drive. You’ll be depending on your car day in day out, so you need to make sure that you choose something sturdy, reliable, and affordable to run.

If you’re working for a firm that uses hackney carriages, you’ll likely be supplied with a vehicle that you’ll pay a small amount to use. However, for private hire-companies, you’ll be presented with two options. You can choose either to hire a vehicle from the private hire operators to license, or drive your own vehicle. If choosing to drive your own vehicle, some firms may specify that it meets certain requirements. It may need to be a certain colour, size or age, have a certain engine size, and have undertaken an MOT test at least twice a year if over one year old.

Once you’ve decided on the right vehicle for you, whether it’s a hatchback, estate, or MPV, you should be set to go. If you’re unsure of what vehicle is right for you, taking a look at the options we’ve got on show at The Taxi Centre might be a good starting point.

Remember that this guide is simply rough advice, and that rules and regulations for your local area may differ slightly to those stated here. Most importantly, if you’re looking for a social job that offers the opportunity to meet new people every day, a flexible working pattern that suits you, and an excuse to talk about the weather as often as you like, becoming a taxi driver might be the career calling you’ve been waiting for.

Author: Tom

Title: Guide to Driving in America

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Summary: As the cliché goes, everything is bigger in the states. However, it’s not just the portions and personalities that are supersized, and if you’re planning a road trip in America sometime soon you’ll need to brace yourself for size of the roads you’ll be driving on. If you thought the M62 from Hull to Liverpool was a long wild trek, think again.

Meta Title: Guide to Driving in America

Meta Description: Looking to go on a U.S road trip? Take a look at Bristol Street's guide to driving in America.

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Driving in America

As the cliché goes, everything is bigger in the states. However, it’s not just the portions and personalities that are supersized, and if you’re planning a road trip in America sometime soon you’ll need to brace yourself for size of the roads you’ll be driving on. If you thought the M62 from Hull to Liverpool was a long wild trek, think again.

It’s not just the size of the place that’s different, and if you’re new to driving in the U.S.A, it’s a good idea to brush up on a few pointers and expectations before you hit the highways. As it turns out, driving in America is a little more complex than simply remembering to stick to the right (or wrong) side of the road.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. Simply read Bristol Street’s guide to driving in America, and you’ll be driving like a true Yankee in no time.

Before you go…

Remember to get all your legal documents in order. Dull, we know, but in the unlikely event you’re involved in an accident or trouble, having the right documentation could mark the difference between continuing your holiday in peace and shelling out hundreds of dollars on unexpected legal fees.

Not forgetting to take the essentials is easy, and shouldn’t take too long to sort out. So long as you have the below with you, you’ll be sorted.

Valid non-provisional driving license

Counterpart license

International Driving Permit – a legal requirement in some states, and heavily recommended countrywide.

Vehicle registration documentation (Vc5)

Up to date travel insurance and proof documents

Visa (if you’ll be staying for more than 90 days)

Oh, and it might sound obvious, but don’t forget to rent a car, and check the regulations; most states require drivers of rental vehicles to be over 25. If you’re planning a one way road trip, many US car rental providers will be able to accommodate for this, but make sure this is the case before you end up having to drive hundreds of miles back on yourself after a call from an angry agency.

U.S.A Driving Laws

Whilst from the outside the U.S may look like one huge nation, in reality it’s perhaps more apt to look at it like a collection of 50 different countries with their own culture, identity, and laws. Each U.S state has its own specific laws and rules, and if you’re travelling from state to state it’s important to remember this.

The individual driving regulations are too numerous to list here, and the best way to get an insight is to ask about any specific laws when you pick your vehicle up, and check road guidebooks to make sure you’re not unwittingly committing any offences.

However, there are a number of rules that are pretty much universal throughout the country:

Drive on the right – this might sound obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many British drivers forget and end up careering head on into oncoming traffic.

At lights, only set off on the green light – whilst accelerating on amber might be tolerated in the UK, doing this stateside isn’t.

Don’t undertake – this is illegal, and will result in anger from native drivers, as well as a fine from traffic police if you get caught out.

Unless signs say otherwise, the speed limit is 65 across all states. In built up areas, this lowers to 30.

Never overtake a school bus if it has rear lights flashing – this is illegal.

Unless otherwise specified, right turns are permitted at red lights.

When coming to a crossroad or junction, right of way is given to the driver who arrived first.

Also, not technically a driving law, but its general etiquette that drivers pay for petrol before filling up. This is a common cause of confusion for UK motorists, who often get into trouble for filling up and then paying afterwards. However, the process is simple; just hand over an amount of money, fill up, then collect any change afterwards.

Driving Conditions

Generally, the condition of most major roads will be better than what you’re used to in the UK. Most states are performing continual improvements to roads and highways, meaning that potholes and uneven surfaces are relatively rare.

Whilst this might improve your overall driving experience, the prevalence of roadwork brings up another perhaps not so good point – traffic. Traffic is a common problem in most U.S cities, with lengthy jams and congestion being an everyday occurrence. Getting stuck in a gridlock is bound to happen at some point if you’ll mainly be driving in busy cities, but with a little planning to avoid rush hours and roadwork you should be able to avoid the worst.

Weather

The U.S.A is huge, and if you’re planning to travel through a lot of it you’ll encounter an equally huge variation in environment and weather conditions. The green and pleasant (grey and wet) U.K this ain’t, and depending on where you are and the distances you’re covering, in a few days driving you could be passing through dusty plains, the searing heat of the desert, and even snow-capped mountains.

As such, if you’re planning to travel interstate you’ll need to make sure the vehicle you’re in is equipped for a variety of terrains and weather conditions. In snowy or wintery conditions, make sure that your tyres are the right tread depth, and make sure to carry a replacement and some additional supplies in case the worst happens. To be doubly safe, you could always fit your tyre with chains; this isn’t a legal requirement, but chains will prove useful if you’re expecting icy conditions.

When driving through dusty environments, the common advice is to turn your headlights up bright, and slow the speed of your vehicle. If conditions are too bad to see, follow the “pull aside, stay alive” rule and slowly pull aside to the side of the road until visibility levels get better.

With our guide, driving in America should be easy as pie. If you’d like any more information, you can always get in touch with Bristol Street Motors, and we’ll let you know where to find the best information on U.S.A driving.

Author: Tom

Title: Everything you need to know about driverless cars

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Summary: If you want to get truly high tech when considering your next car update, you’ll first need to remove something once thought of as essential from the equation; the driver.

Meta Title: How Do Driverless Cars Work

Meta Description: Have you ever wondered how driverless cars work? Find out everything you need to know in this guide from Bristol Street Motors.

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driverless cars

If you want to get truly high tech when considering your next car update, you’ll first need to remove something once thought of as essential from the equation; the driver.

Spearheaded by research carried out by organisations like Tesla and Google, alongside contributions from major car manufacturers like Ford and Audi, it looks like the future of driving is autonomous. To help brace you for the day when steering wheels and accelerators are things of the past, we’ve put together a guide containing everything you need to know about the driverless car.

What is a driverless car?

Not to state the obvious, but a driverless car is just that; a car without a driver. In theory, rather than a person needing to steer, accelerate, and change gears to control a vehicle, the car would be in control of itself. Some models are proposed to give complete control to the vehicle, whilst some won’t be entirely autonomous, allowing passengers to take control if needed.

How would a driverless car work?

Many cars previously marketed as driverless or autonomous have heavily relied on environmental cues in order to properly function. A prime example of this was General Motor’s 1959 Firebird II, a concept car designed to magnetically interact with metal inserted in roads – the “highway of the future” – to offer a driverless experience.

However, vehicles that rely on outside cues in order to function are no longer truly regarded as autonomous. We’ve come a long way since the 50’s, and the driverless car of the near future will use a number of more high tech systems to get around. Many of these – such as GPS, video cameras, radars – are already present in some cars.

In essence, a driverless car needs to take in information from the outside world, and process this quickly, like a computer. For example, a vehicle would use GPS, radar, and lasers to find and position itself within its surroundings, “learning” where roads end, where traffic lights are, and speed limit areas. Before a journey, the car would need to set a start and end point, and could receive live information to be notified or the best route and any traffic along the way.

How safe are driverless cars?

One of the ultimate goals of driverless cars is to make roads – and driving in general – safer. In a world where all cars are autonomous, and able to react with each other on the road, this may very well be true.

However, the likelihood of conventional cars being immediately dropped and replaced by autonomous vehicles is pretty much impossible. When – or if – driverless cars first take to the roads, they’ll be driving alongside vehicles manned by people, something that could actually increase the danger levels on the roads, as reported in a study carried out by the University of Michigan.

Much of the potential safety concerns surrounding self-driving cars comes from their inability to learn and gain experience as human drivers do. The study also reports that whilst a road full of autonomous vehicles may be safer than a road full of inexperienced new drivers, it won’t be safer than a road full of experienced drivers, who’ve learned to predict and adapt to the behaviour of other motorists.

Who is making driverless cars?

Whilst most vehicle manufacturers are involved in researching the production of autonomous vehicles, some companies have taken (or let go of) the steering wheel and sped ahead.

Google

One of the most notable companies researching and testing these cars isn’t actually a vehicle manufacturer. Since 2011, Google has been testing a fleet of driverless cars, covering around 1.7 million miles so far. At the time of writing, the fleet consists of 23 Lexus SUV’s, and is currently permitted to legally test in only 5 U.S states.

Google’s prototype vehicle operates with the help of a LIDAR laser system, allowing the car to “see” its surroundings. Safety has been a minor concern, with Google’s vehicles being involved in 11 minor collisions to date. However, Google say these were caused not by the on board computer, either being due to other drivers or the vehicle being driven manually.

Audi

Audi are making big strides towards being able to offer driverless cars to the public with their A7 Sportback. The A7 isn’t an entirely autonomous vehicle, and in built up areas mostly requires a driver to take the reins. However, when out of the city the A7 is able to competently drive itself; something Audi are obviously confident of, having “driven” the A7 a whole 500 miles from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas unaided.

Audi have stated that the A7 is able to drive itself at speeds of around 70mph on relatively straight roads, providing traffic is minimal. If the car senses traffic or a built up environment, it will indicate that a passenger take the wheels. However, whilst this system might transfer well to the long open roads of the western U.S.A, it’s perhaps not going to be most applicable to the curves and traffic of the British road.

Tesla

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors has always positioned itself as a thought leader when it comes to new vehicle technology, so it’s no surprise that the company has invested in researching and producing autonomous cars.

Since late 2014, Tesla’s Model S has been manufactured with a rooftop mounted camera, forward looking radar, and ultrasonic location sensors in the front and rear bumpers. Using this technology, the Model S can detect road signs, lane markings, and other vehicles, and in combination with the cars cruise control can provide a semi-autonomous driving experience. With auto-pilot “computer on wheels” technology, the Model S allows drivers to travel hands free should they choose, and perhaps offers something as close to a driverless experience currently available for consumers to purchase.

When can I get a driverless car?

The timeframe for driverless cars being made available to consumers varies widely depending on the source. Whilst many cars currently have semi-autonomous features such as assistive parking and auto-pilot, there isn’t currently a fully driverless vehicle available.

Ford’s CEO Mark Fields has stated he expects a full driverless car to be available by 2020, although that this is unlikely to be a Ford vehicle. Audi have stated that they expect to have an autonomous car, albeit a limo, available to purchase by 2017, whilst Nissan have set a target of 2020, and Jaguar and Land Rover have given 2024 as an expected year.

With this in mind, it’s not unreasonable to expect to be able to purchase some form of driverless car within the next 10 years. That’s providing that the right laws exist to permit them; driverless cars are a murky legal area in the UK, with legislation set to be reviewed in 2017.

So, whilst you might not be able to buy a driverless car from Bristol Street Motors quite yet, keep an eye out. In a few years (or decades), we might be able to offer you a completely hands free test drive. In the meantime check out the new cars we do have in stock.

Author: Tom