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Here are the top driving apps for 2020

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The UK was home to 38.9 million vehicles by the end of September 2019, with 32 million being cars. The number is rising 1.3 per cent year on year too, so it’s safe to say that we in the UK love a good road trip. But with the nation on lockdown, many of us are yearning for the open road. Get yourself prepared for that post-lockdown road trip by downloading the best driving apps of 2020, as picked by SEAT dealer Vindis…

Find the car again with Car Locator

When the lockdown eases, you know the roads are going to be packed. So much so, you can go to the shops, the seaside, or local attractions and struggle to find a parking space. After driving around aimlessly, you finally find one! Success — or so you think. Once you’ve left your vehicle and gone about your business, there’s a great chance you’ll have forgotten where you parked. It has happened to the best of us.

In fact, a study by Nissan found that two thirds of the British public have forgotten where they parked their vehicle. On average, this search for your missing vehicle takes 10 minutes before you spot it. However, for five per cent of people this can take over half an hour!

Enter Car Locator. This app can be your saviour. With Car Locator you can either manually enter your location or set your phone up so that it automatically marks it using the car’s Bluetooth. Therefore, simply activate your GPS as you return to your vehicle and eradicate your search time. This app is best used for those who are sprawling outdoor car parks or are in an unfamiliar location. Because of its use of GPS, it’s not effective in underground or multi-storey car parks.  

PlugShare is amazing for electric car owners  

Have you opted to go electric yet? While only 4,054 out of 149,279 cars purchased in the UK in January 2020 were battery electric vehicles, this figure is more than double the amount purchased in January 2019. While the UK continues to work on cutting its emissions and ceasing production of petrol and diesel vehicles in the not-so-distant future, the sales of electric vehicles will continue to rise.

It can be hard to find charging points though. While the amount of charging points is constantly increasing, it’s always important to know where you can ‘refuel’. PlugShare is a free app which can pinpoint charging points near you to ensure that you’re never caught short. 

Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to stay connected 

These two app do similar jobs. Choosing the right one will depend on which phone you have. Android Auto is for those with an Android operating system on their phone. Essentially, this app means that while you’re behind the wheel, you can say ‘OK Google’ and be able to undergo the following tasks: 

  • Set up real-time GPS navigation and be informed about traffic alerts.
  • Check your calendar for any occasions that you have scheduled.
  • Set reminders.
  • Get up-to-date news.
  • Set a do not disturb message on your phone.
  • Make or answer phone calls handsfree.
  • Access so many of your media apps, such as those containing your favourite music playlists, audiobooks and podcasts.

Apple CarPlay is the choice of iOS smartphone users. Featuring Siri voice control, you are able to: 

  • Search for attractions while driving by simply asking for directions through the following means: “Siri, where’s the closest petrol station?”.
  • Have the app predict where you need to be by analysing addresses on your recent emails, text messages, contacts, and calendars.
  • Make calls and listen to voicemail handsfree.
  • Have Siri read and reply to text messages, as well as send messages in new conversations too.
  • Gain access to content via your iTunes, Apple Music or other audio apps accounts, as well as even requesting for Siri to become your personal DJ for the duration of a road trip.

Let these apps keep you connected while your stay focussed on the roads 

Lockdown-safe digital driving thanks to Asphalt 9: Legends

Yearning for the road? Stay safe during this troublesome period and get your automotive fix by downloading this app. For your driving experience during lockdown, this game will allow you to immerse yourself in racing action thanks to developers, Gameloft. Take advantage of your time at home and dive into this arcade-style racing action from your phone. You can compete in a 60-season career mode with over 800 separate races, while also taking part in an online multiplayer competition which pits you against up to seven other active app users.

We’ll be back on the roads soon, but until then, we need to stay safe and stay indoors. Of course, these are just four apps to choose from, and with 20 billion apps in general anticipated to be downloaded this year, there are many more for you to choose from if you wish!

Additional sources

https://www.motoringresearch.com/car-news/best-mobile-racing-games-ios-android/

https://kit.honestjohn.co.uk/top-tens/top-ten-smartphone-apps-for-drivers/

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay 

HOW CAN WE REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS TO ZERO?

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The UK plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 to become the cleanest country in the world. Each year, approximately 500 million tonnes of CO2 are emitted in the UK. Following guidance from the Committee on Climate Change, the government has looked into how it could bring this number down to zero. This move was prompted following the release of a UN report which stated that CO2 emissions must be fully stopped if we are to avoid dangerous climate disruption. 

The UK’s climate minister for the UK, Claire Perry, told BBC News: “The report was a really stark and sober piece of work — a good piece of work. Now we know what the goal is, and we know what some of the levers are.

“But for me, the constant question is: what is the cost and who’s going to bear that, both in the UK and in the global economy. The question is: what does government need to do, where can the private sector come in, and what technologies will come through?”

Here, UK car retailer Vindis highlights how big of a challenge the UK has set itself, by looking at three things that must change across the nation if the target is to be reached…

UK home insulation must be better

BBC News article detailed how the UK must lower its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.  What’s more, a third of those carbon emissions had been recorded from heating draughty buildings across the nation. 

However, one key issue is that 25 million homes will currently fail to meet the insulation standards that will be enforced from 2050. This is according to a report that was sent to Parliament by experts from the Green Building Council — a group of leading construction firms — with the solution being that the affected properties will need to be refurbished to the highest standards. According to calculations, these findings mean that the rate of refurbishment stood at a rate of 1.4 homes needing to be worked on every minute as of the beginning of 2017.

Carrying out this work will be a host of benefits, not just a reduction in carbon emissions, however. The Green Building Council’s head Julie Hirigoyen explains: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions. We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation.”

Fuel-efficient vehicles must be more appealing

To make the UK’s roads cleaner, the UK government has decided to ban the production of petrol and diesel cars throughout the nation starting 2040. While we may be a couple of decades away from seeing this ban come into force, it appears that an increasing number of British motorists are already exploring what’s available when it comes to alternative-fuel vehicles. The number of new registrations for plug-in cars increased from 3,500 units in 2013 to more than 195,000 models at the end of January 2019, reports Next Green Car. Furthermore, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders highlighted that electric car sales across the UK has shifted from only close to 500 being registered each month in the early part of 2014 to an average of 5,000 per month throughout 2018.

Thanks to sustained government and private investment, improvements have been made to the infrastructure to more alternative-fuel vehicles being used on roads across the UK too. While the UK’s network of electric vehicle charging points was recorded in at just a few hundred units as of 2011, there had been more than 5,800 charging locations, 9,800 charging devices and 16,700 connectors installed by June 2018.

It may be a long way off that we see all vehicles on our roads run on alternative fuels. After all, the latest vehicle data from the SMMT has stated that the car registrations market share for January 2019 was 64.08 per cent petrol, 29.08 per cent diesel and 6.84 per cent alternative-fuel vehicles, for example. However, it at least appears that things are moving in the right direction.

Increase the use of low-carbon fuels

If the UK is able to eradicate greenhouse gas emissions, the nation could really benefit from businesses and people using low-carbon fuels more e.g. LPG. On this matter, it seems that quite a few individuals are already providing a helping hand. In figures compiled by Imperial College London and reported on by The Guardian, the capacity of renewable energy in the UK surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time. With the amount of renewable capacity trebling in the same five-year period that fossil fuels decreased by one-third, the capacity of biomass, hydropower, solar and wind power hit 41.9 gigawatts and the capacity of gas, coal and oil-fired power plants recorded in at 41.2 gigawatts between July and September. 

Research for Imperial College London carried out by Dr Iain Staffell stated: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and [the quarter between July and September] saw a major milestone on the journey.”

There’s no doubt that the UK faces a huge challenge in its attempt to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Fortunately, some of the examples covered in this article does at least suggest that efforts are being made to ensure the nation reaches its goal.

Smart technology and its impact on the auto industry

960 640 Guest Post

Technology continues to impact on our everyday lives with all major industries striving not to be left behind when it comes to tech advancement. The automotive industry has witnessed huge advancements over the years, for example, in-car Bluetooth systems, dash-cams, and key finders. But what might be next on the agenda?

Smart technology predictions for the car industry over the next few years are set to totally revolutionise the way people drive. These new ideas will focus on safer driving, easier driving, and adding more fun enhancements to your driving experience. UK SEAT dealer Vindis explores what’s coming next…

Full integration with phones and smart watches

We have already seen a huge integration between our cars and our smart gadgets, and this trend is set to continue. Recent innovations have seen car manufacturers such as Hyundai, pair up with the Android Wear app which allows users to complete a number of commands from your smart watch. From your watch you can start your engine remotely, lock your car’s doors, sound your horn, and turn the headlights on and off. 

What’s more, built-in integration with apps is set to become more commonplace with new car models. Many models now integrate popular apps into the infotainment system, making it look just like the usual screen on your phone. 

AR dashboard displays

Augmented reality dashboards will soon provide all the information you could possibly need to enhance your driving experience. Giving your dashboard a video-game aesthetic, AR displays will show any information you need to know about the car itself. They will also give you other vital information about the road, such as how quickly you’re approaching another car, and how best to avoid collisions. 

3D gesture technology 

Imagine changing gears or winding down your car windows with a simple wave of your hand. Like magic, you will soon be able to control many elements of your vehicle with mere gestures. As well as being futuristic and fun, this tech is set to make driving easier and safer. Instead of jabbing at buttons on the radio, or being tempted to reach out for your phone, you will soon be able to point at the screen of your infotainment system to accept an incoming call — a simple solution that means you’ll never have to take your eyes off the road. 

Inter-car communication 

Cars that are hooked up to the internet are now fairly standard in the automotive world. Soon however, these internet-enabled cars will have the ability to communicate with one another, transforming our driving experience. Communication between cars will help prevent collisions, with precision that human error has never before allowed us to achieve. Before a collision can occur, the car-to-car communication system will foresee the accident and alert the driver to the potential consequences. They will then be able to react quickly and avoid catastrophe.

The world’s leading car manufacturers are currently using this technology to develop fully autonomous models. Which leads us on to our next smart technology…

Self-driving cars 

For a long time, we’ve been envisioning a world in which cars will be able to drive around by themselves. This idea once seemed futuristic and farfetched, but the tech is now being developed and tested by leading automotive companies such as Audi. Similar to the idea behind inter-car communication, self-driving cars are set to reduce the risk of human error on the road. The result? A safer and more reliable way to travel. The Google Self-Driving Car project was initiated in 2009 and has since been rebranded as Waymo. After ordering a Waymo on an app, a self-driving car will pick you up and take you where you need to be — a journey which promises to be both extremely safe and very comfortable. The idea behind Waymo is that you can ‘ride with confidence’ and these vehicles have been branded as ‘the most experienced drivers’. Embracing self-driving cars feels like taking a leap of faith, but in the next few years, this tech is likely to feel much more common place. 

Automated parking systems 

Finally, for those who are tired of searching for a parking space to riskily squeeze into, let us introduce automated parking systems. Parktronic systems that allow cars to find parking spaces and navigate to them already exist, but with new infrastructure around automated parking systems forecasted, the future looks bright for those who hate parking. This infrastructure will allow passengers to drop off the car at the entrance to a garage, allowing it to venture off and find its own parking space. And when you’re ready to be reunited with your wheels? A simple tap on an app will signal to your car that it’s time to journey back to the drop-off point. 

Some of these innovations may seem straight out of science fiction, but every day we are inching nearer to a world in which smart technology drives cars by itself. It may take some getting used to, but our future roads are set to be safer than ever!

Sources

https://thewiredshopper.com/7-mind-blowing-smart-car-technologies-that-will-hit-the-road-soon/

https://www.germanautolabs.com/blog/5-future-smart-car-technologies-youll-love

https://waymo.com/

How can fleets help cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero?

960 640 Guest Post

The UK government has an ambition to, by the year 2050, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero.  If this target is met then it could see the UK hailed as the globe’s cleanest country.

As of October 2018, around 500 million tonnes of CO2 were being emitted throughout the nation on an annual basis. Guidance from the Committee on Climate Change has been formally sought by the government about how and when the UK could bring this number down to zero though, with the move prompted from the release of a UN report which warned that CO2 emissions must be entirely stopped if dangerous climate disruption is to be avoided.

Claire Perry, the UK’s climate minister, pointed out to BBC News: “The report was a really stark and sober piece of work — a good piece of work. Now we know what the goal is, and we know what some of the levers are.

“But for me, the constant question is: what is the cost and who’s going to bear that, both in the UK and in the global economy. The question is: what does government need to do, where can the private sector come in, and what technologies will come through?”   

In this article, Vindis, a VW dealership, has showcased the scale of this challenge, by detailing just some of the things that will need to change across the nation to hit the target…

Opt for fuel-efficient vehicles

The UK government has already acted to try and make our roads cleaner, by announcing that new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned across the nation from 2040. 

While we may be a couple of decades away from seeing this ban come into force, it appears that an increasing number of British motorists are already exploring what’s available when it comes to alternative-fuel vehicles e.g. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) powered vehicles. 

In fact, Next Green Car has reported that the number of new registrations of plug-in cars jumped from just 3,500 in 2013 to over 195,000 as of the end of January 2019. Furthermore, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders highlighted that electric car sales across the UK has shifted from only close to 500 being registered each month in the early part of 2014 to an average of 5,000 per month throughout 2018.

The infrastructure in place to handle more alternative-fuel vehicles being on British roads is certainly improving as well, thanks to both sustained government and private investment. While the UK’s network of electric vehicle charging points was recorded in at just a few hundred units as of 2011, there had been more than 5,800 charging locations, 9,800 charging devices and 16,700 connectors installed by June 2018.

We may still be quite a while away from seeing all vehicles on the roads of the UK being run on alternative fuels — the latest vehicle data from the SMMT stated that the car registrations market share for January 2019 was 64.08 per cent petrol, 29.08 per cent diesel and 6.84 per cent alternative-fuel vehicles, for example — but it appears that things are at least moving in the right direction.

Start using low-carbon fuels more

Another helping hand that the UK could benefit from if it is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero is for more people and businesses to start using more low-carbon fuels. It appears the nation is already assisting in this area.

In figures compiled by Imperial College London and reported on by The Guardian, the capacity of renewable energy in the UK surpassed that of fossil fuels for the first time. With the amount of renewable capacity trebling in the same five-year period that fossil fuels decreased by one-third, the capacity of biomass, hydropower, solar and wind power hit 41.9 gigawatts and the capacity of gas, coal and oil-fired power plants recorded in at 41.2 gigawatts between July and September. 

Dr Iain Staffell carried out the research for Imperial College London, pointing out: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and [the quarter between July and September] saw a major milestone on the journey.”

Earlier in 2018, a record was also set in that the UK managed to be powered without coal for three days in a row (the official time stood at 76 consecutive hours). This was before a report from Imperial College London which was commissioned by Drax suggested that coal supplied only 1.3 per cent of Britain’s entire use of electricity during the second quarter of 2018 — furnaces based at coal-fired power stations throughout the country were completely unused for 12 days in June last year too.

Better insulate homes

According to a BBC News article from February 2017, the UK was needing to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent between the date that the piece was published and 2050. What’s more, a third of those carbon emissions had been recorded from heating draughty buildings across the nation. 

However, experts from the Green Building Council — a group of leading construction firms — stated in a report sent to Parliament that 25 million existing homes will not currently meet the insulation standards being enforced in the mid-century and will need to be refurbished to the highest standards. According to calculations, these findings mean that the rate of refurbishment stood at a rate of 1.4 homes needing to be worked on every minute as of the beginning of 2017.

There are many benefits, other than just cutting carbon emissions, to conducting this work. The Green Building Council’s head Julie Hirigoyen explains: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions.

“We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation.”

The UK’s ambition to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 definitely does sound like a challenge. Fortunately, some of the examples covered in this article does at least suggest that efforts are being made to ensure the nation reaches its goal.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45856377

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/target-zero-uk-aims-to-cut-all-emissions-by-2050-bddfcwmd6

https://www.nextgreencar.com/electric-cars/statistics/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/06/uk-renewable-energy-capacity-surpasses-fossil-fuels-for-first-time

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/24/uk-power-generation-coal-free-gas-renewables-nuclear

https://www.newstatesman.com/spotlight/energy/2018/08/coal-supplied-just-one-cent-britains-electricity-summer

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/scottish-power-wind-energy-renewable-drax-gas-station-climate-change-a8585961.html

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/661933/tsgb-2017-report-summaries.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/apr/26/carpooling-commuting-car-share-liftshare-uber

GUEST BLOG: Ways fleet drivers can drive more efficiently

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Fuel prices just seem to keep on rising across the UK. According to BBC News, the average price of a litre of fuel throughout the nation was recorded at close to £1.34 for diesel and £1.24 for petrol as of the start of December 2018.

Instead of fleet drivers simply handing over more money in order to keep their vehicles running and their businesses working like clockwork though, VW dealership Vindis has advised that they become more efficient drivers so that they can make the fuel in their vehicles go further. Here’s how…    

Use less fuel by conducting some maintenance checks

A vehicle that’s in tip-top condition should use less fuel when getting from A to B than one that seems to be struggling when it’s on the road. A regular service is highly recommended to achieve the best efficiency, while you need to be always using the correct specification of engine oil too — consult your manufacturer handbook to find the details you need here. 

Both regularly and especially ahead of any long journey, you should be checking tyre pressures too. This is because tyres which are under inflated will force your car into having to use more fuel. Correctly inflated tyres, meanwhile, could improve fuel consumption by up to two per cent in context, according to the RAC.

Use less fuel by completing multiple trips at once

An engine goes cold when a vehicle has been in a parked position for a few hours. As a result, a lot more fuel will be used for around the first five miles of you heading out onto the road. With this in mind, you should look to drive for as long as possible when the engine is warm instead of conducting several short trips with long gaps in between each one. 

Use less fuel by ensuring your vehicle maintains an aerodynamic design

A vehicle that’s subjected to wind resistance will consume more fuel. Therefore, it’s best to keep windows and sunroofs closed, especially when you’re travelling at high speeds. Make sure to remove roof racks and boxes for storage when they aren’t being used as well — up to 20 per cent fuel can be saved on an annual basis by removing a cargo box from a vehicle’s roof alone!

Use less fuel by becoming a smoother driver

Braking and then accelerating can use up quite a bit of fuel as well. Obviously, there will be times when you’ll need to slow your vehicle down — or to a sudden standstill in the event of an emergency — but you should be road savvy enough to be able to approach traffic lights at a gentler pace, for example, or smoothly get up a hill.

Being behind the wheel during times of heavy traffic can also be bad for your fuel economy, as you’ll likely need to keep on stopping and starting your car as you work your way to a destination at a snail’s pace. If it’s possible then, try and get around having to commute in the rush hour. Perhaps you can head to an exercise class or gym that’s near your workplace instead of waiting until you get home, for instance.

Use less fuel by shifting the unnecessary weight from your vehicle

Also bear in mind that a vehicle will need to use more fuel for every extra item that’s stored within it. Every 50kg increases your fuel consumption by two per cent on average, claims the RAC. With this in mind, regularly look around your vehicle and get rid of the stuff you aren’t using.

Did you know that fuel economy can be helped if you only fill half your vehicle’s tank with fuel too? This substance adds to the weight after all, and you’re not going to need 300+ miles worth of petrol or diesel just to complete a half-hour commute. 

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21238363

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/advice/10-fuel-saving-tips-every-driver-should-know/

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/how-to-save-fuel-when-driving

https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/how-to/fuel-saving-tips/

https://www.shell.co.uk/motorist/motoring-tips-and-advice/10-fuel-saving-tips.html

http://www.theaa.com/driving-advice/fuels-environment/drive-smart