Motors »

  • Does anyone use a work vehicle for work alone?

    August 25, 2010 @ 5:16 pm | by Michael McAleer

    The cat was put well and truly amongst the pigeons this week, when a story came to light that there was set to be a clampdown on drivers of vehicles taxed as commercial vehicles who are using them for private use. It has been muted that this was at the request of Minister John Gormley, who, it had been reported in one newspaper, had “ordered local authorities to force drivers of commercial 4X4s and small vans to legally declare that they will not use them for any social, domestic or pleasure purposes.”

    The Green Party have since came out and said that this wasn’t and isn’t a witch hunt against those drivers of commercial vehicles who might use them socially, but it was in fact a circular which merely reminds users of a law that exists already; one that has been in place for over 20 years.

    The Irish Times has reported today (Wednesday August 25) that the Department of the Environment circular ordering a clampdown on the use of commercial vehicles for private purposes was not sent at the behest of the Minister, John Gormley. In fact, Mr Gormley had not been aware the circular was being issued earlier this month. “It had not even been seen by the Minister’s office in advance of it being issued to motor taxation offices,” said his spokesperson.

    However, clearly this circular, be it a reminder, an order or a mission statement is obviously intended to alert local authorities of a system that they feel is being abused due to the rising number of vehicles being registered as commercial vehicles.

    The reaction to the news has been fierce. RTE’s Liveline show became the sounding post for many small business operators, who were furious that they were being targeted for perhaps dropping the kids to school or buying a litre of milk as part of their daily working day.

    Minster for Energy Eamon Ryan came on to Today FM’s The Last Word, seemingly quite bemused by all the fuss and the focus on the Green Party, which he felt was being unfairly branded as a party that is seeking to introduce  ’stealth tax’. He didn’t, however say that the law was one that needs to be reviewed.

    In a time of Celtic Tiger excess, where the building trade were registering BMW X5s and VW Touaregs as commercial vehicles with sometimes dubious intent, a clampdown such as this would appear to make sense, but now, at a time where the light commercial vehicle sector is on its knees and small businesses are trying to stay afloat, any perceived attack on small businesses is likely to be met with huge resistance.

    But, this of course isn’t a new rule, but where are the lines drawn? If you drive a van during the day, should you not meet the lads for a game of five-a-side in the evening in that van? Should you not collect your son or daughter from creche?

    If this rule was policed properly, would we see Gardai in the church car park on a Sunday morning or outside a school on a Monday morning? And would these commercial drivers have to buy a second car at a time when money is tight? With us having a government with a Green Party influence, how would they feel about lots of cheap, dirty cars being added to the country’s roads because it is illegal for the local plumber, carpenter or brick layer to use it for the weekly shopping?

    Those who buy commercial vehicles are usually VAT registered for a legitimate business. And these are businesses which are going under at an alarming rate. Should they be punished even further?

    Give us your view. Do you think that someone who can show that their vehicle is for their business should sign a declaration that they won’t EVER use it for private use or is this simply ridiculous?

  • What deceased cars would you like to see reborn?

    August 19, 2010 @ 10:14 am | by Michael McAleer
    The big news this week is that German billionaire, German auto parts magnate Michael Stoschek is funding a project to bring back the Lancia Stratos, based on a Ferrari F430. The carbon fibre Stratos will be officially revealed in November. So what cars would work well today?

    New 'Lancia' Stratos

    DeLorean DMC-12

    The classic original DeLorean was a bit rubbish really. It was way too expensive, didn’t have that much power and wasn’t very well built, yet was an iconic design. We would like to see Audi produce a 21st century version with the twin-turbo V6 petrol engine from the Audi RS5.

    DeLorean MC-12

    Fiat Coupe

    Produced between 1993 and 2000, the Fiat Coupe was a beautiful car that is already regarded as a modern day classic. However it was built at a time when Fiat were producing some truly awful cars and a modern interpretation of the car with a 1.4-litre turbo engine with 180hp would be a gem.

    Fiat Coupe

    Citroen DS

    Not the recent cartoon-like Mini rival, but rather the proper, regal, floaty DS that makes sitting in the back of a Mercedes Benz S-Class feel like you are on a donkey and cart.

    Citroen DS

    Triumph Stag

    This handsome cruiser could be made by BMW, with the V10 from the M5 and a SMG gearbox. It would also probably not rust.

    Triumph Stag

    Opel Signum

    Ok, this might sound like an odd one, but the Signum was doing what executive brands are now calling things like Sportback. The Signum, reinterpreted by a rejuvinated Opel could actually work again. I may be very wrong on this one.

    Opel Signum

    So guys, tell us the cars you would like to see re-interpreted by modern manufacturers. Maybe some of them will be a bit more sensible than mine.

  • Would you pay to have your own county registration?

    August 12, 2010 @ 5:59 pm | by Michael McAleer

    A proposal by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry has been put forward that would allow buyers of used cars to have their registration changed to their own county for a fee. At the SIMI press conference, Alan Nolan, Director General called on the Government to allow buyers of used cars to re-register their vehicle in their home country.

    “At the moment, many motorists drive cars with another county’s registration plate but most would prefer to drive a car with their own county’s stamp on it. We propose that car owners who want to do so should be able to get their registration changed to one from their country,” said Nolan.

    So, do you agree? Would ‘most’ of you prefer to change your car to the county you are from, if it isn’t already? And would you be prepared to pay €250 to do so? The idea is that if you are from Cork and you happen to buy a used car from say, Kerry, that both tribal and financial reasons would come into play. You might want to be seen in a car that is sporting your own country registration and that when you come to trade in your car locally in a few years that your dealer will be more welcoming. It is an interesting idea, but it does beg some questions. For a start, how would this system be implemented and just how long would this take to be agreed upon in the first place. Secondly, if the original registration plate remains recorded on the vehicle logbook, will car dealers still try and offer customers with the ‘wrong’ type of car an inferior trade-in price? Thirdly, with two registration numbers associated with one car, wil criminals have a field day when it comes to car cloning? This is already an increasing problem in Ireland.

    So, tell us. Would you be prepared to change your registration plates if you could? Why would you and would you be prepared to pay for it?

  • What car will be a future classic?

    August 4, 2010 @ 9:58 am | by Michael McAleer

    We got an interesting query into Motors this week. A reader had managed to secure a very special number plate, 10 D 10000 and since this was such a special plate, wondered what sort of car he should get to honour it? He wanted a car, that he could pass on to future generations of his family and that in 50-100 years time would still look good and would be a future classic?

    Obviously it would have to be a brand new car and presuming that he doesn’t quite have the means to buy a Ferrari 458 or Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which you could probably assume someone will take a fancy to in a hundred years from now, we are left with some more mainstream cars.

    So it got us thinking, what would be the mainstream cars that you can buy today that would be future classics? Here are my thoughts and we would love to hear what you think.

    Fiat 500 Abarth
    You could probably say that any of the current Fiat 500 models will be future classics, but for us we would want the Abarth version, which is fun as you can get in a package this small. 135hp might not sound a lot, but in something this size it is plenty. This will be a cool car for a long time to come.

    Fiat 500 Abarth

    Toyota iQ
    Another small and innovative car, which hasn’t sold well in Ireland because of price, but is really clever. Future generations might look back and consider this to be quite a large car, rather worringly.

    Toyota iQ

    Porsche Cayman S
    Most Porsche fans might not agree, but this for me is probably the best driver’s Porsche on sale today and this is something which might finally be recognised in the far away future.

    Porsche Cayman S

    BMW 123d Coupe
    The 1-Series Coupe is a massively under-rated car and this 123d Coupe is a brilliant driver’s car. We think that this will be a model that will be coveted by collecters in the future.

    BMW 123d Coupé

    Renault Clio RenaultSport
    I spend hours trawling the internet looking for Renault 5 GT Turbos and I think my grandkids will spend similar hours looking up their brain internet for this magic little car.

    Renault Clio RenaultSport

    Audi TT
    You might say that the first-generation of the TT will be the classic, but this one is bound to look good in decades to come.

    Audi TT

    Land Rover Defender
    This isn’t likely to be around for much longer if emission laws and safety laws have their way. This already harks back to 50 years ago, so in a hundred years time this will be like a Model T Ford. But it is marvellous.

    Land Rover Defender

    MGTF
    Ok, it is rubbish, but in a hundred years time you can pretend that it is 120 years old.

    MG TF

    Mazda MX-5
    Probably the most likely of all the car here to be still working properly and still superb fun in a hundred years from now, the MX-5 has already become a classic after 20-odd years of production.

    Mazda MX-5


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