Apple curb driver distraction from smartphones

Apple has patented a system which will lock smartphone and tablet functions such as text messaging if the device is being used by a driver. Originally filed in December 2008 but granted this week, the lock-out function is timely as Apple prepares to launch its CarPlay system starting with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo later this year but soon to be extended to 14 other manufacturers shortly afterwards. CarPlay streams apps from a smartphone to the vehicle’s infotainment display, features intelligent navigation based on recent text and e-mail conversations and allows devices to be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel. The technology giant said its lock-out system addresses the 80% of accidents caused by distractions and the rise of teenagers texting while driving, adding that the latter is hard to police because devices are usually out of sight. Most of the functions are based…

Fiat unveils revised Ducato van

Fiat has taken the wraps off a revised version of the Ducato, which will be sold under the Fiat Professional LCV brand this summer. The new Ducato offers two cabin trims – Classic or Techno – offering different levels of refinement and equipment. New seats are claimed to offer car-like comfort levels on all models, while other enhancements include large new cup holders and a new, segment-exclusive (shared with suster vans the Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Relay)  Multifunction Tablet Holder which can safely secure any one of a variety of devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as normal pads of A4 paper. With the new Ducato, Fiat Professional has worked to reduce emissions and improve economy by around 10% across the engine range. Fiat is claiming best-in-class emission and fuel consumption figures, with emissions for the entry-level 2.3 MultiJet II 110hp from…

Van fleets risk paying more for tyres

A third of van fleet operators do not have a formal tyre policy and are at risk of paying over the odds for their tyres, according to ATS Euromaster. It warns that LCV tyres should not be considered a low cost option, as the operational tyre costs of running a modern van fleet are no longer that far removed from that of a fleet of trucks. Fleets without a tyre policy risk paying more for their tyres as standardising on one brand can often enable a better fleet discount. An expertly managed policy also has the potential to save businesses huge amounts in running costs, through maximising the longevity, safety, performance and fuel-efficiency of each asset. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) conducted the survey with its members, in conjunction with Van Excellence industry partner ATS Euromaster. Simon Tattersall, head of national accounts at ATS…

M25 gets smart next week

Another section of ‘smart’ motorway will open next week on the M25 in Kent and Surrey. Early next Wednesday (April 30) morning, the M25 between junctions 5 and 6/7 will open with the hard shoulder converted for use as a permanent traffic lane and enhanced on-road technology to manage traffic flow to improve the reliability of journey times, providing a boost for businesses and the wider economy. This follows the opening of the smart motorway on the M25 between junctions 23 and 25 in Hertfordshire with traffic using the improved section since Monday, April 14. The improvements on both sections of the M25 are part of a new generation of technology-driven improvements on the strategic road network known as ‘smart motorways’ with the permanent conversion of the hard shoulder for traffic, providing 24/7 extra capacity. The Highways Agency says that the introduction of smart…

Licence checking and duty of care head fleet system “shopping list”

Licence checking and duty of care head the “shopping list” of new management information systems fleets are planning to adopt, according to the latest quarterly Company Car Trends report from GE Capital Fleet Services. According to the research, 30% of fleets that do not already have a solution in place are planning to adopt a licence checking system while 24% are planning to adopt a solution for duty of care. Continuing the risk management theme, 17% plan to adopt an accident data management system. In-life costs are also a priority, Company Car Trends shows, with 21% of fleets without an existing solution planning to adopt a technology driven approach in cost management next year. Fleet decision makers who took part in the research were asked what systems and technologies to track and manage their fleet are they thinking of adopting in the next 12…

Three recalls issued for Toyota vehicles

Toyota has issued a recall affecting 35,124 UK registered RAV4, Hilux, Yaris and Urban Cruiser vehicles. Worldwide, there have been no reports of any accidents or injuries relating to these issues. Toyota is conducting the recalls according to DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, previously known as VOSA, Vehicle Operating Standards Authority) code of practice. Spiral cable assembly – RAV4 and Hilux Toyota has identified a possible issue affecting the spiral cable assembly in the airbag module fitted to some RAV4 and Hilux models. Due to the shape and location of a retainer for the Flexible Flat Cable in the airbag unit, there may be a risk when the steering wheel is turned of damage to certain circuits that provide connectivity to the airbag. If connectivity is lost, the airbag warning light will illuminate on the instrument panel and the driver’s airbag may be…

New plug-in Mitsubishi Outlander to cost same as diesel

Mitsubishi’s new Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) has gone on sale in the UK costing the same as the diesel Outlander but offering emissions of just 44g/km and an official 148mpg. Priced from £28,249 for the entry-level GX3h after the Government’s £5,000 Plug-in Car Grant, the Outlander PHEV costs the same as the Outlander diesel GX3 auto, making it the only plug-in hybrid in the UK market that does not carry a price premium for its hybrid technology. The Outlander PHEV combines a 94bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with electric motors on the front and rear axles, giving a cruising range of 512 miles whilst it can travel up to 32.5 miles on electric power only. The official fuel consumption figure for PHEV is 148mpg whilst emissions are 44g/km, making it particularly suitable for fleet drivers. Attracting a BiK rate of 5%, a…