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2887

20170829

Ariel Hipercar Image
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TUE • 29 AUG 2017

Ariel demonstrates the genius of UK engineering

Last week I was super excited to learn that Ariel Motors, designers of the exoskeleton car known as the Atom, are designing and building a new hyper car – the Hipercar! Built using four electric motors set into each wheel the car will produce over 1000 bhp and accelerate to 150 mph in under 7 seconds. Suffice to say that is quicker than anything else currently available, but more than that it is a cutting edge piece of design coming out of a British company.

It has been possible using a government grant and a few companies getting together to bring this technology to life. One addition for the car is a turbine engine which will provide power once the batteries are depleted providing unlimited range – especially important as I understand 15 minutes of track usage could deplete the 50KW battery pack!

I have been keen to get my next fun car and while the wait will be a long one, the car isn’t planned on being ready for customers until 2020, I have duly handed over a deposit and await further news on the development of this very exciting piece of British engineering.

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2879

20170802

Audi SQ7
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WED • 02 AUG 2017

Government needs to understand the facts on pollution

I have been reading with interest the developments this year in relation to car emissions, specifically, but also the continuing development of Dieselgate (VW’s emission scam). What I find so interesting is it appears many other car manufacturers are up to the same tactics and have been quietly fixing cars. We now seem to be having a complete U-turn on policy and now instead of promoting lower CO2 the politicians have realised there a lots of other nasties coming out of the tailpipe such as NOx.

Personally I struggle to put the whole blame on the car manufacturers in that if they are asked to meet certain standards, which are poorly thought through, and more importantly measured or acted upon. Certainly the rush to hybrids is not going to solve the problem, I recently owned a Golf GTE (1.4 litre petrol and electric motor) which managed 200 mpg if I plugged it in all the time and only drove it a few miles or 25 mpg if I didn’t – certainly a Golf GTI or GTD provides better economy and lower emissions overall. I know of a few drivers who have received huge tax breaks for buying a hybrid only to not plug it in ever and just pay more for fuel, thus undermining any environmental benefit.

The problem is that we now have a backlash to diesel which still provides better economy and certainly with the larger cars offer as good as NOx emission results due to the addition of urea into the exhaust gas. We have had an Audi SQ7 on order for the best part of 9 months (blame the custom blue colour!) and I was seriously considering cancelling the order due to all the news on diesel. This is a car with a V8 triple turbo 4 litre engine capable of towing a mountain. If I had cancelled it my only choice would have been a select few SUVs with petrol engines that barely manage to get over 12 mpg. As it is we have taken delivery of the ‘beast’ and just returned from a weekend on the coast where it managed 600 miles to a tank and thanks to the urea technology emit no more NOx than a small petrol engine. It doesn’t mean I won’t be lambasted for having a diesel car, but the fact is, even to a petrol head, the technology and progress the industry has made is outstanding.

I am sure government however will push through stupid plans that are epitomised by the move in recent years to convert our coal power stations to biofuel. Take Drax, our biggest power station, which is being converted from coal to biomass wooden pellets. Not only does this new fuel require specialised storage (hangers to keep the pellets dry and filled with nitrogen to stop it combusting), whereas coal could be left outside in the rain, but it takes the fuel from Canada rather than the mines around the UK. The pellets are less energy dense so a larger proportion of them are required ton for ton to produce the same energy as coal and let us not forget the huge government subsidy we are paying to the owners.

Getting back to the issue around transporting all these pellets comes in the form of shipping which apparently is to blame more than 30% of inorganic particles in Europe’s air. Apparently 160 transport ships produce the same pollution (particulates and smog) as ALL the cars in the world. But there are not 160 ships transporting goods around the world, there are 6,000. So we are providing huge subsidies to companies to convert coal power plants to ship (at huge environmental impact) wood pellets from around the world so we save our environment?

After doing some research I was quite happy with our SQ7 purchase – certainly until there are some rules or regulations around shipping anything we do with cars is insignificant. I am not saying we shouldn’t be striving for the best when it comes to pollution and supporting our environment but on the basis of government policy over the last few decades we don’t seem to be making very many smart choices.

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2873

20170420

Audi TT RS
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THU • 20 APR 2017

Pocket Rocket

To break my six month sabbatical from the blog I wanted to talk about my new toy which arrived the day before my birthday in December. I have spoken about it before back in June last year and finally after a long wait the car finally arrived. Initially it was a bit touch and go as Audi UK notified me that due to unprecedented demand (and issues I believe in manufacturing the quantity of the new 2.5 aluminium engines they need for the RS3 saloon and sportback) they were only going to introduce 200 into the UK this year and customer orders would be delayed until October 2017.

The majority were earmarked for Audi’s driving experience team who tour the country putting on great events, one went to each dealer and the handful left went to a few lucky customers. I was one of those and although I didn’t get to choose my specification I was able to nab the obligatory blue one.

While I am not a fan of dark car interiors, the car is super comfortable and even though it runs on 20 inch wheels the ride is respectable. And while it may not get the kind of respect the R8 received it does get the occasional ‘in the know’ nod from a passer-by which suits me and means I can be less precious about where I drive and park it.

I have even managed to fit my wife, daughter and dog in the car – and while we were not all superbly comfortable it was possible, something I couldn’t achieve in the R8! They all were able to enjoy with me the superb acceleration and that amazing engine noise courtesy of some rather fat sport exhausts.

On reflection I think it was a great buy but it has left me hankering for something more exotic and surprisingly my mind has turned back to Ariel and the fabulous Nomad…

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  1. marcus bennett

    179 days ago

    Piers, I think we will soon become neighbours (Marcus and Agata, The Byre). I presume the above is a TT RS, but what spec? We have the lastgen car, which as you say is SOO much more practical and I would also say nicely understated as compared to the R8. Look forward to meeting you soon. Regards MB (majzel.blogspot.com)

    Reply
    1. Piers

      179 days ago

      Yes Marcus – it is the new TT-RS, great fun!

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2858

20160721

BT DSL Outage London
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THU • 21 JUL 2016

Do not underestimate the value of resilience

With BT currently suffering a lot of negative publicity in the last two days with two major outages caused by power issues in two London datacentres, it is a timely reminder that in the world of communication, networks sometimes break and when they do they have significant repercussions. So more attention to how these networks are built and what underpins the services is as important a buying decision as getting a great commercial deal.

The datacentres concerned are some of the most popular sites in the UK and because of that the knock on impact is significant especially when customers such as BT support so many other partners, businesses and consumers. However BT have appeared to suffer more than others, but anyone within a datacentre can be out for quite a while when hardware is subjected to a power outage, even a brief one, as it can result in hardware not powering back on. With core hardware spending its whole life turned on, the sudden loss in power can result in a high number of failures, requiring engineer visits and hardware replacement – all of which takes time.

Precaution is key, and whether BT had or had not in place sufficient alternative hardware in that datacentre, it did have other working datacentres, so lessons need to be learned about the importance of uptime and mitigating failure where possible. Customers, and especially businesses and ISPs need to understand the risks of not just their networks but upstream suppliers to mitigate total outages. Datacentres for example run large UPS (uninterruptable power supplies) systems to cope with the switch from mains power to generators and while this provides a level of resilience, it needs to be checked and serviced regularly. Servicing and testing varies dramatically between datacentres so investing in smaller UPS systems for individual racks may therefore seem excessive but from experience it can provide a useful buffer should the worse happen.

Furthermore the number of backups and spares again goes someway to reinforce confidence. Gone are the days, in my mind at least, when datacentres can offer n+1 resilience (where ‘n’ is the required load and the +1 means an additional spare). So for example if a datacentre requires four generators to power the site then five would be installed. This is very different to a more resilient site that offers 2n where, for the same example, eight generators would be provided. The big issue with all of this of course is cost and this has a knock-on effect to the customer.

Ultimately though no datacentre is impervious to disaster, as BT and others experienced today, and while a whole site outage is very rare, the importance of having multiple datacentres is very important. While the costs grows significantly again, because not only is everything at least duplicated but now connectivity is required to all the suppliers, the likelihood of complete outage is seriously reduced. The graph shown is all our BT DSL users, with the red line representing customers coming into the affected London datacentre and the green representing our Manchester datacentre also connected to BT’s network. At the time of the failure all our DSL customers moved across meaning they had an outage of a few minutes while their routers would have logged off and on again – significantly better than just relying on London. But as I say having enough spare bandwidth (at least 50% capacity free) dormant for such an occasion, is another cost.

With customers more interested in SaaS applications and outsourcing operations, their removal from the actual nuts and bolts of the network design puts higher reliance on the supplier and the supplier’s supplier to do the right thing in terms of investment and design. Hopefully issues like those experienced today and yesterday will go someway to help steer investment back into resilience.

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2855

20160721

Audi RS7
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THU • 21 JUL 2016

No such thing as too much power

I had a very enjoyable weekend recently with my wife and daughter down on the south coast in Salcombe and even managed to see the sun for part of it. A three hour journey first thing on a Friday morning might not be the best way to start a short break and so Audi was generous enough to lend me a new RS7. While the car might not be in my obligatory blue it looked very smart and with less than a thousand miles on the clock it was barely run in ready for the four hundred plus round trip.

I recently got the opportunity to visit Bentley’s factory up in Crewe and I hadn’t realised how similar the Continental GT’s V8 engine is to the RS7 with similar power outputs and even the clever cylinder deactivation technology so that we achieved an average 27 mpg. Not that economy in cars like this really matters but it certainly would help me get over using it every day as I wouldn’t need to fill up every few days. While the RS7 isn’t as plush or special feeling as the Continental, it is a substantially cheaper car with more space and Audi’s superb build quality. Unusually for a lot of Audi’s this one seemed to have quite a character and I warmed to it like an old friend (as I had a number of A7s while waiting for the R8) with a noisy bottom. The exhausts are just incredible with cracks and pops on the overrun it certainly was characterful and my wife was subjected to lots of short burst of acceleration so I could really enjoy the sound.

With the Audi brand moving to digital dashboards and with technology in general around cars taking a substantial leap I was worried that the RS7 would feel dated, but actually I think it is a great blend between old and new. The engine is more than half of this car and is a fantastic piece of engineering, with the rest of the package delivering up a comfortable and spacious cockpit I started to doubt my decision to go for a TT-RS when actually the RS7 does so much, so well.

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2849

20160613

Audi TT RS
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MON • 13 JUN 2016

Is less more?

This isn’t a blog about the EU referendum although I am sure the title could work… No this piece is about my favourite subject, automobiles. Recently I joined a new pilot with Audi, a personal concierge service, which has so far been outstanding. I have had concierge services in the past through my bank account but Audi seem to have nailed the personal contact in one go and as well as being able to organise holidays and insurance they also have some great Audi based experiences, which are complimentary. I am thoroughly looking forward to the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed day they have organised for me – chauffeured A8 et al. Recently one event they did invite me to was the unveiling of the new Audi R8 Spider in their swish London City showroom. But to our surprise not only was the R8 displayed they also used it for the worldwide launch of the new Audi TT RS Roadster.

Granted the Audi TT RS coupe had already just been revealed at the Beijing motor show but for me this was a welcome treat and ended up with me placing a deposit for one. So it was an expensive trip, and granted this is probably why Audi Concierge will be a great success, but actually I am very excited about this purchase. Hopefully delivery will be before the end of the year.

So why when I have an Audi R8 am I all excited about its baby brother? Well firstly I have owned the previous generation Audi TTS a great car, and one of the few that I actually kept for over three years. I had four-wheel drive, great performance, a usable boot and even back seats for small people (or people without heads). And while it was a special car, it wasn’t so special that I couldn’t drive or park it anywhere and so with its ability to carry my wife and daughter I am hoping this new one will be just as perfect.

I think I have persuaded my wife that this car should be in addition to the R8 but with the new car sporting a new aluminium five cylinder 2.5 litre engine kicking out nearly 400 bhp the car is capable of 0-60 MPH in 3.7 seconds, 0.5 seconds quicker than my R8. So it looks like it is going to be hard to justify the premium especially when the TT has the new virtual cockpit (a screen instead of a speedo) and hopefully will arrive in an even more garish blue. Is less more? I think it might be.

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  1. Mark Jackson (ISPreview.co.uk)

    496 days ago

    Ok colour me jealous :) . I saved up enough to finally buy a semi-recent mk2 TT last year (I prefer its design to the first run mk3 design) and am loving it, even if nobody except children and my somewhat short wife can actually make use of its back seating.

    On the other hand it’s surprisingly fuel efficient for a sports car, beautiful inside and the boot space is way more practical than the other choices, if lacking in depth (not surprising.. the car is very low down).

    But I have seen the latest TT RS Roadster that you’ve grabbed and will now start saving up for that one, which I might be able to afford in a few years’ time.. Emphasis on the might.

    At one point I did consider the Peugeot PCZ too, but it’s interior lacked the polish and styling of Audi’s offering and in the end the car was too wide for my driveway. I know some trucks that can get into our drive, but apparently not an PCZ :)

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2831

20151203

Palmer Sport Jaguar
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THU • 03 DEC 2015

Driving addiction

With the march towards autonomous driving and the electrification of the car the ability for a petrol head to really enjoy a day behind the wheel can be fraught with frustration. Most would say that track days are really where the fun can be had and if you look at the different exotica coming out of car factories at the moment it does seem that there is a growing market. But do you really want to take your own car around a racing track? I did with my Atom once and the results were not pretty. So ideally you want to use someone else’s car but which event to choose?

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Palmer Sport at the Bedford Autodrome for what must be one of the most existing and complete driving experiences available. Granted it is not cheap but considering you get the opportunity to drive in not only a Formula 3000 but also a Jaguar JP-LM, Defender, BMW M4, Caterham, Ariel Atom and GT50 gokart it does seem like you get value for money.

The day starts with a quick briefing before being whisked off in a dedicated bus which takes you and your group around the site. Each set of cars has it’s own track and hospitality suite so they are able to run the day with many different groups being able to use all the cars at the same time. The focus on the day is about lap time and everyone records times in every discipline while being taught by their local experts who sit in the cars with you.

After a few 100 mph 360s I started to get the hang of the Jaguar’s before moving swiftly on to the technical off road course and so the day continues until you are honestly exhausted and you start to dread the need to drive home. It certainly ensures you come away from the day thoroughly enthused with the petrol itch properly scratched. I certainly would recommend it to anyone keen to do more with a car who hasn’t yet made the jump to track days.

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2829

20151202

WED • 02 DEC 2015

Back to the floor

One of my favourite programs was ‘Back to the Floor’ where owners and high level executives went back to the grass roots of their business to work with staff and customers to understand their business better and the day to day challenges that affect them. Now while my own company is too small for me to go back to the floor it is easy in modern work like to get consumed by planning and strategy and lose sight of what our day to day delivery looks like and the challenges customers face.

While returning from holiday I was greeted with the news that while scaffolding had been removed from my house, from a recent reroof, they not only knocked out my satellite dish but also my phone line. So I spent last weekend in the dark ages without mobile phone signal (as I use a booster and EE’s fabulous WifiCall technology), internet and television. Everything from listening to music (Spotify) or watching a film (Apple TV) was curtailed and I was focused instead to look for other forms of entertainment. While it sounds like I spend all my time in front of a screen the ability to bank, share photographs or do some research is reliant on a reliable and fast internet connection.

It did however give me an opportunity to test out our support team, the process BT Openreach now follow for booking engineers, and the list of issues with miscommunication with the engineers on the ground in actually fixing the problem. In the end it turns out it was a good thing that the scaffolders hit the line as it was actually broken in the cabinet as well.

What I always think about when I go through these processes is what my father would make of it. I am not saying he is a technophobe but in terms of industry jargon and feedback is it something he would be happy with would he have been able to get the same resolution. In the end it wasn’t as painful as I had expected, but it certainly could be better. Unfortunately a lot of that process might not change until the future of Openreach has been decided but there are certainly steps the industry can take to help the situation. For one thing our dependency on connectivity is at such a point that we certainly should be thinking about delivery in the same context of gas or electricity. I just hope enough people high up in our industry experience service as customers do rather than relying on their superior contacts or knowledge of the technicalities to mitigate them so we can drive forward with our need to improve.

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2824

20151028

VW Business
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WED • 28 OCT 2015

Emission scandal – the death of VW?

As an avid fan of the VW group and the cars they develop I have been interested in the emission scandal, which is again in the press today as VW reports a €2.52bn loss for the third quarter. I have been amazed at the lack of knowledge or care in regards to this story and VW’s own admission and handling of the issue. I assume they thought that by quickly holding their hands up it would blow over, but their admission of guilt has almost fuelled the flames and subsequently the lawsuits. Similar maybe to TalkTalk’s recent cyber-attack issues which appear to have been initially overstated, causing panic and confusion, before the detail and potential risks to customers was fully understood. Not that anyone will now listen to reason.

Personally when I first heard the story I wasn’t surprised at all and almost didn’t understand the issue the press had, as I thought all car companies did what they could to limit emissions in the same way they do for fuel economy. I have written before about the dangers of diesel fuel and the thought that a slightly different profile in the software management of the engine could make such a real-world difference to the environment is laughable. Yes the software helped to get the emissions, within a lab, to an arbitrary figure (that politicians and scientist deem fair and safe) but to think that the reduction it makes has any impact whatsoever as someone pulls away in second gear or does a ton on the motorway is ill-informed. Diesel is dirty full stop, but having a few million VWs running around with slightly different emission outputs from the lab will make no difference to the millions of busses, cabs and lorries running around the world or the ships moving our cargo.

I am not condoning VW’s actions, but the fact that if they had put a little switch on the dashboard to engage their secret ‘eco’ mode and defaulted the car to it when the engine was turned on then there would have been no issue. Even if everyone was well aware that customers would immediately disengage it as it would dent performance or economy. Why do you think cars have sport modes? So all the performance can be kept but for regulatory purposes the car can be sold as standard with a great economy or emission figure. My VW Golf GTE for example always defaults to electric only mode when I turn it on knowing full well that it will be depleted within 30 miles. Technically the Hybrid mode is better for day to day driving, but that would get a lower score on the economy tests run in the labs and as such my car is sold with a 188 MPG average. The reality is I drove 120 miles the other day and averaged 39.8 MPG – and that was with a fully charged battery. Now that to me is criminal, not VW, but the laws and measurements we put in place that have no relevance to the consumer. I am not saying my GTE is bad because it did such a poor average, which was because I was driving fast down a motorway, instead of bustling around the streets of London (where I regularly see 100 MPG). Ultimately though the focus should be put on our politicians and rule setters as to why we allow these ridiculous tests to continue.

Who for example has asked why the US is so anti-diesel? Is it because the US car industry is so underdeveloped in the manufacture of diesel engines and they do not produce enough fuel to sustain widespread adoption. Or is it because they are so worried about NOX? Let’s just say America will not be losing any sleep over VW’s recent loss announcements. Personally it gives me more ammunition to persuade my wife that any future purchase for the Daniell household will need to be petrol or electric based. Hopefully such future purchases will still be able to be made from VW even with the announcement that they are going to be cutting their R&D spend by billions, another travesty as money that could be spent on developing cleaner technology will be used to line the pockets of the rule setters.

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2818

20150923

BT Fibre to the Cabinet
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WED • 23 SEP 2015

It is easy to tick boxes

In a letter in the Financial Times this week SKY, Vodafone and TalkTalk signed a letter asking Ofcom, the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate BT for their poor delivery of internet access service. In response yesterday, BT has talked about aims to improve speeds to a minimum of 5 – 10 Mb/s, extend ‘fibre broadband’ (read fibre to the cabinet) to more than 95% of the country and increase speeds past 300 Mb/s for 10 million homes.

Surely this was the inevitable outcome from the government supporting BT as the primary partner in rolling out ‘superfast’ (I still don’t know what that really means) broadband across the country. I have written before about moving into a brand new flat in 2014 which was still wired by BT using copper cables, instead of a future proof technology such as fibre which could support potential speeds of over 100 Gb/s. As it is, the technology BT has invested in, Fibre to the Cabinet, ensures we are going to be dependent on phone lines, copper and technical issues for decades to come. So while I appreciate BT’s view to maximise on their existing footprint, as any self-respecting business would probably do to maximise shareholder return, it has proved to be a costly mistake for the rest of the industry and consumers.

The other knock-on effect by handing BT so much responsibility has been the enormity of the task. The business continually has to invest in new staff and equipment to get anywhere near to delivering against the targets put upon it. No wonder the rest of the industry is frustrated. One such issue was recently highlighted to me by a neighbour who said to me that he had finally got ‘fibre broadband’ as it had just been enabled in our building.

“No”, I replied, it has been in our building since January 2014 when BT first enabled the local cabinet. What has transpired is that while our building has been enabled, the actual cabinet quickly ran out of capacity and it has taken over a year to deliver more capacity to it so that the rest of the residents could receive the service.

So is that due to BT being overstretched, or possibly a lack of hardware available? Or cynically could you read into this that actually on paper, at least, our building has been enabled and so therefore met a target, even if not many people can actually order it.

The same could be said where I live in the country. For the past nine months, I have been inspecting a shiny new cabinet that has appeared at the end of my drive. ‘Fibre Broadband is coming’ said a BT engineer to me who came to fix my broken phone line. Maybe, but at the moment all I can see is an empty box in preparation for it. Are we going to get the same issue in our village, that only a few will be able to enjoy it until it reaches capacity when it is finally enabled? And has the very presence of the cabinet thwarted any plan from an alternative fibre provider from investing into connecting up our village?

SKY and TalkTalk through their partnership with CityFibre have already started to look at rolling out Fibre to the Home (proper Fibre Broadband) and I believe will be looking to bring up to 70,000 homes online in York. Vodafone has a national fibre network that they own through their acquisition of Cable & Wireless. What Ofcom need to do is allow BT to do what they do best and enable everyone else to build and develop their own technologies to the home. They need to ensure that we have a level playing field; already other providers such as City Fibre, IFNL and Gigaclear have managed to build their own fibre networks on private investment. We can then let history decide if BT’s focus on a copper phone network was the right choice.

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2814

20150826

WED • 26 AUG 2015

The internet going around in circles

With any technology adoption there seems to always be an ebb and flow as to what has been delivered yesterday, today and then tomorrow – it seems to go around in a continuous cycle. Take cloud computing and the concept of putting computing power at the centre of a network, much like the mainframes of yesteryear. We seem to take one idea, move away from it, and then miraculously move back towards it again. Agreed the latter is usually in a better, more informed and thought through way, but one has to ask that if we had just stayed with the original model and invested in the development of that continuously would we be further on than we are today?

Another area that looks to be reverting back to the good old days is the internet, well actually retail. For many years we have been told about the death of the high street as retailers move online or new online only retailers set up shop. However with the internet comes downsides, notably the issue around same day delivery, testing goods and returns. Some of these issues are looking to be resolved with Amazon recently announcing same day delivery. But for those of you who have sold items on eBay or tried to return an item bought on the internet, the hassle of having to find packaging and posts goods is tiresome to say the least.

Today news comes that Ebuyer (a great resource for cheap electronics) is losing their MD over a disagreement about the direction of the business. He believes the business needs to look at opening up high street stores and the rest of the management team disagree. However having the ability to distribute goods directly to customers and upsell through a personal interaction is a benefit long lost in the world of the internet. Even the likes of Amazon are desperately trying to work out their high street strategy as they look for new areas of growth. Who would have thought that a company like Argos would have had the right model for an internet sales goliath like Amazon?

So I don’t think the high street is dead, it is just being reinvented as we look to regress from the internet (as far as retail is concerned) and look to do what we used to do, but only better.

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2806

20150713

VW GTE Dash
2
2

MON • 13 JUL 2015

The future is electric

Previously I have written about the advancements in electric cars, notably the Golf GTE which combines electric power and a petrol engine in a classic hybrid format. I felt it ticked many boxes; being sporty and car like at the same time, no congestion charge, high levels of mpg and the ability to run on the motorway all day without any range anxiety. Last month I took delivery of my new GTE and I have to say after driving it for a few weeks I am completely sold. Nothing to do with all the blue lighting and accents the GTE model comes with... the GTI comes with red accents.

With the business now operating across a wider group, the need to visit company offices and customers meant I needed a practical car, not just a play thing. Now being a petrol head I should have immediately started looking at hot hatches like the Audi S1 or the new RS3, but I also wanted a car I would not worry about and the more exotic the metal the more precious I become. The joy about the GTE is the Golf shape is relatively common and in a dark blue (I would have gone lighter but it wasn't an option!) it doesn't draw attention. I have found myself quite happy to park in multi-storey car parks without feeling the need to inspect the inevitable damage upon my return.

But what really stands out is the deployment of the electric engine and how gloriously addictive it is. I can see why people love their Tesla's as I now try to drive as much as possible without the engine running. Obviously this is limited when the battery charges to only 27 miles and drops away as I start making the most of the torque. But what really works is the mixture of petrol and electric. In the hybrid mode the ability to get the car moving using electric power means the petrol's inevitable inclusion is smooth and unnoticeable. You have to look at the rev counter to see if it has come alive.

A journey, avoiding the motorway, will average around 80 mpg. There is an advance mode in the gearbox to increase engine breaking, which I great as I have a tendency to try and not use the brakes. Shorter trips have seen 300 mpg as plugging the car in to charge back up is possible. Motorway miles are not as impressive as the small 1.4 litre engine has to work hard to keep at my average speed and cart around 300kg of useless battery and electric engine. So on long trips economy drops to 40mpg and down into the 30s when the 'recharge' option is selected.

Having said that I have almost ignored the economy and have been more sold on the benefit of the electric motor and how much it compliments the petrol engine. I can see why companies like Rolls Royce are looking at it for their next Phantom - it provides a level of refinement engines can't match.

Now I spend my days trying to organise meetings I need to drive to so I can make the most of my new car and it's electric thrill.

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  1. Jeremy

    833 days ago

    Surprising choice from a petrol head! I haven’t driven one but my gut would have sent me for the Lexus CT, how does the drive compare?

    Reply
    1. Piers

      789 days ago

      I haven’t tried the Lexus Jeremy. Drive wise the GTE feels like any other Golf with few compromises. I am not sure about Lexus… feels a bit old school doesn’t it?

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2800

20150604

THU • 04 JUN 2015

The Speed of Change

Moore’s Law famously states that every year the number of transistors per square inch would double. Being the co-founder of Intel it was an insightful view back in 1971 and has remained largely true as processors and computers continue to develop. This view came back to me last night as I found myself upgrading my brother’s computer so that it could deal with the very latest games coming onto the market. We began to reminisce about our first family computer, an AST, brought from the BYTE computer store in Slough.

Our parents saw it as a key investment in our education and it was an introduction to an industry that has become my career. Back in the days of the 1990’s our first machine had 8 MB RAM, 500 MB Hard Drive, Windows 3.1 and an x386 processor. There was even a ‘turbo’ button on the front. Who, by the way, would sit there with this not engaged? Anyway I spent many a happy hour deleting everything on the machine, having to reformat it, taking it apart and putting it back together again. I have built my own machines until recently and take great pleasure in specifying all the hardware and bringing it to life. I even started my own company do this while as school.

So it was yesterday evening that I found myself building my brother’s machine when we thought about how far the industry has come. His machine now sports eight cores (processors) at 4 Ghz, 32 GB of RAM, 4TB of hard drive space with SSD technology and a graphics card with 2GB of dedicated RAM and a dual core processor. Even his operating system can’t cope with the power and we have to now look at upgrading that as well.

They have been saying for a number of years now that Moore’s Law can’t continue. But with new advancements being made continuously I think we should be considering development speeding up, not slowing down. Even in our industry who would have through speeds of 100 Mb/s are achievable using a copper phone cable when 10 years ago we thought 0.5 Mb/s was fast.

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2796

20150522

Rolls Royce Wraith
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FRI • 22 MAY 2015

The pinnacle of combustion

I recently got a call out of the blue from Rolls Royce asking if I might like to borrow one of their new Wraiths for a weekend. No strings, no catches, just enjoy what is arguably one of the best motor cars being built today from a company who from 1904 have been building only the very best cars they could. This is how every car company should attract new customers to a brand. Under BMW ownership the business has grown from strength to strength, with the Phantom gaining global appeal and more recently the ever so slightly smaller Ghost and now the two door version, Wraith, taking centre stage.

I must say for many years I have held a special place for Rolls Royce in my virtual garage. It is a car that is the best is can be, does luxury properly and doesn’t pretend to be ‘sporty’. Even with 21’ rims and air suspension the car glides over everything, delivering the world famous magic carpet ride. The Wraith is probably the best example of the brand for someone who likes to drive and is a little bit younger than most people you would expect to be riding around in a Rolls. It is an awesome example of motoring and by lending me one for the weekend they have only increased my desire to one day own one.

Sitting so high up, cruising down the motorway with the power reserve meter showing 99% of power still remaining, it is rather powerful. But power isn’t really the main draw, the large V12 6 litre engine is there to create effortless progress, and it is surprising how quickly you end up going especially as you are so isolated from the outside world. Being a two door doesn’t make the car much smaller than its four door brother, but I prefer the lines and the swooping tail. I especially like the starlight headlining which can be surprisingly bright (if you turn it up) and all the technology festooned to the model I have been lent – especially the night vision with pedestrian detection.

Certainly being part of the BMW group has enabled Rolls Royce to take all the expensive technology and craft their own car. It certainly feels like nothing else, let alone a BMW. With the world turning more environmentally friendly and new kids on the block such as Tesla I was worried that cars like the Wraith wouldn’t make sense. But it is even economical (when compared to a SUV), and if I am led to believe that most Rolls Royce owners have seven other cars, then for the little time it actually spends on the road it is more moving art than car.

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2788

20150429

Ford GT40
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WED • 29 APR 2015

Geneva Motor Show

As a petrol head one of the big events of the year has to be the Geneva Motor Show. Every year though I usually realise when it is too late or just make the most of the car magazines reviews of it. Although this year I managed to get myself organised and fly out for a day of car porn. Usefully, the event is held right next to the airport so travel was very easy, and with no delays which meant by 10 am I was wondering the vast halls of the exhibition.

I have been to car shows before but nothing prepares you for the scale of the event, the extravagance of the stands and the choice of metal on display. Make no mistake Geneva is the car show of the year. Odd when the country is so against cars and makes you feel like a bad person for owning one. I would highly recommend a visit next year if you get a chance. It is worthwhile though making some enquiries with some local car dealers, so that you can try to wangle some VIP tickets. With the crowds that greeted me on the Saturday the ability to get onto the stands made it much more enjoyable.

My car of the show was probably the new Ford GT40, one of the few I didn't get an option to sit in. It honestly has nothing to do with the colour...

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