Motoring News: True MPG figures, Electric Car Sales & Drowsiness Detection

Falling asleep at the wheel is a perennial hazard that modern cars have – if anything – made worse, thanks to their cocoon-like level of comfort and insulation from the outside world. Bosch is set to do something about this – more details below.

Also of interest is the True MPG service that has just been launched by What Car? Drivers are sick of not being able to trust the manufacturers’ official fuel consumption figures and True MPG could be the answer (although Honest John already has an alternative service which uses crowd-sourced data, Real MPG).

Finally, we take a brief look at electric car sales in Oslo, the capital of Norway, where Nissan Leaf sales accounted for almost 2% of the total Norwegian car market in February this year.

Bosch Pushes Drowsiness Detection

Bosch Drowsiness Detection system
The Bosch Drowsiness Detection system monitors your steering input and detects when you start to be less alert and your pattern of steering input changes - a coffee cup alert symbol then appears on the dashboard.

Falling asleep and drowsiness at the wheel is a major cause of serious accidents. Research published in 2010 by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that 17% of fatal accidents in the USA involved a driver who was ‘overtired’.

Bosch has developed a system that monitors drive steering input and detects when the driver is becoming tired, flashing a coffee cup warning symbol on the dashboard to alert them to take a break.

The system is quite simple in principle; as you become tired, your steering input changes and you tend to correct small steering mistakes more often.

You may also go through periods where you hardly provide any steering input before suddenly correcting your steering – when you find yourself drifting out of the your lane, for example.

The Bosch system monitors your steering input from the beginning of every journey, so it is able to recognise changes to your normal pattern of behaviour and thus detects when you are becoming tired. A potential life saver that will increasingly be fitted as standard to new cars.

What Car? Launches True MPG

Inaccurate official fuel consumption figures are the bane of drivers’ lives. If you are lucky enough to be buying a new car and want to choose the most fuel efficient model, it is almost impossible to do so accurately because the official fuel consumption figures simply are not realistic – and are not consistent, either.

The figures for some cars are very close to the reality, but for other cars they are not remotely close. The problem is that the testing cycle manufacturers are required to follow (dictated by the EU) is not representative of real driving, so does not produce real MPG figures.

Honest John had a good bash at solving this problem when he launched user-powered Real MPG database last year. The flaw in the HJ system is that it is only really going to be accurate for cars with lots of user data – as driving style can have a big effect on fuel consumption.

What Car? has come up with a more scientific solution that uses high-tech recording equipment to monitor fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and relies on two experienced engineers to drive each car tested along a carefully-defined test route.

The result is an already impressive database of fuel consumption figures for popular cars, revealing how much fuel consumption figures can vary between models, even when their official fuel consumption figures are nearly the same.

For example, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTDm 140 Lusso has an official combined mpg figure of 62.8mpg, but the True MPG result was 58.9mpg – pretty close and a decent result. On the other hand, the BMW 118d SE also has an official combined figure of 62.8mpg, but its True MPG result was just 47.2mpg – far worse and very disappointing for anyone who was expecting to average above, say, 55mpg.

There are one or two star performers, however – cars that beat their official figures. Put your hands together for the Mercedes S350L CDi Bluetec, the only car so far to beat its official figure, delivering 37.3mpg instead of 36.7mpg (okay, it’s not a big saving, but it’s the principle that counts).

To find out more, visit www.whatcar.com/truempg

Free Parking & Charging Stations Boost EV Sales

Nissan Leaf EV
The Nissan Leaf electric car

Who would have thought it? If you provide a good infrastructure and strong incentives, more people buy electric cars. In this case, the case study is Oslo, capital of Norway, where sales of the Nissan Leaf in February accounted for almost 2% of all car sales  – an astonishing result.

There are now 1,000 Nissan Leafs on the road in Norway, and it is no surprise that support for electric car ownership is greater here than anywhere else.

EV buyers benefit from zero VAT, no new car tax, free parking, exemption from some tolls and the use of bus lanes in Oslo. The existing on-street charging infrastructure in Oslo currently has approximately 3500 public charging points in Oslo, many of them free to use.

Olivier Paturet, General Manager of Zero Emission Strategy at Nissan Europe was delighted to attend the handover, commenting:

“We are very happy to see that the ambition of the Norwegian government has matched our own with strong support for the widespread introduction of electric vehicles. The Norwegian package of incentives is unsurpassed and the recharging infrastructure is established and accessible. We can see that Norway is leading the way with its proactive approach to encouraging its citizens to drive electric vehicles. We hope it will continue with the further development and upgrading of the charging infrastructure.”

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