BMW’s electric iX3 to duel it out with Tesla Model 3 and Jaguar I-Pace


If you detect a bit of a buzz about BMW’s new all-electric SUV unveiled today, that’s because it’s the first customer car for which Oscar-winning movie composer Hans Zimmer has written its soundtrack.

Not only is the German car giant’s new iX3 its first pure electric SUV, it’s also the first to use sounds from the creator of such Hollywood blockbusters as Gladiator, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean – and an Academy Award for his original score for The Lion King.

The car’s theme gives the driver and occupants of the near-silent vehicle a strong cinematic sense of rising crescendo. In future, it will also warn pedestrians of its imminent approach.

Electric SUV duel: This is BMW’s first all-electric SUV, which will go head-to-head with the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace

Aimed at active families, couples and singletons, the sprightly new green’SUV sprints from rest to 62mph in 6.8 seconds up to a top speed limited at 112mph and has an electric system that helps save the planet as it ‘eliminates the use of rare earth materials in the motor’.

Promising a range of 285 miles, the zero-emissions battery-powered leisure vehicle and will charge up to 80 per cent in 34 minutes. 

Or you can give a short, sharp 62 miles boost to the car’s driving range with a swift 10 minute burst.

The BMW iX3 arrives in the UK next summer, expected to be priced from around £40,000 after the £3,000 tax-payer-funded plug-in grant. 

A special ‘Premier’ launch edition costing somewhat, more will spearhead the programme when order books, full specification and pricing are announced in the Autumn as it takes on rivals from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and even Kia.

The iX3 also the first model to be built for export at BMW’s Shenyang factory in China operated by the joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive.

The BMW iX3 arrives in the UK next summer, expected to be priced from around £40,000 after the £3,000 tax-payer-funded plug-in grant

The BMW iX3 arrives in the UK next summer, expected to be priced from around £40,000 after the £3,000 tax-payer-funded plug-in grant

The iX3 is the first customer car for which Oscar-winning movie composer Hans Zimmer (pictured) has written its soundtrack

Zimmer scored the music for Hollywood blockbusters including Gladiator, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean

The iX3 is the first customer car for which Oscar-winning movie composer Hans Zimmer (pictured left) has written its soundtrack. Zimmer scored the music for Hollywood blockbusters including Gladiator, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean

A special 'Premier' launch edition costing somewhat, more will spearhead the programme when order books, full specification and pricing are announced in the Autumn as it takes on rivals from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and even Kia

A special ‘Premier’ launch edition costing somewhat, more will spearhead the programme when order books, full specification and pricing are announced in the Autumn as it takes on rivals from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and even Kia

BMW said storage capacity of the battery has been ‘substantially increased’ noting: ‘A gross energy content of 80 kWh – of which 74 kWh is utilised – and the high efficiency of the drive systems allow the new BMW iX3 to offer a range of up to 285 miles.’

A new charging unit sends power to both the 400V battery and the 12V on-board power supply, it explains: ‘When charging using alternating current, it enables both single-phase and three-phase charging at up to 11 kW. Plugging the vehicle into a direct current rapid-charging station opens the door to charging outputs of up to 150 kW, meaning the high-voltage battery can be charged from 0 to 80 per cent of its full capacity in 34 minutes.

‘Drivers can inject the power required to add 62 miles to the car’s driving range in just 10 minutes.’

The slim, low-slung high-voltage battery sits low down in the underbody and lowers the car’s centre of gravity by around 7.5 centimetres – or about three inches – compared with its conventionally powered BMW X3 siblings. 

The instant power from the electric motor and tuned chassis create the conditions for ‘sporty, agile driving’ with good traction in poor weather and on loose ground.

The high-voltage battery can be charged from 0 to 80 per cent of its full capacity in 34 minutes

The high-voltage battery can be charged from 0 to 80 per cent of its full capacity in 34 minutes

The instant power from the electric motor and tuned chassis create the conditions for 'sporty, agile driving' with good traction in poor weather and on loose ground

The instant power from the electric motor and tuned chassis create the conditions for ‘sporty, agile driving’ with good traction in poor weather and on loose ground

The iX3 will take aim at popular electric SUV models. Top of its hit list will be the Tesla Model X

The iX3 will take aim at popular electric SUV models. Top of its hit list will be the Tesla Model X

Another direct rival will be the Jaguar I-Pace, which costs from £65,195

Another direct rival will be the Jaguar I-Pace, which costs from £65,195

The new cloud-based BMW Maps navigation system enables route arrival times and directions to fast charging points to be calculated with greater speed and precision. 

The front apron and BMW kidney grille have a largely enclosed design, while the rear end has also been sculpted to reduce air resistance.

Aerodynamically designed light-alloy wheels help reduce drag coefficient by around 5 per cent adding around 6 miles to the range.

A newly developed ‘Flexible Fast Charger cable’ can be hooked up to both standard domestic and industrial sockets using optional adapters while recharging at home is further enhanced with a personal Wallbox.

Split folding rear seat backrests mean boot capacity can be increased from 510 to a maximum of 1,560 litres.

Inside is a fully-digital high-resolution 12.3 inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a 10.25-inch central display with a choice of control via touchscreen, buttons, voice or gesture.

Spoken commands are possible via the latest version of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. The car’s infotainment system is also compatable with Apple CarPlay Android Auto, allowing ccess to access digital services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps, music streaming like Spotify and Amazon Music, and WhatsApp messaging.

Highlighting the electric car collaboration with Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer, BMW said: ‘Every driving state is accompanied by a matching sound pattern.

‘A newly introduced short sound composition, which is the result of a collaboration between Hans Zimmer and BMW sound designer Renzo Vitale, can be heard when the Start/Stop button is pressed.’

Aerodynamically designed light-alloy wheels help reduce drag coefficient by around 5 per cent adding around 6 miles to the range

Aerodynamically designed light-alloy wheels help reduce drag coefficient by around 5 per cent adding around 6 miles to the range

A newly developed 'Flexible Fast Charger cable' can be hooked up to both standard domestic and industrial sockets using optional adapters while recharging at home is further enhanced with a personal Wallbox

A newly developed ‘Flexible Fast Charger cable’ can be hooked up to both standard domestic and industrial sockets using optional adapters while recharging at home is further enhanced with a personal Wallbox

BMW said storage capacity of the battery has been 'substantially increased' noting: 'A gross energy content of 80 kWh – of which 74 kWh is utilised – and the high efficiency of the drive systems allow the new BMW iX3 to offer a range of up to 285 miles.'

BMW said storage capacity of the battery has been ‘substantially increased’ noting: ‘A gross energy content of 80 kWh – of which 74 kWh is utilised – and the high efficiency of the drive systems allow the new BMW iX3 to offer a range of up to 285 miles.’

Although the vehicle’s 285 mile range would leave it 15 miles short of a trip from London to Newcastle, BMW says of its long-distance travel potential: ‘On a trip, a BMW iX3 would need to make fewer charging stops than a comparable electric vehicle whose efficiency is compromised by the presence of larger and heavier high-voltage batteries. And the iX3 stops would be shorter.’

It says the intensity of the car’s brake energy regeneration is adapted to the road situation using data from the navigation system and the driver assistance system sensors: ‘For example, when approaching a junction or a vehicle on the road ahead, recuperation is fully utilised.On the open road, the coasting function is activated whenever the driver takes their foot off the accelerator.’

In driving position ‘D ‘the driver can choose a high, medium or low brake energy regeneration setting.

But putting it into driving position ‘B’ allows the driver to drive with ‘one pedal’ the accelerator – with braking kicking in as soon as he or she takes their foot off the gas. 

The latest electric motor, power electronics, charging technology and high-voltage battery used in the iX3 to boost performance, power consumption and range will be fitted in the BMW iNEXT and BMW i4 models from 2021.

BMW said: ‘The electric motor, transmission and power electronics are now arranged together in a single housing. The electric motor in the new BMW iX3 works according to the principle of a current-excited synchronous motor, without the use of magnets. This design eliminates the use of rare earth materials of the motor.’

BMW says the fifth-generation electric drive system used in the new iX3 marks a 30 per cent improvement over its existing fully electric vehicles: ‘The motor is up to 93 per cent efficient, compared with under 40 per cent for combustion engines.’

‘Sending power to the rear wheels creates a characteristic BMW driving experience with outstanding traction ensured.’

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The ten cheapest cars to insure revealed


When you think of the cheapest cars to insure, you will likely picture a small runabout with an under-powered engine that’s about as exciting to drive as filling out a self-assessment tax return.

But the motor with the cheapest average annual insurance premiums has two seats, a convertible roof and a legacy of being one of the best driver’s cars on the planet, according to a review of hundreds of thousands of UK policies.

The model in question is the Mazda MX-5 – the best-selling affordable sports car of all time. Insurer, Admiral, says the average premium paid by owners over the age of 25 is a mere £334.

The cheapest car to insure on average – or is it? The Mazda MX-5 (seen here in all four generations since launching in 1989) has the most affordable premiums for drivers over 25, says Admiral. But this has more to do with the owners than the car, we say

It listed the 10 top cheapest motors to insure on average after analysing more than 200,000 policies for drivers over 25 years old between January and March 2020.

The MX-5 was the shock vehicle to top the list.

First launched in 1989, the sporty little two seater has been the pick of the affordable convertible cars for three decades.

The drop-top model has generated a cult following, winning fans over with its brilliant driving characteristics through four generations of the MX-5, combining sublime road holding, a raspy engine noise, slick-shifting gearbox and fun rear-wheel drive performance.

The MX-5 Mk1 has become a modern classic and values are starting to grow at a record pace as collectors snap up the best examples of the original model. 

The latest example, launched in 2015, is just as impressive to drive. And with starting prices from £23,800, it’s one of the cheapest new sports cars on the market. 

While this explains why demand is so high and Mazda exceeded one million sales of the sportster in 2016, these traits don’t always add up to cheap premiums.

In fact, you would assume it would be the complete opposite, with enthusiastic drivers of exciting machines likely to culminate in pricey policies. 

But Admiral says that the fact the MX-5 was top of its list of cheapest cars to ensure is more to do with its owners than the vehicle itself. 

Insurers calculate premium based on their claims data and the risk that someone is going to make a claim. 

The MX-5 has cultivated a strong following, winning fans over with its brilliant driving characteristics through four generations

The MX-5 has cultivated a strong following, winning fans over with its brilliant driving characteristics through four generations 

The Mk1 Mazda MX-5, which went on sale some 31 years ago, is now one of the fastest appreciated modern classic cars

The Mk1 Mazda MX-5, which went on sale some 31 years ago, is now one of the fastest appreciated modern classic cars

The current MX-5 launched in 2015. With starting prices from £23,800, it's one of the cheapest new sports cars on the market

The current MX-5 launched in 2015. With starting prices from £23,800, it’s one of the cheapest new sports cars on the market

With MX-5 owners generally older, having few accidents and likely to keep their soft-top cars secure in a garage, it becomes less surprising that it topped Admiral’s charts.

The bonus is that they have a bulletproof reliability rating and are easy to repair with lots of spares available also help to keep premiums low.

‘The Mazda MX-5 isn’t going to be the cheapest car to insure for everyone, but based on the Admiral data, MX-5 drivers aged over 25 paid the lowest average premium at the beginning of 2020,’ a spokesperson told This is Money.

Clare Egan, head of motor product at the insurer, said: ‘To help people who may be looking at buying a new car to get around now that lockdown has been eased, we’ve calculated the ten cars which are, on average, the cheapest to insure based on Admiral data from the first quarter of this year.

‘The good news is they vary in styles and size so some of the cars may suit a single person or couple, whereas others will be ideal for a family of five who need more space.’

The 10 cheapest cars to insure for motorists over 25 

1. Mazda MX-5

Average premium: £334.12

2. Fiat 500C

Average premium: £346.37

3. Volkswagen California

Average premium: £356.85

4. Dacia Logan

Average premium: £357.63

5. Volkswagen Up!

Average premium: £365.14

6. Seat Mii

Average premium: £368.75

7. Seat Arona

Average premium: £383.62

8. Skoda CitiGo

Average premium: £385.65

9. Skoda Yeti

Average premium: £388.67

10. Land Rover Defender 90

Average premium: £389.53

Source: Admiral, following analysis of more than 200,000 customer policies between Jan-Mar 2020 for drivers over 25

Fiat's 500C was listed as the car with the second most affordable premiums for drivers over the age of 25, averaging £346.37 to cover for a year

Fiat’s 500C was listed as the car with the second most affordable premiums for drivers over the age of 25, averaging £346.37 to cover for a year

The VW California campervan is predominantly owned by retirees and older motors who want to travel the country. Average premiums are just £356.85, despite its high value

The VW California campervan is predominantly owned by retirees and older motors who want to travel the country. Average premiums are just £356.85, despite its high value

The Dacia Logan estate is one of the cars you would expect to see on this list. It's cheap to buy - priced from £10,745

The Dacia Logan estate is one of the cars you would expect to see on this list. It’s cheap to buy – priced from £10,745

The previous generation Land Rover Defender 90, which went out of production in January 2016, also makes it into the list with average annual premiums of £389.53, says Admiral

The previous generation Land Rover Defender 90, which went out of production in January 2016, also makes it into the list with average annual premiums of £389.53, says Admiral 

Second in Admiral’s list is the Fiat 500C – the open-top version of the Italian firm’s popular city car that costs just £346 on average to insure.

It is followed by an entirely different vehicle, the VW California – which is Volkswagen’s answer to a home on wheels. 

The in-demand camper – which is commonly owned by retirees and older drivers who like to travel around the country, costs on average £357 –  made it into our list of the best five new campervans, revealed last month.

Daica’s affordable Logan estate, priced from £10,745, was next in the list with average premiums of £358, which also includes the VW Up!, Seat Mii and Skoda CitiGo, which are mechanically identical city cars with average insurance premiums of between £365 and £386.

Seat’s Arona (£383) and Skoda’s now defunct Yeti (£389) SUVs also made it into Admirals standings, ahead of the previous generation Land Rover Defender 90, which went out of production in January 2016.

The agricultural vehicle, which is commonly used by farmers, is cheap to repair and commonly fixed by its owners, rounded out the top 10, with average premiums of  £390.

This is possibly the most surprising inclusion in Admiral’s list. given that the Defender has become an easy target for thieves who have been stripping them of their panels to sell on the black market now that production has ceased and a new modern-era Defender is being sold by Land Rover dealers. 

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Britain has the second safest roads in Europe behind Sweden


Britain has the second SAFEST roads in Europe behind Sweden based on traffic deaths per population, new data shows

  • There are 28 deaths on the road per million people in Britain each year
  • Only Sweden has fewer, with the ACEA saying there are 25 fatalities
  • The average across EU nations is 49, with eastern Europe having the worst stats
  • Most accidents resulting in fatalities are due to driver distraction, says report
  • Intelligent Speed Assistance speed limiters mandatory in new cars from 2022
  • Volvo has already started fitting speed limiters to its vehicles this year 

Britain has the second safest roads in Europe with only Sweden recording fewer deaths per million inhabitants, new statistics show.

There are 28 deaths a year on the road per million people in Britain, while in Sweden the figure is a slightly smaller 25, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. 

Eastern regions of Europe have the worst fatality rates on the road per million people, with Romania topping the charts with 99 deaths.

Second safest roads in Europe: Only Sweden recorded fewer traffic casualties per million inhabitants in 2017, according to a new report published this month

The EU average for road casualties per million inhabitants is 49, which puts the UK way ahead of the curve.

Road deaths have fallen significantly in the last two decades, according to ACEA.

In 2001 there were 54,900 recorded fatalities across the EU and that figure more than halved to just 25,300 in 2017 – an average of 69 casualties per day.

By continent, it means Europe has the safest of roads in the world. 

Who has the safest roads in Europe? Road deaths per million inhabitants

1. Sweden: 25

2. UK :28

3. Denmark: 30

4. Netherlands: 31

5. Ireland: 33

6. Estonia: 36

=7. Germany 39 

=7. Spain: 39

9. Malta: 41

10. Luxembourg: 42

11. Finland: 43 

12. Austria: 47 

13. Slovenia: 50 

=14. France: 51 

=14. Slovakia: 51 

16. Belgium: 54

17. Czech Republic: 55 

18. Italy: 56 

19. Portugal: 58 

20. Cyprus: 62 

21. Hungary: 64 

22. Lithuania: 67 

23. Greece: 68 

24. Latvia: 70

25. Poland: 75

26. Croatia: 80

27. Bulgaria: 96

28. Romania: 99

Source: ACEA 

The vast majority of road incidents resulting in deaths are linked to human error, the report claims,

It estimates that between 10 and 30 per cent are the result of distraction  – an issue that’s being tackled by law makers and car manufacturers with the requirement for more driver assistance systems becoming mandatory in the coming years.

This includes Intelligent Speed Assistance systems, which will be a must in all new motors from 2022 – though Volvo has already started equipping its vehicles with more intrusive speed limiters restricting its cars to no more than 112mph.

Other required features for new passenger cars in the next two years include driver drowsiness and distraction alert systems, reversing sensors or parking cameras, lane-keeping assistance and advanced emergency braking. 

The European Commission expect the introduction of built-in breathalysers alongside these other driver assistance systems to save around 25,000 lives and prevent 140,000 injuries by 2038. 

There are 28 deaths a year on the road per million people in the UK, while Sweden's figure is 25 fatalities, according to a new report by the ACEA

There are 28 deaths a year on the road per million people in the UK, while Sweden’s figure is 25 fatalities, according to a new report by the ACEA

EU Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska – previously the Polish Minister of Regional Development and Transport – said: ‘Every year, 25,000 people lose their lives on our roads. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error.

‘We can and must act to change this. With the new advanced safety features that will become mandatory, we can have the same kind of impact as when the safety belts were first introduced.’ 

While Sweden and the UK top the charts for having the safest roads, eastern Europe dominates to other end of the table.

This is caused by a combination of factors, including the poor condition of road networks and drivers using older vehicles with lower crash safety technology and performance standards. 

Romania has the worst safety record with 99 road deaths per million people in the country, followed by Bulgaria (96), Croatia (80), Poland (75) and Latvia (70). 

Figures released for Britain by the Department for Transport show that 1,782 were killed on Britain’s roads each year.

The statistics are for the full year 2018, when 11 fewer deaths were recorded than the year previous.

Motoring groups claimed these stats were ‘disappointing’ when released a year ago, calling for Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to make reducing the death toll on Britain’s roads one of his ‘top priorities’.

While the death toll has remained consistent for the past seven years, it is vital to point out that road casualties in the UK are among the lowest across the globe.

News of the UK’s impressive road safety statistics come as the Death By Dangerous Driving (Sentencing) Bill is set to be heard in the House of Commons on July 21, which could see those found guilty receive life sentences.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: ‘We will have the time and the support of the Government to change the law in the right direction.’   

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Some of Britain’s favourite cars are cheaper to buy with finance than cash


Cash isn’t always king for cars: Britain’s favourite models that are cheaper to buy with finance than outright revealed

  • One in seven new cars are less expensive to purchase using PCP than cash
  • Buyers of the Ford Fiesta, for example, can save over £500 by using finance
  • What Car? listed 16 popular cars with savings of between 2% and 8% using PCP
  • There are three main reasons why car dealers will incentivise using finance over buying outright 

Some of Britain’s best and most popular new cars are cheaper to buy on finance than with cash as dealers attempt to rope customers into deals that are more likely to see them return in a few years, it has been revealed.

Market research of thousands of offers on new models found that around one in seven are less expensive to purchase using Personal Contract Purchase – better known as PCP – packages than buying outright, even when taking into account discounts for cash buyers.

The best-selling UK model for the last 11 years, the Ford Fiesta, for instance is £522 cheaper with finance than buying traditionally, as salesmen offer better deals on the latter in the hope they can persuade customers to replace their cars after two or three years.

Dealers pushing finance: A market investigation has found that popular models can be bought from showrooms for less money using PCP than using cash, even when taking into account the discount you can haggle when buying outright

What Car? conducted the investigation by analysing more than 6,000 different transaction options on new cars, taking into account the savings through finance deals and cash discounts dealerships are willing to offer.

Other popular models that are cheaper to purchase via PCP include the Skoda Superb and Volvo S60, and the luxurious BMW 7 Series M760Li is more than £10,000 cheaper when buying with finance rather than cash.

The percentage savings of finance over haggled cash deals on 16 popular cars is between 2 per cent and 8 per cent, the study says. 

Pat Hoy, head of What Car?’s Target Price mystery shopping team, said: ‘Buying on finance works out cheaper when the car maker’s deposit contribution is greater than the maximum discount offered for a cash purchase – as indicated by our Target Price saving – and the finance interest rate is either zero or low enough not to cancel out that saving.’

16 CARS THAT ARE CHEAPER TO BUY WITH FINANCE THAN CASH 
Make and model List price Cash Target Price Total finance cost Finance saving % saving for finance vs cash target price
BMW 5 Series 530d M Sport £50,925 £43,200 £41,630 £1,570 4%
BMW 7 Series M760Li £141,710 £128,696 £118,449 £10,247 8%
Ford Fiesta 1.1 75 Trend 3dr £16,135 £15,341 £14,819 £522 3%
Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost 125 Titanium X £23,935 £22,040 £20,790 £1,250 6%
Ford Kuga 1.5 Ecoboost 150 Titanium £27,855 £26,084 £24,905 £1,179 5%
Jaguar XF 2.0d R-Sport £36,740 £33,414 £31,570 £1,844 6%
Kia Ceed 1.0 GDi IST 2 £18,850 £17,678 £16,847 £831 5%
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi GT-Line £38,410 £36,613 £35,564 £1,049 3%
Peugeot 108 1.0 72 Allure 3dr £13,930 £11,722 £10,839 £883 8%
Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 300 GT-Line £43,510 £42,655 £41,937 £718 2%
Peugeot 308 1.5 BlueHDi 130 Allure £25,865 £22,817 £21,568 £1,249 5%
Skoda Superb 1.5 TSI SE £24,850 £22,812 £22,165 £647 3%
Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVT-i Icon £16,580 £15,528 £14,653 £875 6%
Vauxhall Grandland X 1.5 Turbo D Griffin £30,130 £28,453 £26,953 £1,500 5%
Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 231 4Motion SE £46,470 £43,063 £41,563 £1,500 3%
Volvo S60 2.0 B5 R Design £39,035 £36,386 £34,367 £2,019 6%
Source: What Car?           

There are three main reasons why some cars are cheaper on finance. 

Firstly, it’s a good way for car makers to discount a new model without making it obvious that they’re working to boost sales. 

Secondly, car manufacturers prefer to persuade customers to use PCP deals because they can attempt to seek repeat business when finance agreements are coming to an end.

How PCP deals are structured means a relatively small deposit and affordable monthly payments.

The biggest financial outlay comes at the end of the contract, when the motorist can choose to pay a substantial balloon payment to keep the car, which is the estimated value of the vehicle at the end of the deal taking into account the depreciation, or not pay and hand it back.

Sales staff can suggest to customers to use any equity they have from the deal to put into a new PCP contract for a fresh new car and repeat the cycle again – thus boosting sales figures.

Sales staff will likely want to push buyers towards finance as it increases the chances of repeat customers wanting to replace their cars at the end of their PCP deals

Sales staff will likely want to push buyers towards finance as it increases the chances of repeat customers wanting to replace their cars at the end of their PCP deals

Thirdly, salesmen are likely to be working on commission where the reward is higher for finance than it is for one-off cash deals.

Finance agreements also tie owners into servicing packages that benefit franchised networks. 

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: ‘Before buying, consumers should work out the total amount payable for a car, both as a cash deal and on finance, and compare the two to ensure they pay the lowest price.’ 

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First DBX rolls off Aston Martin’s Welsh St Athan production line


Aston Martin’s first DBX rolled off the production line of its St Athan factory in South Wales today with the new SUV marking a ‘milestone moment’ for the British luxury marque.

Priced from £158,000, the first Aston to be ‘Made in Wales’ is also its first SUV and considered a make or break model for the British manufacturer, which has recently endured a turbulent financial period, including a £119million loss in the first quarter of 2020.

Expected to be Aston’s biggest seller and designed to be exported around the world – including to markets where all-weather capability is required – first DBX customer deliveries start later this month. 

Make or break model: The first Aston Martin DBX production car has been produced in St Athan. There are big hopes on the shoulders of the family SUV…

Around 80 per cent of production is expected to be exported with huge demanded expected from foreign markets including the US and China.

The first car off the line comes just over four years since Aston Martin announced its investment in the new manufacturing facility at St Athan.

The British car maker was one of the first to welcome workers back to its assembly line, restarting production of the SUV from 5 May. 

Aston Martin said the DBX signals a new era for the firm which has undergone recent financial turmoil and a boardroom bloodbath as new investors took a stake kept the business afloat.

It comes after debt-laden Aston Martin Lagonda has endured months of turmoil and a £536million bail-out by Canadian businessman and new executive chairman Lawrence Stroll.

Stroll, father of F1 driver Lance and part-owner of the Racing Point Formula One Team, is a collector of vintage Ferraris and, according to Forbes, has a net worth of $2.6 billion.

He is tasked with overseeing the firm’s refinancing and restructuring, and has already acquired a replacement for outgoing CEO Andy Palmerin the form of incoming chief executive Tobias Moers, formerly of Mercedes-AMG.

Debt-laden Aston Martin Lagonda has endured months of turmoil and had a £536million bail-out by Canadian businessman and new executive chairman Lawrence Stroll

Debt-laden Aston Martin Lagonda has endured months of turmoil and had a £536million bail-out by Canadian businessman and new executive chairman Lawrence Stroll

The first car off the line comes just over four years since Aston Martin announced its investment in the new manufacturing facility at St Athan

The first car off the line comes just over four years since Aston Martin announced its investment in the new manufacturing facility at St Athan

The firm said: ‘DBX it is an important model for Aston Martin and a clear illustration of the strength of British manufacturing capabilities.’

Aston Martin’s interim chief operating officer Keith Stanton, added: ‘I’m extremely proud of the Aston Martin team who have worked so hard to transform this ex-Ministry of Defence site into a world-class car manufacturing facility.

‘It is an honour to see the first DBX come off the line.’

Aston Martin’s executive vice president and chief creative officer Marek Reichman, who was at St Athan to witness the first DBX off the line, commented: ‘We are incredibly proud of our first SUV, which is as much of an Aston Martin as any one of our sports cars. 

‘The DBX has become the car that will drive Aston Martin into a bold new era.’

Aston Martin's DBX is an all-wheel drive, five-door, five-seater crossover that's powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine that - linked to a 9-speed automatic gearbox - develops 550 horsepower

Aston Martin’s DBX is an all-wheel drive, five-door, five-seater crossover that’s powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine that – linked to a 9-speed automatic gearbox – develops 550 horsepower 

The St Athan was one of the first car manufacturing sites to return to work in lockdown, restarting the DBX assembly line on 5 May

The St Athan was one of the first car manufacturing sites to return to work in lockdown, restarting the DBX assembly line on 5 May

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said: ‘This is a historic moment for Aston Martin and for Wales. It is also a huge win for the Welsh Government’s can-do attitude.’

‘I could not be more proud to see this fantastic SUV being made in Wales and rolling off the production line. It also speaks volumes for the dedication and skills of the world class work force we have right here in Wales.’

Skates’ comments come a day after he criticised Ineos Automotive and its British billionaire owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, for likely pulling the plug on plans to build a new state-of-the-art factory in Bridgend, South Wales, to produce the new Grenadier 4X4.

Ineos is now in talks with Daimler over the purchase of its Hambach plant in France, close to the German border. 

Designed with the help of a female panel, the new DBX accelerates from rest to 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds up to a top speed of 181mph

Designed with the help of a female panel, the new DBX accelerates from rest to 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds up to a top speed of 181mph

DBX is expected to sell at around 5,000 units per year, which would comfortably make it Aston's most popular model.

DBX is expected to sell at around 5,000 units per year, which would comfortably make it Aston’s most popular model.

Aston Martin’s DBX is an all-wheel drive, five-door, five-seater crossover that’s powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine that – linked to a 9-speed automatic gearbox – develops 550 horsepower.

Designed with the help of a female panel, the new DBX accelerates from rest to 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds up to a top speed of 181mph.  

The crossover DBX has been designed from the ground-up with input from its ‘Female Advisory Board’ to ensure there is a practical interior space for flexible modern life-styles – including easy to use buttons and a handy slot in the centre for a handbag. 

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Lamborghini unleashes Sian Roadster hypercar that inspired its boat


Billionaires, Instagram rich kids and anyone else with a spare £6million in the bank can now have a matching Lamborghini for the road and water.

While many businesses have been hammered by the coronavirus lockdown, the adored Italian supercar maker has been busy, launching not only a superyacht but a new hypercar that inspired the boat’s design.

This latest model in the flamboyant vehicle maker’s arsenal is the Sian Roadster – a V12 hybrid powertrain with 808bhp, a top speed of 217mph and, like its new speedboat, no roof.

For the road: This is Lamborghini’s just revealed Sian Roadater. A hybrid hypercar with 808bhp and a top speed of 217mph

For the water: The Italian car brand last week joint-unveiled a new superyacht called the Tecnomar for Lamborghini 63 - a twin-engined speedboat with 3,945bhp and a top speed of 60 knots, which is around 70mph

For the water: The Italian car brand last week joint-unveiled a new superyacht called the Tecnomar for Lamborghini 63 – a twin-engined speedboat with 3,945bhp and a top speed of 60 knots, which is around 70mph

While there will be 63 ‘Tecnomar for Lamborghini 63’ superyachts produced, the Sian Roadster is rarer.

Just 19 are being produced, all of them with an open cockpit, and will cost in the region of $3.7million (£3million), which is the rumoured price of the hard-top coupe version revealed last year (of which 63 will be made, like the boat).

But there’s no need for you to go raiding your savings account just yet, as all 19 of them have been pre-ordered and paid for by a select few of Lamborghini’s well-heeled aficionados who have already been given a sneak preview of the extreme vehicle.

At the heart of the Sian Roadster is Lamborghini’s ferocious 6.5-litre V12 – the motor used in the existing Aventador range.

Just 19 Sian Roadsters will be produced, with an asking price believed to be in the region of £3million. All 19 examples to be built have already been pre-sold

Just 19 Sian Roadsters will be produced, with an asking price believed to be in the region of £3million. All 19 examples to be built have already been pre-sold

It's not a convertible. The Sian Roadster has no roof whatsoever, leaving the driver and their chosen passenger open to the elements

It’s not a convertible. The Sian Roadster has no roof whatsoever, leaving the driver and their chosen passenger open to the elements

The Sian Roadster is the second model in the line up, following the coupe revealed last year. That model is called the Sian FKP 37 - named in honour of the late ex-Volkswagen Group boss Ferdinand Karl Piëch. who died in 2019 shortly before the vehicle was announced

The Sian Roadster is the second model in the line up, following the coupe revealed last year. That model is called the Sian FKP 37 – named in honour of the late ex-Volkswagen Group boss Ferdinand Karl Piëch. who died in 2019 shortly before the vehicle was announced

The design is unmistakable Lamborghini, with Y-shape headlights closely replicate those of the all-electric Terzo Millenio concept car

 The design is unmistakable Lamborghini, with Y-shape headlights closely replicate those of the all-electric Terzo Millenio concept car

However, for this limited-edition creation, there’s the addition of titanium intake valves and a new exhaust that boosts power to 774bhp – a healthy increase on the 740bhp produced by the standard Aventador S. 

And for an additional kick of potency, the Sian Roadster gets a supplementary electric motor embedded in the gearbox to wind the total output to 808bhp. That’s good for a sprint to 62mph in 2.9 seconds and a hair-messing 217mph top speed.

Rather than incorporating a heavy lithium-ion battery, the Sian instead uses a supercapacitor, which weighs just 34kg when combined with the tiny e-motor.

At its heart is Lamborghini’s ferocious - and tired-and-tested - 6.5-litre V12. It's the motor used in the existing Aventador range, though with some tweaks for additional performance

At its heart is Lamborghini’s ferocious – and tired-and-tested – 6.5-litre V12. It’s the motor used in the existing Aventador range, though with some tweaks for additional performance

The Sian Roadster gets titanium intake valves and a new exhaust that boosts power to 774bhp - a healthy increase on the 740bhp produced by the standard Aventador S

The Sian Roadster gets titanium intake valves and a new exhaust that boosts power to 774bhp – a healthy increase on the 740bhp produced by the standard Aventador S

Mounted to the gearbox is an e-motor with energy produced by a supercapacitor. Rather than incorporating a heavy lithium-ion battery, this lightweight system can recharge and discharge energy at the same rate

Mounted to the gearbox is an e-motor with energy produced by a supercapacitor. Rather than incorporating a heavy lithium-ion battery, this lightweight system can recharge and discharge energy at the same rate

The interior is as plush as you'd expected from a seven-figure Lamborghini hypercar built in limited numbers. Buyers will be able to spec each model to their exacting desires

The interior is as plush as you’d expected from a seven-figure Lamborghini hypercar built in limited numbers. Buyers will be able to spec each model to their exacting desires

The benefit is that the electricity storage can be charged and discharged at the same rate, meaning a driver can resupply energy to the system when pressing the brakes and unleash it with the next stab of the throttle pedal. 

Performance figures are on par with the Sian coupe, with Lamborghini stating that the deletion of a roof hasn’t hampered the dagger-shaped vehicle’s aerodynamic efficiency.

At speed, the front splitter, bonnet vent and side intakes swallow the air and distribute it out via the active rear spoiler to increase downforce. 

The cooling vanes at the rear of the car are there to moderate the temperature of the exhaust system when the owner is getting heavy footed with the accelerator

The cooling vanes at the rear of the car are there to moderate the temperature of the exhaust system when the owner is getting heavy footed with the accelerator

When heat levels rise, the vanes rotate to provide extra cooling for the exhaust

When heat levels rise, the vanes rotate to provide extra cooling for the exhaust

the Sian's supercapacitor and e-motor not only generate additional power bu also weigh just 34kg. Lamborghini is expected to use this technology in the future to prolong the existence of its V12 powerplant

the Sian’s supercapacitor and e-motor not only generate additional power bu also weigh just 34kg. Lamborghini is expected to use this technology in the future to prolong the existence of its V12 powerplant

At speed, the front splitter, bonnet vent and side intakes swallow the air and distribute it out via the active rear spoiler to increase downforce

At speed, the front splitter, bonnet vent and side intakes swallow the air and distribute it out via the active rear spoiler to increase downforce

The cooling vanes at the rear of the car are there to moderate the temperature of the exhaust system when the owner is getting heavy footed with the accelerator. 

When heat levels rise, the vanes rotate to provide extra cooling for the exhaust. 

‘The Sian Roadster encapsulates the spirit of Lamborghini,’ explained company boss Stefano Domenicali

‘It is the expression of breathtaking design and extraordinary performance, but most importantly embodies important future technologies. 

‘The Sian’s innovative hybrid powertrain heralds the direction for Lamborghini super sports cars, and the open-top Sián Roadster affirms a desire for the ultimate lifestyle Lamborghini as we move towards a tomorrow demanding new solutions.’

The Sián Roadster makes its debut in a colour called 'Blu Uranus'. This is one of the colour options for the speedboat also

The Sián Roadster makes its debut in a colour called ‘Blu Uranus’. This is one of the colour options for the speedboat also

The Sian Roadster is the roofless version of the most powerful Lamborghini ever produced for the road

The Sian Roadster is the roofless version of the most powerful Lamborghini ever produced for the road

Acceleration from 0-162mph takes less than 2.9 seconds, according to Lamborghini's official stats

Acceleration from 0-162mph takes less than 2.9 seconds, according to Lamborghini’s official stats

Lamborghini says the blue paint 'encapsulates the blue of the sky and the green of the fields, evoking the freedom and driving elation delivered by the open top Sián Roadster’s performance'. Whatever you say, Lambo

Lamborghini says the blue paint ‘encapsulates the blue of the sky and the green of the fields, evoking the freedom and driving elation delivered by the open top Sián Roadster’s performance’. Whatever you say, Lambo

Much of the styling – which harks back to legendary models like the Muira and Countach – has been retained from the hard-top version, and are the design features lifted for the speedboat that the Italian brand joint-revealed alongside the Italian Sea Group last week. 

While the new Sian Roadster gets one V12 engine, the superyacht gets two – though 24-litres in capacity – with a combined power output of 3,945bhp (4,000hp). 

They also weigh a massive 2380kg without fluids, which is not only heavier than the Sian but also bulkier than the Lamborghini Urus SUV.

The new-design air vents are produced via 3D printing and allows customisation with a client’s initials, if requested

The new-design air vents are produced via 3D printing and allows customisation with a client’s initials, if requested

Billed as a 'Lamborghini on water', the Tecnomar Lambo yacht measures in at a whopping 63 feet and tips the scales at 24 tonnes

Billed as a ‘Lamborghini on water’, the Tecnomar Lambo yacht measures in at a whopping 63 feet and tips the scales at 24 tonnes

The rear of the boat shares some of the jaw-dropping design from the Sian Roadtser it shares its DNA with

The rear of the boat shares some of the jaw-dropping design from the Sian Roadtser it shares its DNA with 

Top speed for the performance boat is claimed to be over 60 knots, which translates to around 70mph, and the first of just 63 examples built will be delivered next year.

Each one is expected to be priced in excess of $3.4million (£2.7million), which makes the boat cheaper than the car it’s based on, if reports of the Sian Roadster’s asking price are accurate.  

If you wanted to drive your matching hypercar to your hyperyacht docked in the local harbour, the combined cost of having both vehicles is in the region of £6million.  

Not only is there a car-like steering wheel in the boat, the ignition control switch cover is the same as the fighter-jet style feature you find in Lamborghini's range of motor vehicles

Not only is there a car-like steering wheel in the boat, the ignition control switch cover is the same as the fighter-jet style feature you find in Lamborghini’s range of motor vehicles

The hard-top canopy is inspired by Lamborghini's sports cars - and is more than you get with a Sian Roadster. It not not only provides protection from the elements but also contributes to the yacht's aerodynamic performance

The hard-top canopy is inspired by Lamborghini’s sports cars – and is more than you get with a Sian Roadster. It not not only provides protection from the elements but also contributes to the yacht’s aerodynamic performance 

Even the bridge controls have a very Lamborghini feel, including a steering wheel that's just like the ones fitted to the Italian firm's supercars on sale today

Even the bridge controls have a very Lamborghini feel, including a steering wheel that’s just like the ones fitted to the Italian firm’s supercars on sale today

Even subtle details of the boat mirror those of the car. If you wanted both vehicles, you'd have to fork out in the region of £6million

Even subtle details of the boat mirror those of the car. If you wanted both vehicles, you’d have to fork out in the region of £6million

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Councils left with a financial black hole in lost parking charges during pandemic


Councils face ‘economic shock’ after losing MILLIONS of pounds in parking fees and charges during coronavirus, figures show

  • Councils across England are in for an ‘economic shock’ from lost parking income
  • Motorists have been allowed to park for free in town centres during lockdown
  • Authorities are now considering reintroducing charges, though fear it could damage high street recovery
  • AA says profits are commonly used by authorities for road updates and repairs

Councils across England are in for an ‘economic shock’ and could lose almost a billion pounds in parking fees and charges, new figures suggest.

Earnings published by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government today show that local authorities were anticipating to bank more than £885million in parking fees alone this financial year, which runs from April 2020 until next year.

However, lockdown and the suspension of parking charges throughout the coronavirus crisis means councils will not receive the income they budgeted for back in February. 

Councils are currently facing around a £200million blackhole from lost parking income since the lockdown began in mid-March, the data suggests. 

Councils face a financial parking-charge problem: With free town centre parking being offered by councils across the country, authorities are losing millions in fees, new figures show

While many motorists we see the news as a victory for unfair parking costs, the AA has warned that profits are commonly used by authorities for road improvements and pothole repairs. 

The motoring group says the financial loss from parking fees has put councils in a ‘difficult position as they decide what to do next’. 

Motorists have been allowed to park for free across the country during the coronavirus outbreak.

Some authorities have been tempted to reapply charges as quickly as possible to recoup some of the losses, but independent retailers are also calling on councils to keep parking free so they have a better chance of recovery and for the economy to recover from lockdown.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA said: ‘If councils weren’t already under significant pressure, they’ll be bracing themselves even more as they see a huge chunk of their income for the year lost.

‘For being so dependent on this income stream, councils are now stuck at a crossroad; waive the fees entirely and absorb the financial hit, or reapply them and risk hurting, or worse, losing businesses that bring in business rates and jobs in their towns.’ 

The coronavirus lockdown has cost the Treasury more than £2.5billion in lost fuel duty in the first three months of restrictions being put in place, figures have already shown.

Provisional statistics published by HM Revenue and Customs suggest the Government received £4.1billion in duty on petrol and diesel sales between March and May, compared with £6.6billion during the same period in 2019. 

Traffic volumes at the peak of the pandemic in April had plummeted by as much as 80 per cent, though earnings from fuel tax are now back on the increase as more vehicles return to the road.

Cousens said the parking charges dilemma currently being faced by authorities that’s been caused by the Covid-19 pandemic provides a view into the future if UK towns and cities intend to follow through with plans to ban vehicles from entering their centres.

Local councils estimated to pocked £885million in parking fees and charges this financial year

Local councils estimated to pocked £885million in parking fees and charges this financial year

The AA said councils are now at a 'crossroad': do they waive the fees entirely and absorb the financial hit, or reapply them and risk hurting, or worse, losing businesses that bring in business rates and jobs in their towns?

The AA said councils are now at a ‘crossroad’: do they waive the fees entirely and absorb the financial hit, or reapply them and risk hurting, or worse, losing businesses that bring in business rates and jobs in their towns?

Birmingham City Council this year published a draft transport plan that included a proposal to ban car users from making ‘through trips’ to get from one side of city to the other.

Aberdeen, Brighton, Bristol, Dundee and Edinburgh are among other UK locations intending to ban some vehicles from entering their busy centres between now and 2023 – a decision the AA has warned could have serious repercussions for the high streets and economies.

‘This loss of revenue should also act as a wake-up call to towns and cities intent on banning drivers from their centres,’ Cousens added.

‘If they ban cars completely, they need to be prepared to lose a huge chunk of a major income source.’

Ministers have in the last week come under increasing pressure to extend free parking charges for NHS workers their own hospitals.

Healthcare staff were told at the end of March that the government would cover their parking fees for ‘going above and beyond every day’ as they tackled the pandemic.  

Health minister Edward Argar said this week that he is looking at how long the support will ‘need’ to go on – a statement that has angered fellow MPs and doctors’ union who want a permanent exemption from parking fees for hospital staff.

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Welsh MP slams Ineos decision to halt plans for a car factory in Bridgend


The Welsh Government will look to recoup the £4million it has already spent on Ineos’ planned ‘state-of-the-art’ vehicle factory in Bridgend after the car maker announced yesterday that it is considering shifting production to a site in France instead.  

Ineos Automotive – owned by petrolchemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe – confirmed on Tuesday that it is considering scrapping plans to build a car plant in South Wales, where production of the new Grenadier 4X4 was due to begin next year and 500 jobs created.

The Welsh Secretary of State told MPs that Ineos’ decision was linked the government’s ‘inability or unwillingness’ to upgrade the M4 motorway. However, that claim has been shot down by the minister for economy, transport and North Wales as ‘nonsense on stilts’, who went on to add that the decision was Brexit related despite Ratcliffe’s vocal backing for Britain to leave the EU.

Shelved: The South Wales plant would have created 200 new jobs initially, expanding to 500 once production ramps up. Ford’s due-to-close engine plant is the building you can see in the top left of this image

Ineos, which only revealed Grenadier – its first vehicle – a week ago, looks set to shift production of the utilitarian 4X4 across the Channel if it can acquire Damler’s Hambach factory in Moselle, France.

The Welsh site, which is close to Ford’s engine factory in Bridgend, looked set to provide around 200 jobs initially, increasing to 500 once the 4X4 reached full production volumes of around 25,000 units a year. 

With Ford’s neighbouring facility, which employs around 1,700 staff, due to shut down this autumn, Ineos’ plans to bring vehicle production to the area was seen as a welcome boost for many skilled automotive workers seeking employment.

However, the intention to build the offroader in Britain now looks uncertain, as Ineos bosses consider a ready-made facility on the French and German border that is already setup for assembly of large-sized vehicles – despite it currently being used for the manufacture of the dinky Smart ForTwo city car. 

Ineos Automotive commercial director, Mark Tennant, told This is Money that the car maker had spoken to the Welsh government about putting the Bridgend factory decision on hold days before releasing a statement this week.

Proposed UK automotive jobs could be scrapped: Ineos Automotive had previously said it will build its new Grenadier 4X4 at a new 'state-of-the-art' facility in Bridgend, Wales, but this week said it could switch production to France

Proposed UK automotive jobs could be scrapped: Ineos Automotive had previously said it will build its new Grenadier 4X4 at a new ‘state-of-the-art’ facility in Bridgend, Wales, but this week said it could switch production to France

The factory Ineos favours: German carmaker Daimler said on Friday it wanted to sell its factory in Hambach, France (pictured), near Metz and Saarbrücken, as it tries to cut costs.

The factory Ineos favours: German carmaker Daimler said on Friday it wanted to sell its factory in Hambach, France (pictured), near Metz and Saarbrücken, as it tries to cut costs.

He said the decision had been made as the availability of the Hambach factory has only recently come to light. 

Welsh Secretary of State, Simon Hart, claimed Ineos’ actions were a direct result of limited investment in the M4 motorway, which would have been the main transport link for the facility.

Ken Skates, minster for economy, transport and North Wales, hit back in the Senedd today, stating: ‘Any suggestion that the M4 decision influenced Ineos is nothing more than nonsense on stilts.

‘The fact of the matter is the M4 decision was made in the summer of 2019 and the Ineos deal was secured in the autumn of 2019.

Ken Skates MSL Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales

Ken Skates MSL Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales

‘In four years of negotiations with the company, on not one occasion was the M4 raised.

‘It is as about credible a claim as the claim the UK Government’s failure and refusal to electrify the South Wales mainline may have influenced Ineos’s decision.

‘The fact of the matter is that a site became available in France very late last week and in a very short space of time the business decided to go to France rather than remain in Wales.’

Mr Skates confirmed that the government will look to recover the costs already paid out for preparing the proposed Bridgend site if Ineos does take up the option of Daimler’s French factory that’s been put up for sale. 

‘We will be seeking to recoup the £4million that has been spent to date,’ he explained.

‘There is the slightest chance it will still come to Wales but it would require the deal in France to fall through.

‘We will go on working to ensure that as many job opportunities as possible come to Bridgend’s surrounding communities as possible.’

Billionaire owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, could face a public backlash if production of his first car is moved to France. The petrochemicals mogul has been a vehement supporter of Brexit

Billionaire owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, could face a public backlash if production of his first car is moved to France. The petrochemicals mogul has been a vehement supporter of Brexit 

Sir James Dyson was forced to repay the British government £7.8million for a grant his firm had been provided in 2016 for his electric car project - on the proviso it would be a boost to the UK

Sir James Dyson was forced to repay the British government £7.8million for a grant his firm had been provided in 2016 for his electric car project – on the proviso it would be a boost to the UK

Mr Skates said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the Ineos decision as the Welsh Government had invested ‘time, energy and money into this business’.

Former first minister Carwyn Jones, who represents Bridgend, suggested Brexit-supporting businesses had an ‘extra responsibility’ to invest in the UK.

‘Do you agree with me that those who are passionate Brexiteers should be angry at what has happened here because this undermines their passionately held belief that the UK will be better outside the EU?,’ Mr Jones asked.

The minister replied: ‘I agree entirely with Carwyn Jones and say that this decision is somewhat perplexing given the business in question is a supporter of Brexit and there is no doubt whatsoever that Brexit is doing immense damage to the automotive industry and the economy in general.

‘This disappointing news should be reflecting the poor performance of the UK Government in terms of negotiations with our European colleagues to date and should send a very real warning for the state of the automotive sector as we reach the transition period.’

The Grenadier offroader was only unveiled in full last week, revealing a shape very similar to that of the previous-generation Land Rover Defender

The Grenadier offroader was only unveiled in full last week, revealing a shape very similar to that of the previous-generation Land Rover Defender

If Ineos does choose France over Britain, Sir Jim Ratcliffe – a hardened supporter of Brexit – could face a public backlash.

In 2018, Briton’s slammed Sir James Dyson – Britain’s richest man and another pro-Brexit supporter – when he announced intentions to move production of his ill-fated electric car from the UK to Singapore.

The electric SUV project was eventually shelved late last year after the entrepreneur said it was ‘not commercially viable’.

In January, Dyson was forced to repay the British government £7.8million for a grant it had been provided in 2016 for the car project on the proviso it would be a boost to the UK economy.

It was provided as the prospect of developing and building a plug-in passenger car was expected to bring an engineering and employment boom to the firm’s home town of Wiltshire. 

Ineos said it has suspended the post-lockdown resumption of work at sites in Wales and Portugal pending a decision to take over the Hambach plant being sold by Daimler (pictured)

Ineos said it has suspended the post-lockdown resumption of work at sites in Wales and Portugal pending a decision to take over the Hambach plant being sold by Daimler (pictured)

Ineos bosses said the adaptations already made to the production facility would be 'ideally suited' to build the new Grenadier 4X4

Ineos bosses said the adaptations already made to the production facility would be ‘ideally suited’ to build the new Grenadier 4X4

‘Decision not Brexit related’, says Ineos boss

Ineos bosses said the fall-out from the coronavirus has been a factor for the consideration to switch to the factory in France, but Brexit had not.

Mr Tennant insisted in an interview with This is Money that the opportunity of a ready-made site provided by Hambach was the driving factor in the consideration to move production away from the UK. 

‘Brexit was not an issue,’ he said. ‘Brexit has not played a role.

‘We are looking to mitigate risk around timescale. There’s a lot up in the air about a second wave of Covid.’

Mark Tennant, Ineos Automotive commercial director

Mark Tennant, Ineos Automotive commercial director

Months of inactivity at the Bridgend site had also been the cause of some speculation. The firm said that this has been caused by the lockown, which has delayed ground clearance work there by three months.

However, the choreography of unveiling the good news of the vehicle last week then the blow to South Wales today suggests to some in the industry a longer and more directed strategy. 

Mr Tennant said: ‘The Grenadier has got to be a strong commercial proposition. We have to look at existing capacity. We’re still in negotiations.’

If the Hambach option is concluded, production in South Wales and another factory in Portugal will not go ahead, he confirmed. ‘It’s a binary decision,’ he explained,

It was ‘too early’ to talk about any compensation or otherwise to the Welsh authorities who were developing the wider site for businesses, he added. 

Mr Tenant said he was confident that, despite the delays caused by coronavirus, production at the end of 2021 and first sales in 2022 would remain on schedule.

‘Our aspiration is still to start production at the end of 2021 and have the Grenadier on sale early 2022,’ he told us.

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Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

We drive the electric Polestar 2 – a rival to Tesla’s popular Model 3


Now here’s something to get your teeth into.

Serving up the most important fresh dish on their automotive menu, the Swedish style-council behind the modernist Polestar 2 electric car tell me their watchword has been ‘vegan as standard’. 

That means the man-made and plant-based textiles and seat-coverings of the spare but comfortable designer interior are free of any animal hide or hair.

But how does this vegetarian or vegan-inspired zero-emissions five-seater family or executive car costing under £50,000 fare as a rival to Elon Musk’s red-blooded and already established ‘affordable’ Tesla Model 3?

Should Elon Musk and Tesla be concerned? The Polestar 2 has just arrived in the UK. Daily Mail Motoring Editor, Ray Massey, poses with the svelte electric car before taking it for a silent spin

Ray Massey pictured driving the sub-£50,000 Polestar at Milbrook proving grounds in Bedfordshire (before tucking into some vegan food)

Ray Massey pictured driving the sub-£50,000 Polestar at Milbrook proving grounds in Bedfordshire (before tucking into some vegan food)

Today I had a chance to find out as I took one for a spin from the fringes of Surrey to the motor industry’s world-renowned Millbrook proving grounds and test tracks in Bedfordshire where appropriately enough, rising star chef Kirk Haworth was serving a socially-distanced vegan lunch. But as with any dining experience with guests, some introductions are perhaps in order first.

Many people reading this may be asking: ‘Polestar who?’ That’s because Polestar is very much the new kid on the block.

Polestar was once the sporting and racing arm of Sweden’s Volvo with a name reserved for the sportiest models.Now it is now a new stand-alone premium electric car brand owned by Volvo and its Chinese parent, car giant Geely, which bought the Scandinavian manufacturer a decade ago in 2010.

The Polestar electric car range is designed and engineered in Gothenburg and built in China.

Led by chief executive Thomas Ingenlath, Volvo’s former design chief, the firm’s first car out of the blocks in November last year was Polestar 1 – not a pure electric vehicle , but rather a stylish plug-in petrol-electric hybrid coupe of which only 1,500 will be built in left-hand drive only – with a hefty £139,000 price-tag. But this was seen as a ‘halo’ car to get the Polestar brand on the road.

The five-door five-seater Polestar 2 now marks the real start of the brand which from now on will be pure electric.

Though slightly slower, more expensive and with a lower range than the equivalent Tesla 3, it is nevertheless a worthy and keenly priced rival. Watch out too for Audi moving into this competitive market.

There are certainly some clever design and technology quirks in the new Polestar 2 that either surprise or delight – and sometimes both.

The Polestar electric car range is designed and engineered in Gothenburg and built in China, meaning Scandinavian style and high-volume production outputs

The Polestar electric car range is designed and engineered in Gothenburg and built in China, meaning Scandinavian style and high-volume production outputs

The Polestar's biggest rival is this: The Tesla Model 3

The most affordable car in Tesla's range has topped UK registrations charts in April and May, as deliveries continued while the country remained in lockdown

The Polestar’s biggest rival is this: The Tesla Model 3. The most affordable car in Tesla’s range has topped UK registrations charts in April and May, as deliveries continued while the country remained in lockdown

Though slightly slower, more expensive and with a lower range than the equivalent Tesla 3, it is nevertheless a worthy and keenly priced rival

Though slightly slower, more expensive and with a lower range than the equivalent Tesla 3, it is nevertheless a worthy and keenly priced rival 

At first blush you might think from its profile that this a handsomely stylish small saloon car. In fact, thanks to a trick of the designer’s pen, it’s actually a hatchback with a wide and voluminous boot accessed by a lift-up hatch door.

The car doesn’t require a key. Initially a fob will gain you access – either by pressing it, or simply by proximity and putting your hand on the door handle so one or more doors unlock automatically. But soon you’ll be able to download an app to use your smartphone instead.

There’s also some real theatre with ‘welcome’ and farewell ‘sequences’, triggered when locking or unlocking the vehicle – including the front and rear lights. Illuminated ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime and indicator lights are a nod to the Polestar 2’s Volvo family connection.

Ray Massey: 'The five-door five-seater Polestar 2 now marks the real start of the brand which from now on will be pure electric'

Ray Massey: ‘The five-door five-seater Polestar 2 now marks the real start of the brand which from now on will be pure electric’

Charging up to 80% on a high energy DC current takes 40 minutes, though less powerful methods take longer

Charging up to 80% on a high energy DC current takes 40 minutes, though less powerful methods take longer

There are certainly some clever design and technology quirks in the new Polestar 2 that either surprise or delight – and sometimes both

There are certainly some clever design and technology quirks in the new Polestar 2 that either surprise or delight – and sometimes both

At first blush you might think from its profile that this a handsomely stylish small saloon car. In fact, thanks to a trick of the designer’s pen, it’s actually a hatchback with a wide and voluminous boot accessed by a lift-up hatch door

At first blush you might think from its profile that this a handsomely stylish small saloon car. In fact, thanks to a trick of the designer’s pen, it’s actually a hatchback with a wide and voluminous boot accessed by a lift-up hatch door

And when you do get into the vehicle, you don’t need to manually turn it on.

Step inside the clean, chic, cabin and a pressure-sensitive monitor in the driver’s seat fires up the electric motors automatically. Weirdly, there is no button to press. It just starts when you park your backside. It feels very strange, but you simply slot the shift selector into ‘D’ for drive, and you’re ready.

Now brace yourself – and I did – because the near silent Polestar 2 has Concorde-like acceleration but without the noisy roar. 

I was lucky enough to fly a couple of times on the supersonic jet airliner to the USA. Once, the captain advised passengers, with typically British understatement, that take off would be ‘rather sporting’. The seamless electric take-off speed of the Polestar 2 reminded me of this.

You can drive the Polestar 2 with just one foot, without ever – or rarely – having to touch the brakes. 

That’s because there are three settings for the level of braking resistance which, in turn, helps generate more charge for the battery. I found the ‘standard’ setting a bit of a drag – even though it would generate more charge. But ‘low’ felt much smoother and fluid for my driving.

Acceleration for a car weighing more than two tonnes is a rapid 0-to-62mph in just 4.7 seconds up to a top speed of 127mph

Acceleration for a car weighing more than two tonnes is a rapid 0-to-62mph in just 4.7 seconds up to a top speed of 127mph

There are three settings for the level of braking resistance which, in turn, helps generate more charge for the battery. The ‘low’ setting was our favourite: it felt smooth and not overly intrusive

There are three settings for the level of braking resistance which, in turn, helps generate more charge for the battery. The ‘low’ setting was our favourite: it felt smooth and not overly intrusive

Acceleration for a car weighing more than two tonnes is a rapid 0-to-62mph in just 4.7 seconds up to a top speed of 127mph. And whoosh, you can feel it, though the ride can be a tad hard on bumpy roads.

Where it performs best is as a calming motorway cruiser, with welcome bursts of acceleration on tap just when you need them to put BMW drivers back in their box.

Ironically, for an electric car, my one niggle was with charging. not the car itself, but my phone. 

The smartphone charging ports inside the vehicle only accommodate the new USB-C plugs, not the older USBs. 

Step inside the clean, chic, cabin and a pressure-sensitive monitor in the driver’s seat fires up the electric motors automatically

Step inside the clean, chic, cabin and a pressure-sensitive monitor in the driver’s seat fires up the electric motors automatically

Buyers have the option of man-made and plant-based textiles and seat-coverings to make the cabin free of any animal hide or hair

Buyers have the option of man-made and plant-based textiles and seat-coverings to make the cabin free of any animal hide or hair

Polestar 2 is the first car to feature and Android operating system with Google Assist on board and accessible either through voice activation or a large 11-inch touch-screen which dominates the centre console

Polestar 2 is the first car to feature and Android operating system with Google Assist on board and accessible either through voice activation or a large 11-inch touch-screen which dominates the centre console

Drivers can make adjustments to a range of driving models on the move using the enormous tablet-like screen in the centre of the dash

Drivers can make adjustments to a range of driving models on the move using the enormous tablet-like screen in the centre of the dash

So if you have the latter, you are in trouble, as I was, needing to charge up en route. I’m sure it wouldn’t be beyond Polestar to make at least one of them for older USB ports. However, those interested in an electric car right now are probably those more tech-savvy than I am.

Polestar 2 is powered by two 150kW electric motors (300kW in total) developing 408hp linked to a 400-volt 78kWh lithium ion battery and a single-speed automatic all-wheel drive transmission.

Official range is 292 miles (under the new ‘real-world’ WLTP measure) which in theory will get you from London to Newcastle on a single charge – if you can hold your nerve somewhere north of Scotch Corner. 

Charging up to 80 per cent on a high energy DC current takes 40 minutes, though less powerful methods take longer.

Techies take note, Polestar 2 is the first car to feature and Android operating system with Google Assist on board and accessible either through voice activation or a large 11-inch touch-screen which dominates the centre console.

How does it compare to the Tesla Model 3? The cheapest car version is the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, priced at £40,490. However, with a claimed range of 249 miles, it's not on par with the 292 miles offered by the Polestar

How does it compare to the Tesla Model 3? The cheapest car version is the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, priced at £40,490. However, with a claimed range of 249 miles, it’s not on par with the 292 miles offered by the Polestar

There's a small luggage compartment in the front with 35 litres of space. That's enough for a medium-size rucksack

There’s a small luggage compartment in the front with 35 litres of space. That’s enough for a medium-size rucksack

Boot capacity is 405 litres, including 41 litres under floor. Combined with the front storage area, there is 440 litres of luggage space

Boot capacity is 405 litres, including 41 litres under floor. Combined with the front storage area, there is 440 litres of luggage space

So you can link your smartphone, though Apple Car Play is coming later.

The Polestar 2 is built in Luquiao, China and shares its platform with the award-winning Volvo XC40 also manufactured there.

The front grid houses the radar sensor and front camera.

Headlights each feature 84 pixelated LEDs which allow the car to run with maximum forward illumination without blinding up to five oncoming or leading vehicles

Cornering LED front fog lights activate automatically at low speeds when turning.

Design touches include ‘cupless’ door handles that create a slick side profile and feature keyless access sensors to unlock.

Text graphics on each of the front doors are designed to ‘echo technology and fashion labels’ and replace traditional chrome model badging.

The new Polestar 2 is on sale now, cunningly priced at £49,900 – or just £100 under the £50,000 cap at which the Government’s taxpayer-funded plug-in grant ceases to apply

The new Polestar 2 is on sale now, cunningly priced at £49,900 – or just £100 under the £50,000 cap at which the Government’s taxpayer-funded plug-in grant ceases to apply

With the grant, customer pays £46,900, after deduction of the £3,000 subsidy but before options are added

With the grant, customer pays £46,900, after deduction of the £3,000 subsidy but before options are added

Like Tesla, Polestar is selling its car mainly online but also with a network of ‘Polestar Spaces’ – think of an Apple Store - starting with London and Manchester. Most will buy through personal leasing

Like Tesla, Polestar is selling its car mainly online but also with a network of ‘Polestar Spaces’ – think of an Apple Store – starting with London and Manchester. Most will buy through personal leasing

The new Polestar 2 is on sale now, cunningly priced at £49,900 – or just £100 under the £50,000 cap at which the Government’s taxpayer-funded plug-in grant ceases to apply. 

So that means the customer pays £46,900, after deduction of the £3,000 subsidy but before options are added. 

Polestar 2: Will it fit in my garage? 

On sale: now

Price: £46,900 (after deduction of £3,000 plug-in car grant)

Price of model tested: £51,800 (after deduction of £3,000 from £49,900 base price)

Length: 2,735mm

Width: 4,606mm

Height: 1,469mm (1,473mm with Ohlins performance suspension)

Doors: 5

Seats: 5

Kerb weight: 2,123kg

Drive: two 150kW electric motors. Total 300kW.

Power: 408hp

Battery: 400volt, 78kWh lithium ion battery

Transmission: Single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

0-62 mph: 4.7 secs

Top speed: 127mph

Range: 292 miles (WLTP)

CO2: zero emissions/ 0 g/km

Wheels: 19 inch standard, 20 inch option

Charging times, 0-80%: 40 minutes DC current 

Storage: 

Rear: 405 litres (including 41 litres under floor) 

Front: 35 litres

Total: 440 litres

Cargo capacity: 1,090 litres (with sets folded)

Options:: Performance pack: £5,000

How does it compare to the Tesla Model 3? The cheapest car version is the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, priced at £40,490. However, with a claimed range of 249 miles, it’s not on par with the 292 miles offered by the Polestar.

The Tesla Model 3 Long Range has a more accomplished 348 miles between charges and costs £46,990 – which is the more comparable example for the electric-car newcomer. 

If you’re wondering if you have to be ethically-sourced, PC and a tiny bit hair-shirt puritan to buy one ? Not at all.

Otherwise Polestar would not have a leather option and mine came in a fetching light tan called Barley Nappa with a light reconstructed wood which nevertheless added a hefty £4,000 to the price.

But it helped set off a clean and contemporary interior resembling a Scandi-style furniture showroom like BoConcept. A huge panoramic glass roof stretching almost the entire length of the roof lets the light flood in.

Although 19 inch wheels come as standard, the car I drove came with optional 20 inch wheels versions costing £900, pushing the final gross price of my car up to £54,800. But as the £3,000 subsidy applies to the base price only, customers still qualify for it, bringing my car’s price down to £51,800, says Polestar.

Other options on the sparing menu list include metallic paint at £900, and a semi-electric tow-bar with a towing weight of 1.5 tonnes at £1,000.

The optional £5,000 ‘Performance Pack’ includes the 20 inch wheels, 4-piston Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension, and ‘Swedish Gold’ seat-belts, valve caps and brake callipers using the shade used by the Swedish royal family.

Expect next year a two-wheel drive version with a smaller battery costing around £40,000. 

Like Tesla, Polestar is selling its car mainly online but also with a network of ‘Polestar Spaces’ – think of an Apple Store – starting with London and Manchester. Most will buy through personal leasing.

If, after all that, you’re still pondering whether ‘vegan’ Polestar 2 gives you enough automotive red meat to take on a carnivorous Tesla, also in the pipeline is an all-electric Polestar 3 SUV.

Bon appetit.  

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Three months of falling UK petrol prices ended in June


Motorists received a ‘shock to the system’ in June after three months of falling fuel prices came to a halt – just as traffic volumes started to rise again following lockdown. 

The average cost of petrol increased by almost 4p per litre from the start to the end of last month, climbing from 107.1p to 110.9p – while diesel rose by just under 3p-a-litre, from 112.07p to 114.96p.

The increase was partly down to the price of oil strengthening by more than $6 from $35.48 to $41.87. Supermarkets, which had been praised for cutting prices in previous months, reacted by ramping up their charges the most as many returned to the road as part of eased coronavirus measures.

On the rise again: Three months of falling fuel prices ended last month, with the big four supermarkets drivings costs for motorists higher, according to a new report from the RAC

The forecourt rises mean a 55-litre tank of petrol has gone up by £2 to £60.97 –  though is still £9 less it cost back in January.

The price rise was described as a ‘blow to drivers’ who have got used to seeing some unusually low forecourt charges since the start of lockdown. 

The global coronavirus travel restrictions led to oil crashing to $13.21 a barrel in late April, which in turn caused the price of a litre of petrol to come down to an average low of 106.48p and diesel to 111.8p on 19 May. 

This was brought about by Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all offering unleaded for prices around – and below – the magic £1-a-litre mark from mid-May to the start of June. 

Diesel’s average low at the supermarkets was 105.5p over the same period – in which far fewer motorists were on the road due to the lockdown. 

However, it was the big four supermarkets that appear to have been the key drivers forcing prices higher last month, now that traffic volumes are returning to pre-Covid levels.

Morrisons had been charging 99.7p-a-litre for petrol at fuel stations across the UK (including this one in Littlehampton, West Sussex) at the start of June. By the end of the month, the price of petrol at the supermarket's forecourts has jumped to 106.7p

Morrisons had been charging 99.7p-a-litre for petrol at fuel stations across the UK (including this one in Littlehampton, West Sussex) at the start of June. By the end of the month, the price of petrol at the supermarket’s forecourts has jumped to 106.7p

According to the RAC Fuel Watch report, the most marked increases were seen at Morrisons filling stations. 

It went from having the cheapest petrol and diesel at the start of June to the most expensive of the major supermarkets, putting up both fuels by 7p-a-litre with unleaded going from 99.7p to 106.7p and diesel from 104.7p to 111.49p. 

Asda also increased its petrol price steeply by adding 6.5p, pushing up a litre from 99.91p to 106.42p. 

This means that, by the end of June, Sainsbury’s had both the cheapest supermarket petrol and diesel at 104.42p and 109.01p respectively.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘The pump price rises witnessed in June will have been a nasty shock to the system for drivers. 

‘While those who continued to drive regularly throughout the pandemic will have benefitted from some very low prices, millions won’t have so will be disappointed that just as they start to drive more again prices are on the up. 

‘It is, of course, the lack of demand for fuel which caused prices to drop in the first place so sadly it’s no great surprise that they’re on the rise again now.’

Sainsbury's had both the cheapest supermarket petrol and diesel at 104.42p and 109.01p respectively by the end of last month

Sainsbury’s had both the cheapest supermarket petrol and diesel at 104.42p and 109.01p respectively by the end of last month

The average price of fuel increased most in Scotland, climbing from 105.9p at the start of June and ending the month at 110.6p-a-litre

The average price of fuel increased most in Scotland, climbing from 105.9p at the start of June and ending the month at 110.6p-a-litre

London has the highest petrol and diesel prices on average for the whole of the country. Unleaded is up to 112.1p-a-litre on average while diesel rose from 113.8p to 116.2p

London has the highest petrol and diesel prices on average for the whole of the country. Unleaded is up to 112.1p-a-litre on average while diesel rose from 113.8p to 116.2p

While prices are today than they have been since March, the RAC said that drivers should take some comfort from the fact that both petrol and diesel are a whopping 17p-a-litre cheaper than they were at the beginning of 2020. 

That means a tank of fuel is on average £9 less than it was at the end of January. 

The RAC estimates that petrol prices could rise another 2p per litre by the middle of July. However, drivers of diesel cars should see smaller increases in the next two weeks. 

‘Oil producer group OPEC and its allies are continuing to restrict output which has successfully driven up the barrel price and that can only mean one thing for drivers in the coming weeks – higher prices,’ Williams added.

‘This is confirmed by RAC Fuel Watch data which shows that petrol is likely to go up by 2p-a-litre in the next fortnight. 

‘Diesel, however, shouldn’t rise much at all unless retailers use the saving in its slightly lower wholesale price to subsidise petrol.’

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