Category Archives: Auto Loans

SEAT Offers 3 Years Of Worry-Free Motoring

SEAT Ireland has unveiled a quintet of special offers to take the stress out of buying a new car in 2013. The SEAT brand is enjoying a renaissance in Ireland, with two new models set to arrive in showrooms in the coming months: the generously-proportioned new Toledo, which goes on sale in November, and an all-new Leon, due to arrive in 2013.

However, SEAT customers won’t have to wait to avail of a host of new car offers. Buyers of all new SEAT cars from the newly revamped range can avail of 3% finance, one of the lowest rates available from any lender, as well as 3 years of free servicing which will take much of the worry out of both purchasing and owning a new car in 2013. Additionally, SEAT is offering 3 years roadside assistance, a 3 year car warranty and, for cars ordered before December 21st, there will be 3,000km of free fuel.

“In these challenging times customers will naturally look for a value proposition and we were able to realign all of our product range and add 10-15% of additional value either through price reductions or additional specification,” said Adam Chamberlain, Brand Director of SEAT Ireland. “Now, alongside a great product proposition, consumers have got very strong offers to allow them to have worry-free motoring for 3 years. Our cars are now more affordable and with these offers the SEAT range now offers truly great cars at great prices.”

More information can be found at www.seat.ie.

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SEAT unveils the new Ibiza CUPRA

SEAT officially raises the bar in the supermini class with the introduction of the sensational Ibiza CUPRA. First shown as a concept during April’s Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, the Ibiza CUPRA is now unveiled in barely touched production form.

Performance is scintillating, with a 0-62mph time of just 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 142 mph, yet exceptionally efficient, with average fuel consumption of 47.9 mpg.

Due to arrive in the UK in January 2013, the new car follows more than 16 years of heritage. The CUPRA name was born in 1996 as a special, top-of-the-line Ibiza built to commemorate SEAT’s World Rally Championship victory in the 2.0-litre category. Since then a CUPRA has always featured in the SEAT model line-up, with the name adorning both the Ibiza and Leon ranges.

“The Ibiza CUPRA is one of the icons of the SEAT brand,” said James Muir, President of SEAT S.A. “Its stunning design and refined dynamics promise driving fun mile-for-mile. With its innovative technologies, upgraded interior and further improved quality, the new Ibiza CUPRA clearly shows how quickly and consistently our brand is continuing to develop.”

Powered by a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine that develops 180 PS and 250 Nm, owing to a turbocharger and a supercharger as well as direct injection, the latest Ibiza CUPRAhatchback is truly worthy of the name, and begins the next chapter of the CUPRA success story.

The TSI power unit guarantees exceptionally refined performance during day-to-day driving, while a unique sound actuator in the exhaust system allows for an extra sporty sound when the driver desires it. The seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic transmission with its extremely short shift times can be operated via paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

The chassis of the Ibiza CUPRA has been tuned for maximum agility and precision. The ride height has been lowered compared to the standard car. An XDS electronic differential lock reduces the tendency to under steer and improves handling through fast corners, and an ESP electronic stability system incorporating hill start is part of the safety package that comes as standard on the Ibiza CUPRA. The car has been awarded the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test.

The new Ibiza CUPRA is a dynamic supermini with a solid and powerful stance. The new face gets a broad grille and very forceful air intakes to emphasise the breadth, solidity and power of the car. The sophisticated design of the front headlamps shows the attention to detail inherent with SEAT workmanship.

The entertainment system in the Ibiza CUPRA is completely new and the high-performance audio system is enhanced by the innovative SEAT Portable System. The highly functional unit is removable for mobile use yet perfectly integrated into the vehicle electronics system. Its extensive functions include a navigation system, Bluetooth audio streaming, a Micro SD card slot for music storage, hands-free phone system with voice control, and an on-board computer.

Additionally, a ‘photo frame’ facility allows users to personalise their system with images, while a useful ‘notepad’ function allows occupants to set handy reminders, and the screen can act as a torch for users when they leave the car at night.

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SEAT Invests £650m In New Leon Production

SEAT has started production of the new Leon hatchback at its factory in Martorell, Spain. The all-new model is the result of an overall investment of 800 million euros (c. £650m), primarily in vehicle research and development, and production facilities.

The stunning new SEAT Leon, which was unveiled at September’s Paris Motor Show, will drive the international expansion of SEAT and will increase production at the Martorell plant, where it will be built alongside the Ibiza, Altea, and Exeo – together with the Audi Q3.

The five-door hatchback is the first of the new Leon model family, which by 2014 will include a sleek three-door variant and a practical five-door estate. This approach mimics the blueprint of the hugely successful Ibiza range, and will help the Leon become a key competitor in the compact segment in Europe – which accounts for 38% of total car sales.

The production of the new Leon is not only great news for family car buyers, it’s also a big boost to the economy, ensuring 1,600 jobs on the Martorell production line plus more than 6,000 throughout the supply chain.

Dr. Andreas Tostmann, SEAT Executive Vice President for Production, said: “With the new Leon we have increased productivity by 10% and become more flexible, thus guaranteeing optimisation of production costs.”

Together, the first two generations of the Leon achieved total global sales of 1.2 million units, beginning with 1999’s original model and continuing with 2005’s second generation car. SEAT expects a continuation of this success story when sales of the all-new car begin this year in Europe. UK sales begin early 2013 – a year that will also see the global motor show debuts of the three-door and estate versions.

The new SEAT Leon is underpinned by the Volkswagen Group’s latest MQB modular transverse platform, providing a significant reduction in manufacturing time compared with the second generation Leon.

The platform also offers greater flexibility, enabling production of the three versions of the Leon as well as Altea variants all on the same line. SEAT has also adapted its manufacturing processes to ensure the highest levels of precision and quality, by the use of latest-generation technologies such as laser welding and measurement, as well as hot stamping.

The new Leon is the first all-new production vehicle to display SEAT’s latest design language, and signals an enormous step forward for the brand, equipped with a host of ground-breaking technology for improved safety and enhanced connectivity; it is the first in its class to offer full LED headlights as an option.

It is 90 kilograms lighter and 52 millimetres shorter than its predecessor, improving fuel consumption and handling, yet it has more interior passenger space and luggage capacity. Every new Leon from launch is equipped with Start/Stop technology for greater efficiency – on average it consumes 15% less fuel than the previous generation.

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SEAT reveals the all new Leon

James Muir, President of SEAT S.A, has unveiled the all-new SEAT Leon for the first time at the Volkswagen Group Media Evening. He declared that, “the New Leon requires no compromise from the customer.”

The SEAT President also used the Volkswagen Group Media Evening to unveil the company’s new logo, which has been introduced to coincide with the new Leon’s introduction. “The new Leon will be the first SEAT to wear our new company logo. The new SEAT logo reflects our commitment to clean, precise design and unparalleled engineering excellence,” he explained.

Competing in the fiercely competitive European medium hatchback car sector, the all-new Leon is the first production vehicle to feature SEAT’s new design language, previewed on the IBE, IBX and IBL concept cars. The new Leon will feature a host of innovative technologies to help safety and connectivity, as well as being the first car in its segment to offer full LED lights. The interior features the highest level of craftsmanship, as well as the latest soft-touch materials.

The new Leon is built on the Volkswagen Group’s new MQB platform and is 90kg lighter and despite being 52mm shorter than its predecessor, has more interior space. A range of six petrol and four diesel engines are available, guaranteeing an engine choice to meet all customer preferences. The new Leon will feature engine Start/Stop technology and the most efficient engine option will emit just 99g of Co2.

The new model is the third iteration of Leon and previous generations have earned a reputation for delivering a rewarding and interactive driving experience and the new generation will continue that pattern, thanks to the lighter overall weight and longer wheelbase.

The new model will be manufactured at SEAT’s base in Martorell, near Barcelona in Spain. In total, 1.2 millions Leons have been sold to date since the first model was introduced in 1999.

The first markets to introduce the new Leon will be Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with sales beginning before the end of November.

James Muir also confirmed that the new Leon will become a family of cars. He said: “For the first time ever, the Leon range will expand to include a three-door and sports tourer versions. They will expand the Leon’s appeal as well as its reach within the segment.”

The new Leon arrives in SEAT’s range during the busiest period of new product activity in the company’s history. SEAT’s product offensive has seen the introduction of its new city car, the Mii, as well as an extensively refreshed Ibiza and the recent introduction of the Toledo five-door sedan.

James Muir underlined that the future success of SEAT would also be built on market expansion. He said: “Coupled with our strategy of market expansion, which saw SEAT launch in China earlier this year, SEAT’s future success will be built on new products, in more segments, in more markets.”

The company also points out that it’s the perfect time to buy a new car in Ireland, with the limited edition offer of 3,000KM of free fuel, 3% financing, 3 years warranty, 3 years roadside assistance, 3 year free servicing all available on orders before 21.12.12.

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President of Volkswagen AG reiterates the commitment of the group to Spain

Dr. Martin Winterkorn, president of the Volkswagen AG Board of Directors, has participated in the Hispano-German Entrepreneurs Meeting, which took place in the executive headquarters of the government, and which counted on the presence of the President of Government, Mariano Rajoy, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

“Volkswagen will continue its close link with Spain in the future,” assured Dr. Winterkorn during his address before the heads of the principal German and Spanish companies. According to the president of the Volkswagen Group, Spain has played an exemplary role in the last few weeks, having taken brave but successful decisions. “Of course, results are not achieved from one day to the next, but the direction is the correct one. I am sure that they will be achieved,” he added.

The President of the Volkswagen AG Board of Directors highlighted the role of the Group within the automobile industry in Spain: “The activities of our Group represent 25% of the Spanish automotive industry and, with the SEAT brand, Volkswagen and Audi, we are among the companies with the highest volume of business in Spain. Besides, we are the major industrial investor in the area of research and development, and we employ more than 18,000 people between the factories of Pamplona and SEAT Martorell.”

Regarding the current situation of the automobile market Dr. Winterkorn pointed out:
“It is true that SEAT is especially suffering the steep drop of the domestic Spanish market, but it is also true that it has the product and the adequate team, so that when the market recuperates, the brand will grow exponentially. SEAT will continue to be a fundamental element in the global strategy of the Volkswagen Group,” he added.

Dr. Winterkorn also made reference to “the high rate of youth unemployment,” which poses “a complicated mortgage upon the future of Europe. Facing it should be the political as well as the economic objective.” He also confirmed the commitment of the company to future generations: “With the ‘Start Up Europe’ Program, we are creating professional opportunities for young engineers. And also here in Spain we are manifesting our commitment with the implementation of dual training,” he said.

“The Volkswagen Group is a perfect example for demonstrating that the ‘European Idea’ has future potential. We have 12 brands in 7 countries of the EU that work together successfully. At Volkswagen, we believe in Europe. And we are willing to give our support so that Spanish and European industries can be strong and solvent in the future,” he concluded.

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SEAT Leon to debut at Paris Motor Show

SEAT is set to unveil the most important new model in its recent history at the 2012 Mondial de l’Automobile – the all-new Leon.

Combining effortless beauty with greater practicality than its two preceding generations, the new Leon is the most advanced car that SEAT has ever produced and a landmark for the Spanish company. The introduction of the new Leon makes the 2012 Paris Motor Show an epoch-defining event for SEAT, during which the first of a new model family is introduced – a family that will extend the Leon’s reach further than ever before.

And with the official introduction of the new, production-ready Toledo hatchback, SEAT really does have compact family car segment covered. The new Toledo boasts an incredible amount of cabin space and a 550-litre boot, wrapped in a compact body shell and with a price that’s more supermini than family car.

Alongside the two new cars, SEAT will also display the exciting Mii FR Line Concept. First shown at the 2012 GTI Treffen event in Worthersee, Austria, the Mii FR Line Concept alludes to how the city car could look were it to become available in FR trim.

Finally, the Paris Motor Show represents the official market introduction of SEAT’s new corporate identity, which brings a more modern, streamlined look to the existing ‘S’ logo found on the grille and tailgate of every SEAT model. It will be used first on the new Leon, before being rolled out to the entire range from 2013.

Speaking about SEAT’s presence at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, UK Director Peter Wyhinny said: “We’re hugely excited about what we have in store for this year’s Paris show. The all-new Leon is a remarkable car, oozing Spanish flair but bursting with technology and offering genuine versatility. We can’t wait to show it in the metal so that its beauty and presence can really be appreciated, and beyond that we’re eagerly anticipating getting people behind the wheel so they can feel just how dynamic this car really is.

“In addition, the introduction of the new, fourth-generation Toledo is a big step for us, because it gives our customers the chance to own a car with unique visual appeal but that packs a practicality punch way above its compact size and price. Its five-door hatchback layout brings the model back to the spirit of the ground-breaking original, which was a huge success. We’re convinced that buyers will take this new Toledo to their hearts.

“And with the stunning Mii FR Line Concept sitting on our Paris show stand too, alluding to a sportier future for the sensational city car, there are good times ahead for SEAT. Adding the new Leon and Toledo to models like the Mii, the Exeo and the multi-award winning Alhambra, the SEAT line-up is bigger, better and more exciting than ever before and there’s much more to come.”

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Honesty Not The Policy In Sydney Car Parks

Touch parking is on the rise in Sydney suburbs with nearly 70 per cent of drivers having had their car damaged while it was parked, research by NRMA Insurance has found*.

The insurer’s claims data also shows that the Inner City is the place where you’re most likely to return to your parked vehicle and find it damaged with no note, followed by the Inner West and Eastern Suburbs.

“Our research showed that a note is left by the offending driver in less than nine per cent of cases”, said NRMA Insurance spokesperson Andrew Tubb.

“Sometimes people may not realise they’ve hit another vehicle or maybe they think it’s such a gentle hit they haven’t done any damage”.

“Although a lot of drivers do not own up to hitting a parked car, there are a lot of witnesses to touch parking – two in three people have seen a car connect with another car while trying to park in a tight spot.”

And with increased residents and limited parking spots in many Sydney suburbs, touch parking is likely to be an ongoing issue for NSW drivers.

“We think that at times maybe out of frustration, drivers may try to squeeze their car into a tight spot to rush to their destination”.

“No matter what the reason, if drivers do accidently hit a car while parking, we’re encouraging them to do the right thing and leave a note – you never know when you might be on the receiving end and find your car damaged,” Mr Tubb said.

NRMA Car Insurance offers some tips to try and avoid touch parking:
– If you hit a parked car, do the right thing and leave a note with your details;
– If you witness a collision, pass on any information you have to the innocent party;
– When looking for a parking spot, consider the size of the park and if there is adequate space for your vehicle; and
– If you have a passenger, ask them to get out and guide you into the parking spot.

* Based on a survey of 450 NSW drivers by Pure Profile Research & on NRMA Insurance car claims data for the financial years 2008-2011.

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SEAT Brings in Dual Vocation Training System

SEAT has announced it will replace the current training system in its Apprentices School with a dual one, based on the German system. This will combine theory and practice, and provide students with solid professional experience. The new syllabus will increase the number of hours by 57% (from 2,950 to 4,625) in comparison to the current system, and gives equal importance to training and work in terms of hours.

The new dual training model at SEAT’s Apprentices School will be a three-year course of study. Students will sign a training and apprenticeship contract, and all will receive a monthly payment. First-year apprentices will receive 250 Euros, second-year students 420 Euros, and third-year students 530 Euros.

Josef Schelchshorn, SEAT’s Vice-president for Human Resources, expressed his great satisfaction at the introduction in Spain of a system similar to the German one. “The project means a quantum leap in quality for our School. We are broadening and improving the training of apprentices before they join SEAT, while at the same time forging closer links with the world of work”.

Schelchshorn added that, “it is a matter of great pride for SEAT to be able to contribute to Spanish society in the form of quality training and employment.”

To date SEAT has been offering two years of Middle Grade vocational training cycle, completed with an additional one-year training course to provide students with better qualifications before joining SEAT. The syllabus now becomes broader: 1,700 work-hours are included in one of the company’s production plants, whereas to date 600 hours had been devoted to practical work in workshops. Productive practical work is also introduced in the training centre itself in order to respond to the needs of some company technical departments, allowing students to put their theoretical knowledge to practical use.

Also, first-year students will be provided with 160 hours of hands-on in-factory training in July, to which a total number of 200 hours for English language training will be added in the second and third years, as well as the continuous specialised training offered to those workers already on the SEAT workforce. Each apprentice will also have a personal tutor for the duration of the apprenticeship.

For the current academic year 2012-2013, SEAT will have an intake of 61 new first-year student apprentices, chosen from a record number of 400 applicants for the centre. As has been the case to date, once the apprentices have successfully concluded their three-year course of study, they will be entitled to join SEAT on a long-term contract. Thanks to the new contractual relationship provided by dual training, the students’ links and identification with the company will be strengthened, while at the same time increasing the attractiveness of both the centre itself and of SEAT as an employer.

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SEAT Sets Its Sights on Russia

SEAT has announced the reinforcement of its presence in Russia while strengthening its international expansion plans. The Spanish company, participating in the Moscow Motor Show, has opened a new chapter hand-in-hand with the Volkswagen Group importer to profit from the experience of the company in this market.

So far this year SEAT has doubled the size of its network in Russia, and already has 22 dealerships there, located in Moscow and St. Petersburg, plus other major cities such as Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and Rostov-on-Don. SEAT will open three new dealerships before the year’s end, bringing the total number to 25. The aim of opening further dealerships is to cover most of the regions of the European part of the country.

SEAT President and Executive Committee Chairman James Muir stated Russia is yet another example of company’s strategy to open up new markets. He said: “We see great potential for SEAT in markets like Russia. Great design, high quality, outstanding engineering and innovative technology bring something new and fresh to the dynamic Russian automotive market.”

“The Moscow Motor Show represents a key stepping stone in the ambitions of SEAT in Russia,” Muir concluded.

At the Moscow Motor Show – the country’s most important annual automotive industry event – SEAT has announced the growth of the product range in Russia with the start of sales of the Alhambra MPV this autumn. The Alhambra is in addition to the three models currently marketed in Russia: three versions of the Ibiza (3-door SC, 5-door, and ST estate), the Leon hatchback, and the crossover SEAT Altea Freetrack, all of which are built at the Martorell plant on the outskirts of Barcelona.

Besides these four models, SEAT is also displaying the IBX, a hybrid crossover concept car than won accolades from the press and public at last year’s Geneva Motor Show for its winning combination of design and outstanding versatility.

Since Russia is a priority market for SEAT in both the short- and long-term, it has its own infrastructure in Moscow in charge of rolling out the development plan. Russia is a country with strong growth potential, and which aspires to make itself the largest car market in Europe over the next few years. In 2011 more than 2.6 million cars were sold – a figure beaten only by Germany (almost 3.2 million units) – and sales have grown 14.3% during the first half of 2012, exceeding 1.4 million vehicles.

SEAT exports about four of every five cars it manufactures to 75 different countries. One of its aims is to increase this percentage by opening up new markets, including China, where marketing activities began last April. During the first half of 2012 SEAT has achieved strong growth in Mexico (10,214 cars sold, +20.5%), Algeria (5,191, +150.0%) and Israel (3,787, 85.7%). The company has also improved its deliveries over the same period in such competitive European markets as Germany (28,404, +8.0%), the United Kingdom (19,763, +6.8%) and Switzerland (4,159, +19.4%).

In parallel, this year the Spanish brand finds itself in the full flood of an unprecedented product offensive. Over the next few months the return of the Toledo and the new Leon will be added to the Mii and the new Ibiza, already on sale. Growth in the number of models will enable SEAT to broaden its market coverage and provide it with the optimal basis for continued growth in its export markets.

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Drivers Ending The Working Week With A Bang

With research from NRMA Insurance showing Friday is the worst day of the week for a collision, the insurer is calling for drivers to stay alert at the wheel especially as they head into the weekend*.

The insurer’s data showed that collisions on a Friday spiked by 17 per cent above the weekly average and Sunday is the least likely day to have a collision. The peak hour times of 3pm to 5pm during the week are the worst time for a collision and 11am to 1pm on the weekend.

NRMA Insurance spokesperson Damien Butler said the data was a timely reminder to drivers to focus on the road while they’re at the wheel particularly on a Friday and during peak hour traffic.

“People may be starting to unwind for the weekend and be distracted on a Friday, which contributes to them being at higher risk of a collision.

“In the afternoon, drivers may be rushing home from work, hurrying to collect their kids from school or heading away for the weekend and not taking extra care while driving.

“We want to urge drivers to focus on the road, be aware of traffic conditions and to stay calm while driving to help prevent the worst happening,” Mr Butler said.

In the event of a collision, NRMA Car Insurance recommends drivers:

– Stop immediately and give assistance to anyone who is injured;
– Call an ambulance if required;
– Call the police if a person has been injured, the other party fails to stop and/or supply details, a vehicle has to be towed, a driver appears under the influence of drugs or alcohol or there is damage to property;
– Exchange details, including date, time and location, name and residential address of the person involved and the owner of the vehicle, licence and registration details, make and model of the cars involved and insurance details;
– Collect the details of any witnesses and police in attendance; and
– Contact your insurer.

* Based on NRMA Insurance comprehensive motor claims data for the 2011 calendar year.

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Driven To Distraction By Mobile Phones

With over 40 per cent of NSW drivers using their mobile phone while at the wheel, NRMA Insurance is calling for drivers to focus on the road to avoid being at higher risk of a collision*.

Recent NRMA Insurance research shows drivers are continuing to take risks by using their mobile phone while driving, with:

88 per cent making phone calls;
68 per cent texting and reading emails;
40 per cent using applications – e.g. checking the weather forecast, news headlines;
38 per cent taking photos; and
25 per cent updating their status or tweeting.

NRMA Car Insurance spokesperson Adele Buhagiar said the results were concerning, as they showed drivers were still putting themselves at increased risk of a collision, despite the safety warnings.

“The research shows that our appetite for technology extends to while we are driving, with one in four admitting that they are updating their status or tweeting while at the wheel. This is up from one in ten last year.

“We were surprised to see that people are even risking taking photos while driving. Losing focus while behind the wheel, even if it is only for a split second, may cause the worst to happen,” said Ms Buhagiar.

It is illegal to drive a vehicle while using a hand-held mobile phone in NSW, with the penalty a significant fine and three demerit points**.

Ms Buhagiar added “We urge all NSW drivers to be alert on the roads and if you need to make a call or send a message, we suggest you pull over in a safe place before using the phone.”

* Based on a survey of 415 NSW drivers by Pure Profile Research in January 2012.
** www.rta.nsw.gov.au

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Small Cars – Walking Pace Wrecks

A range of top selling small cars cost up to 70 per cent of their new purchase price to repair when involved in a walking-pace speed collision.

NRMA Insurance put the spotlight on the nine top selling small vehicles in Australia to see how their bumpers performed when involved in a collision.

The insurer is urging consumers to consider repair costs when looking for a new car as they can have an impact on their insurance premium.

“We tested the front and rear bumpers of each vehicle by simulating a low speed crash which is the most common type of crash on our roads,” NRMA Insurance Head of Research Robert McDonald said.

“Even travelling at only 10 km/h, we found many of the cars had poor-performing bumper design which resulted in high collision repair costs.

“Our test shows the importance of insurance, as well as serving as a reminder that your car choice could impact your premium. We determine whether it is economical to repair a car after a collision based on the damage and the percentage of the new purchase price it costs to repair the car.”

Mr McDonald said the test revealed a vast difference in repair costs across the range of top selling small vehicles.

“Of the vehicles tested, repair costs for a rear collision range from around $1,200 on one car to more than $7,600 on another.”

When comparing damage for a front and rear collision, the Toyota Yaris and the Honda Jazz were the most expensive to repair. The Yaris cost $13,440 to repair — 70.8 per cent of its new purchase price — and the Jazz cost $13,754 — 69.5 per cent of its new purchase price.

The best performer in the test was the Holden Barina, which had a repair cost for a front and rear collision of $2,574 or 14.3 per cent of its new purchase price.

“Poorly designed bumpers can slide under other bumpers on impact, causing more damage to both vehicles in a collision. Because of its effective bumper design, the Barina did not suffer structural damage and the damage was isolated to the bumper components,” Mr McDonald said.

“It is possible to have effective bumpers on small cars that protect the more expensive parts like headlights and the radiator.”

The NRMA Insurance low speed crash test program was designed to urge car manufacturers to make improvements to bumper bar design to help keep the cost of collision repairs affordable.

The crash apparatus uses a ‘roller coaster’ type device to simulate a 10 km/h collision which replicates impact with another car, allowing NRMA Insurance to accurately compare the costs of repairs. The tests were completed at the NRMA Insurance Research Centre in Sydney.

The NRMA Insurance low speed crash test program is a collision repair cost test and is not an indicator of vehicle safety features. All of these cars, except the Nissan Micra, have been awarded five stars in ANCAP safety rating.

Additional information can be found at http://www.nrma.com.au/small-cars-walking-pace-wrecks

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SEAT Delivers Three Electric Cars to Barcelona

SEAT recently delivered three new electric cars to Barcelona where the vehicles will be tested by Barcelona City Hall in its municipal car fleet for an initial six-month trial period, during which SEAT will gather information and assess performance prior to mass production of electric vehicles. With the hybrid and electric vehicles, SEAT is developing two different technologies, placing the company in an optimal position to respond to market demand.

Ramón Paredes, Executive Vice-president for Governmental and Institutional Relations at SEAT and the Volkswagen Group in Spain, declared that “once more SEAT is showing its links to emblematic projects such as development of the electric car for the future of the country”. He also underscored the fact that “we are the only brand with the capacity to think through, develop and produce an electric vehicle in Spain.”

Dr. Matthias Rabe, SEAT Executive Vice-president for R&D commented: “Delivering these electric vehicles to institutional fleets covers a new stage in our electric motoring strategy.

“SEAT’s future is electric and we are opting for diversification of alternative technologies so as to cater to different motoring needs.”

Within the framework of this strategy, SEAT has loaned one e-Altea XL to Endesa, and another to the Catalan Energy Institute (ICAEN); a further two TwinDrive – one to each of the two organisations mentioned – will be made available over the forthcoming weeks. The company is immersed in the first stage of the introduction of an electric car and envisages the loan of further vehicles to different governmental departments, institutions, and private companies interested in eco-friendly fleets over the forthcoming months.

The Altea XL Electric Ecomotive and the Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive are two vehicles with different but complementary technologies. The Altea XL Electric Ecomotive can be used in wide variety of different circumstances, and for that reason is SEAT’s first all-electric car. It has a range of 135 kilometres, a power output of 115 hp (85kW), an engine torque of 270 Nm and a top speed of 135 kph. Of the several new features found on it, two of the most striking are battery location under the rear seats and the boot, meaning no reduction in passenger compartment space, and the photovoltaic panels on the roof, cutting energy requirements for the vehicle’s air-conditioning.

The Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive couples the advantages of emission-free driving to the range of a conventional petrol-engine car. The TwinDrive allows for all-electric or hybrid driving, meaning no change whatsoever in driving habits or life style for customers. It has a range of 52 kilometres in electric mode, with a top speed of 120 kph. In mixed mode (electric and combustion) consumption is 1.7 litres, emissions are under 39 g/km, and top speed is 170 kph.

SEAT’s commitment to sustainable motoring and environmental protection extends to other brand vehicles already on the market. SEAT has a long track record of producing low-emission cars – for the record, 70% of cars marketed in Spain have emissions below 130 g/km of CO2.

Additionally SEAT is involved in other projects to promote electrical motoring in Spain. One of them – headed by SEAT – is CENIT VERDE, a public-private initiative comprising companies from different sectors, universities and research centres, and backed by the Spanish government. This project takes a global approach to research into the foundations for a successful introduction of the electric car in Spain.

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SEAT Announces Significant Expansion In China

SEAT has announced it is committed to expanding its activities in China, following its strong presence at the Beijing Motor Show and the unveiling of SEAT showrooms in eight major Chinese cities on 24 April 2012.

Sporty leisure vehicles with a high degree of functionality are currently experiencing a considerable increase in demand in China. Following the market launch of the Leon, SEAT continued its response to the rapidly growing Chinese car market by showcasing the new Ibiza CUPRA Concept at the Beijing Motor Show. Making its world premiere at the event, the Ibiza CUPRA Concept is a close-to-production taster of the new generation of this sporty brand icon.

SEAT also featured the award-winning Alhambra. Using the Beijing Motor Show as an opportunity to gauge initial public reaction, the Alhambra could join the SEAT line-up in China in 2013, also as an import model produced in Europe.

James Muir, Chairman of SEAT, said: “SEAT has arrived in China. We are launching our success story on this market with our state-of-the-art, attractive city showrooms and with the SEAT Leon as the entry model.

“Here in China, we are observing a groundswell of increasingly discerning customers that want to differentiate themselves with their cars. SEAT stands for emotional design and state-of-the-art engineering, for guaranteed driving fun mile-for-mile. Our unique combination of design and performance, of technology and precision secures for us an enormous potential within this key marketplace.”

At the Beijing Motor Show, SEAT’s show stand displayed the new SEAT corporate identity. Characterised by a bright, expansive design, with, warm and welcoming colours, it reflected the design philosophy and the core values of the Spanish brand – clear, precise and distinctive in a highly attractive way.

All the new showrooms in China were designed in line with this new brand identity, which is scheduled for implementation worldwide. The cities to receive showrooms were: Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Wuhan and Zhengzhou.

The SEAT dealer network in China has planned to expand further over the next few months, reaching 15 operations by the end of 2012. This summer will see showrooms open in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanning, Xi’an und Xiamen, with Beijing and Shanghai following.

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SEAT reveals Ibiza CUPRA Concept

SEAT has presented its Ibiza CUPRA Concept at a recent Volkswagen Group media event that signals the start of the Beijing International Motor Show. The Ibiza CUPRA was showcased as a close-to-production concept car that heralds a new generation of the iconic CUPRA model.

The Ibiza CUPRA shows the SEAT DNA in its most concentrated form: amazing performance, the latest technology and comprehensive equipment clad in an emotional design that has been consistently developed. With its compact form, the Ibiza CUPRA Concept is a sports car for every day, combining agile driving fun with a high degree of functionality. The series-production model of the new Ibiza CUPRA will arrive towards the end of 2012.

With its 132 kW / 180 hp engine, seven-speed DSG transmission with shift paddles, XDS electronic differential lock and high-performance brakes, the Ibiza CUPRA Concept aims to showcase high technological competence.

James Muir, Chairmanof SEAT, said: “With its new, powerfully accentuated design, its innovative technologies, upgraded interior and further improved quality, the new Ibiza CUPRA Concept clearly shows how our brand is continuing to develop.

“Emotional design and refined dynamics guarantee driving fun on every single kilometre. We are presenting the Ibiza CUPRA Concept at the Beijing Motor Show because this compact athlete will be an important element in the development of our brand in this key market.”

The first generation of the Ibiza CUPRA took to the streets in 1996. Since then the dynamic CUPRA models have developed to become an icon of the SEAT brand. The Ibiza CUPRA Concept shows how the next chapter of this success story will be written.

Dr. Matthias Rabe, Vice-President for Research and Development at SEAT, said:
“Immediate and linear acceleration, with agile handling, good traction and responsive brakes are the key ingredients for what the CUPRA name represents.”The new Ibiza CUPRA Concept is a perfect example of how we at SEAT are adapting the latest Volkswagen Group technology to create a unique and highly rewarding package.”

The concept car’s LED daytime running lights trace the line of the headlamps to deliver a unique light signature, as do the LED rear lights. Technically, the bi-xenon headlamps provide illumination, while cornering lights are integrated into the large fog lamps.

The side view of the three-door sports coupe is defined by its sharply drawn lines and edges, while the muscular rear shoulders and 17-inch wheels underscore its dynamics. The exterior mirrors are painted black and contrast with the distinctive Crono yellow paint finish of the CUPRA Concept in Beijing.

The entertainment system in the Ibiza CUPRA Concept is completely new. The powerful audio set-up can be complemented by the innovative SEAT Portable System. The 5-inch screen is removable for mobile use and yet integrated into the vehicle electronics. Its many functions include the navigation system, the hands-free phone system with voice control and an on-board computer. At a later point, the SEAT Portable System will be available as an option for the entire Ibiza family.

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Award spotlights beckon for Chester finance team

Two glittering prizes are in prospect for a Chester-based finance group after it was named this week amongst the finalists in a major business awards scheme.

The Funding Corporation has been short-listed for both the “most responsible lender” and the “top alternative lender” of the year categories in the
prestigious Credit Today awards.

Directors and staff at the Chester Business Park firm will now have to hold their breaths until May 10 when the winners will be announced at a celebrity-hosted awards ceremony in London.

The Funding Corporation shares its place in the finals of the finance industry’s “Oscars” with well-known high-street names such as HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays and Virgin.

In 2011, the company beat off similar big-hitters in the world of credit by taking the overall UK award as Britain’s most responsible lender.

Now it hopes to keep the accolade in Chester for yet another year – and to possibly bring home the “top alternative lender” prize too.

In order to reach the finals, The Funding Corporation had to submit its lending policies for scrutiny by a panel of independent judges from the finance sector.

They examined how well the company is safeguarding consumer’s interests, and the integrity of its staff in dealing with customers and providing help and support.

Company Managing Director David Challinor said the firm was delighted to be judged on its track record for responsible business practices and treating customers fairly:

“Although this is a finance business, we never lose sight of the fact that our success depends on providing all of our customers with high standards of personal care and service.

“The delivery of this is largely in the hands of our staff, and it is their professionalism which has helped to ensure that our customers always receive first-class treatment.

“Size-wise, we may be one of the featherweights in these awards, but it’s good to know we’re punching well above our weight when it comes to fairness and responsibility,” added Mr Challinor.

The Funding Corporation employs around 200 staff and specialises in providing motor finance for the growing number of people with impaired credit records.

The company works closely with its group member ACF Car Finance Limited which operates a network of retail car showrooms across the country.

The Credit Today Awards, now in their twelfth year, are organised by Credit Today magazine with sponsorship from major finance industry bodies and organisations.

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SEAT Reports Improved Profits As A Result Of Increased Exporting

SEAT has announced that internationalisation enabled it to weather the storm affecting the Spanish market in 2011 and forge ahead with its plans for growth and profitability. SEAT passed the 5 billion euros mark in terms of revenues (5,049 million, 8.3% more than the previous financial year), thanks to an increase in exports and the market success of its products.

The difficult economic situation didn’t prevent the Volkswagen Group brand from devoting 555 million euros (7% up on last year) to investment and R&D. In spite of this, SEAT improved its operating account by almost 100 million euros (30%), ending 2011 with a result totalling -232 million euros compared to the -330 million of the previous financial year. Earnings after tax improved by 43 million (41.3%) to -61 million euros.

During the presentation of the company’s results for 2011 SEAT’s President James Muir said: “SEAT has delivered on its commitments. We have improved all our indicators and this year we want to continue in the same direction.”

In 2011 SEAT delivered 3.1% more vehicles (350,009 units) worldwide, in spite of the Spanish market crisis, and at year’s end it was car registrations leader for the second year running in Spain. The company made up for the downturn in its home market by an 11.4% increase in exports, which now account for almost 80% of total deliveries.

The upturn was particularly significant in Germany (+20.9%), France (+14.6%), the United Kingdom (+9.6%) and Italy (+6.5%). SEAT increased its market share in the European Union, and also sold 35.4% more in Mexico, plus 35.6% more in North Africa and the Middle East.

Holger Kintscher, SEAT executive Vice-president for Finances and Organization remarked on the improved profits, saying: “Our company is following the plan laid out to achieve profitability. We have continued to increase earnings and optimise costs, and this has enabled us to improve our results. We have also created more than 1,000 employees and invested 555 million euros to consolidate our future. We are on the right track.”

In 2011 SEAT broadened and updated its product range with the launch onto the Spanish market of the Mii, the brand’s new city car, signalling its return to the city cars segment and greater market coverage. The Mii was joined by the revamped Exeo and the Alhambra 4, extending the range of SEAT’s award-winning MPV with a four-wheel drive version.

Thanks to the success of SEAT products and the start-up of the Audi Q3, the company increased production at Martorell, its main production facility, by 5.5%, totalling 353,420 vehicles. Both elements enabled SEAT to become one of Spain’s major generators of employment. SEAT also finalized a new, more modern and flexible collective agreement, partially linking pay to company results, as well as paving the way for the creation of yet more jobs.

The new city car Mii and the new Ibiza, the brand’s and Spain’s best-selling car, will be joined after the summer break by the new Toledo and the 5-door Leon.

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Andy tops team at major Midlands motor centre

A successful career in retail management has now taken Sales Executive Andy Gore into the fast-lane of the motor industry.

For Andy, who is aged 31, has been appointed to the role of Sales Manager at leading car retailer ACF Car Finance Limited in Willenhall.

ACF Car Finance’s West Midlands showroom is one of the busiest in its national network, and Andy now takes charge of managing its staff and business operations.

Not that Andy is any stranger to being in the driving seat. At just 18 years old, he became one of the youngest deputy managers in the UK of the 200-strong chain of Focus DIY stores.

He took on the position at the chain’s flagship Sheffield store after being selected for a fast-track management course at the group after leaving school.

Andy then moved to Phone4U where he became a regional manager before joining ACF Car Finance in 2007 working at the former East Midlands Dealership based in Sutton in Ashfield.

Now he becomes one of the youngest Sales Manager in the group which provides cars and arranges finance for the growing number of people being refused credit by banks and other lenders.

Andy, who is engaged and a keen football fan, says the West Midlands showroom has just recorded its busiest year to date, and is likely to be recruiting more trainee sales staff next year.

For more information about the company see www.ACFCarFinance.co.uk.

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Fetch! Hospice Hound Rounds Up A Charity Windfall

He may be the new mascot for a Chester hospice charity, but that didn’t prevent Pawz from getting the sack from a local motor company last week.

In fact, Pawz ended up with kennel-loads of sacks from The Funding Corporation (TFC) when he called to collect the donations made by many of the firm’s 200-plus staff.

As part of the company’s charity support programme, employees were invited to recycle unwanted gifts and other items for the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Backford, Chester.

Their donations – which included games, DVDs, books and clothing – will now go on sale in the hospice’s six charity shops in and around the city.

The charity needs to raise over £6,000 every day to continue its work in caring for those living with incurable illnesses, and supporting their friends, families and carers.

Its funding relies largely on donations from the local community, and last year these enabled the hospice to care for more than 1,500 people from the Chester area.

TFC Marketing Manager Jane Whittle, who also heads the firm’s charity committee, said the volume of donations, which included many brand new items, was “staggering”.

The company also has a number of other fundraising events planned throughout the year in aid of the Hospice, its nominated local charity for 2012, and company Directors have kindly agreed to match funds raised by staff.

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Chester Students Shine In Car Valet Business Challenge

Five young Chester business students have triumphed in an Apprentice-style challenge set by a local motor company, ACF Car Finance Limited.

The group, aged 16 and over, beat two other teams of fellow-students with their ideas to create a new business which could clean-up in the local car valeting market.

All 15 youngsters from West Cheshire College, who are studying for a business diploma, were taking part in the “Outstanding Business Student Award” organised by ACF Car Finance.

Now in its third year, the scheme aims to bring out the students’ entrepreneurial skills by asking them to research, set up and profitably manage a fantasy business based in Chester.

This year’s theme was car valeting – and it was the polished ideas put forward by the group calling themselves “Finishing Touch” which shone most brightly among the judges.

All five members of the group were awarded a Kindle eReader, while others taking part in the competition each received a £15.00 gift card to spend in a computer store.

As part of their research earlier this year, the 15 students spent a day behind the scenes at the headquarters of ACF Car Finance on Chester Business Park.

They were shown the realities of running a successful business, and the type of tough decisions they would have to make in areas such as investing in equipment, health and safety, and marketing.

Their plans were presented in a board room play-off at ACF Car Finance to a judging panel led by a course tutor from West Cheshire College, and company boss David Challinor:

“It was a really hard decision as all three groups displayed great flair,” said Mr Challinor who is Managing Director of The Funding Corporation, parent company of ACF Car Finance.

“But in the end, the Finishing Touch youngsters gave a very confident presentation, and provided well thought-out answers to all the questions which could have tripped them up.

“Although this was a theoretical test of their business skills, I feel confident they could have easily won financial backing if we had been a real panel of Dragons,” added Mr Challinor.

In addition to their prizes, two outstanding students among the fifteen – Richard Fleming and Yonia Gonzalez-Torres – were offered work experience at the company as part of their college course.

The five Finishing Touch winners were Josh McClure, Richard Fleming, Fatma Gonen, Sophie Parker and Agata Dabkowska.

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