In the news this week…

BMW goes electric

This year is set to be a big one for BMW as they look to crack the electric car market with the new i3, their first electric car.

Showcasing their electric ‘supermini’ with a world tour last year, BMW have already managed to generate a huge amount of interest – and it looks as though people are expecting some pretty big things from the German car giant.

The i3 will be offered in two versions – a fully electric model with a range of 80 miles, and one with a 650cc two-cylinder BMW motorbike engine, capable of extending the car’s range to around 250 miles.

The BMW i3 will get its launch later this year in November, with initial sources putting the sales figure at a surprisingly pricey £35,000.

Schumacher as Mercedes brand ambassador

It hasn’t taken Michael Schumacher long to find new work after leaving the Mercedes F1 team last season. With his near-unrivalled racing experience, the seven-times F1 champion is set to help Mercedes develop their road cars, working on the calibration and implementation of their latest technology.

Mercedes have described Schumacher’s new ambassadorial role as ‘extending far beyond motorsport and Formula One’ into the development of their safety and comfort systems.

The announcement comes just a two weeks after the F1 driver Sebastian Vettel, who races for Red Bull Racing, was announced as ‘Director of Performance’ for Infiniti.

Vettel, who Infiniti say has been vital in the development of their Q5 (the manufacturer’s luxury new sports sedan) is set to take on a bigger role, assisting in the development of future Infiniti vehicles though feedback on performance and handling.

A change in advertising standards

So how does one unhappy Audi A3 driver manage to change motoring advertising standards? It’s simple. He complains.

Feeling misled, the disgruntled A3 owner contacted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) earlier this month after his new A3 failed to match the average fuel consumption of 68.9mpg – a figure claimed in Audi’s latest A3 TDI advert.

The result? The ASA has ruled that car manufacturers must now add a disclaimer to all new adverts that explain how they arrive at the fuel economy figures.

When manufacturers are testing their cars for MPG figures, they don’t use real-world conditions. Their stated fuel economy figures aren’t actually representative of what you might expect to achieve on the roads. Instead they’re derived from laboratory-controlled testing equipment.

While Volkswagen (Audi’s biggest shareholder) claimed that all manufacturers arrived at their figures this way, the ASA upheld the A3 owner’s claim that the numbers were misleading, and added that it was unlikely to be clear to the average consumer that the derived MPG figure was not representative of real-world car performance.

The ASA’s ruling should be seen as a step in the right direction for advertising honesty – especially in an age where fuel economy reigns supreme over almost all other car buying considerations.