Daniel, Peter and all at PMW, Where do I start? I guess I’ll tell the whole story! At 31 years old and on my fifth BMW I can’t believe it has taken me so long to find you! Having been messed around previously by a major BMW dealership I knew it was time to consider other options. I was introduced to your firm by a friend that owns an E90 M3 and was impressed by your service. In the same week, another friend recommended you. Two recommendations in one week, it had to be a sign. Both could not speak highly enough of your attitude, professionalism and end product. Time to call!…………… I originally spoke to Jayne who was warm, friendly and personable. I was passed to Peter and immediately knew that my car was going to PMW and nowhere else. Car rental was arranged and so when I dropped the car off, I had a car to drive away with and with minimum fuss. Having been dealing with main dealerships for so long, I predicted a call either at the end of the first day it was in the garage or the next morning. So, it came as a surprise to hear from Peter whilst I was driving home, some 30 minutes to an hour after I had dropped the car off. Peter knew there were things I personally wanted to do to the car, but suggested we prioritise works in order to mitigate the total costs. Hang on a second… A car garage worrying about MY money? This was getting too good to be true, surely. By the end of the first day, Peter had pointed out issues which he felt needed attention and we agreed to start works, costs were made clear before a spanner had been picked up. Whilst in the garage, I never had to call to find out what stage the repairs were at, I was always called and kept updated. Again, in stark contrast to my usual dealings with BMW dealerships. I picked my car up a few days later and Peter asked if I wanted to drive the car with him. I was just amazed that he was willing to take 5 minutes out of his day to make sure I was satisfied. Every garage should do it, but it really made it clear to me that PMW care about their clients. They care about their reputation and it shows in everything they do. The car was a dream, it just drove beautifully. A few days after the service, I booked the car into a BMW dealership to get the alloys re-furbed and a dent taken out. Having just been serviced by PWM, I only wanted aesthetic work done. So it came as a surprise when they called me (a day later!) to say the diff seals and gearbox seals needed replacing. Alarm bells ringing. Firstly, why are they checking mechanics when I didn’t ask for this, and secondly did PMW not do this work? I called Peter and he confirmed the seals were changed so back on the phone to BMW. I asked the BMW dealership what gave them the impression this work needed doing and they pointed to oil residue. I asked them if they had actually checked the seals and they hadn’t. After inspecting again, they (BMW) admitted the work had already been done and that they would have charged me for work that already been carried out. What a f******g liberty. I asked BMW not to look at my car anymore and to carry out the works I originally asked them to do. I have lost all faith in them, they really should be taking a leaf out of PMW’s book. The car was in the garage for three days for this work and I was called twice. Owning a business myself, my feelings are that any business shows it true colours when things go wrong, not when they are going smoothly. This leads to chapter two!………. Two weeks later, the car came up with a transmission fault whilst my wife was driving home. Straight on the phone to Daniel. Daniel agreed a tow would be best so as not to cause anymore issues and said he would arrange this immediately. He called me back within 15 minutes and the car was collected within the hour. Unbelievably efficient.The fault was found that day; a faulty pin in the transmission electrical plug. No bullshit, no messing around. An apology and the problem fixed within 24 hours. The entire situation was dealt with perfectly.I really cannot sing your praises enough PMW. I can only try to put into words how impressed I am and have been with your service, communication and the overall experience. Even my wife smiles like a Cheshire cat now and has asked me not to change cars as I usually do every 12 months. My Wife! Someone who just does not care about cars. So, not only have you made my car drive like a dream and made me the happiest car owner in London but you’ve also managed to make the wife happy as well, that deserves a bonus point.All my staff are bringing their cars to you (as you know). If I meet anyone in the street that owns a BMW, will be sending them you way, PMW are just on a different level. You are in a league of your own.Genuinely, keep up the amazing work Guys & thank you very , very much for everything. My car will not be going anywhere else in future, even if I moved abroad!Though I guess that’ll be a good excuse for a long drive?
Hi just wanted to leave some feedback to say thanks for dealing with my request
for swirl flap blanks so quickly. I ordered these at 12pm and they were with me
in the Western Isles before 11am the next morning! I needed to ask for some
advice when putting everything back together which I was given immediately over
the phone. All in all, a fantastic company which offered a customer service
level that was second to none!
After a bodged repair by a local London garage to my swirl flaps and deep concerns about my 2001 BMW 530D Touring I consulted Peter from pmwltd about the condition of my car. My regular mechanic whom I have known for 20 years simply took out my swirl flaps and replaced the shafts with bolts. This at some time later, only (900 miles) caused an ingestion into the chamber and ruined my piston and valves and looked like a very time consuming and costly repair. After completion I took my car to peter at pmw and discussed the works. He had his guys strip out the existing bolts that were very unprofessional and replaced with his swirl flap blanking plates. Now I have heard a lot about these plates and swirl flap damage and I can tell you as an ex AA Patrol man that if not done correctly as Peter has done you will cause serious damage to your beloved engine. This is a guy with a great team and a wealth of knowledge behind them who know their stuff, not your usual bit mechanic who ”
knows a bit about engines”. I drove down from Lewisham London to his workshops in Chelmsford and it only took an hour and was easy to get to. If I was you I would call them for your piece of mind because you know like I do that you don’t want just anyone tinkering with your pride and joy. Its worth the drive knowing your car is in safe and knowledgeable hands at pmw. He,s not a rip off either, he is a very reasonable honest mechanic and cheaper than the main dealers out there. Thanks peter.
UK drivers are continuing to respond to the need to reduce the CO2 emissions and petrol costs of their vehicles by taking up the government scrappage scheme offer to purchase smaller and more efficient models, judging by new stats from the Society of Motor Manufacturers. Though the scheme will expire in the next few weeks, it seems the combined need to reduce emissions and fuel running costs is sending drivers in the right direction with regard to their choice of car model.
With car manufacturers also now bound by EU legislation to reduce the average emissions of their product ranges in the next couple of years it seems that it’s only getting easier to choose and run a cheaper and greener vehicle. Toyota and Fiat for example have already met the 2012 emissions reduction targets well ahead of schedule, so it seems that with each passing month there are more efficient models on offer for drivers.
For those wishing to learn more about all the options out there, one good place to start is Clean Green Cars - a great blog providing all the info, advice and resources you might need to make sensible motoring decisions regarding emissions and fuel costs (those interested in BMW will note that the company takes top spot in terms of the most efficient model available for certain categories of vehicle). I expect we will only see more and more such info as the automobile market changes to offer more choice with regard to such vehicles.
Observing all this is interesting in terms of seeing how rapidly the automobile industry has u-turned over the past decade (albeit with the influx of some massive subsidies and incentives, plus some appalling financial figures in the cases of some companies). It seems a long time ago that Hummers were all the rage… Nonetheless it is refreshing to see companies across the board putting at least some emphasis on efficiency and sensible fuel consumption - even if some of this is just marketing hype. As always the consumer will have to separate the hot air from the real thing, but at least it seems that this is now easier and more affordable than ever before.
According to new figures released by the RAC this week, UK motorists are changing their motoring habits significantly in response to the rising costs of running a vehicle. The most common strategies in reducing costs have been the obvious ones - downsizing vehicles, and the number of vehicles per household.
Only 28% of motorists cited environmental motivations for the decisions, proving once more that financial considerations are overwhelmingly more crucial in changing habits - despite the government’s various new awareness initiatives such as the ‘drive 5 miles less a week campaign’ (which are nonetheless welcome and beneficial).
So if running a car is looking expensive at the moment, what exactly can we expect in 2010? Well here’s a few figures on the current state of play:
-Average cost of motoring for 2009 in the UK: £2,219 (down 5% from 2008).
-Of this, £2,219, around half (£1,184) is spent on fuel.
So, the general picture is that 2009 was still one of the most expensive years for motoring in the past decade, but that it was also marginally cheaper than 2008. However, two significant details promise to make 2010 possibly even more expensive than both 2008 and 09.
First of all, the VAT on new vehicles is set to rise from 15% to 17.5% - which amounts to over £200 for a £10,000 new car. However, even those of us who plan to keep our existing vehicles in 2010 will incur another unavoidable expense - further rises in the cost of fuel.
The RAC expects fuel costs to rise to the peak levels we saw in 2008, over the coming months - which means that petrol for example could once more hit a £1.15-£1.20 average, meaning that the figure stated above for annual average fuel cost would jump to approx £1,270. All this added together means that an already expensive activity, will be really stretching the bank.
The reality is that whatever your views on climate change etc, the need to reduce motoring use and habits is highly pressing. Driving less, and driving less inefficient vehicles is looking like the only way to make ends meet for many UK households, and the most important thing from the government’s point of view will be to manage public transport funding in a manner which makes this both feasible and viable in the long-term, especially with further fuel duty increases planned for April 2010…
News came last week that the government’s scrappage scheme had thus far succeeded in shifting over 50,000 new vehicles in the UK. No doubt in times of downturn this is proving to be great news for car companies which would otherwise be posting far worse figures for recent months were it not for such a scheme.
Car dealerships also are enjoying a fresh boost in business where they might easily instead have been facing closure in many cases. It seems clear therefore that the auto sector is benefitting massively from the £300m scheme. But what of the much touted environmental benefits?
The first (and rather obvious) thing to mention is that we have not actually reduced the number of cars on UK roads through all this. The scheme offers only a 1 for 1 (old for new) option. So the only environmental benefits that we could hope to see will be coming from the increased level of fuel efficiency offered by the new replacements, as opposed to the very fuel-hungry old bangers that we drove before.
However all of these new cars cost a great deal (environmentally speaking) to produce. Moreover not all people taking up the gov’t’s offer are going for small and efficient replacements - the scheme extends also to bigger cars, so we are seeing many people who would otherwise not upgrade (in terms of engine size) now finding themselves financially empowered to do so - and taking up the option. Of course, many more are downsizing (petrol is again above the £1/l mark) - but we should not kid ourselves that it does not go both ways.
Ultimately the scheme is all well and good from an industry sector perspective. However the environmental benefits should not be used as an overstated excuse, when in reality £300m could have been far better spent if we really wanted to reduce CO2 emissions first and foremost.
Why, oh why, for example was there no option to simply trade in our old bangers in return for some kind of 15-year free public transport pass or something similar? I don’t doubt such a thing could have been arranged - and i for one would for sure have taken up that offer without any hesitation. Then we might really have been able to talk about environmental benefits - as it is we are instead touting the most miniscule (and not to mention cost-ineffective) reduction in CO2 emissions as some fantastic global-warming averting life-saver. This is most certainly isn’t…
Labour have announced a new scheme to reduce the UK’s motoring carbon footprint - a cash incentive of up to £5,000 for those wishing to trade in an old petrol or diesel vehicle for an electric car. Of course the latter will cost a good deal more than £5k (how much more depends on which of a range of models you choose) - but the cash incentive nonetheless represents a significant improvement in the affordability of such vehicles.
The measure is expected to cost around £250m, and is seen as essential by the government in helping the UK meet its CO2 emissions reduction targets by 2020. (For more background see the Guardian online). As someone who is seriously cosidering taking up the offer I realised that one thing still held me back - it was the perceived state of current electric car technology.
I feel pretty sure that I am not alone in seeing electric cars as something still a bit experimental, and essentially a new technology which has not yet found its optimal parameters of operation (especially with regard to charging and battery design). In short, some degree of standardisation is required if the electric car is to lose its mystical qualities - which is surely an integral step in the success of this scheme.
However the second, equally invaluable, step is to raise awareness once this standardisation is achieved. Motorists need to understand that running such a car will be not only easier but also cheaper, and to get acquainted with this new (and strange for many) technology. Finally the government must convince sceptics that the increased dependence on the national grid for electricity can be negotiated without simply building more coal power plants. It is not good enough to simply (but expensively) move our CO2 emissions from the car exhaust to the coal plant chimney.
In short: plaudits for an initiative that removes (or at least reduces) one major hurdle to mass electric car adoption - the financial cost. However there remain a couple more obstacles to negotiate before I can imagine this scheme really taking off. We’ll keep you posted…
Porsches are known for the sound of their rippling horsepower under the bonnet, but the company’s new petrol-saving hybrid actually has the motor off or running on batteries more than half the time - leaving the driver with little more than the sound of the wheels on the road.
Using a system developed with Volkswagen and Audi engineers, the prototype Cayenne S Hybrid relies on a combination of petrol, electric power and coasting to boost mileage from 14 mpg in the city to 24 mpg while reducing C02 emissions.
Article continues at Virgin News
It has just occurred to me that this blog, being concerned as it often is with ‘green motoring’ and general environmental issues connected to road transport, sometimes comes across as a bit of a car-bashing weekly.
Well, this post will be different as for once we are going to have a plain and simple appreciation and acknowledgement of the fact that often cars grant us immense freedom and can positively enrich our lives no end (I’m not talking about being stuck in a rush-hour commute here obviously).
Important as it is to continue to debate the political and economic points on the climate change issues, and indeed to monitor the moves of the hugely powerful motor industry, this week’s blog will take a break from all that in favour of something far more simple - a few thoughts on the positive values of having a car.
Now I have for a long time considered myself someone who has no interest in cars as consumer desirables (I don’t follow new products or fawn over expensive sports models) or as a potential hobby (I can’t sit through more than 2 minutes of Top Gear without being bored or annoyed by the chuckling boys’ antics). However I do own a car, and even occasionaly use it where no suitable public transport option is available - and also recognise how lucky I am to have this freedom of (semi) affordable movement.
In the current climate of intense environmental debates, it’s often pretty easy to forget that having access to a car (not even necessarily owning one) can open up opportunities for great experiences, otherwise unfeasable or inaccessible.
For me personally it was the option to travel on summer holidays with friends in a car - suddenly affordable because we could carry our tents and stoves and therefore bypass expensive accommodation - that made me first appreciate having one. It occurred to me the other day while driving that these fantastic adventures would have been largely impossible were it not for the fact that I had a driving license and car.
This is just one simple example, but the wider point it leads me to consider is that, while reducing our dependence on cars should be a common goal (for both environmental and economic reasons), so too perhaps some environmentalists (including myself) should recognise that if possible some place for the car should still be reserved even in our wildest utopian green visions. Not all areas of the countryside for example will ever be connected by public transport - so how else to continue to explore and enjoy them without the access granted by cars? Something I believe is worth remembering in the coming discussions over emissions and green motoring technologies…
Honda’s new Plug-in Hybrid vehicle (PHV) arrived for testing in the UK this week. The model is essentially a Prius which uses a combination of electricity and petrol, saving on petrol use by using exclusively electricity for short journeys.
The controversial feature is the Plug-in aspect which means the car can be charged using mains electricity, currently available roadside from one of 40 charging posts installed already in the UK by EDF energy. The car certainly offers a way to minimise the impact of high fuel prices, but beyond that is it no more than an eco-scam? What about the environmental impact of electricity generation for example?
The short answer is that Honda’s new model will simply transfer its carbon footprint to a few hundred miles away - wherever the nearest power station happens to be. It would be nice to think that the energy was coming from wind turbines or hydroelectric power, but statistically this is unfortunately highly unlikely in the UK.
It is hard to establish whether or not the electricity needed per mile from a coal-fired power station is more environmentally damaging than the fuel needed per mile with so many variables in the equation. The numbers are quite different if you drive a Jeep 4×4 rather than a Toyota Aygo for example. In any case it is much of a muchness (with the Aygo at least - the 4×4 comes in second best every time).
The second issue is that there is clearly something absurd about advocating the purchase of a new car (made from nearly one tonne of steel), not to mention one using a 30kg Lithium battery, in order to save the planet.
Some groups have also been quick to point out that the success of this scheme could spell the end of off-peak electricity prices (as has happened in Spain last year), ultimately raising heating and utility bills and further exposing economically vulnerable groups such as pensioners in winter.
The distinction must therefore be made between this car’s potential for saving money at the forecourt, and its ability to reduce the carbon footprint of motoring. Running this car on a daily basis makes economic sense (road tax is zero and fuel costs are lower), though it would be hardly cheap to buy from the showroom (think somewhere in the region of £20k). Once this initial cost is considered the economic appeal of this PHV is drastically reduced.
As for the environment it is hard not to feel that Honda is exploiting the gulf between the average consumer’s desire to be ‘green’ and the actual level of knowledge about the environmental impact of our day to day lives. The concept of buying a new car as an positive environmental gesture requires quite a level of doublethink, while the need for mains electricity simply represents a geographical transfer of emissions to elsewhere.
Perhaps the only way this car can make environmental sense is if charged exclusively by a renewable source, such as rooftop solar panels (seems a little unlikely here in the UK). However EDF’s scheme of installing charging points throughout London suggests Honda and the energy company already have other ideas.
In the end there are only two guaranteed winners if this scheme is successful; Honda and EDF. The economics for the consumer don’t really add up considering the car’s hefty price tag, and environmental concerns seem to be more of a marketing ploy than a genuine motivation in launching the car.
EfficientDynamics technologies responsible for CO2 reduction across the BMW and MINI ranges. MINI range now averages less than 140g/km.
BMW Group products are officially the cleanest premium cars following independent, industry-wide research into CO2 emissions. The data, compiled by www.cleangreencars.co.uk also shows that, through its EfficientDynamics programme, the BMW brand has the most improved average CO2 emissions of any premium manufacturer.
A report into average total model range emissions for car manufacturers found that from the period January 2008 to June 2008, BMW recorded an average of 161.64g/km. By comparison the model range averages for Audi and Mercedes were 177.36g/km and 192.85g/km respectively. Even Lexus with its hybrid-based model line-up only managed an average of 194.85g/km, while Jaguar topped 200g/km and Porsche recorded 275.64g/km.
Read more at BMW
This article is a follow up to a previous editorial (titled ‘As fuel prices soar motor manufacturers can adapt - or go bust‘).
That article outlined the pressures currently being exerted on motor manufacturers - by both the rise in fuel prices, and also changing consumer trends regarding pollution awareness and CO2 emissions. This article is a follow up, which will look at the range of moves now being introduced by major manufacturers as they attempt to survive in today’s demanding marketplace.
Recent developments in the US
‘The times they’re a-changin’, Bob Dylan once sang - and though he wasn’t talking about the US motor industry at the time, his words are highly relevant to it today. Even GM motors, a market leader in SUV and pick-up production, is now changing its tune. For years the company has profited massively from American drivers penchant for big vehicles, and the availability of cheap gas, but not for much longer…
Last week the company announced the closure of four major SUV and pick-up producing plants across the country. The company will now shift its focus to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars as an attempt to end a run of three years of consecutive losses (last year’s losses alone totaled over $38m).
Ford Motor Co. (another US manufacturer currently having facing serious losses), has also announced a move away from SUVs and pick-up models. Consumer trends have rendered the production of such models tantamount to financial suicide. Even GM’s previously indispensable cash cow, the Hummer, is being re-assessed (year-on-year profits are down massively when compared with 2007), with a sale of this business arm looking quite possible.
It is not that GM has suddenly become an environmentally-conscientious and ethical company; rather it is simply a case of being forced to change, or be swept aside by competition. The fact that consumer awareness and demand has brought about this change is a remarkably positive thing; it proves that when consumers ‘vote’ with their wallets, a much more effective change can be brought about than is possible with half-hearted, government-led attempts to impose regulations on powerful industries such as this one.
Europe and the rest of the world
In Europe, many leading (and financially unworried) manufacturers are also taking notice of the market incentives for improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. BMW for example has its high-profile Efficient Dynamics systems, which have allowed them to boast that 21 models of its current range produce 140g/km or less of CO2 emissions.
Many BMW models also feature Auto Start-Stop technology (standard on all 1 and 3 series models), which cuts power to the engine when the car is stationary (at lights, level crossings etc), thereby greatly increasing fuel efficiency, especially in town driving. Gear shift indicators help the driver to achieve maximum fuel efficiency, while electric power steering reduces fuel wastage by disengaging power steering when the car is not turning (for more info on BMW’s technologies click here).
These, and a host of other features ensure that BMW - a company not normally courted by environmentally concerned drivers - can nonetheless compete (to an extent) for these customers as well.
With Toyota recently reporting sales of its hybrid Prius model topping 1m, it seems pretty clear where the money is for motor manufacturers. European and East-Asian firms are well ahead in this field as it stands, with some truly impressive technology being introduced almost on a monthly basis. Reluctantly and begrudgingly, US companies are now accepting the realities of the death of the SUV and gas-guzzler as a profitable venture, and looking to compete with market leaders such as BMW and Toyota. There’s an awfully long way to go, but it is quite a nice change to see positive steps being taken, whatever the reasons behind them.
In this week’s Guardian, Charles Arthur has produced a statistical analysis showing that current fuel prices are not as high as at other points in history, when considered relative to inflation and income. That may well be, but despite this the pressure exerted on car manufacturers to adapt to the price of fuel is surely greater now than it ever has been.
The current rate of increase must alarm manufacturers who have not specifically geared themselves for efficiency targets (i.e. a great proportion of the major players). Fuel economy is quickly becoming the most significant governing force across the car industry, with consumers more economy conscious than ever.
After all, who cares if a new car costs only £6,995 if it would use £4,000 of petrol annually, where an £8,995 alternative would use only £2,500, for example. The cost of a new car has never been quite so intrinsically linked to its fuel economy as it is today (previously it has been one factor of many in the decision to purchase).
Certain manufacturers have less to fear from this general consumer trend - namely manufacturers of SUVs, whose customers are typically less deterred by financial factors (though these companies too will suffer if government regulations regarding economy and emissions are tightened). Apart from this narrow band of the market, pretty much all other manufacturers face a tough time ahead; make cars more affordable to run, or face losing market share to more efficient rivals.
With UK petrol prices currently averaging £1.15/litre, many drivers are already being priced out of cars they bought only a few years ago. For example filling a 1.9l Renault Espace cost £50 in December of 2006 - now it would cost £85, and within a few months could exceed £100. It looks like the oil economy is going to do what governments/Kyoto/Greenpeace etc never could - and finally instigate a rapid overhaul of the motor industry towards greater efficiency (and thereby reduced CO2 emissions as a by-product).
Hybrid models like the Toyota Prius are suddenly looking like a much better buy than many initially cheaper petrol or diesel alternatives. Initially the Prius found only a small market with environmentally conscious drivers. Now it looks like the green model might come into its own as a mainstream market option.
Ultimately it is unlikely car manufacturers seriously think this will all blow over. The nature of the oil market dictates that though the rate of increase might slow somewhat, a significant decline in the near future is highly unlikely. Car manufacturers have for so long been successful in lobbying governments to give them near enough free reign over economy and emissions levels (in the US especially - Japan for example is a different story). Now it seems that another consideration (and one wholly out of their control) is set to force their hand.
The times of cheap cars and cheap petrol look to be over - old technology must give way to new systems that address the challenges of today’s market; how to deliver clean and economic (but affordable) motor transport. Interesting times ahead for a massive industry…