Oct 012017
 

The motoring industry is a constant source of innovation, with regular developments across technology, design and safety. 3D printing is one of the latest trends set to make a significant impact and the effects could be ground-breaking.

3D printing is a technique where a physical object is created from a digital model by printing thin layers of material on top of one another.

Here are some of the ways it could make the motoring industry more efficient, safe and cost-effective:

 

Improved efficiency

While 3D printing is not yet efficient enough for high-volume manufacturing, the ability to develop prototype parts more quickly, create custom parts for drivers, or make crucial parts for smaller run performance vehicles, means it could start allowing some models to get to market quicker than standard vehicle manufacturing procedures.

Designing a complicated new part and then waiting months for prototype tooling to be produced could also become a thing of the past, as 3D printing is starting to create quicker, more cost-effective solutions for engineers too.

Safety conscious

One of the most important factors to address in the automotive industry is safety, and there are elements to 3D printing that have the potential to improve this. As the 3D components are designed using computer programmes, the consistency of production is greater than working with sheet metals, which could help to reduce future vehicle complications.

Bodywork can be more easily replicated, so an owner could potentially purchase a new shell more quickly with no discernible difference to the original.

Simplifying vehicle manufacturing

Many manufacturers are using 3D printing to create single, large body parts. The LM3D Swim is a prime example of this, as the car is created using less than 50 individual parts, compared to a traditional vehicle which could have over 30,000 parts.

The relative simplicity in design and fewer parts could mean issues will be more easily rectifiable, both in terms of parts manufacture and fitting. The simplicity of generating replacements and additions is already being tested by Ford, as it continues to investigate the effectiveness of creating large parts and components using 3D printing.

Cost savings

Millions of components are sitting in stock warehouses around the world, waiting to be supplied as a spare part. By printing new parts, automakers can reduce logistics and warehouse storage costs and produce complex components at low volumes. Imagine the savings by storing parts such as covers, spring caps, wiring ducts and mountings, digitally instead of physically and building them on-demand.

This potential is already recognised in America as Daimler Trucks, the world’s largest truck manufacturer, has been using 3D printing in its spare part production supply.

3D printing for racing advantage

Formula 1 teams originally bought into 3D prototyping to reduce development times. More iterations, more quickly don’t always reduce costs for race teams, but if it translates to saving even a millisecond on the track, the investment is justifiable to them.

The Lotus F1 team uses plastic 3D printing processes for concept development, functional prototypes and wind-tunnel models. The time saved is fundamental to the development timeline and 3D printers have allowed its teams to downsize Ford’s machine shops too.

Sep 282017
 

Car finance schemes can be a major source of profit for businesses, due to the APR added – so almost every dealer, car broker or car supermarket offers a variety of finance options for consumers.

Thanks to low-interest deals and a growing credit industry, finance deals can be a great way to get a better quality used car in a more affordable manner.

However, there are a few key things to be aware of before committing to any deals…

 

Hire purchase (HP)

This is perhaps the simplest type of car finance plan. After paying a deposit of around 10 percent of the car’s value, you hire your car with the option to buy it by the end of a 12-60-month contract. Hire purchase is arranged by the car dealer, but brokers also offer this service. The rates are often very competitive for new cars, but less so for used cars due to a higher rate of APR.

This option is often best for those with a good credit rating, as this means you’ll get hire purchase deals at the lowest interest rates.

Drawbacks include potential repossession if you miss a payment and it can sometimes be more expensive than an independent bank loan.

Personal contract purchase (PCP)

Based on a ‘minimum guaranteed future value’ for the car, this involves paying a deposit, then low monthly instalments over a fixed period. At the end, you can either pay a lump sum to purchase the car outright or return the vehicle.

It’s important to stick to agreed mileage limits to avoid costly penalties of up to 30p per mile – so if you are doing a lot of miles, this option may not be for you.

PCP financing on used cars rarely offers the same incentives as new cars as they are not as lucrative for manufacturers. However, it’s worth keeping an eye out for used-car sales events as some may offer the option of a deposit contribution.

Personal loan

You may consider a personal loan if you have a strong credit rating, as this could work out cheaper in the long term than a finance scheme. There may be a higher APR, but this could be offset by lack of deposit and spreading the loan over a period of your choice. You will also own the car from the outset.

Check the APR between the different payment plans you’re offered and compare it to the rate charged on a personal loan to see what would be the best overall value.

Check the small print

Whichever method you choose, you’ll need to be certain you can afford the repayments throughout the agreement, even if your circumstances change. While some deals give the option of ending the contract early, there can be significant fees for doing so.

You could also buy a used car that has outstanding finance on it, without realising. If it does, the finance company that paid for it will have a vested interest and could reclaim the money or the vehicle from you.

For this reason, it’s advisable to get an HPI check on any used vehicle before you buy it. This is a check of the vehicle’s history that will uncover any outstanding finance on it, protecting you against this potential pitfall.

GAP insurance

If you’re buying a used car on finance it’s worth investing in GAP insurance. This covers the ‘gap’ between the current market value of your car and the value of your outstanding loan or the cost of replacing your car, should it get stolen or written off. However, it is worth bearing in mind that some providers, such as Warranty Direct, are unable to accept leased vehicles on GAP insurance.

Sep 042017
 

When choosing a new car, it’s easy to spend as much on optional extras as it is on the car itself. From being seduced by the latest mod-cons to the occasional, dodgy dealer trying to promote unnecessary extras, consumers are inundated with options.

While some extras won’t add value, not having certain options on a modern car can make it almost impossible to sell. Choosing which to purchase can be confusing, so we’ve put together our top tips on what’s really worth it…

Built-in sat nav

Traditionally, integrated sat nav units were an expensive luxury. However, they are increasingly being offered as standard, and even optional or upgraded units can be cheaper than what you’d have paid a few years ago.

A built-in sat nav can help a car retain value, especially in executive models where it’s often considered an essential. It’s worth knowing it can be more expensive to update maps than with standalone GPS, but lots of manufacturers are now offering free updates with their integrated systems for fixed periods. Keep an eye out for these deals to save on future costs.

Air conditioning/climate control

Very few cars are sold without air con. However, several smaller city and supermini cars may not include air conditioning, or only make it available as an extra.

It’s worth adding air conditioning if you have the option, as you’ll be thankful for it on warm days and it can keep your windows frost and mist-free in cold weather.

Not only this, but air conditioning and climate control are among the handful of optional extras that help to boost cars’ resale value. Some compact hatchbacks can even be worth a few hundred pounds more with it fitted.

It’s worth bearing in mind problems with A/C can sometimes occur in built-in systems. Make sure your warranty covers air-conditioning to avoid unplanned costs.

Parking sensors

Parking sensors have been widely used for some time now and are the most common parking device on the market. They not only help to improve resale values, but some models come with both front and rear sensors, which give an audible/visual warning of approaching objects. Not only does this help to make parking easier (especially for larger cars), vehicles with parking sensors can see the average insurance premium fall by 13 percent.

Which aren’t worth it?

Personalised or statement colours

While you might adore your bright pink Fiat 500, there is a chance not all would be as bold in their colour choice. Silver, black and blue are the most common car colours in the UK – while not the most exciting, personalising your car colour to something more flamboyant could limit the number of potential buyers for your car.

Gaudy body kits

If you’re looking to fit a full body kit, a bigger exhaust, or alloy wheels you may wish to reconsider. Just as with personalised colour, these options are very much down to personal taste. You could find it harder to sell and some modifications can raise insurance prices by up to 66 percent and even invalidate your car warranty.

Adaptive suspension

Usually an option on premium or performance vehicles, adaptive suspension constantly adjusts in response to changing road conditions to ensure a continuously smooth drive. While this is a great perk, it typically raises the cost of a car by nearly £1,000, without necessarily adding enough value for it to be worth the cost when it comes to selling your car on.