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Felipe Massa visits Shannon

Formula One driver, Felipe Massa will create lots of excitement when he visits Genworth Financial’s International Business Centre in Shannon on this Thursday afternoon. The Williams Martini team star will take time out of his hectic pre-season schedule to visit over 400 staff at Genworth’s Shannon site. Following a tour of the new state-of-the-art workplace, located in Westpark business campus, members of the media along with Genworth staff will have the opportunity to attend a question and answer session with Felipe Massa before the driver shows off his skills on a FORMULA 1 simulato

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Škoda's Octavia is now available with four wheel drive in both estate and hatchback versions.

Octavia hatchback 4×4 launched

In a very well-timed move, given our recent weather, Škoda have announced that their Octavia is now available with four wheel drive in hatchback form. Previously, this drivetrain was only available as an estate. The new hatchback cuts the entry-point price by €1,100. The market for 4WD models in Ireland is heavily weather dependent. During the cold snap in 2012, Škoda 4×4 sales increased fivefold as a direct consequence of the severe weather the previous winter. With the last few mild winters, interest in 4WD has decreased, but it only takes a bit of snow and ice for the market to sit up and take notice again. Like the existing estate, the Octavia 4×4 uses a Haldex electronic clutch to provide permanent all wheel drive. During normal driving, power is sent to the front wheels only to save fuel. If conditions dictate, power can instantly be sent to the back axle also avoiding the risk of a skid. The system …

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Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

The production version of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider has been unveiled in Detroit at the North American Auto Show. Still featuring a carbon fibre body, three times stronger and seven times lighter than steel, the windscreen frame is also made from the same material. Very little structural work needed to be done to strengthen the chassis to compensate for the loss of the roof. In the US version, the difference in weight between open and closed versions is just 10 kg. New for the open top version is an optional titanium exhaust system with switchable modes to give more or less noise as required, depending on your mood. Standard and racing exhaust systems are also on offer. US versions also get the option of a premium audio system from Alpine, but quite frankly, it’s superfluous in the 4C. Forget the radio and just listen to the engine. A new exterior colour (yellow) is available which should complement the shape …

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Mulcahy calls for further cut in oil price

The Regulator and energy companies have been called on to explain why electricity bills have not been reduced for customers in light of continued significant falls in gas and oil prices. Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Tony Mulcahy has pointed out that prices at fuel pumps throughout Ireland had only shown modest reductions in comparison to the dramatic fall in crude oil prices since mid-2014. “Far too often we see companies using any hike in gas and oil prices as an excuse to raise fuel prices and electricity bill and therefore, it is only right that they be questioned as to why bills are not reduced when such prices drop,” said Senator Mulcahy. “Crude oil prices have now fallen below 50USD a barrel, which is approximately one third of the value in June 2008 (144.54USD). While motorists and haulage firms have benefited from lowered diesel and petrol prices, garage forecourts and oil companies have …

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2014 new car sales up 30%

New car sales in 2014, released by car history experts Motorcheck.ie, show the Irish market is up 30% on 2013 figures. The industry had predicted total sales of approximately 85,000-90,000 units at the start of the year but the final figures have smashed this original prediction with over 96,000 (96,254) new cars sold in 2014. That’s over 22,000 more registrations than 2013 or an increase of 30%. Michael Rochford, managing director of Motorcheck.ie said, “It’s been a really positive year for the motor trade all round. Not only has there been a large increase in new car sales; new commercial vehicle sales and motorcycle sales are way ahead of 2013 and the used car market has also surged ahead of previous years volumes.” New commercial sales finished the year on a high also, up 43% on 2013 with more than 21,000 units sold, indicating confidence from the business world. New Motorcycle sales finished the year 25% up on 2013 with …

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Road deaths up for 2014

The Road Safety Authority’s end of year report shows that for the second consecutive year, deaths resulting from road traffic collisions on Irish roads have increased. A total of 196 people have lost their lives in 2014, compared to 190 in 2013, a 3% rise. However, it represents a 21% increase when compared to the 162 road deaths that occurred in 2012, the safest year on Irish roads. Ms Liz O’Donnell, chairperson, RSA, said, “196 precious lives ended on our roads in 2014. That’s six more than last year. These people are gone forever. For their loved ones they are not consigned to year end statistics.” Appealing to all road users Ms. O’Donnell added, “There are small changes we all can make which are guaranteed to prevent collisions. Guaranteed to reduce consequences. And to reduce the number of tragedies on our roads, from the very moment we begin to make those changes. So I appeal to all road users in …

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Battery and tyre check warning

With the severe dip in temperatures over the past few days, the Automobile Association (AA) has issued a timely reminder to  motorists to ensure batteries and tyres are in order. Drivers being assisted with jump lead starts in the morning is a common sight in cold winter conditions, such as we are having now. According to the AA’s annual breakdown review, worn out or faulty batteries are still the number one cause of breakdowns in Ireland. A review of their extensive data highlights how flat batteries accounted for nearly one quarter of all the AA’s call outs in the last 12 months. The countrywide analysis of over 100,000 AA rescue assignments also revealed that tyre failures top the agenda for distressed Irish drivers. Over 15,000 road users experienced defected tyres, up one percent from the last commissioned review, which according to the AA, is often avoidable. “Tyre failures can arise for any number of reasons such as poor road surfaces but …

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Gardaí join European campaign on drink and drugs driving

Police Officers across Europe begin a week-long campaign on Monday to raise awareness of the dangers of drink driving and drug driving. The campaign is co-ordinated by TISPOL (the European Traffic Police Network), and involves officers conducting alcohol and drug checks at any time of the day and night. TISPOL President Garda Chief Superintendent, Aidan Reid said, “Driving after consuming any alcohol is dangerous. Driving while over the drink drive limit is against the law. Drivers will experience slower reactions, poor judgement of speed, reduced co-ordination and concentration with much lower levels of alcohol in their system. “That’s why our message this year is simple: your ability to drive safely is impaired by even a small amount of alcohol. So if you have had a drink, do not drive. If you need to drive, then do not drink.” Chief Superintendent Reid said it’s also important to be aware of the continuing effects of alcohol the day after an evening of …

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