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Mercedes F 015 and Volvo S60 - This Week

Mercedes-Benz unveil futuristic self-driving concept

'Luxury in Motion' is the name of Mercedes-Benz's F 015, a car composed of more fascinatingly futuristic ideas than you could shake a lightsaber at. It is actually reminiscent of carriages of old, ferrying passengers in the height of comfort - except that this carriage is a smooth, spacious, metallic pod with swivelling seats and high-res integrated displays. The F 015 'Luxury in Motion' is a self-driving space-lounge.

Mercedes F 015 external view

The displays, built into the side panels and instrument decks, are referred to by Mercedes as the F 015's "digital arena", and can be worked by touch, gesture-control, or eye-tracking. The F 015 runs a hybrid powertrain, though Mercedes-Benz haven't released any specs - or any new information about their autonomous driving systems.

Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Dr Dieter Zetsche stated, "We have a master plan in place to take the big leap required, getting from technically feasible to commercially viable. The F 015 Luxury in Motion demonstrates where this may take us."
You can see how Mercedes-Benz envision the result of their master plan in its world premier.
Mercedes F 015 internal view

UK "irresponsibly" behind on EU car seat laws

In 2013, EU law makers passed a new regulation to improve safety standards of child car seats. 18 months later, the UK parliament has yet to approve them. For many British parents, this produces an uncomfortable choice: use new EU regulated car seats, proven to be safer for their children, or abide by the law.

The new R129 regulation allows parents on the continent to use i-Size car seats, a safer standard of car seat that keeps children rear-facing until 15 months old. The current UK regulation has parents switch to a forward-facing seat at 9 months - an age where a baby's neck is still too weak to survive a frontal impact, according to safety experts.

France and the Netherlands immediately approved i-Size when it was introduced to the EU in 2013, and the UK's Department for Transport has given no explanation for their delaying. Some British outlets, like Mothercare and John Lewis, sell i-Size seats in spite of their current illegality. A police spokesman, while not denying the new seats are safer, warned that "it is technically unlawful to fit and use one".

For more information visit www.i-size.org.uk.

Volvo's new S60 CC is first of a new breed

The New Volvo S60 Cross Country requires a new classification of car, and creates an entirely new market sector. Volvo say they have identified a "clear niche in the market for a more capable saloon with rugged styling cues and a higher stance." adding, "The S60 Cross Country will appeal to people that are searching for an exciting and capable saloon, whilst enjoying the clear benefits that a crossover offers."

Volvo's senior VP of product strategy, Lex Kerssemakers, enthused, "We want to further explore the market with our Cross Country brand. We did this back in 1997 with the V70 Cross Country and it led to the birth of a whole new segment. We have included all the capability-driven benefits of the Cross Country brand in this new model, while offering a completely unique expression of adventure and all-road readiness in a distinctly sporty and stylish package."

The S60 is due to début at the Detroit Motor Show, and will be on display with the rest of the Cross Country range: the V40 hatchback and the V60 estate. The front-wheel drive version of the S60 will be available for purchase in Europe this summer for around £30,000.

The Volvo S60 CC

New electric car batteries could charge in 3 minutes

Storedot, a startup company from Tel Aviv, Israel, announced at the 2015 Consumer Electronic Show that by 2016, they will have produced the technology to fully charge an electric car in 3 minutes.

Storedot are currently showcasing their ground-breaking mobile phone batteries, which apply the same super-fast charging technology - using synthesised organic molecules to move "ions from an anode to a cathode at a speed that was not possible before".

Doran Myersdorf, Storedot CEO, explained, "We are just starting work on electric vehicles. We intend to show in one year a model of a car that can charge in three minutes. We are 100 per cent sure we can deliver, because the know-how of how you take one cell and combine thousands of them together has already been done by Tesla."

See more of Storedot's CES demonstration.

New UK driving licences to feature Union Jack

At some point in the summer of 2015, British driving licences will be changed to include a picture of the Union Jack. The change will affect drivers in England, Scotland and Wales who apply for a new licence or update their details with the DVLA.
Since 1998, driving licences in the UK have displayed the flag of the European Union, and not the Union Jack, a fact which seems to have irked some members of the UK government for a while now. Talk of reintroducing the Union Jack goes back to 2012, before the Union Jack itself was brought into question by the Scottish referendum on independence.

"People in this country rightly take pride in our national flag, which is why I am delighted it will now be displayed on British driving licences. Celebrating Britain strengthens our sense of national identity and our unity. I will feel proud to carry my new licence and I hope others will too" said Transport Minister Claire Perry.

The new cards, which will be the only part of a British driving licence when the paper component is phased out in June, will look something like this:

UK driving licence

UK to introduce "drugalyser" roadside tests

In 2015, roadside drug tests will be trialled in England and Wales as part of the UK government's "crackdown on drug-driving". Recently approved "drugalyser" test kits take samples of saliva and can accurately detect cocaine and marijuana, though no other narcotic.

The plan is announced after widespread criticism of such an approach, including safety and drug enforcement experts labelling roadside drug tests "ineffective" and "relatively unnecessary".

Mike Penning, Minister for Policing, insisted, "The Government is determined to drive this menace from our roads. Those who take the wheel while under the influence of drugs put their own lives at risk, plus those of innocent motorists and their passengers."

For more information on drugs and driving, visit the EMCDDA's wesbite.