Hummer COIF tests get thumbs-up
Aug02

Hummer COIF tests get thumbs-up

Commissioned and designed by US Autos with the collaboration of VOSA it has taken almost two years to bring a Hummer H2 up to COIF standards – and now a certificate is expected to be issued imminently. The complete re-design and redevelopment by some of the UK’s best bus and coach engineers has resulted in a number of changes which are unique to this vehicle and has made it the first Hummer in the world to be bought up to these standards. The vehicle was recently seen brake testing a MIRA where a team of trained engineers spent several days monitoring the vehicles stopping capabilities along with testing turning circles which all proved successful. When the vehicle has received the thumbs-up from the COIF testing station, the H2 will be recognised as an EU approved, Class M3, COIF’d PSV minibus which will allow it to carry up to sixteen passengers safely and legally. Just some of the work has seen a new steering system and parts of the front suspension being re-designed and new parts manufactured. The brake system has been modified with an electromagnetic brake retarder installed on the prop shaft and fully integrated with the ABS system. The new design weight is 6050kgs and all steering and suspension components are certificated and signed-off for this weight and approved by VOSA and VCA. In accordance with 2006 regulations, a speed limiter to 100kph is fitted. The stretch is 180” and the major bodywork changes include raising the roof by 5” and increasing the size of both rear doors to 1210 x 530mm so either door may be used as the emergency exit. Peter Fusco from US Autos commented; “We have cut no corners in adapting this vehicle. We have been working closely with a senior test inspector from VOSA who has been acting as the official consultant on this project from day one. We are excited about this project which I feel is going to move the industry forward and will obviously prove invaluable for any operator.” Standard vehicle specifications include sixteen side facing seats, disco floor with custom carpeting, full width bar across partition, second bar next to emergency exit, reversing camera and coach monitoring camera with driver’s roof mounted drop down screen. It is also fitted with PlayStation 2, karaoke machine, smoke machine, large ice box replaces front passenger seat, under car lighting with colour changing and sequencing, lights with driver only controls, all bars and edge lighting, three 9” flat TV screens, Limotouch system and dual alternators/ air con/ batteries. Orders now being taken with a build time twelve weeks and are priced at £115,000...

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Legal loophole puts stretch limo fleet out of action
Aug02

Legal loophole puts stretch limo fleet out of action

By Leo Leonidou The Director of a limousine company has called on the authorities to grant the vehicles a temporary licence allowing them to operate stretch-limousines on the island. At present, the Road Transport Department has not licensed any of the vehicles, as there is no legislation in place governing cars measuring over six metres. Angelos Assiotis is the head of Cyprus VIP Services, provides clients with limousines, yachts and helicopters for hire. Along with Cyprus Limousines and Limos Cyprus, a fleet of 11 Chrysler, BMW and Lincoln cars were brought to Cyprus last August. “We have been in discussions with the Road Transport Department regarding the possibility of being granted a temporary licence until the relevant legislation was passed.  However, they have been dragging their feet and keep referring us to other departments and stalling.” He added that the company wanted to operate legally and would do whatever is necessary to secure the relevant documentation. The companies’ stretch limos have been in circulation, but Assiotis said he has now ordered them off the road after the police started to clamp down on the situation. “Two of our cars were recently impounded by officers,” he said. He attributed part of the clampdown as coming from pressure exerted by the island’s 2,000 taxi drivers who fear limousine companies will take business away from them. “They shouldn’t worry as we are aiming for a completely different type of customer wanting to hire a limo for a special occasion such as a hen or stag party, wedding, anniversary or birthday. We have a vision and that includes higher class tourism.” He also said Cyprus is the only EU country without a legal, regulated limousine service. Stretch limousines are regulated under EU law but Cyprus is yet to harmonise with the provision. “It’s a shame. The government should congratulate us, not make life difficult for us,” he stated. “We are very proud to be Cypriots but our leaders need to share our vision and look to the future. I feel as though we are sometimes living in a third world country.” Director of the Road Transport Department, Soteris Kolettas, hit back at Assiotis’ claims. “We have been in discussions with all interested parties for a while now and have prepared draft legislation in record time, which is on the way to the Attorney-general for approval before going before Parliament.” Kolettas confirmed that limousines are not allowed to legally circulate on the roads as they are not registered motor vehicles, which are also not in possession of insurance cover as public service vehicles. “If they have been on the roads, they have been acting...

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Industry figures say limo crash test was unfair
Aug02

Industry figures say limo crash test was unfair

Key figures within the limousine industry have claimed the crash testing of a limousine on primetime TV as ‘unrealistic’. Motoring programme Fifth Gear recently aired the crashing of a 1993 Lincoln Town Car against a solid wall at 50mph to ‘highlight the importance of seatbelts’. If anyone knows anything about limousine safety it’s Gregory Beck – Gregory is the engineer who handles most of Krystal Enterprises’ safety compliance and has overseen its crash tests for many years. Last year, Krystal was the first company to crash test a Chrysler 300 limousine with impressive results. After watching the crash test, Gregory couldn’t believe some of the points which were raised in the feature.  Gregory told European Limousine News; “This was not the first high speed crash test of a stretch limo – as stated.  They have been performed for many years by the builders and by Ford and GM.’ He added; “The impact speed used in the video into a concrete barrier involved over 200% of the energy involved in hitting a parked car at highway speeds.  The reason it looked like such a bad crash is that it was.  It would take some pretty irresponsible driving to accomplish this in the real world. Krystal follows US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 201 by making certain that all necessary interior surfaces are rounded and/or padded so as to make them safer if a passenger impacts them.  Also the glasses are of a safety type and fracture in a safe manner. Gregory summed up by commenting; “Krystal, and the limousine manufacturing industry in general, continually stress that limousine occupants (no matter what direction their seat is facing) must wear seat belts at all times.  This goes for any passenger car, stretched or not.” Other people within the limousine industry had views on the footage – Ian Laidler from limospares.com pointed out how well the 1993 limousine actually coped with the crash test. “It is clear even this old limo, after years of hard use and countless million miles on the clock still met the requirements of QVM crash testing. I feel this is something that they should have celebrated more than they did. It is also quite clear that even at 20mph faster than QVM test, it’s still a very strong construction.” Ian commented. Ian also believed changes were made to the vehicle to make the footage ‘more dramatic’. “I would suggest some of the rear seat mounting brackets have been loosened or removed to add to the dramatic effect for TV purposes as they would certainly not come out that easy. Just ask anyone who has had their seats re-upholstered...

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Arsonists strike at limousine company
Aug02

Arsonists strike at limousine company

Arsonists torched a limousine company just days after one of its cars was involved in a fatal motorway crash. Twelve limousines thought to be worth around £1million, were destroyed in the blaze at Just Limos in Dagenham recently. It happened two days after one of its limousines was involved in an accident in which a two-year-old died. Its been said two people were seen loitering by Just Limos before the fire broke out in the early hours of the morning where eight fire engines and 40 fire fighters battled for almost five hours to control the blaze. A spokesperson for the police said: “We are investigating an arson attack at an industrial unit used by a company called Just Limos. Police from Barking and Dagenham were called by the Fire Brigade at 12.48am. Evidence of an accelerant was found at the premises. There were no injuries.” The burnt out cars are limousines such as Hummers, Harley Davidson’s, and Chryslers. After the fire the unit the company used was declared unsafe by the Fire Brigade. A spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade said: “Two of the units on the site were completely gutted by fire. Another unit was partially damaged. The owners of Just Limos did not want to talk about the incident and commented; “I just want to get on with our lives.” The cause of the blaze is under investigation. In another incident – A terrified mother has told how she and her children ran for their lives when their limousine company was also targeted by arsonists. Lyn Thompson runs 1st Choice Leisure in East Bergholt with husband Phil. She said the attack – which left a blazing car right next to their home – could have put the lives of their young children in danger. It is the second attack on a limousine company in a week. Two weeks ago the owner of BKPlimousines in Barham drove a blazing car out of a line of vehicles to stop them all catching fire. Last Tuesday’s attack happened while Mr Thompson was out working in one of the company’s two limousines. Mrs Thompson had put their daughters, aged eight and four to bed in the family’s bungalow. As she went to bed, a limousine parked just feet from the bedroom became engulfed in flames and she had a race against time to get them out of the house. Mrs Thompson, 40, said: “It was very frightening. Whether they waited for my husband to go out or it was a coincidence I don’t know. “I had just got into bed and I heard a noise and thought it was a...

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Limousine operator fined £14k
Aug02

Limousine operator fined £14k

A Bradford-based limousine operator has been fined £14,200 including costs after a series of extremely serious irregularities were discovered. Mohammed Saleem Nawaz, who trades as Oasis Limousines Ltd, received the £10,200 fine plus £4,000 costs for a range of offences including driving without insurance, fraudulent use of registration plates, fraudulent use of Vehicle Excise Duty and not having a PSV operator licence or a Certificate of Initial Fitness (COIF). Mr Nawaz also had 31 points endorsed on his driving licence at Leeds Crown Court earlier this month. The defendant originally claimed he had attempted to obtain an O-licence but this was disproved and he then stated his intention to make an application in due course. He was instructed to repay the debt at a minimum rate of £500-per-month, and warned that failure to do so would almost certainly lead to a prison sentence. It was only after an exceptional hardship case was fought that Mr Nawaz escaped disqualification. He is also due to face proceedings for further offences, again relating to a failure to obtain the correct PSV licences and O-licences and associated offences. VOSA’s Head of Traffic Enforcement Policy Neil Barlow said: “Although we are more than aware that the majority of limousine operators conduct their business in a safe fashion, VOSA will continue to crackdown on the reckless minority who put the public at risk in this way. The fines imposed show just how seriously we take this issue, and this was an exceptionally good piece of work from our team in Leeds.” “VOSA is continuing to work with the Police, Department for Transport and industry groups to ensure safe operation of this type of vehicle. We advise members of the public to check at least the following points prior to making a booking. Does the driver hold a PCV driving licence and has he been screened by the Criminal Records Bureau? Does the vehicle contain basic safety items (first aid kit, fire extinguisher)? Do the forward-facing seats have seatbelts? Anyone in doubt should call VOSA’s hotline on 0870 60 60...

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Chauffeurs gather for Ascot hospitality
Jul20

Chauffeurs gather for Ascot hospitality

Thousands of chauffeurs gathered recently for yet another record breaking Royal Ascot week in Berkshire. For the first time, chauffeurs were offered refreshments and a place to meet in the biggest car park dedicated to limousines. The Chauffeur magazine and the Chauffeur Drive ’07 teams offered free refreshments to the industry, and certainly had their work cut out. More than 1100 teas and coffees were served, over 30 large gateaux were consumed and another 800 pre-registrations were received for the forth-coming Chauffeur Drive ’07 in September. Also, on display at the Drive ’07 marquee was a Maybach 62 which chauffeurs took the opportunity to discover, along with a Mirage luxury people carrier supplied by South-East Coachworks based in Kent. Paul Gibson, Managing Director of The Chauffeur magazine commented; “It was an excellent week, and I am really pleased that chauffeurs and limousine drivers enjoyed our hospitality. He added; “It was also great to meet so many from the industry who also gave their support to Drive ’07 and gave us a great opportunity to talk with them about their work and the future of the industry. I would like to thank Eddie and Neil from A1 Stretch for supporting the hospitality this year.’ The event was busy as normal, except for the first day which was said to be the quietest first day of the races for many years. However, ladies day was just as expected as around 500 limousines gathered in car park eight. Krystal UK has displayed its latest offerings in the car park this year, as it boasts its newest models sold with SVA certificates. Nick Clarke from Krystal UK commented; “The Royal Ascot was an ideal opportunity to show for ourselves the quality of a Krystal limousine. Even though we receive excellent publicity on the work we do, many still do not realise the time and effort which goes behind these vehicles. It was also a record year for largest operator A1 Stretch limos based in Hemel Hempstead. The company supplied 38 vehicles for ladies day, but the Friday proved most popular with 44 limousines being hired for private...

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