A popular app that engages learner drivers and driving instructors has successfully achieved it’s 50,000th pass.
Learning to drive can be one of the most stressful and costly experiences of our lives, making things that bit easier for new drivers is the UK’s most popular learner driver app, miDrive. The free app, available on IOS and Android platforms, helps users to improve their driving skills by using videos, blogs and lesson routes, preparing the students for life on the road.
miDrive have found a real gap in the market, and have proved their is a need for a digital service for learner drivers.The app, that also puts the learners in touch with their database of over 3,000 qualified and verified instructors, have now achieved their 50,000th successful pass.
Making Learning to Drive Fun
The app itself is smartly laid out, and asks the learner to set a goal of when they want to pass. Amongst all its helpful information, it also uses GPS so that learners can track their lesson back and help them learn their possible test journeys.
By completing activities within the app you unlock further activities, sort of like stages in a computer game, when you pass them you can move on to the higher levels. miDrive also offer a Theory Test which genuinely makes the whole experience of learning to drive a bit more fun. The Theory Test has an element of competition, you can test yourself, or play against other learner drivers.
CEO of miDrive, Scott Taylor said of their service:
“Learning to drive can be a stressful and expensive process. Our research has revealed that it can cost up to £1,500 to learn but our app can reduce this cost by up to £300. To reach 50,000 users in a year shows how miDrive is helping a community of learner drivers to pass their test in fewer lessons and become safer drivers.”
Scott continues: “And let’s not forget driving instructors – the app also an ideal platform to market their services. We will continue to innovative to attract both learners and instructors and build our community.”
A new car dealing startup is changing the way cars are sold, as their new shop sits in a shopping centre and uses a new mobile payment technology.
The Bluewater in Kent, where you might normally go for an evening at the cinema or in the day to purchase some new threads, will now host a new type of shop selling Hyundais. Rockar, situated a short walk away from Marks and Spencer, will be the first car sales company to take the advantages of digital retail and employ them into a traditional store.
Inspired by Apple
Simon Dixon, the founder of Rockar, was inspired by the selling and paying methods at the Apple store.
“We have turned the traditional car dealership process on its head. With our system and technology customers are in charge all the way.
“They make a tailored search based on their circumstances -budget, mileage, deposit, can book a solo test drive, sell their old car, choose suitable finance, build a new one and track delivery. It is up to them whether they speak to one of our staff.”
The store still has expert employees who are in store and ready to help, they are known as Rockar’s ‘Angels’. Each of them are armed with an online terminal plugged into their smartphone or tablet that allow the user to create secure deposit transactions and source key financial information.
Dixon explains that without the inconvenience of having to work from a till, the smart technology gives employees the freedom to aid and sell to the customer more freely.
“The flexibility and convenience we gain is very important for customer service. Angels aren’t tied to a till and they aren’t pushy sales people on commission, focussed on negotiation and pulling off a deal,
“Our product experts are immediately available and able to inform any customer coming in. We have positioned the cars to where people go naturally, rather than in locations where they have to make a specific journey. We also offer test drives and an all-makes service here too.”
Rockar are using the Barclaycard Anywhere service, which allows payments to be taken almost anywhere. The technology will do wonders for small businesses and could be game changing for mobile motor trade services such as valets or mechanics.
Already Taken £1 million
Rockar is barely 5 months old, yet it has already taken £1 million in sales and hopes to turnover £9 million in their first year. The company was originally backed by £5 million worth of private investment and has put down £3 million for a future lease commitment.
The idea has been massively popular and in their first 3 months of trading they had 62,000 visitors, which is more than the whole Hyundai network for that time. The new concept has even eaten into second hand car sales, with 72% of their customers saying they would normally buy a used car, and 48% used their current car as part exchange to purchase their new Hyundai.
Dixon himself has done his time in the motor trade but reflects that it was his time outside the business that really gave him the insight into the customer experience
“Being a customer, what they want when they buy a car. Understanding that perspective is the biggest thing I’ve learned and put into Rockar.”
Dixon hopes to open a number of new stores in locations around the UK, using a different car manufacturer each time.
A hand car wash company that have achieved a reputation for expert service within the sector are looking for franchise owners to invest in new sites around the UK.
Auto Valet have been supplying a high quality valet service for 20 years, and have earned a lot of respect with their customers and the motor trade industry. Their service runs within some of the main shopping malls, operating a “we wash while you shop” policy. They are now offering some very attractively priced franchise opportunities for clever entrepreneurs.
“They thought it was a crazy idea”
They were one of the first car washes of their kind in the UK, offering customers the chance to get their car washed while they are out shopping. When Stella O’Shea, Auto Valet’s Managing Director, launched the operation she had a team of two valeters at Brent Cross Shopping Centre in North London. The mall’s management weren’t sold on the idea initially, but it soon became a resounding success and now you can find them in shopping centres and malls across the UK.
“They thought it was a crazy idea and would never succeed as customers would never take up the service. Having spent 10 years as a business consultant, both here and in the USA, specialising in business start ups, I managed to persuade them to trust my instinct that this was a great new concept and that it would be highly successful.
“As well as proving there was a demand for a ‘wash while you shop’ service, I had to devise a specific technique to hand wash a car suitable for the car park to prevent any splashes landing on the car beside the one being cleaned.”
Stella came up with the concept while on her way to a wedding. She stopped to buy a card from a shopping centre and realised it would be a perfect time to get her car washed, it would save her much needed time.
Investments starting from £10,000
Now, with investments starting from £10,000 plus VAT and working capital, entrepreneurs can start their own ‘wash while you shop’ Auto Valet franchise. Stella is inviting budding entrepreneurs to share the business’ success, “Our brand is aspirational – it offers customers a lifestyle choice, not just a car wash,”
The car wash and shopping service has become much in demand, and Stella’s Brent Cross business now employs 40 washers and valeters, and the company as a whole runs at another 24 sites. They are hoping to offer their excellent service and value for money in many more sites around the country.
If you require Valet Insurance or another kind of Motor Trade Insurance, part time or full, please head this way for more information.
The lead up to the autonomous car has been a long one, but one that is finally looking to be a reality. The review on driverless cars in the UK has begun and it is looking ever more certain that we will see a new billion dollar autonomous vehicle industry in the next decade or two.
The idea of cars that drive themselves has been around for over half a century, we’ve all seen a television clip at one point or another that shows off “The Car of the Future!”
The Past Attempts at Autonomous Drivers
Projects that actually sought to try the technology have been around since the late 60s. In Paris, 1969, a new method of transport called the Aramis Personal Rapid Transport was being formulated.
Aramis would see roads that had a high influx of traffic replaced by a system which allowed small cars to attach to a magnetic track essentially becoming a part of a train. This meant that the driver could then relax until they needed to depart, and then the train of cars would be broken up as each car found its destination.
The project was a 15 year long failure due to cars bumping into each other and jarring during testing, but miscommunication and a lack of compromise were also nails in the project’s coffin.
The BBC’s fondly missed science and technology show, Tomorrow’s World, featured a car that drove presenter Michael Rodd along a dusty road in 1981, it didn’t seem to turn very much, but it drove him confidently in a straight line.It was definitely a shaky start into autonomy, but computers were starting to be used to drive the vehicle and progress was being made.
Almost a decade later, they featured another driverless car, this time built by Volkswagen, the technology would only allow it to parallel park but this was still an incredible feat, seeing as self parking cars have only recently come onto the car market more than 20 years after.
The parking method of the VW was incredibly strange, as both wheel arches were able to turn, which meant that it moved like a crab. See for yourself.
Driverless Cars in the 21st Century
Self driving cars still felt like a long way off, and all we had to keep us going for autonomy were robot vacuums, which only vaguely caught our attention when we saw that cat’s enjoy sitting on them.
Though behind the scenes in the early 2000s things were happening in the world of self driving cars and the Pentagon’s research agency, DARPA, was offering prizes in a grand challenge to scientists, engineers and inventors to build a fully working automated car.
Not one car passed the first tests in 2004, but by the third test in 2007 six cars passed.
Google Begins Work on Self Driving Car
Then the motor industry started taking autonomy more seriously and in 2010 Google, the search engine turned tech giant, had begun working on their own self driving car.
Google lobbied for laws to be put in place to allow road testing for robotic driving, they built self driving cars using the better for the environment, hybrid engined, Toyota Prius and Lexus RX.
Analysis of Google’s self driving cars showed that when a human was behind the wheel it accelerated and braked more sharply than when driving autonomously. The autonomous mode also kept a safer distance from the cars in front of it.
In 2012, Google released this video of a man, Steve Mahan, who happened to have lost 95% of his vision, and they put him in the Google self driving seat.
Driving to Taco Bell and the dry cleaners on their specially constructed and programmed route, Steve was amazed by how well the car drives, saying it’s better than his driving ever was, and that he hoped that when the technology was ready it would bring him more freedom to travel.
Midway through last year Google made their biggest announcement yet, that they had built their own car model, with no steering wheel, brakes or accelerator pedal (Steve came back to try it!), and shortly after a wave of autonomous vehicle technology began arriving.
Top Car Manufacturers Show Off Their Driverless Tech
BMW had created a valet system that allows you to leave your car in a multi storey car park and have it park itself, then come back again when it’s needed, just by speaking into a watch.
Mercedes also launched their Future Truck, which looks like it will soon make trucking the most cushy job in the world. The giant truck, with massively comfortable looking driving seat lets the driver take their eye of the road, then if required, the vehicle can alert the driver and push the driving seat into a level position again letting the driver take over. It even senses if an emergency vehicle requires to pass it.
Mercedes’ idea for normal autonomous vehicles looks incredibly swish. They have decided to go for the luxury transport stylings of history, using horse and carriage style seating, chairs facing each other inside their seemingly windowless, suave cocoon of a vehicle.
UK Wants to be World Leader of Driverless Technology
The onslaught of new technology has now inspired the government to get a piece of the action and the UK has said it wants to be a world leader of the technology and has allowed testing to go ahead in four British cities.
Last year £19 million was invested to launch four autonomous vehicle schemes in the UK, they will take place this year in Bristol, Milton Keynes, Coventry and South London.
Most recently the 2015 budget announced that a further £100 million would be invested by the Government and this investment would be matched by the UK motor industry to make a £200 million investment into driving autonomy.
Public Concern About Driverless Cars
Surprisingly, with this level of effort and expertise going into the technology, there are still people unsure of it.
Jack Dutton, a freelance writer, said in his Metro article Why I’m not getting in a driverless car, that “If I were in a driverless car I would worry constantly. I’d feel more stressed than I do driving now.” another of his counter arguments is about how much he enjoys driving, which seems strange for someone who finds it so stressful, but the lack of control when moving at possibly life threatening speeds is an understandable fear and it seems that many share it.
The poll that accompanies the article shows that 49% of people agree with Jack, and would not get in a driverless car. The stats are surprising seeing as one of the safest and most popular forms of transport is the aeroplane, which uses computers to fly on autopilot and to help land.
For readers who are still unsure, read what Steve Yianni of Catapult has to say,
“90% of (vehicle) accidents have human error associated with them. Safety of the devices, understanding the environment and understading the obstacles is the primary benefit of this kind of technology.”
Yianni works for the company that are making the odd looking driverless pod called the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) which is currently being tested in Milton Keynes and Coventry.
How to Insure an Autonomous Car
Another complication in the setup of driverless cars on public roads will be how to insure vehicles and what will be required of the drivers in charge of them. Think Insurance’s Jason Wilbrey had this to say:
“First of all testing must be done in all weather conditions, and the software be 100% faultless. There must be a period of live testing in certain areas before then rolling out to the world.
The effect autonomy would have on driving could be fantastic. Less accidents, no convictions, and lower premiums for insurance.
Though there would be issues if a driverless car had an accident with a human driven car, who would be to blame? There would need to be cameras on all vehicles to counter this.”
When Will We See Driverless Cars on the Road?
One of Google’s founders Sergey Brin, has said that their autonomous driving system will be available by 2018, which might be a tad optimistic, but we at Think are sure we will certainly begin to see driverless cars on the roads within the next decade and we can’t wait to have our first autonomous journey.
While most people in the motor trade dream of playing professional football, there is one professional footballer dreaming of selling cars. Jordan Seabright, The Torquay United goalkeeper, has recently left football behind to become a car salesman in his home town of Poole.
Jordan, aged 20, has played 6 times this season after signing for the The Gulls from Dagenham last Summer. He played last on the 17th January whilst away at Altrincham. The keeper denies any lack of ambition on the pitch, it’s rather the contrary as he is seeking success in other areas.
“If I’m honest, I fell out of love with the game, I didn’t really enjoy it any more, I didn’t see myself going anywhere and I want to have a career and be successful. It wasn’t a lack of ambition in football, but it was a good opportunity for me to come home and work in a good environment.”
The young keeper started playing in his hometown club, Poole Town before being snapped up at the age of 16 by AFC Bournemouth. He stayed for one season at Bournemouth and after being released, he then joined League 2’s Dagenham and Redbridge playing 11 times throughout the 12/13 and 13/14 season.
Jordan’s manager, Chris Hargreaves, was disappointed but supportive of his young player’s aspirations, he told the press:
”It’s a really brave decision, it’s a decision that I don’t think is necessarily the wrong decision, but the bigger factor is it disappoints me that he’s lost that dream. It’s unusual, but with someone like Jordan, who’s a bright lad and very switched on, he knows what he wants to do, he knows he wants security. He’s due to get married and I can see why he’s done it.”
Seabright will be selling Audis, but hasn’t wholly turned his back on the game, and plans to train locally in case he chooses to go back to the game in 6 months. Meanwhile, Torquay will be looking for a new keeper since they only have one other goalie with any first team experience, Martin Rice.
If like Jordan, you will soon be needing Motor Trade Insurance, then please visit Think Insurance. At think we create cost effective insurance plans tailored directly to you. At our sister site, Think Private, we also sell Footballer’s Insurance should you decide to become a professional footballer instead!
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