A review of 313 new cars across 28 brands by the RAC found that just eight models came with a spare wheel as standard.
The trend means there are an increasing number of breakdowns where drivers need help in the event of a unrepairable flat tyre.
The dramatic decline of the spare wheel has had a stark effect on RAC breakdown call-out volumes with patrols going out to nearly 200,000 jobs last year where drivers experienced a puncture but found they had no spare wheel (up from around 165,000 in 2018).
And the situation is not going to change with the advent of electric vehicles either, with cars needing to use the space that in some cases was once the home of the humble spare wheel to accommodate battery packs.
Spare wheels have increasingly fallen out of favour with car manufacturers as tougher legislation demanded that they do all they can to reduce emissions.
With a spare wheel easily adding up to 20kg to the overall weight of a vehicle, removing them from the standard list of equipment supplied with a new car has been an easy change for manufacturers to make to increase fuel efficiency.
“Getting a puncture on a journey has to be one of the most irritating breakdowns for drivers, especially if it’s as a result of hitting one of the plethora of potholes that currently characterise so many of our roads,” said RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis.
“In the past, a driver could have reached for the spare wheel in the boot but this new analysis shows that these are now pretty much a thing of the past, with a minuscule number of new cars sold in the UK coming with one as standard.
“Interestingly, in many cases drivers ordering a new car can still buy a spare wheel – whether that’s a full-size one or the more common lightweight ‘space saver’ type – as an optional extra. This might turn out to be a wise investment if you are one of the many drivers who unfortunately suffers a puncture.”
The Vatican has teamed up with Volkswagen to replace the city state’s entire car fleet with electric vehicles by 2030.
At the beginning of 2024, VW will deliver some 40 fully electric models from its ID family, ranging from the ID.3 to the ID.4 and ID.5.
The vehicles are part of the decarbonisation strategy of the world’s smallest state, aiming to make the fleet climate-neutral by 2030.
Imelda Labbé, Member of the Board of Management for Sales, Marketing and After-Sales at Volkswagen Passenger Cars, and Dr Christian Dahlheim, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Financial Services AG, personally handed over the first two EVs to the Vatican – a pair of ID.3 Pro Performance 2 models.
Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.
We head off for a trip down memory lane, taking all five generations of the Kia Sportage for a spin…
Originally launched in 1993, the Kia Sportage has been the backbone of the South Korean brand’s remarkable success story.
The popular family-sized SUV’s evolution perfectly reflects the manufacturer’s rapid rise since its single-model debut in 1991.
Just to put that into context – in year one the little Kia Pride achieved 1,786 sales. In 2022, Kia passed the important milestone of 100,000 sales per year, and 2023 is on track to be even better.
Over that time, Kia has developed a solid reputation for quality, reliability, design flair and innovation.
What’s more, the brand has become a driving force in the switch to electrification with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and 100% electric models in its line-up.
To mark the Sportage’s 30th birthday, Kia gave us the opportunity to sample all five generations. A fascinating day driving the models back-to-back, and here’s what we thought…
First generation (1993-2003)
UK sales: 10,897
The Kia Sportage was first launched in the Asian car market in 1993, reaching the UK in 1995. The example from the Kia heritage fleet we drove is a special edition all-wheel drive 2.0-litre XSE from its final year of production. It may look boxy and dated, but it’s surprisingly spacious and refined. Yes, the handling is wallowy, the gear change is a tad notchy and the seating position is particularly high in the rear, but it’s powerful enough and compares well with a Toyota RAV4 of the same vintage.
Second generation (2005-10)
UK sales: 23,371
Following a two-year break, the Sportage returned in 2005. Bigger and more grown-up, it featured mod cons such as central locking, adjustable wing mirrors and a CD player. Gaining a reputation for reliability over its production run, there was also extra space in the rear, a noticeable uplift in quality and a more composed feel on the road. The Sportage was going places. The heritage model we sampled was an XE 2.0-litre diesel (CRDi) all-wheel drive from 2007 – the year production of the Sportage moved from South Korea to Zilina, Slovakia, where the Sportage is still built today.
Third generation (2010-16)
UK sales: 95,626
With another big leap in quality, the Sportage bulked up and became a major player in the SUV market. Little quirks were finally ironed out (the indicator moved from the right to the left-hand side of the steering wheel), there was yet more space in the back for passengers, and it picked up a prestigious 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating. More comfortable than ever, modern touches include a USB port and a remote key fob, no less. The KX-3 AWD we drove dated from 2011, and though the 2.0-litre petrol engine lacked some of the punch of the diesel from the previous generation, the car itself handles well and has stood the test of time well and is still a solid second-hand SUV choice.
Fourth generation (2016-22)
UK sales: 197,547
Kia hit the jackpot with the curvaceous fourth-generation Sportage, which is still a cracking car. Surprisingly dynamic to drive for an SUV, it was also comfortable and spacious. The first Sportage to be offered with an electrified option (a mild hybrid model joined the petrol and diesel options in 2018), the Mk4 is so good that it could still be on sale today. In fact, the only age giveaways are the manual handbrake, the modest infotainment screen and a liberal dose of buttons and dials.
Fifth generation (2022-)
The best just got better. The latest version of the Sportage was launched in 2022, delivering a winning blend of striking looks, hi-tech interior, practicality, top safety features, driving engagement and big bang for your bucks. Crowned What Car? ‘Best Family SUV’, it’s available as a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV), Hybrid Electric (HEV) and Mild Hybrid (MHEV). In PHEV form it has a theoretical fuel economy of 252mpg, and an emissions-free EV driving range of up to 43 miles. And as ever, the Sportage offers peace of mind because it’s backed by Kia generous seven-year warranty.
So, Kia has now established itself as one of the top five car brands in the UK – a brilliant feat in just three decades. In fact, since its 1991 debut, it’s sold some 1.5 million cars in the UK alone.
And in July 2023, Kia UK reached the 50,000 EV sales milestone, an important step in its journey to having nine EVs by 2027.
A survey by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has found that 48% of UK van drivers admit that they overloaded their vans.
This is despite the fact that 89% of drivers claim to know the legal weight restriction for their light commercial vehicle (LCV).
Overloading your vehicle by as much as 30% of its gross vehicle weight could lead to a fine of up to £300, meaning the nation’s van drivers are risking a combined £703 million in penalties.
Anything above 30% overloaded and offenders may even be issued with a court summons and a custodial sentence in the most serious cases.
The survey also found that 66% of younger drivers (aged 18-24) had overloaded their van in 2022, followed by 63% of driver aged 65 or over.
Additionally, the research revealed that carpenters are the tradespeople most likely to overload their vans (63%), closely followed by builders (60%), electricians (55%) and painter decorators (55%).
Overloading penalties In the UK, the maximum gross vehicle weight for an LCV is 3.5 tonnes (3,500kg), rising to 4.25 tonnes (4,250kg) for an alternatively-fuelled vehicle, such as an all-electric Volkswagen ID. Buzz.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ Working With You promise supports customers throughout the entire vehicle purchasing process, including the selection of the correct van for business requirements. This is available across the entire Van Centre network of 60 sites and 30 Authorised Repairers in the UK.
Actor, TV personality and former footballer Vinnie Jones has chosen the Isuzu D-Max AT35 with premium accessories as his personal vehicle.
He will use the tough pick-up truck while filming his new Discovery Channel TV show, showcasing his love for country sports and wild space management.
Vinnie’s new Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35, finished in the sleek Obsidian Grey colour, is equipped with a range of accessories that perfectly match his rugged style and active lifestyle, including a Black Mountain Roll Top, Sports Bars, Tow Pack, Accessory Front Grille, and Lazer Lights.
For Vinnie, the Isuzu D-Max AT35 is more than just a vehicle – it’s an unwavering companion, ready to conquer challenging terrain and off-road adventures, whether on or off screen.
“As a proud Isuzu UK dealer and official Arctic Trucks partner, we’re committed to delivering a premium customer experience,” said Bob Russell, Business Manager at official Isuzu UK dealership Crawfords Automotive, which facilitated the collaboration.
“In collaboration with Vinnie Jones, a man who enjoys bespoke luxury products and working with premium businesses, we’re privileged to be counted among those who truly understand the art of supplying premium vehicles with the most personalised of services.”