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Friday, August 22, 2014

Toyota IQ: The perfect budget city car?

Energy efficient city cars
Fuel efficient city cars reduce transportation expenses and make parking easier
By Arthur Wilson

City cars are becoming more and more popular due to the rising cost of fuel and lack of parking spaces. Toyota has made the iQ City Car which answers both of these problems. It is easy to park and cheap to run.

Toyota has designed a city car which has small dimensions but which still accommodates four people. The clever design makes it versatile and classy. The price is more than the Aygo or the Sandero but there is no other car on the market like it.

The iQ measures just under 3 metres in length which is slightly more than a Smart car but the compact dimensions make it easy to park in crowded cities and towns. Where this innovative car scores most highly is that, unlike other small city cars, this one will fit in four people. The dashboard is designed so that the front passenger is seated slightly further forward than the driver and this allows more space in the rear of the cabin.

That said, the rear will really only be suitable for a teenager and a car seat but it is still an impressive design. A word of warning though. Driving this car on the motorway can be a frightening experience so it is best to stay around the town. Crosswinds can blow the car about and it feels out of place in fast moving heavy traffic.


In the Toyota iQ City Car you can do a U-turn pretty much anywhere you want. The model has very light steering and handles well for such a tiny car. It is available with either a 1.0 litre three cylinder engine or a 1.33 litre four cylinder engine.

The car will achieve 0 to 60 mph in a leisurely 14 seconds but as it is so small this actually feels quite fast. The standard five speed manual transmission is better than the automatic box which is noisy. A small car like the iQ City Car will never be as comfortable as a larger vehicle and you can't adjust the steering but it has a good driving position with some elbow and shoulder room in the front. But, if you are tall forget it, as leg room is really limited.

The base model of the iQ has alloy wheels, a six speaker stereo and air conditioning. The better iQ2 also has automatic headlights, front fogs, climate control and a keyless entry system. Running costs are very low and the car is free from road tax due to the low emissions. On the whole insurance premiums are also very cheap.

Taking care of your IQ

Constantly driving around town can mean that both the exterior and interior of the car can get grubby very quickly so if you are acquiring an iQ, consider how to protect the vehicle and protect its sell-on value.

Think to yourself "Are my seats covered and protected, do my car mats fit correctly and will my iQ get scratched by other cars when parked at night?" 

Having correctly fitting car mats is one way to protect the interior, as well as seat covers. Also ensure that you check for chips in windscreen and get them fixed as soon as you seen them. The bigger they got, the more they will cost you to repair. 

Is the Toyota iQ the perfect city car?

For driving to and from work in a congested city like London or Manchester, the iQ is ideal. It's small and comfortable to drive. It may not be as stylish as a top of the range Aygo, but for the price to buy, insure and tax an iQ, it's certainly worth considering when buying on a budget.  

About the author: Written by motor journalist Arthur Wilson. Follow him on Twitter @Ayup_Arthur and let me know your thoughts!

Financial news: August 22, 2014

NYT: U.S. median inflation-adjusted income is lower now than it was 5 years ago 
BI: Rising U.S. wealth inequality is driven by the top 5%'s global investments
ZH: Market complacency evident in low VIX & VIX-ETN investment
CNN: Regulations do not eliminate dubious business practices per ex-FBI agent
MW: BofA's $16.5 billion fraud settlement nearly equals its previous 3yrs profit
Reuters: Family Dollar declined Dollar General's buy bid on antitrust concerns
Bloomberg: Wall St. banks to raise salaries 20% in '15 to deter industry defection
Nasdaq: U.S. manufacturing rose in August per PMI rise of 2.2 pts to 58
Phil. Fed: Mid-Atlantic manufacturing activity ↑ in August per 4.1 point index rise  
NAR: Existing home sales rose 2.4% in July to 5.15 million units, the year's high
Guardian: Sanitary closure of 4 McDonald's restaurants in Russia seen as political
BBC: Eurozone manufacturing growth slowed in August per PMI of 52.8

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The war on counterfeit tickets: The measures manufacturers are taking to avoid fakes

How manufacturers bypass fake tickets
Just as currency uses counterfeit precautions, so too do ticket producers
By Tammy Wiltshire

Summer has arrived, heralding the start of the festival season. Along with Wellington boots, tents and plenty of mud, this time of year also sees a dramatic increase in something decidedly less festive. Yes, we're talking about counterfeit tickets. Those passes to seeing your favourite bands or sports team (if you're heading to one of the many events of the summer, such as Wimbledon) that you bought for a suspiciously low price could be a complete waste of your money. So how do you sort the real thing from the pretenders, and what are manufacturers doing to ensure that legitimate tickets are easily distinguishable from the fakes?

Holographic foils

An increasingly popular way for manufacturers to set their tickets apart from counterfeit ones, holographic foils are easy to incorporate into the design and layout of a ticket, but extremely hard for forgers to replicate. Ticket buyers should look for holographic foil that is consistent with other tickets provided by the company or venue, and for something that creates a two or three-dimensional effect when light hits the holographic structures at different angles. Anything that looks flat or static should not be trusted, as a genuine holographic foil shifts and changes colours when moved under light.


Many tickets have barcodes on their labels. Using a barcode means that the tickets can be scanned at the entrance to the venue, helping the promoter or venue keep track of how many people have arrived. It is also a good way of making sure that if there is any suspicion over the legitimacy of the ticket, as it can be verified in a quick and simple way. If tickets being sold for an occasion have a barcode or serial number on them and yours does not, chances are it is a counterfeit. As barcodes are a popular choice amongst manufacturers, it is worth being sceptical if a ticket being sold does not include one.

UV markings

A slightly more high-tech sounding addition to a ticket, but one that many manufacturers are now using. Invisible under normal light, the UV markings will appear when a special UV scanner or light is used to check the ticket. Extremely hard for ticket forgers to re-create, this is a valuable addition weapon in the war against counterfeit tickets, and one that many manufacturers will be wise to use.

Coloured layers

Security paper is a great way to distinguish between a counterfeit and genuine ticket if a venue lacks modern technology such as barcode scanners. There is a layer of coloured paper that can only be seen when the ticket is ripped in half. The coloured layers are extremely difficult to mimic and a simple way of adding a subtle security feature to your tickets.

Quality materials

Finally, perhaps the most overlooked way to check if a ticket is genuine – but perhaps the easiest. Legitimate manufacturers will be in possession of the highest quality materials, so if the ticket is printed on to flimsy, paper-like material, it's more likely to be a fake. If you scratch the surface of your ticket with a coin or your nail and the ink smudges, it's very likely to be a counterfeit, as the professional printing facilities at a genuine manufacturer will produce tickets of a high quality finish.

The ongoing struggle

Of course, forgers’ abilities to recreate tickets are ever-evolving, but these weapons in the war against fake tickets are what manufacturers are using to assure customers that the tickets they have purchased are the real thing. If in doubt, check to see if any of the design features included on our list are present on your ticket, and keep some ticket stubs of your own to use as reference points. With this knowledge, you'll be free to enjoy your favourite events without the fear of being turned away at the entrance!

About the author: Tammy Wiltshire is the Marketing Manager for label manufacturers Labelnet, Tammy has worked in the industry for many years and understands the problem that counterfeit tickets are having on consumers and event companies.

Image: Kaz/Pixabay, US-PD

Financial news: August 21, 2014

ZH:  An audit found 1000's of companies fail to pay medical device tax
NYT: Walmart healthcare premiums are as low as $18/bi-monthly
MW: Corporate stock buybacks fell 20% in Q2, 2014 on ↓ deficit & stimulus
DOL: Jobless claoms 08/16, 298K, down 14K, average 300.75K, up 4.75K
AP: Target has lowered its annual profit outlook in wake of data breach
CNBC: Brake & acceleration vehicle tech. could lead to caravans of trucks
Fox: Capital from crowdfunding equity investors is subject to securities law
Reuters: An Alaska oil tax repeal will save oil companies up to $1 bln/yr
MBA: Week-over-week mortgage applications rose 1.4%
BI: Mortgage applications are now a weaker indicator of home sales
BBC: Proposed Argentinian law would acquire control of defaulted debt
Bloomberg: The BoE board of governors is split on interest rate rises