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Daily news round upBack


Car dealer Swansway to reveal benefits of treating staff like family members

Treating employees much like an extended family drives performance, but only if there is genuine commitment from senior personnel, Swansway Group director Peter Smyth will tell delegates at this year’s AM and Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) People Conference.

Smyth will take to the stage to give his insights into how to engage employees in a way that motivates rather than being a tick box exercise at the event which takes places on June 11 at The Park Plaza Riverbank in London, before the prestigious AM100 Dinner.

The conference – now in its second year and still unique in automotive retail – focuses on the industry’s greatest asset, its people and explores a range of topics including attracting high calibre apprentices, developing individuals and nurturing ‘home-grown’ talent as well as highlighting the IMI’s measures to create a more professional sector.

Family-owned group Swansway is well-placed to talk about employee engagement having celebrated their fifth consecutive year in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for list with a current position of 34 compared to 75 when it was first listed. The list recognises businesses that provide a great working experience for staff and are based totally on anonymous staff surveys.



Banks’ direct loans could threaten car dealer revenue

Dealers are urged to sharpen up the way they display online finance offers now Lloyds Banking Group has become the first bank to launch secured digital car finance in the UK. Some dealers see a bigger threat as banks assess the rising potential of direct loans.

Initially, Halifax Car Plan Extra is restricted to eligible customers buying used cars through dealerships but it will be extended to new car PCP and HP deals by the summer. Halifax customers can prearrange secured finance for a used car and have the money transferred to a dealership when a sale is agreed.

Mark Standish, chief executive at MotoNovo Finance, said direct lenders always have the potential to damage dealers’ F&I revenues: “Lloyds’ offer, as a secured lending proposition, has the potential to disrupt more than just the finance sale. In a PCP sale there are implications for the whole part exchange, guaranteed minimum future value and monthly rental scenario.
“I suspect some dealers may be reviewing their finance suppliers to get the best level of dealer centric support. Dealers reticent about online finance online will be thinking carefully about the threat that is now very clear.”




Mercedes-Benz dealer Rygor to celebrate Vito launch

Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealer group Rygor is celebrating the launch of the new Vito with a competition to win Grand Prix tickets.

The new Vito van is being unveiled on the Mercedes-Benz stand this week at the CV Show, while Rygor will be continuing the celebrations in and around its branches over the next few weeks.

When booking and taking a new Vito test drive through a Rygor branch before June 13, customers will be entered into a prize draw to win one of two pairs of tickets to the British Grand Prix.

Tim Stacey, managing director at Rygor, said: “The team at Rygor is getting excited for the launch of the much anticipated, new Vito. We have had the opportunity to preview the new model, which is packed full of fantastic features and even more options than ever before. I have no doubt that our customers will love test driving the new Vito and we look forward to welcoming everybody to our branches over the next few weeks.”


Europcar to launch car share subsidiary Ubeeqo in the UK

Rental giant Europcar is to launch its business-to-business car share subsidiary Ubeeqo in the UK in the second half of 2015.

Ubeeqo already operates in France and Belgium, is being set up in Germany and Ken McCall, managing director, Europcar UK Group, has confirmed that “it is expected that the first Ubeeqo operations in the UK will roll out during the course of the second half of 2015”.

The move towards what Ubeeqo calls “corporate car fleet pooling” is reflective of what the company says is a trend for employees and directors to book a car from a central stock rather than having exclusive use of one.

Car sharing demand is also reflective of changing trends from one of car ownership to car usage.

McCall said: “With Ubeeqo and other developments in the pipeline, our focus is on car usage. We think that fits with an overall change in behaviours, from car ownership to car usage, with ride-sharing particularly appealing for those living and working in cities.”

However, he disputes that the move by the world’s largest daily rental businesses into car sharing is a departure from their traditional business model.




Number of new cars with digital radio up 100,000

There were 450,000 new cars registered in Q1 2015 with digital radio as standard, an increase of 100,000 on Q1 2014, according to CAP/SMMT.

In the past year, nearly 1.5 million new cars registered in the UK have had digital radio fitted as standard.

In Q1 2015 the percentage of all cars sold with digital radio as standard was 61.1%. This compares to 50.4% in Q1 2014 and 35.4% in Q1 2013.

The increase in digital radio in new cars comes as UK new car sales have rebounded to reach new levels. Overall, new car registrations for March 2015 were a record 492,774, of which 302,000 came with DAB as standard.

Mike Hawes, CEO of the SMMT, hailed March 2015 as “the best month this century for new car registrations”.

The top selling car in the UK remains the Ford Fiesta which sold almost 40,000 new cars in Q1 2015. Ford has confirmed that in May 2015 the Fiesta will introduce digital radio as standard across most of its models in the UK, including the best-selling Fiesta Zetec, which means that 90% of all Fiesta sales will have digital radio as standard.

Five of the top 20 selling car brands in the UK (Audi, BMW, Mini, Land Rover and Jaguar) now have digital radio as standard in 100% of their models and a further eight (Ford, Vauxhall, VW, Nissan, Mercedes, Toyota, Citroen and Skoda) have digital radio as standard in the majority of all models.

The key factor behind the widespread adoption of digital radio as standard in UK cars has been the Government policy of planning for a future radio switchover, which has prompted the expansion of National BBC DAB coverage to 97% and the expansion of local DAB coverage to 91% (comparable with commercial radio FM coverage).

A further factor for vehicle manufacturers has been the increase in digital listening with the success of BBC and commercial digital-only stations and the announcement of the launch of 15 digital stations on the D2 National network in Q1 2016.


Tax disc confusion hits motorists

Thousands of motorists are having their cars towed away and are being charged fines after unwittingly falling foul of car tax rule changes introduced by the DVLA, The Guardian has reported.

Figures obtained by Guardian Money reveal that DVLA clampings have risen dramatically since October, when the agency did away with paper vehicle excise duty discs.

Before the changes DVLA was clamping about 5,000 vehicles a month, but this has surged to more than 8,000 – with motorists horrified to discover their cars being towed away without even a warning letter from the agency. In total, more than 100,000 vehicles are likely to be clamped this year compared with 60,000 the year before.

While most motorists know that tax discs are no longer required, what is catching out many is that vehicle excise duty is automatically cancelled if a car changes ownership – even if there is a valid disc in the window.

Previously, anyone selling a used car could post adverts saying ‘Taxed and MOTd’ until a certain date. But now when a car is sold the tax, even if it has many months to run, automatically expires and the new owner has to tax it again. It is this change that is exposing drivers to clamping by the DVLA and large fines.

The DVLA says it has worked with motor traders and written to new owners to make them aware of the change, but plenty of motorists have found their vehicles clamped or towed away after being given a taxed car by a relative, or even swapping cars within a family. Those who are caught out have no right of appeal to an independent body and say that the DVLA is acting unfairly.




Fleet solutions select Brown Brothers

Brown Brothers Distribution has announced it has been awarded the paint and dry goods supply contract for Fleet Solutions.

The supply partner agreement with Brown Brothers Distribution is based on the supply of PPG paint systems and delivery of technical support to optimise performance and boost bodyshop productivity across the Fleet Solutions business.

Fleet Solutions (Scotland), a major vehicle refurbishment centre in Livingston, Scotland, has also chosen the Bodyline ancillary range as the dry goods solution for the bodyshops following extensive trials on product performance; this further demonstrates the value provided by the Brown Brothers Distribution bodyshop proposition.

Fleet Solutions (Scotland) were looking for a forward thinking partner that could support them improve their business. The Brown Brothers Distribution holistic wet and dry goods approach was fundamental to being selected by Fleet Solutions; coupled with a strong relationship focus commitment to improvement delivered by the Brown Brothers team to help its customers drive efficiency.

Alan Arthur, director at Fleet Solutions (Scotland) Ltd commented, ‘Brown Brothers have demonstrated a truly proactive approach which is exactly what we look for in a paint and distribution partner. The quality of the product systems is superb, and this is complemented by first class technical support from the PPG and Brown Brothers team.’

Gethyn Davies, Brown Brothers Distribution managing director commented, ‘We are delighted to have been selected as the paint, dry goods and distribution partner to Fleet Solutions (Scotland).This is a testament to the value we provide to our customers through our partnership approach. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Fleet Solutions team to achieve process improvements through our product, training and technical solutions.’




Pressure mounts on used van values

Auctions continue to see rising numbers of used vans in poor condition hitting the market putting pressure on values.

BCA’s head of commercial vehicles, Duncan Ward, said: “We continue to see rising volumes of poor condition or similar model vans reaching the used market, which is creating some pressure on average values.

“We have been predicting a tipping point in used values for some time and both fleet and lease and dealer part-exchange vans averaged lower values in March 2015 than a year ago.”

Ken Brown, editor with Cap Red Book said the shortage of stock experienced in 2014 were long gone.

“In January we saw increased auction entries which we initially thought may be the result of pent up supply caused by the Christmas Holidays, however, this has continued throughout February and March.

“At auctions, generally dealers and professional buyers are being far more discerning over condition which, along with the improved supply situation, is putting downward pressure on prices.

“Overall, Red Book Guide values have been falling since January. Sales conversion rates have slipped so auction re-entries are masking the true level of supply,” he said.

BCA said average values for light commercial vehicles in March rose 1.5% to £5,616.




IMI launches online training modules for technicians

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has launched six online vehicle diagnostics training modules for technicians.

The free to access modules, available through the IMI’s eLearning platform, are aimed at individuals with a background in car maintenance and level 3 qualifications.

They provide technicians with an opportunity to brush up their diagnostic skills and learn new ones.

The project came about as IMI identified diagnostic expertise as a major skills gap in the vehicle maintenance.

The modules cover diagnostic procedures for different electrical systems around a vehicle.

The resources will take the form of advanced simulations which allow participants to undertake the diagnostic process in a virtual environment.

The new resources will offer an opportunity for IMI to leverage its eLearning platform, which is currently utilised in over 200 colleges in the UK, to support the wider motor industry.

IMI already hosts a portfolio of CPD learning opportunities built around partnerships with training providers around the UK.

IMI CEO Steve Nash said: “Up-skilling the sector is a central objective for IMI. Modern vehicle technology continues to advance at pace and diagnostic expertise is becoming ever more critical part of the vehicle servicing process.”




MFG and Euro Garages acquire bulk of Shell sell-off sites

Shell UK has accepted offers for the sale of 185 company-owned service stations from Motor Fuel Group and Euro Garages, following a confidential commercial process to find the right independent dealers to purchase up to 250 Shell sites, which began last Autumn.

Motor Fuel Group (MFG) has acquired 90 sites, while 68 sites have been sold to Euro Garages – which recently confirmed the acquisition of 104 sites from Esso’s network sale.

Shell has already exchanged contracts for 158 sites, with contracts for the remaining 27 service stations being exchanged in the coming weeks. Handover of sites to the new owners will be completed by the end of 2015.

David Moss, Shell’s retail general manager, North Europe, said: “I’m pleased these dealers have chosen to grow their businesses with Shell and are as committed as we are to delivering high-quality products and customer service. Our retail business is going from strength to strength, with record sales of our premium fuel, Shell V-Power Nitro+, the growth of our popular Deli2Go food and beverage range, and our new relationship with PayPal, which will offer mobile payment to more than four million customers a week.”

The 185 service stations are spread across Great Britain and will retain the Shell brand. Dealers will continue to sell Shell’s fuels for at least the first five years following the sale.




Chevin adds health check alerts to FleetWave

Fleet management software company Chevin has added health check alerts to its FleetWave telematics software, allowing the firm to modify the system according to how customers are using it.

The alerts create real-time reports to illustrate how performance can be improved by feeding back information back to Chevin’s team which can look at ways in which customers use the software before making changes.

“FleetWave is a system that is constantly evolving with new features and modifications made at the suggestion of our internal experts and external customers as well as to meet changing legislation,” said Flyss Williams, support team leader. “The software can be configured in an almost limitless number of ways with dozens of different modules and reports available.”

“What health check alerts enable us to do is monitor specific systems and the way in which they are used so that we can make proactive improvements and deliver world-class support for every client, regardless of their system configuration,” said Williams.”




Just under 100,000 vans registered during record-breaking Q1

Just under 100,000 new vans were registered during the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest Society of Motor Manufacturer figures.

The SMMT said last quarter was the best on record. In total, 97,775 vans were registered between January and March, a 22.3% increase on the same period last year.

According to the SMMT, the increase reflects a upturn in the UK’s economy with businesses being able to invest in vehicles to help deliver an increasing number of goods and services to consumers.

The best selling van of the quarter was the Ford Transit Custom with 12,627 registered, nearly 5000 ahead of the second-placed Vauxhall Vivaro while Volkswagen’s Transporter completed the top three with 5765 registrations.

“Commercial vehicles play a crucial role in the British economy and in supporting our everyday lives. There are currently some 4.4 million vans and trucks on British roads, delivering 81% of all goods and shifting almost 3000 tonnes of goods every minute. In 2014 alone, these vehicles covered 61 billion miles in the UK,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT. “Demand for vans is particularly strong as home deliveries continue to grow in popularity: 97,775 vans have been registered in the past three months – 22.3% up on the same period last year – and annual registrations are now nearing an all-time high.”



Posted by Lois Hardy on 13/04/2015