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Daily news round upBack

collectible car

Insurance prices remain static

Comprehensive car insurance premiums have held steady during the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest Car Insurance Price Index in association with Towers Watson.

This means that the average quoted premium for an annual comprehensive car insurance policy now stands at £591 in Q1 2015. This is a marginal quarterly decrease of just 0.5% (£3), and an annual decrease of £5 (0.8%).

This decrease in price, albeit minimal, is welcome news for motorists, who have been experiencing steadily increasing insurance premiums over the last two quarters, with prices rising in five of the last seven months.

This slight drop in premiums in Q1 2015, coupled with falling petrol prices over recent months, means that motorists have had the opportunity to enjoy some financial respite at the beginning of the year.

And no one will be more relieved than younger drivers across the UK, with 17 year olds now enjoying the cheapest insurance premiums since the Index began (2006). The average annual comprehensive car insurance policy for this age group now stands at £1,901 – down £83 quarter on quarter, and £302 annually.

It’s a similar story for 18 year olds, who also experienced a £207 reductions year on year (£83 over the quarter), taking their average premium down to £1,881. There’s further good news for all ‘younger drivers’, as the Index reveals that premiums for all motorists aged 30 and under are falling year on year.

However, it would seem that hitting the big 3-0 is signalling a shift in gear when it comes to insurance prices. Drivers aged between 30-42 have all seen their premiums increase year on year, with 37 year olds in particular hardest hit, with a yearly increase of four per cent (£18).



Dacia launches first LCV

Dacia has today announced plans to enter the UK light commercial vehicle market later this year with a commercial version of the Duster SUV, called the Duster Commercial.

The announcement was made at the start of the CV Show 2015, which runs at the NEC in Birmingham from today until April 16.

The new Duster Commercial models – available in 4×2 and 4×4 – have been created at the specific request of Dacia UK and Dacia Ireland, where car-derived vans account for 30% of the LCV market.

Andy Heiron, Dacia brand manager in the UK, said: “With the Dacia brand now established as part of the UK motoring landscape following two very successful years of growth, we now feel the time is right to launch a Duster product in the commercial vehicle sector. Having previously considered local adaptations, the shift of production location to Europe gave us the opportunity to have an N1-homologated product direct from the factory.



Tax change boosts appeal of demonstrator employee car ownership schemes (ECOS)

The Government has announced a reduction in the beneficial interest loan rate from 3.25% to 3% from April 6.

This will impact on car dealers offering loans to employees in an employee car ownership arrangement.

“The drop in interest rate makes the use of an employee car ownership arrangement for demonstrator cars more viable,” said Alastair Kendrick, employment tax director at MHA MacIntyre Hudson.

“These are largely used in the sector for some demo vehicles which are sold to employees to avoid the company car benefit in kind rules.

“This announcement also may be used by those who have historical arrangements in place to see if what they are offering employees does take full advantage of current tax opportunities.”


Jaguar XE makes history as first Big Cat to be produced in Solihull

History has been made at the traditional home of Land Rover in Solihull after the first Jaguar vehicle rolled off the production line.

Jaguar’s new XE saloon is being produced in all-new production facilities at the Lode Lane plant following an investment of almost £2 billion.

The £500 million ‘factory within a factory’ consists of a new body shop and trim and final facilities and represents the largest single investment in the Solihull plant in its 70 year history.

The 165,000 sq m facilities include Europe’s largest aluminium bodyshop, which also features 630 robots, many of which apply rivets and adhesive, as well as performing welding duties.

The bodyshop produces the aluminium-intensive XE body shells while the flexible production line in a separate building is capable of building both XE and Range Rover Sport vehicles simultaneously.

Jaguar Land Rover said the latest development means the Solihull plant now represents one of the largest manufacturing growth stories in the UK for a generation – almost trebling production and doubling its workforce in five years.

The dual production line employs a total of 1,500 workers over two shifts, taking the total Solihull workforce to 9,000.



SMMT warns van users to sharpen up on safety or face extra regulation

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is launching a van maintenance campaign to help van operators take better care of their vehicles, and to keep their drivers and other road users safe.

Almost two thirds (63%) of the 10,800 vans stopped by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) at the roadside each year have a serious mechanical defect, while more than nine out of 10 (93%) are overloaded.

Around half of all vehicles stopped posed a road safety risk and were subsequently taken off the road at a cost to their owners of some £4,000 per day.

Meanwhile, 50% of vans also fail their annual MOT test first time, compared with just 22% of HGVs, whose operators are bound by strict and costly licensing rules.

At this week’s Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham, SMMT is urging a step change in safety improvements to ensure van owners meet self regulatory requirements and avoid the risk of fines and further legislation being imposed. Currently, goods vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes are exempt from the Operator Licensing regime that applies to heavier vehicles.



‘Business as usual’ for GE Capital Fleet Services as GE announces it is up for sale

GE Capital promises it will be business as usual for its fleet customers after being put up for sale by its parent company.

General Electric has announced plans to reduce the size of its financial businesses through the sale of most GE Capital assets – including its fleet management and commercial lending and leasing businesses – over the next 24 months to allow it to focus on continued investment and growth in its industrial businesses.

GE Capital Fleet Services currently has 250 customers operating around 47,000 vehicles.

A GE Capital statement said: “Here in the UK, GE Capital is open for business. We remain fully committed to our customers and are focused on delivering for each and every one.

“We anticipate being able to sell our businesses to buyers who are fully committed to and invested in the financial services industry and can offer a good environment for growth.”


Active safety next ‘essential’

Lane departure, blind spot monitoring and intelligent braking systems are set to become the next ‘essential options’ in executive cars, Glass’s has predicted.

These active safety systems are growing more significant in the eyes of many used car buyers, says Steve Jackson, chief car editor of Glass’s.

He explained, ‘There is a list of features that used executive car buyers expect, whether they were original standard equipment or optional extras – leather, satnav, Bluetooth, multifunction steering wheels and so on.

‘We believe that the active safety systems that have started to be fitted to cars over the last few years are set to join this list. Initially very expensive, they are starting to fall in price and, at the same time, consumer awareness is growing.

‘Crucially, there is a ‘buzz’ around them. It is now quite common to hear friend-of-a-friend stories about how someone would’ve had a serious accident if they hadn’t had one of these systems fitted to their car. People are starting to move through a process of expecting them to be fitted.’



Mill Garages North East invests £500,000 in Volvo dealership

Mill Garages North East is investing £500,000 in its Stockton dealership this year as part of a refurbishment programme.

The UK’s largest Volvo dealer group, which is celebrating 50 years representing Volvo, saw net profits before tax rise 6.9% to £803,497 on turnover up 20.7% to £97.8m in in the year to 31 December 2014.

It now sells 3,000 new Volvos a year from its showrooms in Newcastle, Sunderland, Stockton and Harrogate.

Owners, managing director Bill Ward and chairman Bob Nicholson, led a management buyout of the business in 2008.

Ward said: “Our results are again good news for the business, the North East and North Yorkshire and we’re delighted the positive momentum is continuing into 2015.”

Finance director Simon Hewitson said the new XC90 would add to the company’s encouraging first quarter, building on seven years of profitable growth.

“As a company we’ve seen a strong performance which, in the market conditions, we’re happy with. We’re confident that the all new XC90 will be a great catalyst for our performance this year.


Ford Transit Centre network expands to 105 outlets

The idea for Transit Centres was first mooted in 2013 by Ford of Britain managing director Mark Ovenden who wanted to improve the standard of service offered to van operators.

Strategically, the Blue Oval has been focusing more on CVs. It does not have a CV director and responsibility for CV sales lie with Ovenden and the sales and marketing directors.

“We all tend to focus on cars and see CVs as a bit of an afterthought. The only way to change that is not to have a CV department at all,” Ovenden told Motor Trader in 2013.

The network offers Transit24 aftersales service, which includes extended opening hours, while-you-wait servicing and priority treatment for urgent repairs in the Transit Centre workshops,

Transit24 is designed to reduce downtime for van operators.

Servicing can be booked online, and there is the option of vehicle collection and delivery and alternative transport to keep customers on the move.

Ford parts not already in stock are delivered to the dealer by 09.00 next day, or noon for the more remote regions of the country.

All Transit Centres are independently audited by RAC Inspection Services to ensure quality and consistency of customer care.

More than 800 vehicle audits were carried out in the first three months of this year, nearly twice as many as in the same period in 2014. Ford is the only CV manufacturer to employ an independent aftersales quality monitoring service.


ICFM appoints Stephen Chater as deputy chairman

The Institute of Car Fleet Management has appointed Stephen Chater as a director and deputy chairman.

Chater has more than 25 years’ experience within the industry, mainly within the BMW group, both in senior management and commercial roles.

He spent five years as the UK head of learning and development at the BMW Academy where he launched the BMW group training facility. He then became the sales development and network CRM manager and more recently he has been the head of fleet and business sales at BMW.

He is currently BMW’s general manager of product and market planning.

“I am passionate about advancing training and education in the automotive industry and am looking forward to supporting Paul in growing the Institute in the interests of both our members and the fleet industry as a whole,” said Chater.



SMMT launches van safety campaign

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is urging a step change in safety improvements to ensure van owners meet safety requirements and avoid fines in a new campaign.

According to the SMMT, 63% of vans stopped by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have a serious mechanical defect, while 93% are overloaded.

The SMMT also said that half of the vehicles stopped posed a safety risk and had to be taken off the road at a cost of around £4000 to its owner each day.

On-the-spot fines range from £100-£5000 or are potentially unlimited for both endorsable and non-endorsable offences.

Following the discovery of poor safety levels, the SMMT has launched a free guidance pack to help van owners take better care of their vehicles and improve road safety while avoiding fines. The pack can be found here.

“Britain’s 3.2 million vans are essential for the smooth running of the economy but their recent safety record is a matter of concern. Vans rack up huge distances and endure significant wear and tear on a daily basis so regular servicing is essential,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

“We’re launching a new campaign to promote maintenance so businesses can take the necessary steps to ensure their vehicles are safe, protecting their drivers and other road users without the need for further fines and regulations,” said Hawes.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 14/04/2015