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New car sales in Europe were 8.9% higher in the first three months of 2015 than in the same period last year and have grown for seven consecutive months.
Sales in March were 11.1% higher than a year earlier, according to the latest analysis from automotive intelligence provider JATO Dynamics.
> Volkswagen’s Golf maintained its lead, with sales up by 2.9% year-to-date, with Ford’s Fiesta in second place
> Spain recorded a remarkable 41.1% increase in registrations over March 2014
> Jeep’s new Renegade and Cherokee models drive a trebling of Q1 volumes
All of Europe’s five biggest car markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) recorded increased volumes in each month of the year
so far, with particularly large increases in units registered in March 2015 compared to March 2014.
Spain recorded an increase of more than 33,000 units, or 41.1% thanks to an improving economy, continued scrappage incentives supporting private
purchases, and a strong rental sector anticipating high demand for hire cars over the Easter and summer periods.
Other strong performances in March came from Poland (up by 35.6%), Ireland (up by 33.2%, due to improved consumer confidence, and lower vehicle and
fuel prices in real terms), the Czech Republic (a significant increase in previously postponed purchases by businesses which are now renewing their
fleet in an improving economy) and Latvia (up by 25.7%).
GT Academy 2015 begins today with a qualifying competition featuring in-game challenges on Gran Turismo6 for PlayStation3 and will run until June 16. Further opportunities to qualify are available at a series of mass-participation GT Academy live events taking place in participating countries.
The European version of GT Academy Race Camp, the final selection process for the winner, will take place at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
The winner will go on to participate in one of, which is said to be, most advanced Driver Development Programmes in the world, which will get them ready for a season’s racing in the competitive Blancpain Endurance Series driving a 550bhp Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 race car.
In 2015 alone, GT Academy graduates will compete in the top-level of the Le Mans 24 Hour race as well as in Formula 1 feeder series GP3, the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Blancpain GT3 series and the top class of the Japanese Super GT series.
RoadHawk has formed a partnership with KGM insurance to provide in-vehicle camera technology to the specialist insurer’s taxi and private hire policyholders.
With nearly 35% of road traffic incidents involving at-work drivers and the increasing cost of claims, KGM wanted an improved method of protecting its insured drivers from potential fraud and non-fault blame, while also being able to speed up claims resolution times.
This is particularly prevalent in the taxi and private hire sector where vehicles can be on the road for more than 10 hours per day.
RoadHawk’s managing director, Mark Nelson said: “Very often in a road traffic collision, witness statements and a driver’s version of events can be misleading, often meaning an insurer has a difficult time settling the claim efficiently.
“Our systems offer a true version of events, protecting the professional driver. With our system, KGM will be able to defend claims against its insured drivers and offer an improved claims management service”.
Grundon has taken delivery of a new Euro-6 DAF CF 460 FTG Space Cab for dedicated use on the company’s operations with Carbon8 – a company which uses Accelerated Carbonation Technology (ACT) to treat incinerator residues – including residues from the joint Grundon / Viridor Lakeside Energy from Waste (EfW) facility in Colnbrook near Slough.
The Carbon8 process creates a carbon negative aggregate from the incinerator residues and provides a sustainable solution to managing residual waste.
A further four DAF CF 290 FAN rear-steer and two CF 290 FAG mid-steer trade waste vehicles (all with optional Allison gearboxes) are on order.
Joining them will be a range of vehicles including skip- and hook-loaders, container handling vehicles, LF 7.5 tonners for clinical waste, LF 16- and 18-tonners for trade, alongside CF 26-tonne mid- and rear-steer rigids and CF eight-wheelers, tanks and hook-loaders at 32 tonnes – all scheduled for delivery throughout the Summer.
The latest orders, 21 new trucks in total, will take DAF’s presence in the Grundon fleet to 170 units, or 75% of its total fleet. All of the vehicles are being supplied by DAF’s dealer Channel Commercials based in Ashford.
The new DAF fleet comes with ‘Carbon Neutral’ certification, as part of Grundon’s affiliation with The Carbon Neutral Company, whereby all Grundon’s vehicle emissions are offset by a three-year re-forestation programme in Uganda.
The ‘vast majority’ of car dealers are not aware of the implications of the withdrawal of the paper counterpart of the driving licence on 8 June 2015.
That’s the view of Dean Pipitone, director at dealer management systems provider Cooper Solutions.
Pipitone argues that the most pressing issue concerns dealers using their own motor trade policies when loaning a vehicle to a customer or taking them on test drives.
This will affect both accompanied and unaccompanied demonstrations, as well as courtesy loans that are not insured using an external insurance policy provider.
Insurers will expect dealers to carry out one of the available additional checks that replace the paper counterpart, some new, some existing.
These options include a premium rate phone line, the View My Licence and Share My Licence portals or Access to Driver Data (ADD) and specialist solutions like that available within FullCover, Cooper Solution’s comprehensive fleet management product.
Dean Pipitone suggests that dealers speak to their motor trade insurers and ask for written confirmation with respect to the paying of claims if the licence photo card has been checked, but eligibility to meet the policy terms and conditions has not been proven.
Dealers are getting better at responding to customers’ email enquiries.
In a repeat of a survey it carried out in 2012 Motors.co.uk sent 100 email sales queries to a random selection of UK independent and franchised retailers.
This time around it got a response rate of 61%, an improvement on the 47% rate in 2012.
Of the 61 who responded a majority (98%) did so within 24 hours after receiving the initial enquiry.
Two thirds of dealers (68%) responded to the enquiry within four years and 38% replied within one hour.
Of the 61 dealers who responded to the sales enquiry emails, 70% of the replies were “good or excellent”.
This, said Motors, means that the dealer typically introduced themselves, provided contact details and answered the consumer’s questions, either letting them know about availability or offering to source an alternative vehicle.
In addition, the top performing dealers personalised their response, asked about part exchange and finance options, or including photos or a video of the car in question.
Managing director of Motors.co.uk, Andy Coulthurst, said: “Today’s consumer is technology rich and time poor. Increasingly, consumers will go elsewhere if the customer service they receive is not on a par with their expectations, which means dealers could be missing out on valuable leads if they don’t hit the reply button.”
The UK pick-up market is set to experience rapid growth over the next few years with the arrival of three new entrants.
Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Fiat Professional will each be launching a one-tonne pick up in the UK following a series of manufacturing co-operations. Mercedes and Renault will both launch their double-cab models based on the next-generation Nissan Navara pick-up, which goes on sale in the UK at the end of this year, while Fiat is expected to launch its own pick-up based on a tie-up with Mitsubishi and its L200 model.
It expands the amount of manufacturers in the market to 11. Mercedes, Renault and Fiat all have commercial vehicle operations, but will join Ford, Nissan, Mitsubishi, VW, Isuzu, Great Wall, Ssangyong and Toyota in the expanding market.
Fleets and businesses are back in the market for commercial vehicles, with sales up 22.3% to almost 100,000 vehicles in the first quarter of this year. Pick-up sales in particular saw a 27.6% increase in registrations in the March-plate change month to 7463 units.
Mercedes and Renault-Nissan’s cooperation is part of a five-year deal. The German brand will launch premium lifestyle model aimed at personal and commercial use before 2020.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz cars, said: “Entering the rapidly growing segment of mid-size pick-ups is an important step in continuing our global growth path.
Lex Autolease has launched an online driver portal to help company car drivers select and manage vehicles.
The top BC50 company said it developed the tool following what it calls “extensive research”, which revealed that drivers wanted an accessible system to make more informed vehicle choices.
Tools include a view of costs including BIK, personal use contribution and fuel. Values can be displayed monthly, annually or over the contract length. Drivers can also compare vehicles using a benchmarking tool and access reviews on possible car choices.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our customer service through innovative new features, especially on digital platforms,” said Christian Hook, Lex Autolease ecommerce manager.
“Our aim has been to create a website that provides drivers with a similar experience to other consumer websites they may use on a regular basis such as Amazon, eBay and those operated by high street retailers,” said Hook.
Suzuki cuts part costs
Suzuki (GB) plc has announced a 15% reduction in the cost of its genuine accident repair parts.
The new charging structure has been introduced to reinforce competitive pricing for insurance estimates, and to help underline the importance of using components approved by the manufacturer when undertaking vehicle repairs.
The categories which qualify for the revised tariffs are those which are often subject to damage in a collision, including items such as headlamp and mirror assemblies, passenger airbag modules and rear bumpers. Suzuki genuine parts are available for the current model range, including the all new Celerio City car and Vitara compact SUV, and the full range of cars dating back to the 1990s.
Wayne Dye, general manager of the Parts & Accessories Division at Suzuki (GB) plc, said, ‘The latest reduction further quashes the common perception by insurers that using independently sourced parts are cheaper than those which are genuine when assessing vehicles for repair. With even more attractive pricing, it is important that manufacturer-approved components are turned to as a priority when estimating repairs. This could make all the difference between keeping a car on the road, and writing it off.’
Keith Ruggles, director of the Oxford Automotive Group (OAG), which manages Suzuki’s Body and Paint Programme added, ‘This is a very positive move to reduce the average repair cost for insurers and subsequently the cost of ownership for Suzuki customers. It will also help to reduce the number of Suzuki cars that become subject to a total loss, allowing them to be repaired using Suzuki Genuine parts.’
British drivers confused over telematics
Car insurance technology is baffling British drivers with just three per cent having taken out a telematics policy, according to research by price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com. And, despite telematics being introduced over ten years ago, a quarter (25%) of British drivers have never even heard of the technology.
Telematics, also known as ‘black box’ insurance, aims to offer drivers cheaper premiums by basing them upon actual driving habits rather than statistics. However, the uSwitch.com research reveals that 26% of British drivers would rule out taking out a telematics policy because of fears over their privacy. Of these, 62% feel it’s too ‘big brother’ and 37% don’t want their driving monitored by their insurance company. Furthermore, almost half (49%) are worried that their data could be sold to other companies and a third (33%) don’t want their car tampered with when the black box is installed.
Ahead of the Department for Transport’s study on telematics and its potential impact on road safety for young drivers, the uSwitch.com research reveals that not all drivers are against telematics solutions. 45% of drivers would consider installing a ‘black box’ – to learn more about their own driving skills (33%), to improve their driving (23%) or to see how well others are driving their car (5%).
To make telematics worth their while though, consumers would want to see savings of at least £98 a year on their insurance premium. Yet this amount differs hugely with age. Those aged 18-34 would need to save £173 to consider taking out a policy, while those over 65 would be happy with just £72 of savings.