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Daily news round upBack

New Suzuki Vitara gets 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating


The new Suzuki Vitara compact SUV has received the maximum 5-star rating in independent crash testing from Euro NCAP.

Launched earlier this month, the Vitara has been awarded high scores in all four areas of assessment; adult occupant, child occupant, pedestrian, and safety assist, to attain the five star rating.

The new Vitara’s passive and active safety systems are designed to anticipate and react to potentially dangerous situations with an excellent level of protection.

Standard safety equipment includes seven airbags which includes a driver’s knee airbag as well as seat belt pre-tensioners and force limiters. Euro NCAP’s tests on the front seats and head restraints showed good protection against whiplash injury in the event of a rear end collision, and a geometric assessment of the rear seats also indicated good protection.

Suzuki paid particular attention to child safety in accordance with latest European legislation and pedestrian protection received the highest score amongst its competitors thanks to bonnet shape and new structures for the cowl top and wipers. The bumpers also provide good impact absorption to lessen the degree of harm if the car comes into contact with a pedestrian.



‘Manufacturers need to work hard to combat change in car buyer trends’ – survey

Manufacturers will need to work hard to improve the favourable opinion of their brand to combat the commoditisation of new cars.

More than 80% of 142 industry dealer and fleet finance professionals in a recent survey believe the purchase of new vehicles will become increasingly commoditised, with car buyers shopping around on the internet and choosing the cheapest option.

“It isn’t simply a case that the cheapest option will win. The product and offer that best fit customer demand will also play a strong role,” one respondent said.

The survey, conducted by International Auto Finance Network, also showed that almost a quarter see a move away from dealer point of sale into online, which will be driven by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulatory considerations.

The consensus of the car becoming more of a commodity and Personal Contract Purchases (PCP) is supported by 76% of respondents saying they intend to offer used car PCP finance.

The survey asked whether PCPs offer further growth opportunities for funders: 77% agreed; 30.8% of which said it’s because of the buying trend shift from ‘ownership’ to ‘usership’, with PCPs facilitating this move.

48% of 29 respondents said that demand for ex-PCP cars will come from buyers of 3-5 year old cars.

“These cars will become attractive to people who traditionally would’ve bought even older used cars, but who will now be able to afford to upscale. As funders relax product conditions that impose penalties on older vehicles, we will see used cars go through second and even third phases of ownership funded by PCP. Indeed the average period at inception for mainstream captives is around 42 months, but expired term only around 24,” a respondent said.

In terms of values of those used cars coming out of PCPs, 45% said that a PCP would affect its value, 45% said it wouldn’t, while 10% were unsure. One respondent said: “There is a risk on used values, but it’s not PCPs that are the issue, it’s artificial inflation of the market by self-registrations.”



Report highlights potential danger of booming demand for refrigerated vehicles

The environmental challenge caused by booming global demand for cooling could be far greater than previously thought, according to a new report.

The report by Dearman, clean cold and power technology company, indicates that due to changing demographics, particularly in Asia, the number of refrigerated vehicles on the road could feasibly reach 15.5 million by 2025, up from less than 3 million in 2013.

If changing demographics have the most dramatic foreseeable effect then this number could be as high as 18 million refrigerated vehicles on the road by 2025 – double previous estimates.

This rapid expansion in cold transportation reflects the growth of more affluent lifestyles amongst increasingly wealthy, urbanised populations in countries such as India and China. As these populations grow, it’s necessary to install cold chains to ensure more food reaches consumers in good condition, in order to prevent hunger and rising prices. It is also an indicator of much broader demand for cooling as economies grow and countries address issues such as food loss and public health.

But if this growth in demand occurs without new technologies being introduced, the environmental effects could be devastating. A conventional diesel powered transport refrigeration unit, which keeps a refrigerated lorry cold, can emit up to six times as much NOx and up to 29 times as much particulate matter as a modern diesel HGV engine.



Enterprise Rent-a-car named in top 50 employers for women

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has been named in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2015, which lists the organisations that are leading on workplace gender equality.

The unranked alphabetical list is published in partnership with Opportunity Now, the workplace gender campaign from Business in the Community, during Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Week.

Leigh Lafever-Ayer, UK HR director at Enterprise, said: “Our focus is on creating a workplace where women do not face barriers to success. We know that supporting the ambitions of women to reach senior positions is good for Enterprise, as diversity helps drive business success.

“We’ve been named one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women for 10 consecutive years now. We’re hugely proud of this achievement – it reflects our successful initiatives and hard work to make Enterprise a company that truly represents UK society.”



Which? attacks carmakers over unrealistic mpg claims

Which? has attacked carmakers for publishing unrealistic combined fuel consumption figures that could be costing motorists an average of £133 in additional fuel costs each year.

The consumer organisation found that 98% of the cars it tested could not match or beat their miles per gallon claims.

It singled out the Jeep Grand Cherokee as the worst offender with drivers spending up to £854 a year more on fuel as the vehicle fell short of its official consumption figures. Other offenders named by Which? were BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé (£421), BMW X4 (£419) and Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid (£352).

“The cost of fuel is one of the biggest concerns for consumers so the fuel efficiency of new cars has become an important selling point. We tested 200 new cars across 2013 and 2014 and found that all but three of them fell short of their official mpg figures by 13% on average, resulting in drivers spending £133 more a year on fuel,” said the executive director Richard Lloyd.

“The official test used by carmakers is outdated and contains a number of loopholes that lead to unrealistic figures. Manufacturers are allowed to reduce results by 4% at the end of the test, can opt to only test in a car’s eco mode, turn off lights and air-con, and increase tyre pressures above the recommended levels to reduce rolling resistance. It also doesn’t accurately reflect real-life scenarios, such as motorway driving.”

A new fuel economy test is due to be introduced from 2017 but Which warned the European Commission is facing pressure from the car industry to delay it until 2020.



March plate-change fuels new UK car production high

High demand for new vehicles drove domestic car production up 1.9% to 144,893 units in March as productivity hit a new high, according to the latest SMMT figures.

The 15 plate-change month saw 41,339 cars built for UK consumption a 24.5% rise year-on-year and the highest March figure since 2006.

However, year-to-date volumes dipped slightly by 0.6% to 402,193 units.

The trade organisation said productivity has grown to 11.5 vehicles produced a year for each person employed in the industry between 2010-2014, compared with 9.3 between 2005-2009.

“Built in Britain is more than just a brand: our automotive industry is increasingly competitive on a global scale. The latest production figures are yet more evidence of that, and with £1bn worth of fresh manufacturing investments announced by three UK manufacturers in March alone, the future is optimistic,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT.

The rise in production was also welcomed by John Leech, KPMG’s UK head of automotive.

“New car production rose in March bolstered by new models such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport and a recovering European car market which has grown for 19 consecutive months.

“We expect new car sales will continue to accelerate this year as new models such as the Jaguar XE are launched and demand increases in most of our major markets. Overall we anticipate a 6% growth in UK vehicle production in 2015.”



16% of business drivers feel bulletproof while driving

One in six (16%) business drivers feel invincible while driving, according to research from telematics provider Masternaut.

LCV drivers are least likely to feel invincible, with 10% of drivers claiming they never consider their safety while behind the wheel. This contrasts with 26% of public transport drivers saying they felt untouchable on the road at all times.

Just under one in five (17%) of fleet car drivers said they never think about personal safety on the road.

On the other hand, 15% of business drivers said they feel vulnerable all of the time when they are on the road. The telematics company surveyed 2000 UK employees that drive as part of their job.

Motorways were cited as the most unsafe type of road with 27% of drivers concerned about their safety, while drivers also felt unsafe on rural roads with 25% saying they didn’t feel safe, rising to 36% among LCV drivers.

“Our research shows that a high percentage of business drivers don’t consider their safety to be at risk – despite driving being amongst the most dangerous profession,” said Steve Towe, chief commercial officer at Masternaut.



Autohorn orders 64 Toyotas in new fleet deal

York-based rental and leasing company Autohorn has ordered 64 new Toyotas vehicles in its latest deal with the Japanese car maker.

In the past three years, the firm has bought nearly 200 Toyota hybrid models. It claimed it is one of the largest purchasers of hybrids in Yorkshire.

In total Autohorn has acquired 11 Yaris hybrids, as well as additional Yaris diesels, Avensis saloons and tourers, Hilux pickups, Aygos and plug-in Priuses. Financing support is provided by Toyota Financial Services while the fleet renewal is scheduled for every six months.

“Our experience with Toyota vehicles has shown them to be reliable, hard-wearing and attractive to our customers. We are pleased to extend our range with these new models, in particular Yaris hybrid and, for the first time, Prius plug-in,” said Lee Underwood, managing director of Autohorn.



Ni Hao China

IBIS participated in a Chinese accident repair forum which took place at the Sofitel Hyland, Shanghai, highlighting the rapidly changing market within the region.

The collision repair industry in China is developing at a great pace, placing challenges on all stakeholders in the supply chain. Now more than ever there is a need for collaboration by all to find robust solutions.

The support given by the delegates attending IBIS China shows real evidence that the leaders in the market are now looking to share this approach. IBIS China has been a catalyst for cross-industry discussions and the sharing of best practice, with more to follow in the coming months.

The event, hosted by AkzoNobel, brought together over 60 key influencers from the collision repair market in China. The conference presentations looked at the various issues and influences affecting the Chinese market. Opening the conference, Anna-Marie Baisden, head of autos analysis at BMI Research, discussed the effect of oil prices on the automotive market as a whole and how global trends could affect the Chinese aftermarket industry.

Keith Malik, director-global accounts for AkzoNobel, highlighted the trends in China and how they are rapidly evolving. He noted that in preparation for IBIS China, he discovered a market conflict between the repair industry attempting to act mature, with a hunger for training and processes seen particularly in 4S style shops, and other industry stakeholders working with handcuffs from a combination of government regulation and lack of industry education resulting in a constant restraint on the industry.



Driving dynamics influence purchasers

Driving dynamics play a huge role in the purchasing decisions of vehicle owners in Europe say Frost & Sullivan.

While safety and reliability are top priorities, driving dynamics-related capabilities such as manoeuvrability and ride quality rank high in importance among consumers looking to buy a car.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, European Consumers’ Attitude towards Driving Dynamics Technologies (, finds that urban male customers are willing to pay a higher than average price to upgrade driving dynamics technologies. Women with higher than average income are most often prepared to pay a premium for safety features.

For complimentary access to more information on this research, please visit:

‘Consumers across car segments agree on the top features required for an improved driving experience,’ said Frost & Sullivan automotive and transportation program manager Prana T Natarajan. ‘Secure handling, road-holding, and control over braking and steering are significant cogs in the wheel of consumer expectations.’

E&F segment car owners value steering handling more than smoothness of drive and powertrain features more than fuel or price. Smaller vehicle segment consumers too show interest in and willingness to pay for all-wheel drive (AWD) functionalities.

The inclination to pay drops significantly with the increase in price of steering, suspension and AWD technologies. Most consumers in Europe give more importance to value for money and hence look for optimally-priced solution packages.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 23/04/2015