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The National Franchised Dealers Association has revealed that petrol sales fell 10 per cent in March to a record low of 1.31bn litres. The month followed growth of around four per cent in February, when drivers took advantage of prices 22p per litre lower than the year before.
Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA, comments: “This March has seen the lowest petrol sales in 25 years due to rising pump prices. Business drivers and commercial vehicles are dominating diesel engines, which is why diesel’s share of new car sales has been increasing steadily with figures published for 2014 showing more than half of new car sales were of diesel vehicles. Diesel sales have overtaken petrol due to the increased number of commercial vehicles on the roads facing increased journeys due to internet sales and delivery.
Robinson continues: “The decline in petrol sales has been apparent for several years as motorists switched to diesel for better fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions. Diesel fuel sales overtook petrol sales in 2007 (diesel 25.5bn v petrol 24bn litres) and have continued to grow to 27.9bn litres in 2014 in contrast to just 17.6bn litres of petrol.”
Car dealer Glyn Hopkin has opened its purpose built brand centre in Newmarket Road, Cambridge.
Located just behind the previous Nissan site, the all-new showrooms house models from Nissan, Fiat and Jeep.
The 350-square metre facility is one of the first to feature Nissan’s ‘new retail concept’. The showroom is also one of very few in the country to specialise in Nismo, Nissan’s specialist performance division.
The new site also contains a brand-new 380-square metre showroom, home to Fiat and Jeep sales and aftersales.
The facilities more than double the number of service bays previously available to 10, as well as an MoT bay.
Fraser Cohen, Glyn Hopkin’s managing director, said: “The development of our presence in Cambridgeshire was the most natural progression for Glyn Hopkin, being well-known throughout the South-East already.
Hitachi Capital has announced a series of senior management changes, which are aimed at growing its vehicle solutions business across the globe, with particular focus on Europe.
The changes that took effect on April 1 include current chief executive of the Vehicle Solutions Group Simon Oliphant will become chairman of the Vehicle Solutions UK business, handing over operational responsibility to Jon Lawes, who is currently divisional managing director of Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions. He will remain a director of parent company Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC.
Oliphant has worked for Hitachi Capital for 27 years, with the last 15 being spent running its UK vehicle leasing and fleet management business.
Lawes has been promoted to managing director of the Vehicle Solutions group which includes the commercial vehicle, car leasing and driving instructor businesses.
Robert Wastell will continue as divisional managing director of Hitachi Capital Car Solutions.
Oliphant said: “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved at Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, especially as it is being used as the benchmark for expansion into other countries and continents.
BMW has upgraded its 1 Series hatchback with new engines, a new look, and extra specification.
The new engines bring a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 12 per cent. All engines meet the Euro 6 exhaust emissions standard and offer as much as 326hp in the new M135i, with C02 emissions as low as 89g/km in the new 116d EfficientDynamics Plus model.
The 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine in the new BMW 116d generates 116hp and 270Nm of torque, an increase of 10Nm compared to its predecessor. The figures for the new model are a 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds coupled to fuel consumption as little as 78.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 94g/km.
These efficiency figures can be improved yet further with the 116d EfficientDynamics Plus model which, via a range of measures, attains 83.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 89g/km.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has warned that car manufacturers are building high-tech distractions into their new vehicles and have made interiors so comfortable they are being turned into living rooms.
The warning came from IAM chief executive officer Sarah Sillars, who said efforts to reduce distraction factors for motorists are being undone by the relentless pace of technology and eagerness of car makers to pack more gadgets onto dashboards.
She said the main areas of concern were highly sophisticated satellite-navigation and GPS systems, smartphones that mirror tablets and easy connectivity of internet and social media.
The IAM has suggested the UK should adopt guidelines suggested by the US Department of Transportation and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
They say drivers should be restricted from using certain non-essential forms of technology while the vehicle is in motion, and car makers should not introduce any technological development which takes the driver’s attention off the road for longer than two seconds.
These voluntary guidelines are to be phased in over the next three years to address this large-scale problem in the USA.
The Peter Vardy Group has started work on a new site in Dundee.
The group has acquired a site on a major new redevelopment on Kingsway West which will be its first showroom in the city. It has yet to announce which franchise it will run from the site.
Ewan Cameron, Peter Vardy’s head of marketing, told The Courier the company was working out the details of its investment.
The group, rated 33 in the Motor Trader Top 200, operates 11 sites across Scotland as well as the Peter Vardy CarStore, Scotland’s biggest indoor used car showroom at Hillington in Glasgow.
Earlier this month the group started work on a £4m Porsche Centre in Aberdeen. The 23,379 sq ft site, which features a 10-bay workshop and cafe, is due to open in the autumn.
WhoCanFixMyCar.com, the comparison site for drivers searching for local garages and dealerships, has added Ford’s 500-strong network to its list of approved partners.
The appointment comes as the site claims a significant increase in lead volumes with 9,000 jobs set to be posted in April. Alistair Preston, co-founder of WhoCanFixMyCar.com acknowledged the move will improve its geographical spread.
“We are delighted to welcome the Ford network on board. Speaking frankly, while our lead volumes have grown seven-fold, our garage numbers haven’t kept pace, leaving work on the table in certain parts of the country. It’s not a good experience for our users, but clearly it’s a great opportunity for garages of the appropriate scale and quality. With so many Ford vehicles on the road today, it’s a natural fit for us,” he said.
Ford said it was attracted to the site as it would promote its national pricing policy.
“Digitally savvy motorists are increasingly turning to comparison websites for the best deals on vehicle servicing and repairs,” said Jon Wellsman, director of Ford’s customer service division.
“By joining WhoCanFixMyCar Ford owners can see the competitive offer of our Motorcraft 4+ programme across the UK, together with the assurance of service quality they expect from a Ford dealer, including a warranty on parts and labour, complimentary roadside assistance, vehicle washing and collection and delivery.”
All new cars and small vans sold from April 2018 must be fitted with a device which can automatically contact the emergency services in the event of an accident, following a new law passed by the European Parliament.
Many manufacturers already offer SOS alert of “eCall” services on their vehicles but it was not previously mandatory for it to be fitted.
In the event of a serious collision, the auto emergency safety device must automatically call the nearest emergency centre. If the person in the vehicle is not able to speak, the safety device will transmit the exact location, time, direction of travel, scale of impact and whether airbags have been deployed. An eCall can also be triggered manually by pushing a button in the vehicle, for example by a witness to a serious accident.
The goal is to reduce emergency service response times by up to 60% in cities and by 50% in the countryside.
The detailed location information available has prompted some concerns about data protection from privacy campaigners.
The European Parliament said an eCall device will not constantly record the position of the vehicle, but will only relay data to determine events just before an incident. It is estimated that it will cost manufacturers less than £70 per car to fit an eCall device.
Peugeot is introducing a new sportier trim level to its 208, 308, 508 and RCZ ranges.
Dubbed GT Line, the new trim level is intended to move the French car maker upmarket. Styling tweaks include larger wheels, twin exhaust pipes, RedLine colour scheme for the touch screen and LED lights and GT Line badging.
Peugeot expects 55% of 308 GT-line cars to be driven by business car customers, with total sales of 1700 a year. The fastest GT models will account for a further 900 308s.
Across the two trim levels, 80% will be diesel and the majority will be hatchbacks, according to Peugeot.
A Peugeot spokesman said they hoped the GT-line cars would attract buyers who have previously bought other brands.
The trim level option is available in three and five-door versions on the 208, with a choice of three engines – the 110hp S&S petrol or the 1.6-litre diesel in either 100hp or 120hp outputs. The GT Line finish is derived from the Allure trim level.
The 308 GT Line adopts the look of the 308 GT and is available with the choice of three units – the 130hp 1.2-litre Puretech petrol, 120hp 1.6-litre diesel and 150hp 2.0-litre diesel unit.
The 508 GT Line model is powered by either the 120hp 1.6-litre diesel or a 150hp 2.0-litre diesel, while the RCZ GT Line model is powered by the firm’s 200hp 1.6-litre petrol model.