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Daily news round upBack

Volkswagen puts finance offers behind dealers’ used car push

Volkswagen is backing an “As Good As New” used car campaign with finance discounts and free servicing in order to tempt consumers to its dealerships.


Between May 7 and 17, consumers buying a used Volkswagen aged between three months and 48 months from a Volkswagen dealer on a Solutions PCP will receive three years’ free servicing and a deposit contribution of between £250 and £1,000.

The tactical campaign is being marketed in the national media and at Volkswagen UK’s website, which has been updated with a fully responsive used car locator with functions to ‘make an offer’ or to reserve online with a PayPal payment.

The used car website also enables customers to generate a finance quote and understand what their monthly payments would be on a Solutions Personal Contract Plan.

“The website is a genuine one-stop-shop for used car sales and enquiries,” said Volkswagen.

The £250 contribution is available on the Up and Polo; £500 on the Golf, Beetle, Eos and Jetta; £1,000 available on the Passat, Volkswagen CC, Scirocco, Tiguan, Touran, Sharan, Touareg and Phaeton. Only available on cars with a Solutions PCP and a minimum advance of £5,000.

This is the second national used car campaign backed by Volkswagen, and comes just weeks after dealers told AM they were pre-registering significant volume during the final quarter of 2014 and into the first quarter of 2015.

A search of Volkswagen’s approved used car finder reveals several hundred nearly new Polo and Golf models with less than 10 miles recorded.


2015 General Election: have political parties forgotten the motorist?

The 2015 General Election is expected to bring little relief to the UK’s motorists, no matter which party takes power.

A survey of 1,000 motorists found seven in ten were ambivalent about forthcoming changes, and almost two in 10 felt the next government would do less to help the motorist.

The survey also asked what issues a new government should focus on to help the motorist. Top of the list came cutting fuel prices further, despite diesel and unleaded being already lower in price now than during the last election in 2010 according to the AA’s fuel price report. Tackling potholes and insurance costs were deemed next most important, while reducing congestion and improving the environment were ranked fourth and fifth.

“We haven’t heard too much about the plight of the motorist from any political party in the run up to the election,” said Nick King, market research director at Auto Trader, which conducted the survey. “So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that most of those surveyed seemed quite pessimistic, at least when it comes to a focus on motoring issues.

“Perhaps what is more surprising however is that fuel costs remain motorists’ number one concern and area of focus for the next government. That finding comes despite a drop in prices over the last 18 months and the fact that a litre of unleaded today is 6.7% lower at the petrol pump than it was during the last general election in 2010.”


DAF Trucks sponsors Think Logistics

DAF Trucks has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Think Logistics, the new, transport industry-led drive to encourage 16 to 19 year olds to consider a career in the transport and logistics sector.

The transport industry is urgently looking into ways of addressing the shortfall of skilled drivers, and Think Logistics, the brain-child of Abbey Logistics’ Steve Granite, has the full-backing of the RHA and a number of other leading truck operators.

It is being delivered by national education charity, Career Academies UK (soon to be called Career Ready).

DAF Trucks’ announcement follows Think Logistics’ presence at the CV Show where DAF Trucks and the RHA hosted a presentation and workshop for students from a local college.

Career Academies UK said that DAF Trucks’ contribution will have “a considerable impact on our future investment plans for the project”.

Funding also comes from the Edge Foundation, the independent education charity focused on technical, practical and vocational learning. It is committing £50,000 to the initiative.

Through Career Academies UK, Think Logistics has been delivering industry-specific awareness workshops at various schools and colleges and has plans to set up five strategically located ‘Logistics academies’ in the North-East, Humberside, East Midlands, Manchester and the South West in September 2015.

The first Logistics Academy was opened in September 2014 at West Derby School in Liverpool.


Volvo XC90 available for test drives at CCIA

The new Volvo XC90 will be available for first fleet test drives at Company Car in Action.

The manufacturer is returning to the leading arrive and drive event at Millbrook proving ground next month, organised by Fleet News.

The company will also be offering test drives of its Volvo V40 99g/km 190hp hatchback, fitted with the company’s new engine range.

Also available to drive at Company Car in Action will be new Business Editions of the S60 and V60 saloon and estate models are now combined with the D3 150hp engine.

Volvo will also be demonstrating its 350hp performance V60 Polestar model, with passenger rides driven by a professional driver available.

Booking is now open for the event, taking place on June 16 and 17.


Renault to increase network but lose underperforming sites

Renault plans to increase its UK dealer network from 152 to 172 sites by the end of 2017 but expects to lose some of its underperforming showrooms along the way.

Renault has targeted network growth as part of its GO5+ five year recovery plan, which ends in 2017, aimed at rebuilding the brand after its restructuring in 2011 which resulted in the termination of a third of its sites.

“We have 152 dealers but we are appointing more. Over the next three years of our GO5+ plan we’ll add at least 20 more dealers. We’ll have about 172 net but we may go above that. There will be some replacements so we will be appointing more than 20,” said Renault Group’s UK managing director Ken Ramirez.

“With the evolution of the franchise we’re seeing polarisation with some dealers who can really perform and drive brand opinion forward, moving sales in a positive way and not damaging the RVs; they are becoming the majority and the ones who cannot do that are becoming the minority and that minority may not continue and that’s the right way to evolve the network.”

Ramirez said he is pleased with the performance of the network’s profitability which he said reached breakeven in 2013 and an average RoS of 1.2% in 2014 but with the brand targeting top quartile profitability by the end of 2017 underperforming sites are being scrutinised.

“The top half of the network in 2014 were at 2.2% RoS and the top quartile were at 2.8%, clearly we are moving in a very strong direction and it’s only the bottom 20% of the network that is driving the average down. It’s really important to know that it is a minority of the network that perhaps may not stay long term.”

Meanwhile the brand expects to complete the rollout of its Renault Store CI by the end of 2016, 12 months earlier than originally planned. The new-look showrooms will see dealers display and sell all Renault cars, vans and EVs and have a designated Dacia area.

“Renault Store was planned to be completed by the end of 2017. However we are looking to perhaps bring it forward to the end 2016 because the reaction from both dealers and customers has been so positive,” said a spokesman.

The new CI was introduced at the beginning of the year with the opening of Lookers’ refurbished Renault outlet in Chester followed by the opening of the all-new Bristol Street showroom in Nottingham.

The latest dealer to join the Renault network is the family-run Savilles Garage which last month opened a showroom in Kidderminster, filling a long standing West Midlands open point.


First Vehicle Leasing asks customers to rate service

Glasgow-based finance broker First Vehicle Leasing has adopted the Net Promoter Score management tool to gauge how loyal its customers are and to try and improve the customer relationship.

NPS is based on the question “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” and is scored on a 0-10 scale.

Promoters are those who score between 9 and 10, passives are considered as those who score between 7 and 8 while detractors are those who respond with a score of 0 to 6.

NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are detractors from the percentage of those who are promoters.

“NPS takes account of the emotional experience of customers’ leasing a car. It is all too easy for leasing companies to forget that our customers are part of the business and our aim is to use NPS as a means to focus on improving our customer service,” said Graham McCarthy at First Vehicle Leasing.


Tesla launches energy storage system for businesses and homes

Tesla will introduce a new solar energy storage battery in the UK, which will let businesses charge their electric vehicle.

The system will also be able to power businesses and store power reserves, reducing dependence on the national grid.

Tesla said it is trying to “accelerate the move away from fossil fuels.”

The battery – dubbed Powerwall – is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (the same type of battery that powers the majority of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles), which has been designed to store and back-up energy, while using power generated by solar panels.

The unit is able to mount on a wall and is integrated into the local grid, so users can harness excess power and draw energy from their own reserves.

It is available in two power outputs – 10kWh and 6kWh. The former is optimised for power back-ups, while the latter is designed for daily use. Both can be used to charge electric vehicles. A Tesla spokeswoman told BusinessCar that the 7kWh option would be the most popular version in the UK as the country’s network is reliable so there is less dependence on back-ups.

The unit can charge the Model S but Tesla said that fleets do not need a Tesla to use the Powerwall, and it is able to charge any electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Fleet drivers could also install a Powerwall at home to charge their electric vehicle at home.


Tyre checking is child’s play

With the third UN Global Road Safety Week already under way, UK children have been reminding adults that keeping tyres in good condition helps reduce the chances of accidents and child causalities.

Using the tried and tested ‘TyreSafe 20p test’, kids have been showing parents how they can gauge whether their vehicle’s tyre tread depths are legal or not, a key factor in influencing its ability to stop.

Low or illegal tread depth (1.6mm is the UK’s legal limit) substantially increases the distance covered before a vehicle comes to a halt and, as a consequence, the likelihood of a collision with other road users or pedestrians.

UN Global Road Safety Week 2015 is using the #SaveKidsLives hashtag at events and online to highlight the 186,300 deaths of children under 18 on the world’s roads each year. Children are most vulnerable on the road as a pedestrian (38% of deaths) but the proportion of instances where the child is a passenger is almost as high (36%). TyreSafe continues to raise awareness in the UK on the implications of tyre safety for both pedestrians and motorists.

Six-year-old William Watts from Glasgow said, ‘We [children] learn about how to cross the road and that we need to be easily seen by drivers but we sometimes forget and that’s when it’s important that cars can stop quickly. If adults drove at the right speed and with good tyres they would make the roads safer for us. My mum and dad promised me they’ll keep doing the 20p test to make sure our tyres are always safe and legal.’

TyreSafe kids have been showing the adults how the 20p test is done properly for years, as you’ll see by visiting If mum and dad prefer to read about it, our quick guide is below or they can visit

The 20p test
The law requires a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference of the tyre. Insert a 20p coin into the main tyre grooves at several places around the circumference of the tyre and across its width. If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible whenever you check the tread, your tread depth may be illegal and you should have them checked by a qualified tyre specialist – it’s so easy, even an adult can do it.



Partscheck solves windscreen issues

National Windscreens, the UK’s largest independently owned vehicle glazing specialist, has revolutionised its capability to complete all windscreen replacement jobs ‘Right First Time’.

The company has developed a unique piece of software, ‘Partscheck’, which correctly identifies the exact piece of replacement glass needed for a specific vehicle by simply entering the Vehicle Registration Number – addressing a problematic issue that affects the whole windscreen replacement industry.

Significant advances in the range of technologies used in windscreens has resulted in the availability of a variety of screen models for the same vehicle, as regional director, Phil Lomas, explained, ‘As well as heated windscreens, recent industry developments have seen the introduction of acoustic glass, windscreen mounted cameras, integral Heads Up Displays (HUDs) and a variety of sensors which mean that identifying the correct piece of glass needed can be quite difficult. For example, there are more than 20 different screens available for the current model BMW Series 5, so expecting a motorist to know the exact replacement windscreen type they require is unrealistic.

‘Partscheck has been developed to eradicate this issue and is achieving outstanding results for National Windscreens. We introduced it early last year and it is currently running at 99.5% accuracy.’

This innovation is not only benefitting motorists who can be confident their job will be completed in one visit with minimal information required during the job booking process, but it also brings considerable benefits to National Windscreens’ fleet and insurance clients who can be accurately quoted for every job before the technician has even seen the vehicle.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 06/05/2015