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Daily News Round upBack

Honda loses ground in dealer survey


Honda has a problem. Actually, according to the latest six-monthly NMDA dealer attitude survey, the market leader has several problems. In the opinion of 37 (44%) of its 84 dealers, Honda underperformed rival brands in key areas including profit return, supply and stocking, product price and value, future profitability of the franchise and the ease (or not) of doing day-to-day business with the Honda team.

Source: British Dealer Magazine- Print version

Day in the Life: Gordon Balmer

Gordon Balmer has worked in the oil industry all his life but he’s still keen to learn about petrol retailers’ issues

My working day normally starts at the crack of dawn as my wife is an early riser and kicks me out of bed. If I have time it gives me an opportunity to get to the gym. With all the things we have to do during the working day, especially sitting down a lot, I think it’s important to get exercise and it helps to clear my thoughts. I like to think I’m reasonably fit but my wife thinks I have too good a social life. My role as commercial manager for the Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA) probably has something to do with this.

After a gym session my day starts with checking emails; we are a small disparate team and it’s important to co-ordinate our efforts and to keep in touch. During the morning I also try to check in with the other members of the team Steve, Phil and Brian as in the fast-changing world of fuel retailing, we are always kept busy and there is always some new development.

Although my role primarily entails the development of ‘commercial services’, I also get involved in a number of other projects. In my previous career with BP, it was important to set strategy, translate this into personal performance contacts and measure how well you were doing against it. We are not as rigid as this in the PRA, however it has been some years since we undertook a strategic review. So in January we took some time out to do this, which was great as we now have a clear view on how we can make the PRA even more successful and sustainable. Much of my time this year has been taken up working through the output and implementing this.

By way of an example, I have recently been working on our new website to make it easier to use, be more informative and also be able to be used in mobile format and on tablets. This has entailed a number of meetings with our developers as we were under some time pressure to get it ready for launch at the recent Forecourt Show. Our new url is please do have a look at it.

Our office is in Great Portland Street, London, which is where I have most of my meetings.

It is around an hour’s commute from my house in Hertfordshire and recently I have been involved in meeting a number of government bodies including the Home Office, the Bank of England and the new independent Payment Systems Regulator. There is a lot of change at the moment, not least in how we pay for things, especially on cards, and also the introduction of the new polymer bank notes, so it’s important that the PRA members’ views are properly represented.

I also think it’s very important to meet as many of the members as possible so my day could also take me to our new format ‘Live and Local’ meetings, where occasionally I have presented our market overview. It has been really great to get out of the office and to learn about the pressures facing fuel retailers. I have also learnt a lot on the technical side, especially from the presentations made by our technical director Phil Monger.

I have spent all my career in the oil industry and the best piece of advice I have been given was “Surround yourself with great people, treat them fairly, set a clear direction and the results will follow”. I’m least likely to say ‘It can’t be done’, as I always try to find a way round problems.

In terms of my greatest professional achievement, it was while I was at BP where I worked my way up from an admin role to being appointed UK country manager in European Fleet Services this at the same time as studying for my professional qualifications.

Outside work I enjoy relaxing with family and friends and I am a keen gardener (my wife is actually the gardener and I do what I’m told). I try to keep fit and, as well as getting to the gym, I enjoy the countryside and getting out on my mountain bike.

I also enjoy watching sport and watch Saracens or England Rugby as often as I can.

I’m really enjoying working for the PRA and if you can get along to one of our shows, I hope to introduce myself in person.

Name: Gordon Balmer

Job title: Commercial manager

Company: Petrol Retailers’ Association

Responsibility: Developing the PRA membership experience through new services and initiatives

Career history: Spent all my working life in the oil industry, including over 30 years at BP

Greatest achievement: At BP I worked my way up from an admin role to being appointed UK country manager in European Fleet Services

Least likely to say: “It can’t be done”

Tip for business success: Surround yourself with great people, treat them fairly, set a clear direction and the results will follow

Other interests: keeping fit either at the gym or on my mountain bike; gardening


Car supermarkets face ‘biggest challenge’ from new GAP rules

Car supermarkets face the biggest challenge from the final rules on Selling GAP published by the Financial Conduct Authority this week.

That’s the view of The Warranty Group responding to the new rules which come into force on 1 September.

The rules stipulate that there has to be a four day deferment period which means insurance cannot be introduced and sold on the same day.

The four day rule has been sharply criticised by NFDA director Sue Robinson who said the FCA had turned a “deaf ear” to dealers.

The Warranty Group said the biggest challenge was for some car supermarkets that operated on a “deal and deliver” model because the deferred opt-in period was longer than they were used to.

Divisional director Ciaron Whelan: “It is challenging, though by no means impossible, for dealers who work on this basis to fit the four-day opt-in into their sales process, even though the FCA has agreed that the clock can start running from the point at which prescribed information is provided to the customer.

“Of course, the customer will have the option to break the deferred opt-in period, the day after receipt of the prescribed information.”

Whelan said: “The main point is that the FCA’s final announcements mean that we all now know exactly where we stand and our view is that GAP remains a very worthwhile product for almost all dealers and a valuable purchase for many, many car buyers.

“The key adjustment is that dealers will need to ensure that they have a consumer focused solution. This means changing their GAP sales structure in order to meet the FCA’s desire to provide customers with a period of time during which they can consider the merits of purchasing the product.

“Really, the main impact will be that dealers will need to be able to provide clear retrospective evidence that they are adhering to the rules.”


Roadworthy Bristol joins MG dealer network

Roadworthy Bristol has become the 33rd new dealer to join the MG franchise in the past 18-months.

The new dealer, which is in one of MG’s top 15 open points, plans to go fully live within the next few weeks, but already has new MG6 and MG3 models in stock and available to view.

The family-run business on Fishponds Road, Bristol, is now searching for a new specialist MG Sales Executive and more new jobs could be created in the future as the MG business grows.


Douglas Robertson to retire as Scottish Motor Trade Association chief executive

Douglas Robertson is retiring from the post of chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association.

The SMTA has appointed Sandy Burgess as its new chief executive. Burgess, a SMTA director and former president, will assume the role later this month.

Robertson has headed the SMTA for 17 years, during which he oversaw its acquisition of a buying group, SMTA Trading Partners, which secures discount goods and services for its members through bulk-buying, and expansion of its MoT quality control scheme and apprentice training service.


New qualification launched for automotive finance industry

A new course for finance professionals working in the automotive industry has been launched.

Developed in partnership by ifs University College, the university college for financial education, and the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA), the industry body for the motor finance sector, the qualification will help industry professionals to enhance their career prospects.

CertAutoFS provides students with the knowledge and understanding to analyse the automotive marketplace, including its legal and regulatory frameworks. It also explains the products, processes and principles currently employed in the industry, along with methods for improving customer service, customer retention and management techniques.

Commenting on the launch of the qualification, Martin Day, vice principal of ifs University College said:

“The launch of CertAutoFS demonstrates the innovative and responsive approach of ifs University College as it continues to support the needs of the wider financial services industry. The automotive sector is an increasingly important element of the UK’s economy and, as it expands, it will be vital that its professionals are provided with the practical and theoretical knowledge to underpin this growth.

“With our expertise in developing innovative, relevant and challenging qualifications and the FLA’s industry insights and championing of the sector, we are confident that we have delivered a qualification that will become a benchmark for industry professionalism.”

Adrian Dally, head of motor finance at the FLA, said:

“Development of this advanced version of the Specialist Automotive Finance qualification illustrates the motor industry’s commitment to invest in its staff so they can deliver the best possible service to customers.”


Car dealers have less than three months to implement new FCA GAP sale rules

Car dealers selling GAP insurance have until September 1 to ensure new add-on sales’ rules are applied.

These include having to provide customers with information to help them shop around and introduce a deferral period in all cases.

The product cannot be introduced and sold on the same day.

The Financial Conduct Authority this week released the final findings on the general insurance market study on GAP sale competition, together with rules.

It is standing by its September 1 deadline the new rules have to come into force despite some objecting in the proceeding consultation period this didn’t give the industry enough time to implement them.


DVSA CEO Alastair Peoples to step down in October 2015

CEO of the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Alastair Peoples is to step down in October 2015.

Peoples is to leave the Civil Service completely, and Paul Satoor, Deputy Chief Executive Officer will take on the role of interim DVSA CEO as work is underway to secure a permanent replacement.

Peoples said: “Being Chief Executive of DVSA has been hugely rewarding and I’m proud of what has been achieved in the relatively short time since the agency was created.

“Thanks to the combined efforts of so many passionate and committed managers and staff, the agency is now firmly established and the work of integration and transformation is well underway. Single trading fund status is now in place and work has begun on a 5 year strategy for the agency.

“We’re delivering efficiencies and passing savings onto our customers. In October 2014 the fee for car and motorcycle theory tests fell by £6, taking the cost of a test from £31 down to £25. We’ll drop this fee a further £2 in October this year, saving learner drivers in excess of £100 million over the next 9 years.

“We’ve ceased testing at a further 17 goods vehicle testing stations and moved out of 20 driving test centres as part of our commitment to reducing government estate.

“Through our work with the industry to create a network of privately-owned authorised testing facilities, operators now have greater choice of where they can have their vehicles tested. They no longer have to travel long distances to government-owned sites and the industry has reported massive savings on fuel costs, reduced vehicle down-time, lower CO2 emissions and improved first-time pass rates.

“And all this has been achieved whilst continuing to deliver consistently excellent service to our customers; indeed we’ve enhanced our service offering.

“With these solid foundations in place, I am confident that this is the right time for the agency to prepare for a change of leadership”.


RAC and Audi set world record by driving to 14 countries on a single tank of fuel

The RAC and Audi have set a new Guinness World Record by driving to 14 countries on a single tank of fuel.

Motoring journalist Andrew Frankel and racing driver Rebecca Jackson drove an Audi A6 Ultra 1,158.9 miles almost non-stop for nearly 28 hours from the Netherlands to Hungary, passing through Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.

The road trip began in Maastricht at 9.48am (GMT) on Tuesday, June 9, and ended in Hungary at 12.44pm (GMT) on Wednesday, June 10, with the pair averaging 75.9mpg from the A6, which has a 73-litre fuel tank.

The route was plotted by the RAC to avoid the fuel-sapping effects of built-up, congested towns, cities and mountains.

Event coordinator Simon Williams said: “The car was not modified in any way as it comes with fuel-efficient, low rolling resistance tyres as standard.

“This really shows how far it’s possible to drive in a modern vehicle and that the price of fuel – albeit cheaper on the continent – should not put anyone off exploring Europe by car.”


Transport Minister welcomes major increase in ultra-low emission vehicles registrations

Transport Minister Andrew Jones has welcomed the substantial increase in the number of new ultra low emission vehicles registered in the United Kingdom.

A total of 9,046 ultra low emission vehicles were registered in the first quarter of 2015 – a rise of 366% from the same period in 2014.

Jones said: “I am delighted to see such a huge rise in the number of people buying ultra low emission vehicles.

“The Go Ultra Low campaign is making low emission vehicles an increasingly popular choice and the government is investing £500 million over the next five years in making them more accessible to families and businesses across the country.

“It’s a great example of Britain leading the way in developing sustainable transport options that are affordable for everyone.”


JCT600 launches recruitment drive for apprentices

Yorkshire based dealer group JCT600 is looking to recruit 27 apprentices to the group in 2015.

The apprenticeships run for two and three years and the successful apprentices gain NVQ Level 3 qualifications alongside IMI Technical Certificates.

John Tordoff, chief executive of JCT600, said: “Our apprentice scheme is once again proving very popular with over 200 applications received so far and more still coming in.

“Having successfully recruited a record number of apprentices last year, we are keen to keep up the momentum by continuing to attract and nurture young talent for the future.”

JCT600 is growing fast. It recently joined the ranks of UK dealer groups with turnovers in excess of £1bn.

The family-owned Bradford-based business saw turnover rise 13% to £1.025bn in 2014.

New car retail sales at the group rose 12%, outperforming the UK market, which rose 7%.

JCT600, rated 12 in the Motor Trader Top 200, operates 50 dealerships and represents 19 new vehicle brands, with dealerships across Yorkshire and the north east to Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. It employs over 2,000 staff.

Pictured (L to R) are apprentice Jack Grocik, workshop manager Mike Ruane-Poller, service manager Ross Tymon and apprentice Chris Pape


UKLPG urges government to consider automotive LPG following air quality debate

The UK Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (UKLPG) is urging the government to support automotive LPG as part of its commitment to improving air quality in urban areas.

The demand follows calls by Labour MP Diane Abbott for the introduction of an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in the capital by 2018 and tougher action to be taken on getting the most polluting taxis and buses off the road.

UKLPG is urging ministers to support increased take-up of automotive LPG, stating that the quality of air in UK cities is worsening each year, and pollution is contributing to the premature deaths of approximately 3,400 Londoners per annum.

As the British government has already been ordered by the Supreme Court to clean up its air quality act, or face millions of pounds in fines for failing to cut levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx),UKLPG believes an examination of the benefits of automotive LPG as an alternative fuel is extremely timely.

With many governments now favouring vehicles with low emissions of nitrogen dioxide and particulates, UKLPG is urging ministers to support increased take-up of automotive LPG, and to work with the body on the development of low-carbon road transport for both commercial vehicles and motorists.

This could become part of reforms due to be announced in next month’s Budget on July 8th to encourage motorists to switch from the most polluting diesel vehicles to low-emission models, plans for which were outlined in the government’s recent debate.

Rob Shuttleworth, chief executive of UKLPG, said: “As a low-carbon energy, automotive LPG has huge air quality benefits. It is a versatile and flexible fuel with less environmental impact than the alternatives. We would welcome a dialogue with ministers to see how we can support their proposals for lower emissions.”


Heavy fines for car dealers who sold a dangerous vehicle

TWO car dealers have each been fined £5,000 after selling a dangerous vehicle.

Nigel Rees, of Carnwidden Livery, Longdowns, Penryn and Ian Lewis of West Trevarth Barn, Lanner, Redruth, were convicted of selling a dangerously unroadworthy car, contrary to the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, the Western Morning News reported.

Truro magistrates heard that Rees and Lewis had an arrangement under which Rees would buy salvage vehicles from insurance firms and sell them on, the newspaper reported. Lewis was sometimes involved in carrying out repairs and helping to make the sale.

The case at Truro Magistrates’ Court related to the sale of a Mitsubishi Pajero, which had been advertised for sale on the side of a road. Someone paid £650 for the vehicle but later found it had ‘serious defects’.

The Western Morning News said the car had to be scrapped after a several serious faults were discovered. The car had defective hoses and severe chassis corrosion.

Rees and Lewis denied they had been responsible for the sale but both were found guilty and fined £5,000 each.

They were also ordered to pay costs of £3,400, compensation of £400 and a £200 victim surcharge.

Gary Webster, a senior trading standards officer in Cornwall, told the Western Morning News: ‘I am pleased that the magistrates appreciated the severity of the offence, which was reflected in the level of the fines imposed.

‘I hope this sends a clear message to those in the motor trade that safety is of paramount importance, irrespective of the value of the vehicle.’


Auto executives warn UK exit from European Union would be ‘bad for both’

Two German heads of iconic English car brands urged the UK to remain in the European Union in the interest of both sides during the Automotive News Europe Congress here. The pro-EU sentiment was also expressed by the CEOs of Aston Martin and Volvo during the event.

“I would not be very happy if Britain exited the EU. It would be bad for both sides,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW Group’s management board member responsible for the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands.

Ralf Speth, chief executive of Tata Motors’ UK-based subsidiary, Jaguar Land Rover, told Automotive News Europe that 20 percent of JLR’s cars are sold in continental Europe, but it also imports a lot of content from there.

“We are very interested in having a free exchange of goods and technology so we can prosper together,” Speth said in an interview after his keynote speech at the event.

For major automakers with global manufacturing footprints and billions of dollars worth of cars and parts moving back and forth across international borders, an exit would mean the loss of free flow of goods between one of Europe’s largest economies and the remaining countries in the European Union.

According to the latest statistics from the UK and German auto industry associations, both countries export more than 77 percent of all cars produced locally, although no figures were available specifically for trading between the two. The UK does run a sizable trade deficit with the EU, however. In the three months to April 2015, it widened by 200 million pounds to 21.3 billion pounds (about $33 billion).


London cabbies start Uber tax campaign

Black-cab drivers in London have started a poster campaign aimed at highlighting their struggle with app-based taxi service Uber.

Taxis and billboards across the capital have been daubed with posters claiming that Uber does not pay tax in the UK.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) said the campaign is to “highlight what we are up against”.

But Uber said the facts in the posters were “simply wrong” and that it complied with tax rules.

The posters depict Uber’s senior vice president of policy and strategy Rachel Whetstone and Prime Minister David Cameron, with whom she is friends, beside a picture of Chancellor George Osborne – claiming that Uber pays no tax in the UK.

A fleet of taxis covered in the posters lined up in protest outside Mansion House in the City of London, where Mr Osborne was speaking on Wednesday night.

The campaign will initially feature on 250 cabs and three advertising vans as well as being displayed on more than 25 digital sites across London.

“These ads are not anti-Uber,” Steve McNamara, general secretary of the LTDA told the BBC.

“The campaign is designed to highlight that the lobbying arm of Uber, a $50bn US company, has its tentacles embedded deep within Whitehall.

Source: BBC News

Bloodhound supersonic car gets its ‘feathers’

The tailfin. It’s one of the most iconic features on the Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car (SSC), not least because it’ll carry the names of all the project’s thousands of fans who’ve contributed to its funding.

But the fin is also arguably one of the most safety-critical aerodynamic surfaces on the vehicle.

It’s essential to keeping Bloodhound SSC on a straight line as it races across the dried-out lake bed of Hakskeen Pan in South Africa to try to break the land speed record.

At 1,000mph, the big vertical stabiliser on the top edge of the rear of the car will be driver Andy Green’s best friend.

“Like a dart, with the heavy lump at the front, it’s the feathers at the back that keep the dart straight, and you need to create exactly the same effect at high speed in a transonic, supersonic car,” he explains.

“At that speed, there is almost no wheel grip. The wheels will be penetrating the surface of the desert by perhaps two or three millimetres.

“My wheel grip will be less than running a slick-tyred car on ice. At supersonic speeds, all of the grip is aerodynamic grip; it’s like flying a jet fighter.”

Source: BBC News

Posted by Lois Hardy on 15/06/2015