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Daily news round upBack

Toyota and Nissan recall 6.5m cars due to airbag problem

nissan toyota

Toyota and Nissan are recalling 6.5 million cars globally due to an airbag safety issue.

Toyota is recalling five million cars across 35 model lines built between 2003 and 2007, while Nissan is to recall 1.56 million vehicles.

It is not clear how many affected vehicles have been sold in Europe.

The airbags in question are produced by parts manufacturer Takata. According to the BBC, 25 million vehicles with Takata airbags have been recalled worldwide by 10 different manufacturers since 2008.

Honda told the BBC it was also preparing to announce more car recalls related to the airbags.


Car dealers warned of €100m fines for ignoring future EU data laws

Car dealers are being warned of the impact of forthcoming EU law on their freedoms to contact consumers – and the massive financial risk of ignoring them.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect before the end of 2017, and the new required compliance standards contain several key points that apply to dealers’ marketing campaigns.

In the case of personalised communication, consumers must give permission for their personal behavioural and preference data to be used.

This does not apply to anonymised data.

Permission will need to be obtained when adding consumers to a database, or sending marketing communication. Businesses need to prove they have consent from all subscribers and consumers will have the right to have their data removed.

Failure to comply could result in every database used being erased and a fine of up to €100 million.

Anthony Hawkins, chief executive of data compliance specialist Verso Group, said proving consent, even if it was correctly obtained and meets the forthcoming data compliance standard, may be impossible for some companies.

Having a copy of opt in text used when gaining permission, plus the accompanying data file marked ‘opt in’ will not to be considered as having met the required level of proof. A completed consent form will be the only way to demonstrate the required ‘unambiguous’ permission has been given.

Also, the permission text previously used in gaining opt in consent may not be specific enough for future use.


Trio of appointments for LeasePlan as fleet hits a new record

LeasePlan has announced three new appointments as its funded fleet passes 140,000 for the first time.

LeasePlan’s growth is underpinned by strong performance in the commercial vehicle market, as well as increased business for the Automotive Leasing and Network brands.

Chris Tubbs moves from head of risk to the position of brand director within LeasePlan UK’s Network operation.

He started at LeasePlan UK in 1996 and has since held responsibility for a number of areas, including managing the technical services and remarketing teams.

Ranjit Dosanjh joins the business as director of new business for the LeasePlan UK brand. She brings a wealth of business development experience – particularly around the area of major bids.

In addition, she has extensive experience with both the public and private sectors from roles with G4S, Thales and Tribal Plc and has led new business teams in areas of IT, finance and education.

Hein du Plessis re-joins the business as head of new product development. He left LeasePlan UK in December 2011 to return to South Africa where he has spent the last three years living as head of fleet solutions for Eqstra Fleet.

During his previous spell with LeasePlan UK he held roles including account director and head of consultancy services.

Matt Dyer, managing director of LeasePlan UK, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Chris, Ranjit and Hein to their new roles at LeasePlan UK.

“We’ve seen strong growth in the first part of 2015 and these appointments are a statement of intent with regard to continuing this positive progress.

“Reaching 140,000 funded vehicles in its fleet for the first time ever is a great achievement and to see all our brands grow is an extremely positive sign.

“LeasePlan UK is firmly on target hit its goals for the year, and I believe Chris, Ranjit and Hein all have hugely important roles to play in ensuring our business performs to its full potential this year and beyond.”


Regulators take on negligent fleets

Fleet operators who fall foul of the rules relating to the licensing and regulation of heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches will end up before Britain’s traffic commissioners – even if that non-compliance relates to their vans. Appointed by the secretary of state for transport, traffic commissioners are responsible for the registration of local bus services and regulatory action against drivers of HGVs and public service vehicles (PSVs).

There are seven commissioners regulating eight geographical areas, including specific commissioners for Wales and Scotland. In Scotland, the traffic commissioner also has responsibility for the registration and regulation of local bus services, taxi fare scale appeals and the appointment of adjudicators to consider appeals in respect of decriminalised parking offences. They are assisted by 13 deputy traffic commissioners, who preside over a number of public inquiries and consider licensing applications.

However, while the primary focus of traffic commissioners are HGVs and PSVs, O-licence holders who operate light commercial vehicles (LCVs) on their fleet could also find themselves in trouble if they are caught with a defective van. Senior traffic commissioner Beverley Bell, who is also the traffic commissioner for the north west of England, has previously warned fleets that run both vans and trucks, and therefore have an O-licence, that this licence could be revoked if either vehicle type is found to be faulty.

Bell told Commercial Fleet that truck and van operators can avoid falling foul of the rules by implementing a safety policy. “A simple daily walk round each vehicle by the driver is the foundation stone of any such policy,” she says. “This way you’ll avoid many of the major problems that happen.

“Do simple things like this, along with focusing on health and safety and driver training, and you’ll reduce accident rates, get more deliveries done on time, lower your insurance bill and gain better profits.”

Costing £13 million per year, the traffic commissioner service oversees 77,732 hauliers running 337,570 trucks and 9,155 passenger operators with 94,552 buses and coaches.


Mercedes-Benz awards top apprentices in retail network

The Mercedes-Benz UK Apprentice of the Year Awards, celebrating the top apprentices from across the retail network was held last week at Mercedes-Benz World.

The Mercedes-Benz Apprenticeship Academy develops young people for the retailer network and has a 91% completion rate with 65% of the graduates still in the dealer network after 10 years.

The Academy has seen over 2,500 apprentices graduate since it was established in 1995 and recruitment of apprentices is increasing by 30% year-on-year.

Lee Passmoor, apprentice academy operations manager, Mercedes-Benz UK, said: “The winners are chosen based on how they have performed over a variety of tests and practical assignments throughout the year.

“They’re a great way to recognise individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the programme, continuously showing their dedication, hard work and passion for the brand.”

From the Car division Alex Malcolm was awarded Parts Specialist Apprentice of the Year for his excellent customer skills and for continuously going above and beyond expectations.

Jody Fallaize won Technical Apprentice of the Year for her positive attitude towards learning and self-development.

The winners will spend a week working with the Mercedes Petronas F1 team.



Vertu joins the £2bn turnover club with record year

Vertu Motors broke through the £2bn revenue barrier for the first time with its full year results.

The fast-expanding dealer group turned in a strong performance for the year ending 28 February 2015 with pre-tax profits up 32.9% to £21m on turnover up 23.2% to £2.07bn.

The group’s used car arm was the star performer with like-for-like used volumes up 9.2%, generating stronger gross profit per unit. It was the third successive year of like-for-like volume growth.

Chief executive Robert Forrester (pictured) said the company had grown its used car business and profitability through very tight stock control and accurate pricing.

He said stock control was more important than ever as the supply constraints which had affected the used car market in recent years no longer existed. In the overall market volumes were up, prices were falling and this could lead to a weakening in used car margins, he said.

On the new car front, like-for-like new car sales rose 6.4% for the period as the new car market continued to grow.

A highlight of the results was a 28% increase in the group’s own service plans to 71,000, on top of the manufacturer service plans it already sells. Overall, aftersales was strong with higher revenues and margins in service, accident repair and parts.

The company has recently bought Land Rover and Jaguar dealerships and is also on the look-out for franchises it does not currently represent. It has net cash of £15.7m and under-utilised bank facilities of £40m to fund acquisitions.

“We have substantial funds and financial capacity for further expansion and continue to see attractive acquisition opportunities,” said Forrester.


Euro NCAP calling for widespread fitment of AEB technology

Euro NCAP is calling for widespread fitment of low-speed autonomous emergency braking technology to cars for maximum safety benefit.

The crash-testing body published a report claiming that systems can lead to a 38% reduction in real-world rear-end crashes.

Dubbed Effectiveness of Low Speed Autonomous Emergency Braking in Real World Rear-End Crashes, the paper also reported that there is no significant difference between urban and rural crashes.

AEB systems are increasingly becoming common on cars, Euro NCAP said. The low-speed option normally consists of an automatic brake function that operates for speeds up to 30km/h (18.6mph) or 50km/h (31mph).

“These findings strongly support our decision to make AEB technology a key discriminator in the safety rating of new vehicles. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness in reducing real world crashes of the advanced systems that are promoted in order to validate and improve the overall star rating,” said Dr Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP.



SMEs spend £1700 on average each year maintaining company cars, says RAC

Small businesses are spending around £1700 on average each year maintaining each company car, according to research by RAC Business.

The motoring organisation claimed that one in five spends more than £2000 a year per car.

In the survey of 1000 businesses, which was conducted during the first quarter of the year, found that 37% of firms in Scotland are paying between £3000 and £4000 annually in company car maintenance, the highest amount in the UK.

By comparison, firms in the East Midlands are the least affected financially with 44% spending between £1000 and £1500 on servicing each of their company cars per annum.

“Keeping a company car fit for purpose does require regular and thorough maintenance – without it, a business is looking at a hefty price tag in terms of unexpected servicing and breakdown costs,” said Jenny Powley, RAC sales director for corporate partnerships.

“With the economy still in a fragile state, as business owners know too well, it is vital to keep those unexpected costs to a minimum by looking at different options for your fleet,” said Powley.


Dash cam sales skyrocket

Dash cams sales have risen by 918% on the high street as car insurers say they will now accept footage as evidence when drivers make claims.

According to Nextbase, a car parts chain and manufacturer of dash cams, said it contacted 29 major British car insurers and received confirmation from each one that they would accept dash cam evidence in the event of a claim.

Nextbase stated that insurers were starting to realise the benefits of dash cam use, thanks in part to their role in fighting fraudulent motor claims, which costs the insurance industry an estimated £1bn each year.

Many insurers are also finding that dash cam footage can make the claims process more efficient, ‘as a video is more reliable than human witnesses,’ a spokesman for Nextbase said, ‘which also reduces the cost of the claims process for the company.’

Market research Company, GfK, say dash cam sales in the UK are becoming increasingly popular with sales increasing by 918% since last year. This is partly due to a number of high street stores, such as Halfords and Maplin, widely stocking the cameras.

Richard Browning, director at Nextbase, said, ‘It’s not hard to see why dash cams are so popular with insurers – they act as an independent witness for drivers, who can use footage to demonstrate that they’re in the right should they be involved in the event of a non-fault accident or even attempted fraud.



Cromax announce partnership with solar team

Global refinish coating brand, Cromax has signed an agreement with Punch Powertrain Solar Team in Belgium to become one of the teams Bronze partners.

As a part of the new partnership, Cromax will supply the paint for the special solar car, the Punch Powertrain Solar Team that is being designed and built by a select group of students. The brand’s logo will appear on the car, which will compete in the 2015 World Solar Challenge, regarded by many as the world championship for solar vehicles – in Australia this October.

The team is made up of 16 talented students, who are studying electrical engineering and electro-mechanics at the University of Leuven, Belgium and they are in the final stages of the cars construction. Cromax has been working closely with the team leaders to create bespoke, eye-catching colour formulas of the team colours.

Brand manager at Cromax, Dries Van den Bergh, said, ‘We’re very excited to be supporting this young team of dynamic and ambitious students. Undertaking something like this, while still studying at university, is quite a feat, but we know the team will do a fantastic job in the World Challenge in Australia, especially on the back of coming third in the European Solar Challenge in October 2014 and third in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge in January.’

PR and Events rep for Punch Powertrain Solar Team, Karel Winderickx, said, ‘We’ve been competing in solar challenges since 2005, so this is the sixth car we’ve designed and built. Each one has pushed the development envelope a little bit more. So we are delighted to be working with a brand like Cromax. We share many values, not least of which is our love of innovation and our dedication to teamwork. We’ve still got a long way to go before the World Challenge later in the year, but with Cromax, along with our other partners, we feel up to the task. We can’t wait to see how the car looks once it is sprayed with the livery at its unveiling in August.’


Auto errors

Google’s driverless cars have been involved in 11 accidents, but it claims that other motorists were always to blame.

Source: The Independent


If BIS is to be scrapped, there must be better arguments than cost alone

Civil servants at the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) department went to work on Monday with some trepidation.

Source: The Independent

Posted by Lois Hardy on 13/05/2015