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Daily news round upBack

Rockar Hyundai records 100,000th visitor to shopping centre store – on track to achieve sales target


Digital car retailer ‘Rockar Hyundai’ will celebrate the 100,000th visitor to its store in Kent’s Bluewater Shopping Centre since opening its doors six months ago. And the unique retail concept, Hyundai said, is on track to account for 1,000 unit sales by the end of year.

The website has also received 78,000 web visitors since it was launched in November 2014.

Simon Dixon, chief executive and founder of Rockar, said: “Rockar is challenging every preconception about how buying and selling a car should be.

“The average age of a new car buyer is 56 years, but the average age of a Rockar customer is just 37.

“What’s also interesting is that on average 60% of buyers, and 54% of visitors to the Bluewater store, are female – Rockar’s key demographic. The brand conversion rate is impressive too, as 95% of our customers have never owned a Hyundai before.

“When looking at the success of Rockar so far, it is clear that challenging the historical approach to car buying is the way forward.”

Customers can choose to complete the entire purchase process online or in store. The buying process, Rockar says, can be completed in less than five minutes. There is “no dealing or haggling”.

Rockar Hyundai’s in-store team are known as ‘angels’. They are not salespeople on commission, but product experts “there to advise and lend a helping hand”.

There is a section of Bluewater’s car park reserved for Rockar’s YouDrive service and customers can drive the car alone if they wish. Approximately one third of test drives convert to purchase.

Tony Whitehorn, president and chief executive of Hyundai Motor UK, said: “This innovative retail proposition is challenging the existing automotive retail modelbecause it is taking the product to where the customer is. It’s raising brand awareness and importantly interrupting people who are not shopping at Bluewater with the intention of buying a new car.”

A Hyundai spokeswoman said on the current run rate the Rockar store would achieve about 1,000 sales in 2015. This would mean the experiment was classed as a success that would lead it to investigate similar stores, with Dixon or other partners: “If any other dealer wanted to put forward a plan of this kind we would support it.”

In 2014, with 160 dealers and 81,986 new vehicle registrations the average sales per outlet was 512 – or 43 a month per outlet.

The Bluewater store is open on week days until 9pm. Rockar is also open at weekends.




April registrations hit 10-year high

‘It is extremely positive to see that the new car market continues to grow with April seeing its strongest growth in 10 years – increasing 5.1% on April 2014’ said Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, commenting on theSMMT’s new car registration figures.

New car sales figures, released show April new car registrations rose 6.4% year to date.

Robinson continued ‘Although retail sales growth has began to slow consumers are still confident to buy new cars as they feel the benefits of the recovering economy giving them more disposable income. Finance offers such as PCP and service plans are helping to fix and in some cases cut the cost of motoring for drivers also encouraging them to buy a new vehicle.’

‘Strong growth was seen in the fleet market, which is up 13.4% year to date boosted by increased business confidence as the UK economy grows’.



ODIN on demand intelligence delivers savings for high pressure pumps

High pressure, high flow pumps require considerable energy input in order to deliver the demands of each application, be that in the mining or the steel industry. Increasing energy prices continue to apply additional pressure to these industries and so the manufacturers of these systems are developing more efficient control systems such as ODIN which has been designed and implemented by RMI Pressure Systems.

Traditionally, pumping stations have been supplied with either fixed speed pumps or with one variable speed drive fitted to the lead pump. However, the modulating demand for pressure and flow means that additional pumps are regularly starting and stopping which leads to higher energy consumption.

The first step in addressing the variable demand is to ensure that all pumps are equipped with variable speed drives and then all the pumps can be run at the most efficient level required to achieve the desired pressure and flow. This approach ensures that demand is met while also providing a smooth change in pressure and reducing the stress and wear on the pump components.

However, variable speed drives can only react to the available information, which could be just a simple pressure sensor. The next step is to develop a series of sensors which feed into a central controller that is capable of anticipating demand and therefore deliver pressure and flow as it is required with maximum efficiency.

RMI has produced a robust and reliable control logic system, known as ODIN (On Demand Intelligence) that is capable of rapid response and close control of system pressure. This sophisticated control technology enables the drive motors to run at their optimum speed and provide maximum output with minimal energy.


Economic confidence drive increases in van & truck sales in April

The commercial vehicle market is experiencing strong growth with figures up 23.5% against sales from April 2014. As sales continue to increase, 2015 is seeing growth of 16.4%.

In the 12th consecutive month, van registrations for commercial vehicles (CVs) up to 3.5tonne are showing an increase of nearly 21%. All weight sectors have performed well, with more than 4300 additional light CVs being registered this April.

“Healthy demand is being driven by several factors: competitive financial offers from dealers and manufacturers, growth and upsurge in self-employment, the service industries and continual increases in demand for home deliveries via internet sales.”, says Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association.

Robinson continued, “The turnaround in demand for heavy CVs has been spectacular, with an increase of 43.5% in April and a total of 41.7% in the first four months of the year.

“The biggest increase in demand has come from two main areas. The first in the over 16 tonnes rigid trucks, often used in construction and cleansing/waste management. The second in 44t tractor units that are used for logistics and supply for retail demand of supermarket chains.

“In the first 4 months of last year, 3493 tractors were registered, this year in the same 4 months 5660 tractors have been put on the road, that is a huge 70% increase.

“It is very encouraging to see this level of improvement in the demand for heavy CVs, especially following last years’ time consuming EU Type Approval regulations for completed bodied trucks. With the impending election results, we look forward to the next Government being supportive of CVs and the transport industry.”


Book now for the 2015 Forecourt Seminar

The ACS Forecourt Seminar on 3rd June 2015 is the can’t-miss event packed with exciting ideas and concepts for both existing forecourt retailers and convenience retailers looking to expand their store’s offering to include selling fuel.

This year’s event, held at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Birmingham, will be split into three thought-provoking feature sessions looking at the challenges currently facing forecourt stores, examples of best practice from around the UK, and uncovering ideas for the future.

Top speakers already confirmed for the day include Zahra Bahrololoumi from Accenture discussing key challenges in the forecourt industry and how these represent an opportunity for entrepreneurial fuels retailers to differentiate their brand; Jeremy Clarke from MFG talking through MFG’s journey and how they are operating and adapting to the retail and fuel trends; and Blake Gladman from him! Research and Consulting will offer a preview of him!’s Future of Forecourts report.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The ACS Forecourt Seminar offers attendees a key insight in to the world of forecourt retailing. Throughout the day, we will tackle the obstacles currently facing forecourt retailers and take an exclusive look at the top performing forecourts to provide retailers with a wealth of new concepts to implement in store to help boost sales and drive footfall”.

In the best practice session, we will see top independent forecourt retailer, Paul Cheema, discussing his expansion from convenience into fuel retailing; Michael O’Loughlin from Petrogas will look at ideas from across the world with a focus on Ireland that could drive best practise in the UK; and Giles Taylor from Rontec will talk about competing against the multiples, best practise thoughts and ideas for a competitive market.

The final session will include Martin Steggles from Global MSI discussing Global MSI, specialists in forecourt structures throughout the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe; and Brian Madderson from PRA looking at key issues such as fuel duty, rates and planning.

To book your place, visit, or contact Sarah Johnson on 01252 515 001 /



Take part in AM survey to gain better market knowledge – and chance to win a prize

AM is keen to gain a better understanding of your view on the market.

We’d like senior decision-makers in franchised dealer groups to look behind the headlines that have for more than three years championed the success in the new car market.

In association with MHA, AM is carrying out a survey of dealer confidence and on the key pressure points in the market today, plus looking at business planning priorities for 2015.

AM will analyse the results and share them with its audience in the July issue of the magazine and on its website

As thanks for your contribution, respondents also have the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win a choice of three prizes.**




Fleet News Awards winner 2015: Leasing Company of the Year

Leasing companies love a forecast: few can resist predicting the size of their risk fleets over a three-to-five-year timescale. Fewer still actually hit their stated targets.

That’s not an accusation that can be levelled at Alphabet. Quite the reverse: its predictions have tended to be considerably under-estimated.

In 2011, chief executive Richard Schooling outlined to Fleet News his plans for a risk fleet of 60,000 by 2015. A month later, the company acquired ING and accelerated to 95,000.

In 2012, Schooling laid out his strategy to hit 130,000 vehicles by 2017 (part of a plan to become the UK’s second largest leasing company); that figure was surpassed in the 2014 FN50, although Alphabet remains third, behind Lex Autolease and LeasePlan.

So, what’s his next milestone for the business? Schooling refers to recent interviews in Fleet News which suggest 150,000-160,000 is the threshold target for many of the big five leasing providers (excluding Lex Autolease, of course) and says his intention remains to get to number 2.

“We are not there yet but we will be,” he says. “We are on plan this year to grow again by another few thousand [risk fleet vehicles]. It isn’t about being bigger than anyone else; it’s about consistent growth.”



Zenith provides salary sacrifice scheme to Grafton

Grafton Merchanting GB has appointed Zenith to provide a salary sacrifice car scheme to its eligible employees over a two or three-year period.

The builders’ merchants group worked with its existing employee benefits provider, Reward Gateway, to give access to the new scheme.

The scheme, which is eligible to employees based at over 400 branches across the UK, was launched through a variety of communication methods including a feature in the employee magazine, emails, posters, flyers, webinars, roadshows and payslip notifications.

There have been over 60 orders placed within the first few weeks of the scheme being available.

Cliff Rendell, head of HR operations, rewards & payroll at Grafton Merchanting, said: “We already have an excellent benefits platform and wanted to expand our rewards package further by offering our employees the opportunity to drive a brand new, fully serviced, maintained and insured car, and save money.

“Corporate Social Responsibility is high on our agenda so we are delighted to be able to offer colleagues cars with low CO2 emissions without compromising on choice. It has been very well received by our employees.

“We chose Zenith based on its experience, knowledge and expertise in salary sacrifice car schemes.

“It has a strong focus on service, backed by market-leading systems and was able to provide multiple options for complete risk mitigation.”



Rockar Hyundai ‘on target’ to sell 1,000 cars in 2015

The Rockar Hyndai store located in the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent is ‘on target’ to sell 1,000 cars in 2015.

The store has attracted 100,000 visitors and the website 78,000 visits since it was launched in November 2014.

Hyundai did not say how many cars had been sold so far but said: “The latest monthly retail order take indicates an annual run rate of 1,000 sales to private customers for 2015. This is on target.”

Rockar was founded by dealer Simon Dixon who built up the Dixon dealer group before selling to RBS in 2004.

Rockar enables the customer to purchase a car online or in store with no haggle pricing.

Stores have non-commission based staff on hand to offer advice to customers who want it.

The YouDrive service at Bluewater enables customers to book one of 25 cars at the click of a button.

A section of Bluewater’s car park is reserved for the service and customers can drive the car alone if they wish.

Tony Whitehorn, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor UK, said: “This innovative retail proposition is challenging the existing automotive retail model because it is taking the product to where the customer is.

“It’s raising brand awareness and importantly interrupting people who are not shopping at Bluewater with the intention of buying a new car.”

Dixon said: “Rockar is challenging every preconception about how buying and selling a car should be.”

Points of interest

  • The average age of a new car buyer is 56 years and the average age of a Rockar customer is 37
  • On average 60% of buyers and 54 per cent of visitors to the Bluewater store, are female – Rockar’s key demographic
  • 95% of our customers have never owned a Hyundai before
  • The store is open on week days until 9pm


Lotus opens brand centre in Piccadilly

Lotus has opened a new ‘virtual’ brand centre in central London.

The main area of the store in Piccadilly is given over to an interactive Lotus sports car configurator where customers can chose the specifications of their new car.

Customers can view and configure the specification of their new Lotus and then arrange a test drive at any one of Lotus’ 179 dealerships worldwide.

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO, Group Lotus said: “Our Piccadilly brand centre will be regarded as a must visit location in the West End.

“With this new brand centre concept, we will further introduce our exciting cars and illustrious brand to more fans and potential customers of Lotus.

“There is no better place, outside of our headquarters in Norfolk, to learn about Lotus and our stunning cars with the legendary Lotus benchmark handling.”

The Lotus Piccadilly Store is located on the north side of Piccadilly Circus with two entrances on Regent Street and Glasshouse Street.

Two of the company’s best-selling models are currently in the showroom, the Elise 220 Cup and the Exige S take centre-stage.

The new Lotus Evora 400, the fastest production Lotus ever, will be displayed later in the summer.




BCA reports April fall in used LCV values

Average values for light commercial vehicles sold at auction fell by £108 (1.9%) in April to £5508 compared to March, according to the latest BCA Pulse report.

Year-on-year, average values were up by £113 (2.0%). The average age of vans sold at auction was down slightly year on year (58.08 months compared to 58.52 months in April 2014), while vans sold last month had just over 3000 fewer miles on the clock than this time last year.

Values for fleet and lease LCVs averaged £6459 in April, a fall of £150 (2.2%) compared to March, while year-on-year values were down by £276 (4.1%).

Although we are reporting some price pressure as a result of rising supply and the typical seasonal issues we experience post-Easter, there is still plenty of demand from professional buyers and end-users. Average values for light commercial vehicles have risen significantly over time,” said Duncan Ward, BCA’s head of commercial vehicles.

Ward said that with record numbers of small businesses being set up as the economy recovers there has been steady interest for panel vans of all types and capacities, as well as more specialised vehicles such as Lutons, dropsides and tippers.

“One of the first assets small businesses, partnerships and sole traders are likely to acquire is a company van and that is being reflected in the wider wholesale market,” said Ward.



Red Bull Racing takes on Nissan LCVs for F1’s European leg

Nissan is supplying 80 commercial vehicles to the Red Bull Racing Formula One team for the European leg of the world championship.

The Japanese manufacturer is providing the vehicles for the fourth year running.

A fleet of Primaster vehicles transport people and equipment between races, while NV400, NV200, e-NV200 vans and Navara pick-ups are also stationed at the team’s headquarters in Milton Keynes.

The Red Bull Racing Formula One team is sponsored by Nissan-owned Infiniti, while its racing cars use 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 hybrid engines which are produced by Renault, Nissan’s alliance partner.

“This partnership with Nissan’s LCV arm has brought significant benefits to our team and demonstrated the value of working with the right commercial vehicle partner,” said Christian Horner, team principal, Infiniti Red Bull Racing. “One of the biggest challenges we face is managing the logistically complex operations of transporting people and equipment, and we are working with Nissan LCV in 2015.”


Admiral Cheif Exec to step down

After 25 years, Admiral’s Henry Engelhardt who was key in making the company one of Britain’s most valuable companies, is to step down.

The American chief executive is expected to hand over the role in 2016.

Started in 1991, the company now employs 7,000 people, most of them in south Wales.

Admiral gained a firm footing in the market by targeting motorists who found it difficult to get cheaper insurance, including younger drivers, those with higher performance cars and those living in cities.

The company made its decision to set up its headquarters in Cardiff, after a £1m set-up grant was awarded by the then Welsh Development Agency.

The insurance firm has seen record profits every year since it became a public company except for last year, however it still made £357m profit in 2014.



Faulty airbags lead to more recalls

Japanese car giants Honda and Daihatsu are recalling five million cars globally due to a potentially deadly airbag fault. This announcement comes just days after Toyota Motor Corporation and Nissan Motor Company said they are recalling some 6.5 million vehicles due to the airbags that were made and supplied by Takata Corporation.

So far, there have been six deaths linked to Takata airbags, all of which have been in Honda cars. All other carmakers said the recalls were precautionary and no accidents or injuries had been reported.

This latest announcement will bring the total number of vehicles to be recalled to 31 million vehicles worldwide since 2008, as a result of the Takata airbag inflators, which can allegedly explode under pressure and spray shrapnel inside the car.

As a result of the recalls Takata faces multiple class action lawsuits and criminal and regulatory investigations in North America.

Following the latest recall, Takata’s shares were down 5.6% in Tokyo.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 14/05/2015