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Daily News Round upBack

FTA urges Government to rethink approach to licence checking


FTA is urging the Government to rethink its approach to licence checking after it today replaced the paper counterpart to the driving licence with an online service.

The abolition of the paper counterpart means endorsements will no longer be recorded on the paper part of the licence, therefore the only way an employer is able to make a check is by contacting the DVLA, says FTA.

Despite continued requests that this information be made available through the online systems, DVLA has failed to provide a facility other than a telephone number which is available only during working hours, it adds.

To check if a driver has the correct licence, the driver himself must first request an access code from DVLA, which remains active for only 72 hours.

This is then provided to the employer, who uses the online service to make the check.

If checks can’t be done online, the driver can call DVLA to give permission for a check and the employer then uses a premium rate number to follow up.

Checking non-GB licences cannot be done on the same system – checks have to be made on a premium rate phone line during normal office hours.


Birmingham garage joins Autogas garage network

Selly Oak based Harborne Garage has been picked to join Autogas’s LPG conversion network.

The appointment comes after Birmingham was named by the World Health Organisation as one of the 10 worst cities in the UK for air quality, with pollution claiming up to five hundred and thirty lives in the city each year.

“Having read about the air quality problems which are mainly caused by diesel vehicles, we wanted to take a leading position within Birmingham and the West Midlands and are therefore delighted to have been selected to join the new Autogas network,” explained Steve Law, service manager, Harborne Garage.

General Manager of Autogas, Linda Gomersall, said: “With poor air quality responsible for an estimated twenty nine thousand deaths in the UK every year – equivalent to the entire population of Stratford upon Avon – it is great news to have Harborne join the conversion network and assist Birmingham in its mission to address air pollution.”


FTA launches Van Excellence Certificate of Driver Competence

Freight Transport Association has launched the Van Excellence Certificate of Driver Competence after recognising the need for van driver qualifications.

The project has been created in conjunction with the FTA Van Excellence scheme to meet the demand from operators who want to demonstrate how professional their drivers are, and how seriously they take their responsibilities in the work that they do.

For operators, the scheme will provide validation to the role of a van driver as well as demonstrating, encouraging and creating a route for employee development.

Mark Cartwright, FTA head of vans, said: “This project really underlines the strength of Van Excellence.

“Accredited operators of the scheme very often share best practice, and the need for a nationally-recognised van driver standard was identified from this.

“Operators want to demonstrate that their drivers are professional and take their duties seriously. They’ve worked closely with us to develop the course and the qualification process.”

As part of the Van Excellence Certificate of Driver Competence, the FTA will offer two elements:

  • Training: FTA will provide in-house van driver competence training, and ‘train-the-trainer’ using the Community Driver CPC model.Users will be able to access computer-based training.
  • Assessment: Van drivers can be put through assessments at recognised centres. Operators will be offered the chance to become recognised as assessment centres, and FTA will also be able to provide assessment centres.


BVRLA expands training and development services

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) is widening the range of training, accreditation and professional development services available to its members and has appointed a new learning and development professional, Gursh Gill.

Gill will enable the BVRLA to implement an ambitious training and development programme as it helps members comply with a range of new consumer and financial regulatory regimes.

One of the first priorities will be to assist leasing brokers in achieving, maintaining and demonstrating full compliance with Financial Conduct Authority rules. Elsewhere there will be more opportunities for small- and medium-sized daily rental members who lack their own dedicated training resources.

Commenting on Gill’s appointment, BVRLA head of member services Nora Leggett said: “With his extensive training and operational experience in the rental industry, we’re confident that Gursh is ideally qualified to lead our initiatives in this area.

“We want to increase the range of training, accreditation and professional development we offer as part of our wider commitment to maintain and improve standards within the industry. We will be working through our partners at the ICFM, Grosvenor Training, Manheim and Professional Inspiration to increase public confidence in the industry.”

The news comes as two members of staff from Fleet Assist received their Automotive Technician Accreditation certificates at a recent BVRLA forum.

More than 400 people achieved success in BVRLA training in 2014, with the association hosting more than 60 seminars, webinars, forums and workshops.


Mercedes-Benz highlights green cars at Company Car in Action

Mercedes-Benz will be highlighting some of its greenest ever cars at Company Car in Action, three months after taking a hat-trick of Fleet News Awards.

Diesel-electric hybrid models, a plug-in petrol hybrid, a battery electric vehicle, and alternative fuel powertrains will take their place alongside efficient conventional engine variants as well as a new line-up of compact Smart cars at the event in Millbrook.

Mercedes-Benz launched the latest version of the C-Class saloon and estate in 2014, and while the lowest CO2 from a conventional diesel version is 101g/km, the C-Class is also available as a diesel-electric hybrid with CO2 emissions from 94g/km.

The S-Class range gained an ultra-low CO2 variant in 2014, when Mercedes-Benz added a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. This model, which has CO2 emissions of 65g/km and qualifies for a 100% discount on the London congestion charge, will also be available to drive at company car in action.

Sally Dennis, head of fleet at Mercedes-Benz, said: “Mercedes-Benz will showcase a variety of vehicles across the range to highlight our dedication to meeting diverse fleet customer requirements, and to satisfy the ever increasing demand for class-leading green credentials.

“Vehicles available to test drive include the C-Class – recently named World Car of the Year 2015 with CO2 emissions from 94 g/km, the S 500 Plug-in Hybrid with CO2 emissions from as low as 65 g/km, the zero-emission B-Class Electric Drive – released earlier this year – and the Smart Forfour.”

While all of those vehicles have variants with CO2 emissions below 100g/km, attendees will also have the opportunity of a high-performance accompanied ride in a car with CO2 emissions of 219g/km – although perhaps modest given the vehicle’s performance.

The Mercedes-AMG GT coupé is currently used at the official safety car in the Formula One World Championship, and according to Mercedes-Benz, along with other AMG variants at Company Car in Action, Mercedes-Benz helps illustrate the breadth of the range and ability of its models.

Company Car in Action is held at Millbrook Proving Ground, in Bedfordshire, and vehicles are available to drive on one or more of four circuits purpose built for appraising road vehicles.

Fleet decision makers have the opportunity to assess vehicles back to back in a controlled environment to help them make better decisions about the future make-up of their fleets. To book a place visit


Arnold Clark is highest ranked dealer in Top Track 100 firms

Arnold Clark is the highest rated dealer in the 2015 Sunday Times Top Track 100 companies.

The Top Track 100 ranks Britain’s biggest private companies by sales.

To qualify, companies must be unquoted, registered in the UK and not subsidiaries,

This year Arnold Clark it was in 10th position slot (13 in 2014) with turnover of £3.3bn in the year to December 2014. The business is wholly owned by the Clark family and trusts.

Bradford-based JCT 600 was in 51st position (57) with annual turnover of £1bn in the year to December 2014. It employs 1,920 staff and is wholly owned by the Tordoff family.

In 54th position (64) was Listers, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, with annual turnover of £963m in the year to March 2015. It employs 1,972 staff in the UK and is owned by the Bradshaw and Lister families.

The Shrewsbury-based Greenhous group was in 75th position (91) with annual turnover of £775. It employs 784 staff.

The company is owned by Derek Passant (52% share), Kerry Finnon (47%) and Mike Pawson (1%).

Benfield Motor Group is rated 83 in the Top Track 100 companies, entering the charts for the first time.

The Newcastle upon Tyne company had annual turnover of £700m in the year to December 2014.

It has 1,440 employees and is wholly owned by John Squires & Family.

Dan Howlett, head of Corporate Banking in the UK at HSBC, said: “It’s encouraging to see dynamic private companies from across the UK recognised by the Top Track 100 league table.

“These businesses are passionate and dedicated, which is evident across the different sectors, and they play an important part in helping to strengthen the British economy.”


Lexus scuppers Pendragon’s Glendale deal in California

Pendragon will not be going ahead with the acquisition of the Glendale Lexus dealership in California announced in March.

The company said the deal had fallen through as Lexus had the right, which it will exercise, to buy the dealership.

The prospect of expansion in California was first mooted by Pendragon CEO in Motor Trader last year.

Analyst Mike Allen at broker Zeus Capital said it was disappointing for the dealer group that the deal did not go ahead but added that Glendale was an expensive purchase. The $48.5m deal included $21m of goodwill.

“On one hand, we believe this is disappointing for Pendragon as it was expected to be EPS enhancing from 2016E, and we have tweaked down our forecasts accordingly.

“However, we did always feel this was initially an expensive transaction, and this now leaves Pendragon with a stronger balance sheet for future acquisitions.

“The valuation of the shares on our revised forecasts continues to look undemanding in our view,” he said.


Online service replaces paper counterpart from today

From today (8 June), the paper driving licence is being replaced by an online service, Share Driving Licence, which the DVLA claimed will save taxpayers millions each year.

The DVLA said that it had to replace 445,000 paper counterparts last year because drivers had lost them.

Motorists were charged £20 each to cover the cost.

“Replacing the counterpart with an online service will save motorists money and reduce unnecessary red tape,” said transport minister, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon. “When the driver chooses to share it, those organisations will be able to see completely accurate information direct from DVLA’s records. This will reduce their risk and improve road safety.”

Last month, the DVLA moved its long-awaited licence-checking tool, Share Driving Licence, out of a private beta into a public beta.

The free tool allows users to view the vehicle categories they’re entitled to drive and any endorsements or penalty points accrued.

The service allows driving licence holders to share information held at the DVLA with others – such as rental companies – while ensuring they stay in control of who sees it, the DVLA said.

It also enables users to share licence information with third party companies via a unique single-use code, which the third-party can use to access licence information.

To check if a driver has the correct licence, the driver must request an access code from the DVLA, which remains active for 72 hours. This is then provided to the employer, who uses the online service to make the check.

The service can be found here.

In February, the DVLA produced a communications toolkit aimed at helping fleets to prepare for the upcoming abolishment of the photocard licence counterpart.

The toolkit includes banner adverts, briefing packs, leaflets, posters and a video designed to help raise awareness of the changes.

The toolkit can be found here.


Trio of new models due as DS cuts Citroen ties

The DS brand will expand its model range from three to six models before 2020.

The expansion of the new premium brand will follow its complete separation from Citroen by early 2016. This is the point at which the supermini DS3 model gets a model-year change, three months behind the DS4’s rebrand, which sees Citroen’s logo and branding removed completely as it seeks to establish DS as its premium offering.

The upper medium DS5 is first to show the new grille, dominated by the DS logo. The facelifted car arrives in the UK in July (see page 27 for the first test report).

DS has not confirmed what the extra three models will be, but said they would all be in “the fastest-growing segments”, and added that a crossover is likely. There are also plans for a plug-in hybrid, but Yves Bonnefont, DS global chief executive, would not reveal on which model or when it would arrive.

Bekir Hassan, DS and Citroen UK brand director, said: “DS will be our premium brand. We feel we have cars in the future that can certainly perform in that sector as the premier brand of PSA.”

DS will take a leadership position on technology, displaying advances in autonomous tech before it filters down to Citroen and Peugeot.

Hassan confirmed the UK as the biggest market for the DS3 in Europe, with one-in-three European DS3 registrations being right-hand drive models, a figure that rises to 45% for the cabrio version. The changes for the DS4 and then DS3 inside the next nine months will be cosmetic and not as pronounced as the DS5 facelift, with the new grille and DS logo replacing the Citroen one, ahead of all-new models arriving in 2017 and ’18.

Bonnefont wants to establish DS as a credible rival to German premium brands and admits it may take up to two model cycles or 15 years for this to happen. He also wants residual values to improve to be on par too.

He said: “We have to measure the strength of our brand by our RVs. Improving the RV on our products is a specific key performance indicator on our product programmes.”

The shift will also allow Citroen to become more individual, characterised, Hassan said, by the new Cactus crossover model, which “epitomises what Citroen stands for – it has a distinct identity”.

He added: “The 2CV also had a distinct identity and this is where we want to take the Citroen brand.”

Hassan said buyer habits are evolving, with customers wanting an economical and practical car more so than ever, but a car that’s “an experience, an extension of them”, with more personalisation, added value, innovation, practicality and connectivity.


Paper driving licence abolition “rushed”, says BVRLA

The BVRLA has said the DVLA has “rushed the process” for switching to digital services in the wake of the abolition of the paper driving licence counterpart today (8 June).

Gerry Keaney, BVRLA chief executive, said: “Replacing paper forms with digital services is a great idea, but the Government has gone about this the wrong way by rushing the process and not giving enough warning to motorists.

“The online system being offered by the DVLA is far from ideal and the car rental industry is working with it as best it can.”

Speaking on the John Humphrys, BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning, Oliver Morley, chief executive of the DVLA, responded to the criticism from the BVRLA.

Morley is expecting the rental industry to make sure customers are informed of the changes to the licence and digital processes.

Humphrys said anecdotally on the Today show that most people don’t know about the changes.

Morley said: “Over the past month based on our expectation and press we’ve done is that people do know about [the changes].

“We’re expecting the car hire companies to inform their customers as and for the most part that they’re doing that.”

Keaney said the BVRLA is confident its members will keep licence holder customers up-to-date with any new procedures, which should minimise any disruption for travellers.

Keaney said: “Customers can take extra precautions by ensuring that their rental company has access to their endorsement information – available via the DVLA’s Share Driving Licence service or its call centre.”

The BVRLA has set-up an advice page for car hire customers concerned about the abolition of the paper counterpart to the driving licence and what it means for their rental.


Lexus, Infiniti pick potentially polarizing designs for Europe

Japanese premium automakers are counting on bold, potentially polarizing designs for their forthcoming small cars to lure customers in Europe from rivals BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. All premium brands competing in Europe are strengthening their lineups of fuel-efficient compact- and subcompact-sized offerings to better comply with the region’s toughening CO2 regulations.

Infiniti’s first moves in that direction are the Q30, a rival to the BMW 1 series, and the QX30, which is aimed at the Audi Q3. Lexus hinted at its plans for a rival to the Audi A1 and Mini with the Lexus LF-SA concept, which debuted at the Geneva auto show in March.

Source: Automotive News Europe

Automakers, regulators and green campaigners set for CO2 battle

Automakers will meet with EU officials and green campaigners this month to open discussions on what will likely be a tough 2030 target for the reduction of CO2 emissions from new cars sold in Europe. The meeting likely will be tense. After achieving a 34 percent drop in emissions over the past 20 years, car companies say they are reaching the limit of what is doable. European Commission officials and environmental campaigners are likely to disagree with the automakers and instead seek further cuts to CO2 emissions, which are partly blamed for climate change. On June 18 the Commission will present studies evaluating areas including the need for CO2 cuts, which technologies will help meet the goal and whether investing to cut emissions will hurt automakers’ competitiveness.

The EU wants automakers to cut fleet CO2 emissions to 95 grams per kilometer by 2021, down from an average of 123.4g/km currently. The European Parliament voted last year for a CO2 target of 68g/km to 78g/km for 2025. The parliament’s target is an “indicative range” that has to go through consultation. The auto industry’s lobby group, ACEA, said on April 16 that “delivering on that aim requires ever greater technical investments to achieve smaller reductions.” The next target, for 2030, could be even tougher with the EU seeking a 30 percent reduction in emissions for the transport, housing and agricultural sectors — in essence asking carmakers to achieve in 10 years what they achieved in 20 years for the last set of targets. “This gives you the idea of the technological challenge we are facing,” said Massimo Beccarello, vice director for development, energy and environmental policy at Italy’s Confindustria business lobby.

The EU is marshaling its research to make an unassailable case for lower targets. For example, one of its studies debunks the assertion that European carmakers’ competitiveness has been hurt by the expense of creating emissions-reducing technology. Electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, fuel cell and natural gas-powered cars — and how to pay for them — will be crucial to reaching the new target, ACEA said. Automakers have introduced alternative powertrains such as EVs and plug-ins to their fleets, but most of the fuel-efficiency gains to date have come from improvements to traditional engines. That will have to change

Source: Automotive News Europe

#CDX15… the big day is almost here

THE big day is almost here! Tomorrow at 8am, the long-awaited and much-anticipated Car Dealer Conference & Expo will open its doors at Silverstone.

Work began early this morning to transform Silverstone into the biggest auto conference the UK has ever seen…

More than 2,000 people signed up to attend – and that number is still growing by the hour.

It’s going to be a great event, and we have plenty lined up on the day to inform and entertain every delegate.

The work to transform the halls has already begun…

We have keynote speakers, workshops, breakout sessions – and a fantastic Expo with more than 70 stands, with plenty of our colleagues offering some great prizes on the day.

As we count down to the big event, every delegate will be receiving an email detailing which workshops they have signed up to attend.

Please being this with you to Silverstone tomorrow.

The intention is that everyone who has signed up for a workshop will be admitted to the room first – as long as they arrive in plenty of time.

Five minutes before the scheduled start of each workshop, room admission will be opened up to all delegates.

So the message is clear – please make sure you turn up in plenty of time. Showing the staff on the door confirmation of your booking, and getting there early, should ensure you get a good seat at all the workshops and breakout sessions you are desperate to attend.

With 12 workshops as well the breakout sessions, Q&A panels and five keynote speakers, there will be plenty of space for everyone on the day. And, with so many people from the industry in one place at one time, it’s a unique networking opportunity!

Doors to the Conference & Expo open at 8am, and we’ll have breakfast pastries available, and free tea and coffee in the Expo all day courtesy of our friends at Liquidline.

There’s plenty of parking at Silverstone, so come along and start the day with a pastry on us.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.



DVLA website struggles with new rules on hiring a car

Motorists trying to access a new system for hiring a car have been experiencing problems with the DVLA website.

A number said the system – which does not apply in Northern Ireland – was not working properly, while some car hire firms struggled to cope with queues.

The changes, which involve the abolition of the paper counterpart, take effect on Monday 8 June.

But the DVLA said that more than 20,000 drivers had managed to access the site without difficulty.

From now on, motorists hiring a car may have to produce a special temporary code as evidence of their convictions.

The DVLA said it had been working on the new system “for months”.

Source: BBC News

Posted by Lois Hardy on 09/06/2015