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Daily News Round upBack

HMRC consults on vapour recovery changes


A consultation has been launched today by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) regarding vapour recovery, an issue which the PRA has been trying to resolve with the tax authorities for a number of years.

After the election of the new Government last month, PRA chairman Brian Madderson said duty rebate on recovered vapour would be one of the issues he would be raising as a priority.

The consultation is focused on the Extra Statutory Concession (ESC) provided to suppliers on petrol vapour recovered during deliveries to service stations. Change is required, according to HMRC, because of a House of Lords ruling on a separate issue, called the Wilkinson case, which means the current system cannot be continued.

In the consultation document HMRC states: “There is no UK legislation to support the ‘vapour recovery scheme’, which is provided for by an Extra Statutory Concession (ESC). The ESC has been confirmed as ‘ultra–vires’ and should be withdrawn or legislated as part of the work HMRC is doing to review all of its concessions following the Wilkinson case.”

It is therefore seeking views on two options:

  • legislation to place the existing ‘vapour recovery scheme’ on a legal footing;
  • an alternative option to address the issue within existing warehousing approval terms and conditions.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson said this was a complex issue which needed careful consideration. He said: “We will be studying the consultation document with our legal advisers and will comment in due course.”

HMRC is seeking responses to the consultation by September 9 and plans to publish a summary of responses in October, and advise of the outcome, setting out next steps, including the approach to any potential legislation.



Passenger car registrations up by 1.3% in May

Demand for new passenger cars in the EU increased for the twenty-first consecutive month in May, by 1.3% (1,109,893 units).

However, it was the lowest percentage increase since the beginning of this period of consecutive growth.

Major market statistics showed France (-3.5%) and Germany (-6.7%) faced a downturn, while Spain (+14.0%), Italy (+10.8%) and the UK (+2.4%) contributed positively to the overall expansion. Demand for new passenger cars was largely supported by the EU’s new member states (EU12), especially Poland (+11.0%) and the Czech Republic (+17.6%).

Five months into the year, new passenger car registrations increased (+6.8%) totalling 5,805,367 units.

Registrations in Spain (+21.7%), Italy (+15.2%), the UK (+5.7%), France (+3.8%) and Germany (+3.6%) increased compared to the same period one year ago.


Wider tyre range means fast-fits are becoming slow-fits, reports Epyx

An ever-widening choice of tyre sizes and brands means that only around 40% of drivers are now getting a tyre fitted on their first visit to a fast-fit centre, says Epyx.

The statistics are taken from analysis of customer reports from some of Epyx’s largest fleet customers and is believed to be around half the typical figure of a decade ago.

David Goodyear, head of business development at Epyx, said: “These figures are not really an indication of any slide in efficiency on the part of fast-fits but a reflection of the huge range of tyres fitted to modern cars.

“It would be nearly impossible for a fast-fit centre to carry all the stock needed to cover the majority of the current car parc, such is the diversity of size and manufacturer.

“But it is a development that is bad news for the customer. A company car or van customer pulling into a fast-fit is more likely than not to have to come back when stock is delivered, which is a waste of time for them.”

Goodyear said that the statistic was one of the reasons that Epyx had launched Tyreserve, a new e-commerce service designed to help franchise dealers compete with fast-fits for fleet tyre business.

“A franchise dealer is at an advantage in that they are only expected to carry tyres for their own vehicles, which is usually a reasonably limited range,” he explained.

“If they choose to carry a reasonable selection of stock, then they should be able to comfortably beat the first-time-fit figures being achieved by fast fits.”

Any fleet or franchise dealer user of 1link Service Network can easily choose to adopt Tyreserve through the e-commerce platform. Currently, around 1000 franchise dealers are on board while Epyx is soon to announce its first major leasing company user.

“The success of a project like this very much depends on being able to achieve significant numbers and we should be able to announce our first signing very soon,” said Goodyear.

“We are seeing considerable fleet interest but really everything depends on franchise dealers coming on board and recognising the profit and service potential that exists.”


Supreme court to rule on parking fines

A legal battle over how much drivers are charged when they overstay a parking space time limit on private land is to go to the supreme court.

The court of appeal has ruled that an £85 parking charge imposed on a driver who had overstayed a permitted two-hour period of free parking in a shopping centre car park was not “extravagant or unconscionable”.

The motorist, Barry Beavis, who had parked in the Riverside Retail Park in Chelmsford, overstayed the time limit by almost one hour.

As a result, Parking Eye, which manages the car park on behalf of retail park owners the British Airways Pension Fund, levied the charge.

Beavis has now decided to take the case to the supreme court, the UK’s highest court. He is being supported by the Consumers’ Association.

Richard Lloyd, editor of the association’s Which? publication, said: “We are concerned this decision waters down the law on penalty charges and may encourage excessive default charges across a wide range of consumer markets.

“Given the possible ramifications of this case for all consumers, we will be looking to intervene again in the supreme court hearing.”


Engine detox company claims £1m aftersales boost for dealers

A company which supplies engine decontamination machines to dealers claims to have generated an additional £1m aftersales turnover for major groups including Inchcape, Sandicliffe and Hendy.

EDT Automotive was launched in 2013 and is the sole UK importer of the machine which cleans oil waste left behind during an oil change, along with any deposits that naturally build up within the engine.

“To reach the £1 million mark in terms of turnover for our UK franchised dealer partners is an important milestone. We are well on the way to establishing a true nationwide network and the fact we’ve done that from scratch in under two years tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the product,” said David Holmes, managing director of EDT.

ADT said the machine’s action is comparable with descaling a dishwasher and can be used on both petrol and diesel engines, with the process taking 15 minutes to remove up to half a litre of sludge including carbon and metallic particles.

Family-run Kia dealer, Victor Wood (pictured), of Grantham in Lincolnshire said the machine is currently generating up to £50 per workshop job.

“We are lucky that our workshop is always at maximum capacity, but we were looking for extra profit. You plug the machine in and leave it. The technician gets on with his work and it earns an extra £40 or £50 per job. It pays the mechanic’s wages for a couple of hours, so the service is 100% profit for the business,” said general manager Andy Doyle.

EDT operates a pay-as-you-go model similar to a vending machine company, providing the unit, sales and technical training, the consumables and ongoing support. The minimum contract requirement is five treatments per week.


Lease firms lead the charge on ULEV sales

The majority of the UK’s top leasing companies have reduced their average total risk car fleet emissions below 120g/km, while all are ramping up their share of ultra-low emission vehicles.

BusinessCar’s CO2 and ULEV survey of the country’s leading leasing companies by size of fleet, who between them have a total risk fleet of over 610,000 vehicles, has revealed that Arval has the lowest average CO2 at 117g/km and the highest share of ULEVs – vehicles with a CO2 output of below 75g/km – at 3.7% within the top leasing companies in the UK.

Even companies outside the top five such as Hitachi Capital are also heavily increasing their share of ULEVs, matching Arval for lowest CO2 output at 117g/km and increasing its ULEV share to 4.4%. The average across the four leading lease firms that supplied figures was 121.8g/km, while the BVRLA’s most recent quarterly leasing survey suggested the average CO2 emissions figure for new vehicles across all UK fleets registered was 119.5g/km.

The reduction in CO2 has been in part due to the massive increase in alternative-fuel vehicles being taken on by fleets.




A series of five roadshows for ‘anyone with an interest in the used car market’ is being held by Glass’s around the country later this month.

They will take part at BCA auction sites at Bridgewater (22 June), Walsall (23 June), Derby (24 June), Bedford (25 June) and Peterborough (26 June).

Members of the Glass’s car editorial team will be available at each venue for discussion while there will also be demonstrations of the current Glass’s range of products.

Rupert Pontin, Glass’s head of valuations, said, ‘These roadshows are really for anyone who has an interest in the used car market, whether dealers, fleets, leasing companies or manufacturers. They can come along and pick the brains of the best valuation and forecasting team in the country.

‘The used sector is currently doing very well but there are some potential storm clouds on the horizon so now is a good time to be talking to our experts and getting the best possible advice.’

Updates about the roadshow can be found by following @glassguide on Twitter.



Thatcham’s Repair Focus 2015 – Technology and repair: The future is now! – is all set to take place tomorrow (Thursday 18 June 2015) at Thatcham’s Automotive Academy.

In association with bodyshop magazine, this year’s event will showcase some of Thatcham’s recent research projects, including a repair validation project, demonstrating the potential safety implications of good and poor repair. The event also plays host to the finals of the bodyshop/Thatcham Craft Awards.

The full programme of topical seminars throughout the day includes:

10:00 Thatcham Certification Services
~ An inside look as to how Thatcham carry out product assessment and certifications

10:40 Emerging Body Structures
~ A look at new trends in developing lightweight car srtuctures

11:20 e-learning & qualifications
~ The IMI show how e-learning can be used to build towards full professional registration and ongoing CPD

12:00 Repair Validation
~ A comparison of poor v good repair and the safety implications in a subsequent crash.

12:40 From PAS to British Standard
~ BSI highlight the reasons, timescales and transition process from PAS 125 to BS10125

13:40 Thatcham Repair Sector Products: The Road Ahead
~ A look at the suite of repair solutions currently on offer from Thatcham and future plans

14:20 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
~ An exploration as to how future ADAS technology could help you #stopthecrash

The event includes a trade show of the industry’s leading product suppliers.

The annual ABP members meeting also takes place.



Approved Garages launches money back guarantee

Groupauto’s Approved Garages network will refund its members’ monthly fee if they fail to gain four new customer leads per month.

The new scheme will be offered from July, although the group says currently its members are averaging 5.5 new leads per month.

Phil Seymour, Approved Garages Network Manager, said that the group is confident it is providing real value to its members and is ‘putting its money where its mouth is’.

For a garage member to qualify for the exemption, its profile must have a star rating, based on five or more active reviews in the last 12 months, and three images.

Those garages who find at least four leads will continue to pay the network’s charge, which will finance the firm’s strategy to better improve and promote its workshops.

“This small fee will ensure that we continue to spread that message to motorists across the country, and generate even more quality leads for our garages,” adds Seymour.

The garage network has spent heavily on advertising, especially through its partnership with PDC Premier League Darts, which saw the brand promoted at the matches and via the local media, internet and Sky TV.



Retailers confident on display ban compliance

New research published by ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has revealed that over 90% of convenience retailers do not have concerns about their tobacco display ban compliance.

The survey of over 1,200 independent retailers across the UK revealed that 36% of stores in the sample had been visited by trading standards since the implementation of the ban with no issues raised about compliance. Another 58% of stores reported that while they hadn’t had a visit, they had no concerns about compliance issues. In the sample, 2% said they had a visit which resulted in concerns being raised about their gantry, while another 4% said that they were concerned about compliance but had not had a visit.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “When the tobacco display ban regulations were announced, we produced easy to follow guidance which was adopted by a number of companies along with trading standards and the Department of Health. We are delighted that just a few months after implementation, over 90% of retailers have no concerns about the operation of the display ban in their store.”

“During the implementation phase of the ban in the Spring, we received hundreds of calls from retailers looking for advice on the display ban – the majority of which were resolved with our core guidance. However, there were a number of questions about the nuances of the regulations which we have produced assured recommendations on as part of our primary authority partnership with Surrey County Council, providing another benefit for retailers signed up to the scheme.”

Brandon Cook, trading standards manager at Staffordshire County Council, said: “It is really pleasing to know that there is a high compliance rate. I know that ACS and trading standards colleagues have worked hard to provide information to retailers to ensure they know what the law says. Trading Standards are here to help businesses and can be contacted locally.”

The ACS tobacco display ban advice and frequently asked questions have been assured under the primary authority partnership between ACS and Surrey County Council (England) / Bridgend County Council (Wales).



The answer to the lack of electric vehicle charging points is… lamp posts

EVERYONE knows that one of the big drawbacks to having an electric vehicle is the lack of charging points. There just aren’t that many around, so if you’re travelling more than just a handful of miles, you have to plan your journey with military-type precision.

But Mini may have the answer…. street lights and lamp posts.

Their plant in Oxford has been showcasing a high-efficiency street lighting system that doubles as a charging station for electric vehicles (EVs).

Known as Light & Charge and demonstrated for the first time in the UK, this innovative system is the outcome of a pilot project developed by the BMW Group and is a state-of-the-art LED street light that combines energy-efficient lighting with affordable EV charging.

Allowing cities to significantly reduce energy consumption, its integrated charge point also provides a cost-effective and simple solution which can be grafted straight on to the existing local authority street lighting infrastructure, substantially increasing the number of public charging stations.

EV charging stations can be set up at any location where suitable parking is available, simply by replacing conventional street lights with Light & Charge systems.

Frank Bachmann, the managing director of Mini Plant Oxford, said: ‘Light & Charge is a simple and innovative solution which aims to integrate a charging station network into the urban landscape and this is essential if we want to see more electric vehicles on the road in our cities in the future.’

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are currently working in partnership to increase the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles such as electric cars as part of their bid for funding from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles, Go Ultra Low City Scheme.

The two local authorities said in a statement: ‘Combining energy-efficient street lighting with a re-charging station for electric vehicles is a neat solution to the problems of on-street charging stations.’

With its modular LED design, the Light & Charge street light is more energy-efficient than conventional street lighting and provides more effective illumination.

The EV charging cable connects to a standard connector on the Light & Charge street light and the integrated control panel allows drivers to start charging with the swipe of a card regardless of vehicle model.



Renault becomes first car company to enter the UK savings market

RENAULT has become the only car company to compete in the UK savings market as its financing company RCI Banque has launched a UK savings arm, creatively named RCI Bank.

It enters the market today with an easy access account called the Freedom Savings Account. The account is available exclusively through MoneySuperMarket with a Best Buy rate of 1.5 per cent AER.

The straightforward account has a starting balance of £100, with a maximum balance of £1 million, no penalties, notice periods, tiered rates, gimmicks or small print. RCI Bank plans to launch a suite of additional products later in the year.

CEO of RCI Bank Steve Gowler said: ‘We’re really excited about entering into the UK savings market, and importantly entering the market with an innovative and competitive product. Saving money should not be difficult, which is why we have developed our simple Freedom Savings Account with a rate of 1.50 per cent.

‘We believe we have a product that people will love. Over the next 12 months we plan to follow this up with further product launches.’

He added: ‘We also have the added benefit of being part of a global group, working for Renault and Nissan brands, and we are committed to using our strength to deliver the very best savings accounts and security for our customers in the UK.’



Audi’s engine chief quits, adding pressure amid rising competition from Mercedes

Audi’s engine development chief, Stefan Knirsch, is leaving the company just as the brand is pushing into electric cars and faces growing competition from rival Mercedes-Benz.

Knirsch, a former Porsche executive, has led Audi’s powertrain development since late 2013. He will leave the company at his own request, Audi said on Tuesday, confirming a report in Germany’sAuto Motor und Sport magazine.

Audi did not say whether he had found new employment.

Knirsch was Porsche’s head of quality management and engine development before joining Audi. He leaves Audi as the brand is broadening its range of electric cars and exploring self-driving vehicle technology.

Having boasted in its advertising slogan of “Vorsprung durch Technik” – advancement through technology – since the 1970s, Audi drew criticism a few years ago from some motor industry analysts for its reluctance to embrace innovative technologies and develop new vehicles.

Four years after Audi surpassed Daimler’s Mercedes in luxury car sales worldwide, its lead over its Stuttgart-based rival is shrinking.

Mercedes’ sales surged 14 percent in January-May from a year earlier to 729,000 cars, narrowing the gap to Audi, whose volume rose 4.3 percent to 745,000 cars.

By comparison, Audi outsold Mercedes by 91,000 cars in 2014, which saw BMW take the luxury car sales crown for a 10th year.



A year after the crash, oil markets risk more trouble ahead

A year on from the start of one of the biggest oil price crashes in history, the driving force behind the slide remains intact: there is still too much crude.

While output continues to grow, the economic outlook has darkened in top energy consumer China, where oil demand has been one of the few bright spots in the market.

Add to the mix record output by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the possibility of a return of Iranian crude exports, and further price turbulence looks almost certain.

Oil prices began a seven-month rout this time last year that took Brent crude futures LCOc1 from $116 (£74) per barrel to around $45 by January.

While prices have crawled up since, there are few signs yet that OPEC’s strategy of keeping output high in a bid to drive out competitors, such as U.S. shale oil, is doing enough yet to change market fundamentals.



Toyota expands Takata U.S. air bag recalls by 1.37 million vehicles

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) will recall almost 1.37 million more vehicles in the United States due to potentially deadly front passenger-side air bags made by Japan’s Takata Corp (7312.T), Toyota said on Tuesday.

The expansion pushes the total number of Toyota vehicles recalled in the United States because of dangers posed by Takata air bags to more than 2.9 million.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 17/06/2015