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Daily News Round upBack

Pendragon PLC is second in Nottingham Post’s Top 200 Companies

Annesley-based car company Pendragon PLC has taken second place in Nottingham Post’s Top 200 Companies in Nottinghamshire list.

Economists from Nottingham Business School conducted the research. The list incorporates the top 200 businesses by turnover and includes companies with registered accounts in Nottinghamshire, from a list of 50,000 businesses.

Chief Executive of Pendragon PLC Trevor Finn said: “It is fantastic to be recognised as a top company based in Nottinghamshire. Although we are a National business with a significant footprint that spans the country, the East Midlands is the epicentre with our head office and Training Academy here supporting our 9,000-strong team offering choice, value, service and convenience to customers across the UK.”

Pendragon PLC includes the Stratstone and Evans Halshaw brands.


‘DPF cleaning should not be a last resort for garages’

Motor parts reconditioning specialist DPF Clean Team is reminding garages that removing a DPF is illegal and specialist cleaning should never be a last resort.

Recent research from GSF Car Parts revealed the amount of DPF-related jobs at garages is on the up, with some still offering to remove or modify the DPF – a practice that is illegal and will cause a vehicle to fail an MOT test.

The report also showed the majority of garages will only contact a specialist cleaning company as a last resort.

Director of DPF Clean Team Cameron Bryce said: “Charging customers for replacement DPFs or pouring numerous treatments into the filter in an attempt to clear a blockage is not necessarily the best way to solve a DPF issue. The cost of a new DPF is often more than £1,000, while a specialist clean can be done for a few hundred pounds.

“Many motorists are unaware that they are the ones held responsible when a DPF has been removed, and will subsequently fail an MOT, so a professional clean should be the first resort solution for garages that strive to deliver exceptional customer service.”

DPFs became mandatory for all new diesel vehicles in 2009 and in 2014, the MOT test included a visual inspection to ensure the vehicle has a DPF in place.


‘Car dealers optimistic about future sales’

63% of car dealers expect sales to increase over the next 12 months, according to research from information management specialists EDM Group.

More than a quarter (28%) expect demand for Hire Purchase (HP) schemes to rise, against 24% who anticipate a decline. However, only 13% expect demand for 50:50 schemes to increase, compared to 18% who anticipate sales of these products will fall.

77% anticipate more customers taking out Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) schemes. Only 2% think there will be a decline here.

With strong growth in the car finance market, 89% of car dealers believe there will be an increase in the volume of paperwork they have to process. More than two-fifths (44%) believe there will be a dramatic increase, while only 6% expect volumes to fall.

Only one in ten (10%) expect sales to fall.

Associate director – automotive at EDM Group, Matt Collinge, said: “These are exciting times for the automotive industry. Sales of vehicles are up and as the industry develops more innovative finance schemes to help customers pay for their cars, the prospect for continued growth is good. However, with these changes comes a growing focus on more information and data, and the importance of managing this properly.

“This is going to become fundamental in terms of ensuring high quality service levels, but also protection against fraud or claims of mis-selling.”

EDM Group provides companies with effective and efficient ways to manage the rapidly growing volumes of information flowing into and through their businesses every day.


Vertu Motors honours colleagues in national awards

Vertu Motors plc has recognised the work of its colleagues, at its annual Masters Club Awards.

In its fourth year, the awards recognise and reward colleagues for their achievements throughout the year.

The winners were chosen from more than 4,500 colleagues, in all aspects of the business, for their work, demonstrating incredible character, attitude, drive, energy, and talent.

Chief executive of Vertu Motors Robert Forrester said: “These awards are a fantastic opportunity for us as a company to reward our colleagues for their impressive accomplishments during the year.

“Vertu Motors has enjoyed another great year throughout its dealerships, so it is only right that we honour the colleagues that made this possible.”

The award winners enjoyed a stay at the illustrious Belfry Hotel in the West Midlands.


UK ranked seventh most expensive place to buy fuel

Norway is the most expensive place in the world to buy petrol, while the UK is ranked seventh, according to new analysis from Santander.

Petrol prices in Norway currently average 152 pence per litre (ppl), 26% higher than the UK where the price per litre is 121 pence. Turkey (139ppl) and Hong Kong (134ppl) complete the top three.

Although prices are highest in Norway, relative incomes are also higher which means fuel spend accounts for 8% of Norwegians’ average disposable monthly wage, but motorists in Turkey spend nearly two-fifths (39%) of their monthly wage on fuel.

Portugal comes in second place with 25% of monthly wage spent on fuel, followed by Greece in third place at 24%. By comparison, the Swiss spend just 4% of their disposable income on petrol.

Matt Hall, director of banking at Santander, said: “Although petrol in the UK isn’t cheap there are clever ways of helping bring the cost down, such as using the petrol discount vouchers you get when you do a big shop at the major supermarkets, downloading the various apps available to help you find the lowest petrol price nearby, and our 1|2|3 Credit Card gives you 3% cashback up to a monthly spend of £300. That’s as much as £9 a month, which could buy you about seven litres of petrol.”


KPMG report shows issues identifying foreign drivers at tolls

A new study from KPMG has shown that 61% of toll operators have issues processing and identifying foreign vehicles.

With the growing prevalence of open road tolling and electronic toll collection, enforcement of payment to use toll roads has become a major challenge. Foreign and rental cars cause particular difficulties. According to the KPMG Toll Benchmarking Study 2015: An evolution of tolling, only 26 per cent of toll road operators said that they were effective or very effective at identifying the owners of out-of-jurisdiction cars in case of violation.

Richard Threlfall, head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG UK said: “Our report shows the impact of technology in the sector with 91 per cent of respondents offering some form of Electronic Toll Collection and 43 per cent using Open Road Tolling. None of us want to queue at toll booths if we could drive straight through. But the report shows that this creates a challenge for the industry, with 61 per cent of toll road operators surveyed struggling to identify the owners of out-of-jurisdiction vehicles and a further 13 per cent making no attempt at enforcement.

“This creates a significant financial risk for toll operators and is a potential barrier to the further spread of Open Road Tolling, which would be of benefit to motorists. It is clear authorities need to invest in the level of co-operation needed in the effective enforcement of non-payment by drivers of foreign vehicles.”

The KPMG study, based on survey data collected from more than 40 road tolling entities worldwide, went onto highlight how the tolling industry is pursuing efficiency gains through technology enhancements. With limited flexibility to increase toll rates, the only solution to improve margins is to reduce costs, either through sweating assets or by investing in technologies which reduce the cost per transaction.


Electric vehicle registration figures revealed for secretive Tesla brand

Tesla, a manufacturer notoriously secretive about sales figures, registered 720 cars in 2014, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

While Tesla had sold its fully electric Roadster model for several years until 2012 in the UK, it officially launched the Model S (pictured) and started its own retail network in June last year.

The Tesla total puts the Model S at number three in the EV ranking for 2014, behind the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe, despite only being on sale for seven months and costing substantially more than other pure-EVs.

Despite requests by BusinessCar, the SMMT, which publishes the UK official registration figures, would only provide what it claimed was the top three pure-EVs for 2014. However, these figures did not include the Model S.

While other pure-electric plug-in cars may not be direct rivals for the Model S, Tesla claims the Mercedes S-class is, and in the same period the Model S was on sale in 2014, Mercedes registered 1463 S-class models


Reliability and wholelife costs top fleet operators’ list of essential vehicle qualities, research shows

Reliability and wholelife costs head the list of factors considered essential by company car operators when setting fleet policies, according to the latest quarterly Company Car Trends research from GE Capital Fleet Services.

Topping the list for more than half (53%) of the respondents questioned was reliability, although almost as many (48%) opted for wholelife costs.

In third place (32%), thanks to its impact on taxation and overall fleet performance, was CO2 output.

Vehicle purchasing price, along with the discount received, is also seen as relatively important (30%).

Residual values were named by more than one in five respondents (22%) while fuel consumption was cited by a similar percentage (19%).

However, on many fleets, this factor is already effectively managed through choosing low CO2 vehicles.

Just 10% of those taking part in Company Car Trends said that corporate brand and image are essential when drawing up policies.

The overall results were:

  1. Reliability 53%
  2. Wholelife costs 48%
  3. CO2 emissions 32%
  4. Vehicle purchase price and discount 30%
  5. Residual values 22%
  6. Fuel consumption 19%
  7. Corporate brand and image 10%

Gary Killeen, managing director at GE Capital Fleet Services, said: “This research really underlines the role of the company car as a practical working tool for UK businesses.

“Image-based considerations are placed at the bottom of the list while practical factors such as reliability, wholelife costs and CO2 emissions head the table.

“At a time when the economy is improving, this shows how fleets continue to manage with a mindset that is only just moving out of recessionary mode.”

Killeen added that the responses were underlined in a further question posed within the Company Car Trends research, asking which factors were included in vehicle selection policies for employees eligible for company cars.

He said: “The top factor named here is ‘fitness for purpose’ which is mentioned by 64% of those who took part in the survey, while 60% also cite ‘CO2 emissions limit.’

“These answers very much underline our other findings.”


Online finance buyer trends revealed in Codeweavers survey

Customers researching online finance are typically male, aged over 45 and live more than 20 minutes away from the dealership they are researching, according to data produced by Codeweavers, the online F&I specialist.

The research of customers using Codeweavers’ plug-in Finance Finder tool hosted on dealer websites found that three-quarters were male and aged between 45-54. Almost half were searching dealerships more than a 20 minute drive away.

The research also found a third of all customers were searching from a tablet or smartphone and the most popular searches were for the Land Rover Evoque followed by the Ford Focus Titanium.

Just over 60% of customers accessed the PCP tool to structure their own agreement on a specific car, while 10% also clicked to watch a product explainer video.


BMW i8 engine wins International Engine of the Year award

The BMW i8’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid engine has won the International Engine of the Year ward at this year’s Engine Expo even in Germany.

The awards are known as the ‘engine Oscars’ and are judged by a panel of 65 industry workers from 31 countries.

The three-pot also scooped two other awards – the New Engine crown and the 1.4-litre to 1.8-litre category. The German firm also took honours in the 2.5-litre to 3.0-litre section.

Ford’s 999cc EcoBoost engine took the sub 1.0-litre award, while the Tesla Model S won the Green Engine award.

Ford’s engine has won eight awards in four years.

PSA Peugeot Citroen took the 1.0-litre to 1.4-litre award for its 1.2-litre three-pot, which is found in the 308 and C4.


Low-CO2 sales show no sign of slowdown

Registrations of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric vehicles with emissions below 75g/km have hit 12,000 units in the first five months of this year – a four-fold rise compared with the same period in 2014.

The size of the ultra-low emission vehicle market in the first five months of 2015 is bigger than the entire alternative-fuel market was just three years ago, according to the SMMT.

Manufacturers entering the ULEV market for the first time last year is the key factor behind volumes rising from less than 1000 in 2011 to more than 2000 units last year and on to 11,857 units over the same five-month period.

Alternative-fuel vehicles, which include all hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles regardless of CO2 output level, have broken through the 30,000-unit barrier during the first five months of this year for the first time.

Petrol-hybrid registrations represent the largest segment of the alternative market in the UK, but plug-in hybrids have seen the biggest increase

There are now more than 20 ULEVs available in the UK for fleets to choose from compared with just six in 2011.

Fleets can expect more products to come on-stream soon including a Volkswagen Passat GTE, BMW 3-series hybrid and an Audi Q7 plug-in hybrid.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said: “The remarkable growth in demand for plug-in vehicles is expected to continue as the range of ultra-low emission vehicles on sale increases.”

Meanwhile, the latest registration figures for May also shows fleet business drove the new car market with volumes up 4.5% to 100,599 units.

The increase in fleet registrations last month maintains the continued growth seen so far this year, with company car volumes tracking at 11.8% higher to 528,732 units year-to-date.

The market overall increased by 2.4% in May to 198,706 units year-on-year, according to the SMMT.
The SMMT said that with many purchases on a three-year replacement cycle, new cars bought as the recession ended are now being replaced.


Daimler, Bosch and Car2Go developing automated parking system

Daimler, Bosch, and Car2Go are developing a system which will allow vehicles to drive themselves to parking spaces in the future.

The system is housed in a car park which is equipped with sensors and cameras which can interact with vehicles allowing them to park themselves. It is run from Bosch’s control unit in Germany, while the Car2Go vehicles are fitted with Mercedes’ onboard sensors.

Customers can book vehicles using a smartphone app like any other car club. Once the user reaches the car pick-up zone of the car park, the vehicle drives itself to the customer.

When the journey is over, the user parks the shared car in a dedicated ‘drop-off’ zone of the car park. Once the car has been ‘returned’ via the app, the vehicle is able to direct itself to an unassigned parking space.

Bosch said it is developing parking space occupancy sensors, which will work alongside Mercedes’ sensors.

Trials are being carried out in a private garage at the moment, however a spokesman for the project told BusinessCar that once the infrastructure has been tested it will be used in a large public car park in Stuttgart.

“We are developing and testing an infrastructure-based solution for a fully automated valet parking service. This is another step on our way to autonomous driving – or as in this case: towards autonomous parking,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the board Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

“Fully automated parking will be ready for mass-production before fully automated driving”, said Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, the board member of Bosch responsible for automated technology. “Low driving speeds and the information from the car park infrastructure enable a fast implementation.”


Two thirds would consider buying a plug-in car next, says Go Ultra Low

Two thirds of motorists would consider buying a plug-in vehicle as their next car, according to research by Go Ultra Low.

According to a survey of 1000 motorists by the Government-backed consortium of seven manufacturers, 67% said they would consider a plug-in vehicle as their next car. Three quarters of motorists said that low running costs was the biggest consideration when choosing their next car.

“The huge variety of electric vehicles now on the market is changing motorists’ concept of desirability, with the majority of consumers surveyed aspiring to the new breed of quiet, refined, technology-packed plug-in vehicles. We’re confident that this year alone we’ll see thousands more motorists up and down Britain plugging-in to this growing trend,” said Hatel Shah, head of Go Ultra Low


Qashqai is hot stuff as Auto Trader publishes its latest top 10s

AUTO TRADER has published the latest in its monthly series of top 10s, revealing the fastest-selling cars in the UK.

Once again, Nissan’s Qashqai proved hot stock across the regions, while Mercedes took five of the 10 spots in the national top 10.

Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader trade solutions director, said: ‘In the three months since Auto Trader started publishing these figures, models in the top 10 have consistently aligned closely to their optimal retail price position.

‘That should resonate with every dealer because the same principle applies to each car on a forecourt. If you want to sell quickly, price to the retail market – that’s the market as it is now, not as some might suggest it could, should or might be.

‘Of course, these charts are high level, but the science behind these figures can support every dealer on every forecourt.

‘Pricing, demand and speed-of-sale data powers the same intelligence that works on a targeted micro-level and is instantly available to any retailer.

‘It helps them work out what should be paid for the right car in the right location to maximise profits, as well as the price to sell it for to boost speed of sale.’

Region Regional – best seller by make and model Days to sell
Scotland 2013 Fiat 500L Hatchback Diesel Manual 14
North East 2012 Nissan Qashqai Hatchback Diesel Manual 20
Yorkshire 2013 Citroen C1 Hatchback Petrol Manual 24
East Midlands 2013 Citroen C1 Hatchback Petrol Manual 34
London 2012 Nissan Qashqai Hatchback Petrol Manual 22
South East 2012 Toyota Prius Hatchback Electric Hybrid Automatic 24
South 2013 BMW 1 Series Hatchback Diesel Manual 23
South West 2007 Ford Fiesta Hatchback Petrol Manual 28
Wales 2014 BMW 1 Series Hatchback Diesel Manual 23
West Midlands 2012 Nissan Qashqai Hatchback Diesel Manual 22
North West 2008 BMW 1 Series Hatchback Diesel Manual 18
N.Ireland 2013 Fiat 500 Hatchback Petrol Manual 35


National top 10 Make and model
1 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class Saloon Diesel Manual 16
2 2011 Mazda MX-5 Coupe Petrol Manual 19
3 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK Convertible Diesel Automatic 20
4 2012 Mercedes-Benz B Class Hatchback Diesel Manual 21
5 2010 Vauxhall Insignia Hatchback Petrol Manual 21
6 2009 Nissan Note Hatchback Petrol Automatic 24
7 2013 Mercedes-Benz CLS Saloon Diesel Automatic 24
8 2012 Toyota Prius Hatchback Electric Hybrid Automatic 25
9 2012 Volkswagen Touran MPV Diesel Automatic 25
10 2012 Mercedes-Benz B Class Hatchback Diesel Automatic 25


Younger stock commands top values in May, latest Manheim report reveals

Values in the fleet sector softened somewhat across May 2015, but remain more robust than their 2014 counterparts. The figures were released as part of Manheim’s monthly Market Analysis, a comprehensive look at the state of the fleet market, and reveal that the average de-fleeted vehicle was worth in £7,158 in May. This was £360 (or 4.7%) lower than April’s average, but a marked upturn when looking at the same figure from the comparable month of 2014.

The appreciation of value year-on-year could be attributed to a number of things. Firstly, de-fleeted units in 2015 are markedly younger than similar stock in 2014. In May of this year, the average ex-fleet vehicle was 51 months old – four months younger than the average unit in 2014. Indeed, a quick look at the age of stock from May 2014 to now reveals a direct correlation between maturity and value.


Part-ex values in May remain consistent, as demand for stock continues

It was another month of consistency for values in the part-ex sector in May, according to Manheim’s latest Market Analysis, its barometer of monthly activity. Standing at £3,308, the average price of a part-ex vehicle at auction was just £59 down on comparable figures from April. The data also reveals typical value influencers, such as mileage and average age, were also broadly in line with April’s statistics. Indeed, average age remained consistent at 101 months and mileage saw a slight increase from 75,112 miles to 75,936.

Looking at the figures in the context of a year, May continued 2015’s trend of value appreciation from year-to-year. At £3,208, average selling price in May 2015 was £231 (or 7.5%) higher than comparable figures from the same month of 2014. With age and mileage holding steady across the two years, this year’s consistently robust values suggests vehicle demand is the chief influencer of selling price in 2015.

Daren Wiseman, valuation services manager at Manheim, commented: “Last month, I spoke briefly about the impact stock levels and increased buyer demand might have on dealer sector values. With May’s value figures in mind, it would appear that demand remains high for good quality, part-ex stock.


EU car makers urge balance between emissions and competitiveness

European car manufacturers have urged policymakers to find a balance between reducing C02 emissions and the auto sector’s global competitiveness.

Speaking ahead of then COP21 global climate change conference, The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association’s (ACEA) president Carlos Ghosn said the EU had to make sure that “ambitious climate change policies do not conflict with the need to protect jobs and growth in Europe”.

The ACEA president’s call to EU policy makers coincides with the launch of a study by FTI Consulting on the potential effects of decarbonisation on the competitiveness of the European automobile industry.

By 2020 average emissions of new passenger cars will need to be reduced by 39% compared to their 2005 level. This compared to 10% reduction expected from other non-Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) sectors and 21% reduction expected from ETS sectors during the same timeframe.

Presently, CO2 reduction from road transport relies entirely on progress made in controlling emissions from new vehicles, even though new registrations make up just 5% of the fleet every year. The FTI study found that this system manages to be both expensive and ineffective because it does not address the bulk of the vehicles already on the roads. As it is, meeting the 95g CO2 target will cost manufacturers an estimated €1,000-2,000 per car by 2020.

Ghosn stated: “No other industry sector has done as much as automotive to drive down CO2 emissions in recent years. EU political leaders should ensure equivalent conditions and targets for all industrial sectors in the future, taking actions where the greatest effects can be achieved at the lowest costs.”

Although describing the EU’s ambition as positive, the ACEA president said that overly-ambitious targets for Europe risked creating competitive disadvantages for the EU’s industry in the global marketplace, but without commensurate benefits.

“We believe that a balanced and comprehensive approach should make it possible to develop a policy framework that will allow us to drive down total road transport emissions further and faster,” argued Ghosn. “At the same time, we need to work with policy makers to protect jobs and growth. We will work constructively with EU policy makers to make this a reality.”


Posted by Lois Hardy on 18/06/2015