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Daily News Round UpBack

NFDA’s dispute and resolution service receives accreditation


The National Franchised Dealers Association’s Alternative Disputes Resolution Service (ADR) has received approval from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (TSI). The service is independently run by the National Conciliation Service (NCS).

Details of the service appeared in the latest edition of Workshop magazine, which was sent free with Car Dealer.

The approval comes as the new Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes regulations come into force tomorrow. They are designed to give consumers greater access to ADR services and help them avoid expensive legal court proceedings around disputes.

NCS is a long-established disputes resolution service offering unbiased consumer support, through conciliation and arbitration. It also underpins the consumer helpline on the NFDA’s Trusted Dealers website, making it the first of its kind on a used-car classified site.

Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA, said: ‘Representing 85 per cent of franchised dealers in the UK, it is crucial the NFDA has an ADR procedure that can serve their large customer base in the unlikely event a problem arises.

‘Having an accredited ADR service is not only important to give customers who buy from NFDA members peace of mind, but also to let them know that, if in the unfortunate event something does go wrong and needs to be disputed, they’ll receive a first-class service to help put it right.

‘All NFDA members abide by a strict set of regulations which ensure customers are given a fair deal and the buying process is transparent. We hope that although we offer an ADR service and that dealers and consumers alike appreciate this, it is something they do not need to use.’


Online used car prices at three year high, says Autorola

The average prices of used cars sold online via Autorola UK’s remarketing portal increased by £201 from £8,641 in Q1 to £8,842 in quarter two Q2.

This is the highest average used price since Autorola started its online prices report in 2012. The previous highest was £8,641 in Q1.

The average age of used cars sold on the Autorola online portal in Q2 remained at 33 months, while average mileage fell slightly by 416 miles from 21,512 miles in Q1 to 21,096 miles in Q2.

Autorola UK’s sales director Jon Mitchell said: “Generally the used market was strong across Q2 for both buyers and sellers on the back of a strong new car market in March.

“Volumes of part exchanges increased on our portal and we saw some increased volume from our fleet and rental vendors which were swallowed up by the market.

“Some industry commentators are reporting a slowdown in demand and prices, but our stock mix at an average age of 33 months and 21,096 miles is the cream of the used crop for buyers, which is why we believe we are bucking the trend.”

At the end of Q2, Autorola had just over 13,800 used cars and vans on its portal which is not far off a record high for its UK business.


Budget sets out plans to change VED system for new cars

Changes will be made to the vehicle excise duty (VED) regime to ensure declining vehicle emissions don’t adversely affect the Government’s tax take.

And the current requirement for a vehicle to have its first MoT test three years from registration could be extended to four years.

More new cars will be subject to vehicle excise duty tax from April 2017 due to falling CO2 emissions, Chancellor George Osborne announced in today’s Emergency Budget. Osborne said that if the current VED regime remained in place, by 2017 three-quarters of new cars will pay no road tax in their first year.

He said this was not “sustainable” and was not “fair” to people who were unable to afford new, low CO2 emitting cars.

The new VED regime will still be based on CO2 emissions but would be split into three bands – zero emission (£0), standard (where 95% of new vehicles would sit and would cost £140 a year), and premium (£TBC).

Osborne also announced the creation of a new roads fund into which VED revenue would go, and this would be used purely for road investment.

“Every pound raised from VED from the end of the decade will go into the fund to pay for the sustained investment roads so desperately need,” he added.


Brayleys expands with second Kia dealership

Brayleys is expanding its North London operations with a seven-figure investment in the construction of a brand new Kia dealership in Enfield.

Having operated the Honda franchise on Great Cambridge Road for over six years, following the purchase of the business from Alan Day in 2009, Brayleys acquired the freehold on the adjacent site in 2014 and secured planning permission to build an eight-car showroom and workshop.

The new showroom is set to open in October, and will be the company’s second Kia franchise, following the launch of its first, in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, back in 2012.

Managing Director of Brayleys Cars Paul Brayley (pictured) said: “We’re very excited at the prospect of expanding our business with Kia in Enfield, which will offer motorists an even greater choice of cars. With construction of the new showroom, workshop and customer facilities well underway, we’re on course to open our doors in October.”

Brayleys represents five different manufacturers at six locations across North London, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex.


Honda piloting re-prospecting service for its dealers to win back lost sales

Honda UK is piloting a re-prospecting service at 30 of its dealers to help them win back customers who’ve walked out without buying.

Entitled ‘Prospecting Satisfaction’, the programme enables Honda UK and participating dealers to understand why a prospective purchaser did not buy and whether they are still in the market to be resolicited.

Honda UK head of cars Leon Brannan told AM the pilot has been successful but a decision will be taken within the next couple of weeks whether to roll out the programme to the entire Honda dealer network.

“This is very expensive to do nationally, the ROI has to be right, and we have to take the network with us in terms of the benefits because they could easily see this as a bit ‘Big Brother’,” he said. “It’s actually a lead generation programme.”

The concept is for Honda to capture all enquiries centrally. Dealers are measured on the enquiries generated and acted upon, and all enquiries are followed up two weeks later by Honda’s agencies – BDM, Douglas Stafford and BPA Quality – to measure the consumers’ experience, whether they bought or not, if not for what reason, and whether they are still looking for their next car.

In the three-month pilot, two thirds of the people contacted had not yet bought a car two weeks after the enquiry.

“That instantly becomes a re-qualification exercise that goes instantly back to the dealership, with the reason they haven’t bought.”

Brannan said the benefits include creating a culture of consumer data capture with instant measurement dealer-by-dealer of who is generating more enquiries, plus the opportunity to contact the consumers to monitor the quality of the sales process, and intelligence on what customers are actually doing.


Cut fuel tax or face consequences, FTA tells chancellor ahead of Emergency Budget

The FTA is warning the Chancellor that failing to freeze or cut fuel duty in the Emergency Budget could sabotage the country’s economic growth.

The Association, which has 14,700 members in the logistics industry, says falling fuel prices have been a major factor in the country’s recovery. But high taxes mean transport operators haven’t benefited, with only a 13% cut in prices at the pump despite a 43% drop in world oil prices.

FTA chief executive David Wells last week wrote to George Osborne urging him not to renege on previous promises to hold current levels until September. And he stressed that any rise would force businesses to cut back on investment, training, efficiency improvements and modernisation.

He said: “Cash flow pressures will cause many businesses to implement cuts if the Chancellor raises fuel duty, and that would be detrimental not only to the businesses themselves but also to the economic growth of the country as a whole.”

As well as cutting fuel duty, the FTA is calling on the Government to announce funding for driver training to alleviate the driver shortage crisis in the freight industry and more investment in roads so that local authorities can deliver much-needed maintenance programmes.


Seasonal trends return to used van market as prices rise

Used van prices rose by 5.7% (£259) at Manheim’s auctions last month, with volumes at record levels for June.

Matthew Davock, head of LCV at Manheim, said: “Summertime seasonality has begun to impact the van market.

“With stock shortages in the last two years ramping up demand, the impact of seasonality has been minimal

“However, for many of us who have witnessed historic seasonality over the last 10 or more years, what we are seeing right now is not unusual in the van world.

“June’s record month-on-month sold volume spike proves the market is still in rude health, but duplicate stock and damage are the issues impacting conversion rates.

“I would encourage all vendors to prepare, price and engage with Manheim to get our expert views around the market and other vendors week-by-week.”

The average age of used vans in the market decreased slightly (1.5%) as mileage increased by a small amount (2.4%), reflecting the 20% increase in daily rental stock seen in the auctions.

Large panel vans performed well in June, particularly in terms of average selling price, as there is still a shortage of stock available in this sector.

Units below three tonnes made up just 6% of volume last month, with a steep increase in selling prices of 14.9% compared to May.

Davock added: “We are still seeing a two-tier LCV market, made up of ex-daily rental stock with an average age of 3-4 years, and an older extended stock profile with an average age of 8-9 years.”

Market performance in June was focused on two market sectors, the car-derived van sector and the small panel van sector, which together made up 59% of total volume.

Prices for small panel vans were up 8.2% from May, in line with the used commercial vehicle market as a whole.

“Stock within the car-derived van and small panel van sectors was split into clear two-tier markets; younger ex-daily rental stock and older, higher mileage extended vans”, Matthew added. “Of all car-derived vans sold, 38% had an average age of 96 months. For small panel vans, 49% of stock had an average age of 103 months. Despite this significant volume, the average selling price has increased.”

James Davis, director of commercial vehicles at Manheim, added: “Overall vehicle condition remains critical in the used van market.

“With increasing volume in the marketplace, buyers have the luxury of being able to pick and choose their stock and they are buying on condition.

“Damaged vehicles do not pose a problem if the reserve price has been adjusted accordingly, but buyers are quite understandably not attracted to tatty or poorly maintained vans, they demand provenance, timely informed decisions and professional engagement by both vendor and auction house.”

He added: “Over the next three months, vendor representation at all sales is crucial.

“Buyers are looking for this support from the rostrum, and those vendors who are walking their vans per-sale, adjusting their reserve values, up as well as down according to their own and other vendors’ vans will be rewarded with maximum buyer commitment and market-leading conversion rates.”


Pendragon Vehicle Management signs three-year agreement with PHS

Pendragon Vehicle Management has signed a three-year supply contract with workplace provider PHS for its 2,100 vehicle fleet of cars and LCVs.

Previously the contract was awarded by PHS on an annual basis and the longer-term deal denotes a desire by both parties to operate on a progressive and collaborative approach.

Serving more than 200,000 organisations from 2,100 company vehicles, PHS requires a specialist and proficient fleet to support its customers with a wide range of workplace services.

The Vauxhall range of cars and LCVs presented PHS with the best wholelife costs, with the LCVs having additional specification and bespoke conversions to meet the requirements of the different operating divisions.

Pendragon Vehicle Management is supplying all vehicles on a full maintenance contract hire facility, while also implementing other value added services such as vehicle downtime management for the LCVs.

Both parties are fully committed to reducing the operating fleet costs on a progressive basis.

Anthony Ritchings, group director of procurement for PHS, said: “Transportation is integral to our business so finding the right fleet provider to cater to our unique requirements was a key priority.

“Our vans need to signify our ethos so reliability was paramount. Working with Pendragon Vehicle Management helped to evaluate our requirements and ensure we fully optimise our fleet.”


Swansway profits rise 20% to £6.2m in 2014

Swansway turned in a strong performance in 2014 with pre-tax profits up 20% to £6.2m on turnover up 18% to £436.1m.

In its annual results filed at Companies House it said it had made a promising start to 2015 although margins were down as the company chased increased manufacturer targets.

Swansway director, Peter Smyth, said: “We’re doing a good job for the brands and increasing profitability for ourselves with a £12m investment in new-build sites we have much to look forward to.”

Swansway is opening a new Fiat and Citroen centre in Chester and adding Alfa Romeo brand to the Swansway portfolio in early 2016. It is also opening in 2016 a new-build Jaguar centre in Crewe.

Swansway operates nineteen franchised dealerships across the North West and West Midlands.

2014 saw the group do the double with Volkswagen, winning win the Volkswagen Dealer Group of the Year award for passenger cars and the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Dealer Group of The Year award.

Swansway said Honda as a brand continued to struggle in terms of volumes and profitability but this would be partially addressed in 2015.

“The brand suffers from a lack of variety across the product offering and market share continues to fall. We expect that this decline will reverse to some extent in 2015,” it said.


Hyundai: hydrogen not yet ready for most fleets

Hyundai has admitted its hydrogen ix35 Fuel Cell car is not yet appropriate for the majority of fleets. The firm, which became the first manufacturer to offer a hydrogen car for sale in the UK in May, said it would not concentrate on conventional company car fleets on cost and practicality grounds, instead targeting businesses that are keen to adopt the technology early.

Speaking to BusinessCar, Robin Hayles, sustainable fuel development manager at Hyundai, said: “In all honestly, the car itself isn’t really a practical solution for fleet customers, simply because there aren’t enough filling stations around.

“We’re trying to find companies that will put their money where their mouth is when it comes to this technology.

The cars aren’t particularly cheap [the ix35 Fuel Cell costs £53,105] and neither is the infrastructure there yet, but when you’ve got a company willing to put money in then it should be applauded for it. We don’t normally try and approach fleet managers because it’s not a realistic mass-market option yet, so those types of customers don’t necessarily understand the benefits.”

Organisations operating the vehicles include Transport for London, hydrogen specialist Air Products, and mining firm Anglo American.

“TFL’s cars are getting a pretty harsh life, which is kind of what we want because we can see how they stand up to it,” added Hayles. “[They are] operations vehicles for the hydrogen bus fleet and they’re being bounced up kerbs and driven hard all over town, so it’s not just a showcase for CSR messaging. Air Products have got one that’s gone into their general pool car fleet to be used by anyone in the business to get from A to B.

“It’s just a case of identifying who the end users are. If you look at areas like the construction industry, the car can actually count towards carbon-reduction schemes, so it’s case of looking at the additional benefits the technology can bring.”

Hayles said hydrogen filling stations were due to increase in number, including three more in and around London by the end of the year, an additional seven stations in the next 12 to 18 months as part of a project by the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles, along with nine mobile stations.

He added that future fuel-cell vehicles would likely include range-extenders, too: “[A hydrogen vehicle] is basically an EV when you look at the running gear. I can very easily see a future for a fuel-cell range-extender – one with batteries for use in a pure-electric mode as well as a pure fuel-cell mode – a car that can do both, kind of like a Vauxhall Ampera. There’s no reason why we couldn’t have the same type of platform with a fuel cell



Google has started testing its autonomous cars in Austin, Texas, increasing efforts to gather information on how its prototypes interact with the surrounding environment.

Google has been testing self-driving cars since 2009, though until now most of the testing has been around its Silicon Valley headquarters in Mountain View, California.

In order to gather more data on its driverless cars, Google is sending a second specially equipped Lexus RX450h prototype this week to Austin.

Last month, the company began testing bubble-shaped self-driving prototype vehicles of its own design on public roads around Mountain View, California.

Google and other automotive manufacturers and suppliers have said the technology to build self-driving cars should be ready by 2020.

Google executives have said the company does not want to build its own self-driving cars, but would prefer to find a development and production partner, however most major manufacturers are currently developing their own autonomous vehicles.

In a press release on Tuesday, the media giant quoted the Texas Department of Transportation as saying ‘we welcome and support Google’s autonomous vehicle test’ in Austin.

Both Google and Apple have offices in Austin, an emerging technology hub in the southwest United States.


ACS opposes Sunday Trading proposals

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has heavily criticised plans introduced in the Budget to allow local authorities to decide whether to remove Sunday Trading rules.

During today’s Budget, the Chancellor confirmed that the Government will seek to devolve powers to change Sunday Trading rules to local authorities as part of the Enterprise Bill.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are extremely disappointed that this Government has failed to keep its promise to thousands of independent retailers on Sunday Trading. Current Sunday Trading rules are a popular measure with the general public, with fewer than one in ten people wanting to see the rules abandoned. The plans outlined today will serve only to displace trade from small stores into larger stores, and could make many small stores operating on the edge of profitability unviable.

“ACS will fight this unnecessary, complicated and harmful plan and will campaign throughout the year to ensure that our existing Sunday Trading rules are retained.”


Living wage plan slammed by ACS

The Government’s decision to introduce a mandatory living wage for workers over 25 has been described as “a reckless measure that will have a significant negative impact on the sector”, by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The introduction of a compulsory ‘Living Wage’ will have a devastating impact on thousands of convenience stores. This will lead to retailers having to reduce staff hours, work more hours in their business and ultimately cancel their investment plans. To introduce this measure with no consultation undermines the independent Low Pay Commission and is a reckless way to impose a massive burden on small businesses.”

The Budget document says: “The government will introduce a new premium for those aged 25 and over starting at 50 pence leading to a new National Living Wage (NLW) of £7.20 in April 2016. The government’s ambition is for the NLW to increase to 60% of median earnings by 2020, and it will ask the Low Pay Commission to recommend the premium rate in light of this ambition going forward. On OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility] forecasts, this means the NLW is expected to reach the government’s target of over £9 by 2020.”


Motorbike registrations up 13%

Registrations of motorcycles increased by 13% in the first half of 2015 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the Motor Cycle Industry Association.

“It is extremely positive to see that the motorcycle market has continued to grow, with dealers reporting a 19.2% increase in sales in June,” said Stephen Latham, head of the National Motorcycle Dealers Association (NMDA) which represents motorcycle retailers across the UK.

Latham continued: “Larger machines in the 651-1000cc category saw the most significant growth, with sales up over 36% compared to this time last year, and up 26% on a half-year basis when compared to 2014. A rise in sales of these models indicates a strong confidence in the economy as these machines are used mainly for social purposes.

“Larger models over 1000cc – usually a lifestyle purchase used for touring, recorded an increase of 22% in June. Again suggesting a boost in consumer confidence.

“All power sectors showed signs of growth with the exception of the 50cc machines – typically purchased by younger riders.

“The NMDA is hopeful that the growing trend of motorcycle sales continues to grow, and 2015 could mark a record year with bikes reaching over the 110,000 sales figure.”


Fuel duty frozen in Summer Budget

The Chancellor’s decision to maintain his freeze on fuel duty increases in his Summer Budget has been welcomed.

The Freight Transport Association says common sense prevailed with George Osborne’s Budget announcement of a freeze on fuel duty, but that it will continue to campaign for cuts on behalf of its members.

James Hookham, FTA’s deputy chief executive, said: “The Chancellor has listened to the voice of industry by keeping fuel duty at current levels, which is to be welcomed. However, the Government has emphasised that its primary objective is to protect the UK economy.

“We believe that reducing fuel duty would make a huge contribution to this objective and we will continue to campaign with FairFuelUK for a 3ppl cut in order to stimulate economic growth.”

No changes were made to alcohol or tobacco duties although the Budget Document revealed that the government had decided against the £150m levy on the tobacco industry which it consulted on after the Autumn statement. It said: “As tobacco duties have already increased this year and will continue to increase by more than inflation each year in this Parliament, the government has decided not to introduce a levy on tobacco manufacturers and importers.”


Essex Air Ambulance Motorcycle Run to return in September

Essex Air Ambulance Motorcycle Run has already named major sponsors

The annual Essex Air Ambulance Motorcycle Run has been announce. The event is slotted to take place on 6 September, 2015.

The event’s headline sponsors have been announced, and once again Woodland Group and Jack Lilley Motorcycles will be sponsoring.

Along with the motorcycle run, the Harwich Family Festival will be taking place. The adjoined events make up the biggest charity event of the year for the air ambulance.

The motorcycle run is 60 miles long, a ride from Laindon to Harwich. It is estimated that around 5,000 motorbikes will take place in the run.

The Harwich Family Festival will feature performances from Stone the Crows and Foogle.

Any rider that chooses to pre-register for the event will be entered to win £2,000 worth of vouchers that can be spent on motorcycle kits.

Pre-registration is already open, and those who wish to save a few quid should definitely register.

Pre-registration is £7 per biker or £13 for a rider and pillion. On the day of the Motorcycle Run the prices will be £10 per person and £15 for rider and pillion.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 08/07/2015