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Daily News Round upBack


The Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) has signed an agreement to take on the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association (VBRA) under its umbrella.

The agreement signed earlier this week, will see VBRA’s car body repair division work closely with the RMI’s National Association of Bodyshops (NAB) division, and will stand united to take on the challenges in the body repair sector.

The VBRA, representing two distinct sectors – car body repairers and commercial vehicle body builders and repairers, is a strong brand that offers good technical support services. Added to the RMI’s lobbying power, the new organisation will have the muscle to enhance its help to members and will cover 70 per cent of the bodyshop market.


Franchised and independent car dealers to unite for AM event

AM is uniting independent and franchised dealers to share ideas, experience and best practise at its annual used car conference.

The franchised and independent sectors tend to view each other as competitors, but in many respects, independent dealers and franchised used car operators often complement each other and can even provide additional business for one another as well as providing insight and best practice which can be adopted by both.

Stock profiles of independent retailers compared to franchised dealers can often be markedly different offering potential business opportunities which many operators are already undertaking.

For example, vehicles a franchised dealer may take in part-exchange may not match their stock profile and rather than shouldering the expense of the auction, independent outlets may be interested in retailing that stock providing a profitable disposal stream for the franchised dealer and a valuable source of stock for the independent business.

Likewise, independent retailers which stock newer vehicles or operate in a niche sector may benefit from manufacturer approved service facilities provided by franchised dealers to prep vehicles to the highest standards.

As well as creating a relaxed and informal environment which will encourage franchised dealers and independent operators to come together, many of the issues and challenges within the used car market are common to both.

AM managing editor Tim Rose said: “We are confident that by providing an environment where both the franchised and independent sectors can come together under one roof, recognise their commonalities, celebrate their differences and identify ways in which they can work better together to benefit their respective businesses, will prove productive and profitable.

“Many of the challenges faced by the independent and franchised sector are similar and our conference will address a wide range of those issues. Our expert speakers will provide insight, practical ideas and share best practice to help retailers futureproof their retail outlets and maximise every revenue stream whilst delivering the best outcomes for their customers.”

As well as expert speakers, the AM conference will host an exhibitors’ hall where delegates can browse the array of suppliers and products on the market to help them improve their used car operation in an informal and relaxing atmosphere.


Car dealer Perrys begins work on multi-million pound Preston dealership

Building work has started on Perrys Motor Sales’ new £7 million Preston dealership.

The £7 million project will see a new Vauxhall, Mazda and Kia dealership with over 300 vehicles on display at the site in Bluebell Way, next to the M6.

The dealership is expected to open in April 2016.

The new premises will create an additional 21 jobs and all 91 staff at the current dealership will maintain their roles.

The current Perrys’ Preston site in Blackpool Road, home to the Motor Village, will ultimately be redeveloped for a suitable alternative use.


Bodyshop owner Christopher Hutton fined £4,000 by HSE

Chesterfield bodyshop owner Christopher Hutton has been fined £4,000 by the Health and Safety Executive.

Hutton, who heads the Auto Bodyworks and Wheel Clinic at Storforth Land Trading Estate, Hasland, was prosecuted after he failed to provide health surveillance to staff who were exposed to isocyanates.

He had been ordered to do so, and to have a spray booth tested, by HSE Improvement Notices issued following an inspection in April 2014.

Chesterfield Magistrates Court was told Hutton had been given a number of opportunities to comply with the Improvement Notices but had failed to do so.

Hutton, of Gloucester Road, Newbold, was fined a total of £4000 and ordered to pay costs of £1600 after pleading guilty of breaching Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Edward Walker commented: “Exposure to isocyanate containing paints is the main cause of occupational asthma in the UK. There are well established standards to protect the health of employees which Christopher Hutton had failed to achieve.”


Deadline for standard fit autonomous emergency braking in HGVs approaching

From November 1 this year, EU legislation will mandate the fitment of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems on most newly registered Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes.

Standard-fit AEB systems are currently available on nearly 11 per cent of new cars, and offered as an option on a further 18.5 per cent. According to Euro NCAP and ANCAP, the independent safety bodies for Europe and Australasia, AEB is already leading to a 38 per cent reduction in real-world rear-end crashes and proving to be the key to gaining the coveted NCAP 5 star safety rating.

“The proportion of truck fleets with AEB, however, is negligible,” says Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research, which has led the way in the UK for testing AEB on cars.

“The Commission’s ruling to make it mandatory has spurred the industry to catch up, but it will be many years before the UK’s fleet of 500,000 HGVs are all equipped with this level of safety.

“We know the devastating effect of a large lorry failing to stop and running into a stationary car – or multiple cars. Haulage operators need only to see AEB in action or watch video footage to recognise this is truly impressive and effective technology. Avoiding a crash is critical – not just to the lives of road users, but to protecting the company’s legal standing and reputation.”

Current AEB technology on some commercial vehicles exceeds the vehicle to vehicle avoidance performance of even the most advanced car systems, although cars are still capable of a much broader spectrum of avoidance scenarios including collisions with pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

“Whilst the impending EU legislation on HGVs is great news, the situation on Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) is still a concern. From a fleet of nearly 2.7 million LCVs on UK roads, we know of just two models with optional AEB available on the UK market: the Ford Transit Connect and the Ford Fiesta van both have Active City Stop, although others are being introduced towards the end of this year.”

“EU legislators recognise the importance of mandating safety technology on the largest vehicles on our roads. The most responsible fleet buyers are starting to select AEB fitment on their cars. It’s now time to recognise that if you need any form of commercial vehicle for your business or service using publicly-funded roads, you have a duty of care to minimise death, injury or damage.”


Germans ‘best drivers in Europe’, according to Green Flag survey

Germans are perceived to be Europe’s best drivers, according to a survey by breakdown provider Green Flag.

Over a third (37 per cent) of Brits stating Germans are best behind the wheel. Almost half (44%) feel that the Germans were Europe’s fastest drivers.

The survey put Italians as Europe’s worst drivers – with over a third (37%) saying Italians aren’t up to scratch behind the wheel.

France is seen as the most popular destination to enjoy a driving holiday – with almost half (46%) admitting the region would be their first choice.

Belgium is the least popular, with only one in twenty (5%) Brits wanting to go on a driving holiday there.

When Brits do drive abroad, they often struggle with unfamiliar factors.

When questioned on what they find the most difficult, their main problems were identified as understanding the different languages (38%) – with German the hardest (23%), the different road rules and regulations (38%) – especially in Italy (14%) – and driving on the wrong side of the road (30%).

The findings also indicate that Brits find local drivers a nuisance with just under a quarter (23%) having difficulties with other motorists.

Candace Gerlach, head of marketing at Green Flag, said: “Driving holidays in Europe are extremely popular amongst Brits which is why we wanted to find out more about their opinions and experiences to help improve our breakdown offering.”


Europcar takes majority stake in E-Car Club

Europcar have announced the acquisition of a majority stake in the electric car pay-per-use hire company, E-Car Club.

E-Car Club is a start-up electric car sharing business headquartered in London. The electic car hire club currently operates across a number of UK sites including London, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Fife.

The business will be led by its founders, Chris Morris and Andrew Wordsworth within Europcar. With plans to expand further, the involvement of Europcar in E-Car Club will provide important support, said Europcar.

Fabrizio Ruggiero, member of the Europcar group management board, and head of mobility said: “This is an exciting step in the mobility journey we are providing our customers with. Entrepreneurship and innovation are strong values we share with E-Car Club and that we want to preserve and enhance.

He added: “We look forward to accelerating the development of E-Car Club’s electric vehicle car sharing solutions, based on Europcar’s extensive experience and client base in the UK marketplace. This investment, once again, demonstrates Europcar’s ability to identify specific strategic opportunities to enrich the mobility offers to its customers.”

Chris Morris, managing director, E-Car Club said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Europcar as our new majority shareholder and strategic partner.

“Since discussions began we’ve been incredibly impressed by their approach to innovation and commitment to alternative mobility solutions. This is an incredibly fast moving sector and working with an organisation of Europcar’s calibre will enable E-Car Club to continue on its path to further growth.

He continued: “We look forward to having an even more meaningful impact on the way government, private businesses and members of the public approach their daily travel needs across the UK.”


More than 1000 dealers sign up for Tyreserve fleet tyre service

More than 1000 dealers have signed up for Epyx’s Tyreserve fleet tyre supply service.

Tyreserve is designed to help franchise dealers compete with fast-fits for fleet tyre business – allowing a more convenient service for drivers.

Dealer groups who are taking part include Sytner, Arnold Clark, Vertu, Ford Retail, Listers, Renault Retail, Pentagon, Drive Motor Retail, Thurlow Nunn, Beadles and Eden.

David Goodyear, head of business development at epyx, said: “This level of commitment from dealer groups across the country adds a great deal of momentum to the Tyreserve project.

“The feedback that we are getting is that they very much recognise the potential of Tyreserve and want to be on board from day one.”

Fleets who use 1link Service Network can opt to employ Tyreserve as part of their normal, daily use of the platform to manage overall service and maintenance spending.

Currently, fleets users of the platform total more than three million vehicles, including all of the UK’s top 50 vehicle leasing companies.

A complete tyre catalogue is available through 1link Service Network that will be charged at agreed prices. Dealers can draw tyres from their own stock or order them from distributors via epyx.

Goodyear explained that franchise dealer abdication of selling tyres was often inconvenient for fleets and their drivers.

He said: “It is relatively common practice for a dealer to carry out a service on a company car or van, identify that tyres need replacing, and then advise the driver to take it to the nearest fast-fit.

“This is a waste of time for the driver and is not really a very good customer service offering. It makes much more sense for the vehicle to have its tyres replaced in the same workshop.”


RAC calls on big fuel retailers to make further cuts to the price of diesel

The RAC is urging supermarket fuel retailers to make bigger cuts to the price of diesel following this week’s 2p a litre reduction at the pump.

RAC Fuel Watch data shows the wholesale price of diesel has now fallen 6p a litre lower than petrol, meaning there is scope for at least another 3p a litre cut, helping to bring down the cost of fuel for businesses and commercial vehicle drivers.

Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesman said: “A fundamental change in the fuel market is taking place as a result of Saudi Arabia opening two new refineries last year geared to the production of refined oil products, including diesel.

“Saudi Arabia had previously concentrated on exporting crude, leaving refining to other countries, but greater European demand for diesel has led the kingdom to increase its refining capacity to create a profitable additional source of income.

“We expect this increase in diesel production to have a long-term positive effect on pump prices.

“If retailers operate transparently we will see reductions in the wholesale price of diesel passed on at the forecourt.

“This should mean diesel will soon be sold for the same price as petrol, or less just as it is in other countries around Europe.

“Some independent forecourts have already brought their diesel price down below petrol but we should really be seeing this on a wider scale on supermarket forecourts.

“It is good news the supermarkets have responded to the RAC’s call to reduce the price of diesel, but RAC Fuel Watch data tells us this should be just the beginning of a series of cuts.

“We believe it would be fairer for motorists driving diesel vehicles if supermarkets made bigger cuts in one fell swoop rather than trying to phase price reductions over an extended period.”

The RAC’s Fuel Watch report for June showed the wholesale price of diesel was 1p to 3p a litre lower than petrol throughout the month, yet the average price of a litre of diesel at the pump is 120p, compared to 117p for petrol.

Williams added: “We would like retailers – particularly the supermarkets who tend to lead the way in forecourt pricing – to explain why they are maintaining an artificial gap between petrol and diesel.

“It would be very worrying if they were simply taking advantage of motorists’ expectations that diesel is always more expensive than petrol.

“Wholesale petrol hasn’t been cheaper than diesel since May 27, yet since then, diesel pump prices have been up to 3p a litre more expensive than petrol.

“We realise that petrol pricing is particularly cut-throat and many retailers reduce prices and profit margins to stay competitive, but something really needs to change as diesel drivers are losing out and subsidising every fill-up of petrol.”

June saw fuel prices maintain an even keel for motorists as a result of oil prices staying flat and the pound/dollar exchange rate remaining stable too.

The average price of a litre of petrol was 117p – 14p cheaper than 12 months ago, and diesel was 120.75p – 15p cheaper. Both have gone up since the early February average price lows of 106p for unleaded and 113p for diesel.


Government to consult on extending first MoT to four years

The Government is to consult on whether to extend the time before a car needs its first MOT test from three years to four.

The move announced in the Summer Budget came under immediate fire from the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) and Warranty Direct.

The RMI said it “strongly opposed” any extension which it said would have road safety implications.

RMI Director Stuart James said today, “The government seems to take the view that the MOT is a burden on motorists.

“We think that motorists deserve more credit than that. Road safety is a priority for them and their families and they understand that roadworthiness testing of vehicle is an important part of making our roads among the safest in Europe.”

David Gerrans, Warranty Direct managing director, said: “Three years of age is generally a landmark age for a car. In most cases, it stops being covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and things start going wrong and wearing out.

“Whilst adding another year before an MOT is due is a nod to manufacturer build quality, it could be viewed as detrimental to road safety, as the average driver will need to replace tyres and brakes before the four year mark.

“Extending the deadline for the first MOT of new cars from three to four years, will only encourage motorists to postpone necessary maintenance work,” he said.


New cars sold on dealer finance rise 6% in May

The average advances to consumers for new car purchases up 4% in May to £16,500 compared with May last year.

The percentage of private new car sales financed by FLA members through dealerships reached 77.6% in the twelve months to May 2015, a record high.

The point-of-sale consumer used car finance market also showed continued growth, with new business up 8% by value and 3% by volume in May compared with May 2014.

Geraldine Kilkelly, head of research and chief economist at the FLA, said: “Growth in point-of-sale consumer car finance in 2015 so far has continued in line with expectations.

“Recent research by Oxford Economics showed the importance of FLA motor finance providers to the UK economy, funding more than 57% of all consumer spending on cars in 2014, up from 35% in 2007.”

Cars bought on finance by consumers through dealerships
May 2015 % change on prev. year 3 months to May 2015 % change on prev. year 12 months to May 2015 % change on prev. year
New cars
Value of advances (£m) 1,215 +10 5,197 +14 14,750 +13
Number of cars 73,659 +6 317,440 +9 920,459 +9
Used cars
Value of advances (£m) 972 +8 3,138 +14 11,199 +15
Number of cars 92,431 +3 299,915 +10 1,083,499 +10


Cars bought on finance by businesses
May 2015 % change on prev. year 3 months to May 2015 % change on prev. year 12 months to May 2015 % change on prev. year
New cars
Number of cars 45,328 +15 154,314 +19 504,966 +14
Used cars
Number of cars 3,300 -4 10,963 -1 40,274 -17


DVLA extends driver licence check code validity to 21 days

The DVLA has extended the time limit for a driving licence checking code from 72 hours to 21 days due to feedback from the public.

Last month, the DVLA axed the paper counterpart and replaced it with an online licence-checking tool, Share Driving Licence.

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, or fleet managers – 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 using their postcode, driving licence number and National Insurance number, and the code remained active for 72 hours.

As of today, it will now remain active for 21 days following public feedback, a DVLA spokesman told BusinessCar.

“We listened to feedback from the public, and we decided to extend the time limit to 21 days,” the spokesman said.

Once generated, the code is then provided to the employer or rental company, who uses the online service to make the check on whether the driver has a valid licence, how many points they have and which vehicles they are allowed to drive.

The service can be found here.

The RAC welcomed the move:

“The move to three weeks is sensible as it provides sufficient flexibility for people hiring a car in the second or third week of a holiday or business trips,” said Pete Williams, RAC head of external affairs.”The big question is why was the validity of the ‘share your licence’ code fixed at three days in the first place, particularly as the system was brought in on the back of the abolition of the paper counterpart which the DVLA typically far longer to update with new endorsements.”


Gulf sites help to recreate historic fuel consumption trial

Two Gulf-branded forecourts will take place in the recreation of the Layer Marney Cup, a car fuel consumption trial first run 101 years ago in 1914.

Southchurch Road Gulf Station in Southend-on-Sea will be the start point of the event, which is supported by Gulf Oil, takes place on August 16, and will see an impressive selection of cars produced during the last century take part in the competition.

It will be the first re-run of a unique event which took place during the dawn of motoring. Starting at 9am, cars taking part in the event will fill up with fuel at the Southchurch Road filling station and will drive through the Stow Maries Aerodrome – the UK’s only First World War airport still in use. It has recently been re-created so it appears as it would during the war, as well has having some First World War aircraft based there.

The cars continue on their journey until they arrive at the Gulf-branded McCreadies of Layer Marney, on whose forecourt the tanks will be unsealed and checked.

Sheila Charrington from Layer Marney Tower, commented: “When I was approached about hosting this event, it didn’t take much persuasion as I could visualise what a fun and interesting day it will be. With the types of car taking place, the event will be a visual delight for spectators, whether they are car enthusiasts or not. For the younger generation it will be a real eye opener and a lesson in history. The world of fuel and motor racing has changed exponentially in the last 100 years, which will be demonstrated through the classes taking part in the competition.”

Steve White, general manager for Gulf Oil, commented, “This is an ideal event for Gulf to be associated with, as this event – and the people and vehicles participating – truly reflects the Gulf strap line ‘Quality, Endurance, Passion.”


Top 50 Indies in Blakemore milestones

A Rontec forecourt store has become the 100th new Spar store supplied by Blakemore Trade Partners since the start of its 2014/15 financial year, while fellow Top 50 Indie Euro Garages is set to become its largest national account customer.

Following the opening of the Rontec forecourt store in Slough, Blakemore Trade Partners managing director Jerry Marwood pointed to the company’s stability, values and culture of innovation as key reasons that customers put forward for working with the business.

Marwood said: “These reasons, along with the increasing profile of the Spar brand, have meant record-breaking recruitment numbers for the last two years.

“We are living in times of great change in our industry, but at AF Blakemore we still share the same stability and values that have been around for 100 years and we believe will be around for 100 more.

“We are a financially secure company and more importantly a family business defined by values and a commitment to growing our business sustainably for the long term.”

In addition to Rontec, Blakemore Trade Partners has also begun to fulfil its Spar contract with Euro Garages, so far servicing eight Euro Garage sites, but by the end of the 2015 calendar year this number will increase to 103, making them Blakemore Trade Partners’ largest national account customer.

Marwood pointed to the relationship that has been created with independent retailer Jay Gohil of Cosford Garage, Albrighton, as an example of what the business is trying to deliver.

He said: “Jay is one of the outstanding retailers of his peer group and joined us bringing two stores into Spar.

“We matched that by enabling him to purchase two more sites. A rebranding and re-launch programme has kicked off and is producing brilliant results for both businesses.”

Marwood concluded: “While we see the need for further recruitment, we also have exciting plans for improving customer service and doing things better on behalf of our existing customers as we have no shortage of ideas for further investment in the business.”


MPs pledge support for fuel price inquiry

More than 30 MPs are backing a campaign for the competition watchdog to fully investigate fuel prices amid nationl media stories concerning the apparent ‘rip-off’ cost of diesel.

Fuel price campaigner FairFuelUK has revealed via Twitter and on its Facebook page that 32 MPs from across all parties have pledged their support this week to its campaign for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to look at retail price changes in relation to oil cost fluctuations, commodity speculation, wholesale prices and distribution costs “to stop further blatant, opportunistic and unfair profiteering taking place at the pumps”.

Earlier this week the same group had written an open letter warning Chancellor George Osborne that an inflation-based fuel duty rise in the coming Emergency Budget or in future years would “lower GDP, cost the UK £8 billion in reduced economic activity, raise inflation and sabotage one of the slowest economic recoveries this country has ever seen”.

The letter said the UK already has the highest duty regimes in the EU; 98% of FairFuelUK’s 1.1 million supporters believe this is too high; and research by CEBR confirm that fuel duty is already at an unsustainable level.

“To ignore 37 million drivers, deny the fact we are reliant on a road economy and side-step haversacks of prestigious academic fiscal research will seem arrogant and reckless.”


Disabled bikers given lifeline with motorbike modification

Shaun Pickett adapted his 600cc Bandit for new learning technique

A biker has created an adaption to enable disabled motorcyclists to hit the asphalt once again.

Shaun Pickett, from Grimsby, has taken his 600cc Bandit and bought a £600 Kliktronic push button gear adaptor which allows a change in gear from the handlebars, replacing what would usually be required to be actioned using the footrest, making it easier for amputees or those with mobility issues to ride.

Now Pickett has decided to take his innovative customisation skills one step further, by setting up the UK’s first bike school to use this exclusive set-up in a bid to help those wanting to ride, but never thought it possible, to accomplish their dreams.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA), was required to approve the set-up prior to Pickett starting teaching and, after two years, the DSA have finally agreed to the design.

Since making the modification, Pickett, owner of Shaun’s Scooter Training, has seen a flood of enthusiasm over his business.

Pickett said that the modification has already started to take off, as he has already had four different people pass their first time with him by using the new bike.

“There is one guy who has had his foot amputated who will be able to ride this,” he said.

Pickett’s intuitive design inspiration occurred after meeting a disabled person at a neighbour’s house. The neighbour’s friend did not have use of his legs, but had a three wheel trike with gears fitted on the handlebars. Pickett thought it would be great to design his bike that way so all disabled people can learn to ride.

The budding inventor has also found that the new bike is popular with scooter riders looking to start riding motorbikes, as they are accustomed to gears positioned on their handlebars; the modification allows the rider to test a bigger engine, but use the gears the same way they would on their scooters.

“All the scooter lads around here know I have had this idea and now it’s here I think it will be quite popular,” Pickett said. “It makes it safer for riders who have been used to a scooter for years because the gears will be familiar.”

For more information, or to llearn to ride with Pickett, contact Shaun’s Scooter Training at 07748 445234, or check out Shaun’s Scooter Training’s Facebook page here.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 13/07/2015