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Daily News Round UpBack

JCT600 launches new fully responsive website

JCT600 has launched a fully responsive website designed to enhance the customer experience and drive traffic.

Developed by digital marketing agency BlueSky Interactive, the new website represents a six figure investment for the company and has taken 18 months to develop, which involved dealership surveys with customers as well as industry insight and extensive input from colleagues conducted by Code Computerlove.

It is built around keyword search, enabling customers to quickly shortlist vehicles of interest. It also includes full technical specification and economy figures, as well as a finance calculator and application form.

Customers can also book servicing and repairs via the website, obtain a part exchange valuation, watch JCT600’s latest videos about products and services, as well as chatting online to advisers who are available until 10pm Monday to Friday.

Head of digital for JCT600 Charlotte Murray said: “The motor industry has been slower than some sectors to realise the potential of the internet as a way of communicating with customers.

“Having led the digital marketing team at JCT600 for the last seven years, we have always been focussed on using this platform as another way of improving the shopping and ownership experience for our customers and have taken inspiration from some of the most dynamic players in the retail industry.

“Since the last re-launch of our website in 2010, we have seen a phenomenal growth in online visits, increasing by over 900% to its current level of over 150,000 unique visitors to our website every month. A key part of this success has been our ability to maximise the trend towards mobile search with the addition of a mobile specific website back in 2012 in response to customers’ increasing use of smartphones while on the move – the level of visits to our site via mobile and tablet devices has increased from 23% three years ago to 57% today. Our new website uses the latest technology to ensure the best possible customer experience from any type of device.

“As well as a modern and dynamic look, the new website gives speedy access and easy navigation, so that today’s sophisticated customers have a wealth of information at their fingertips. We want it to be a ‘go to’ website, a trusted destination that lives up to the JCT600 brand, giving car owners everything they need from the most economical car for them to the latest tips and advice.”

Chief executive of JCT600 John Tordoff said: “In addition to continuing our ongoing improvement programme throughout our 50 physical dealerships, we also recognise the ever-increasing importance of the internet to our customers, many of whom carry out extensive online research before they buy. Our ability to combine the latest technology to make their purchasing decision easier, as well as the security of a known and trusted brand, together with personal service from our excellent team, is proving a winning formula.”


Fix Auto expands network in North West

Fix Auto UK has increased its foothold in the North West of England with Wilson and Co of Bolton becoming the latest bodyshop to join the network.

The centre, now operating as Fix Auto Bolton, is currently undergoing a major redevelopment as part of a £1.5 million investment programme spanning the three-acre new and used Vauxhall car dealership. The group also includes main Vauxhall dealerships in Chorley, Scunthorpe and Grimsby along with a Kia dealership in Boston.

The bodyshop is situated on Manchester Road, Bolton, and will complement the region’s established Fix Auto UK centres: Fix Auto Blackburn, Blackpool and Fylde, Manchester East, Northwich and Rochdale.

Bodyshop manager Kevin Simpson, who took over running the Vauxhall-approved centre 18 months ago, currently heads a team of five productives and a receptionist, who ensure around 120 vehicles a month are repaired.

As part of the on-going major overhaul of the site, the investment will see the complete re-development of the bodyshop and will include new offices. Plans are also in place to further strengthen the workforce.

Commenting on his rationale behind joining the Fix Auto Network, Simpson said: “Since taking over the day-to-day running of the bodyshop my objective has been to elevate the business into one of the region’s leading bodyshops, and being part of the Fix Auto UK network is integral to those plans. As part of our decision-making process I visited Fix Auto Manchester East and, quite frankly, I liked what I saw and heard about the network.”

He added: “I am extremely fortunate to have a great team around me along with a business owner willing to support every move I make in order to drive the business forward. While time and money is being invested in transforming our facilities and buying the latest equipment, it is imperative to have the very latest working practices firmly in place. I believe Fix Auto UK will assist in that area.


Leeds Council to save £1.5m with switch to CNG

Leeds City Council is looking to convert its fleet of 200 vans to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) following funding approval to build and run one of the UK’s biggest filling stations for the alternative fuel.

A spokesman for the council told Commercial Fleet a conversion for its fleet would have to be considered if the council wants to move away from its “reliance on diesel”.

The van fleet is currently made up of Ford Transits, Fiesta vans and Peugeot Partners. The council also has a fleet of 21 Ford Galaxys and Peugeot Expert Tepees, as well as 29 “various” cars.

The spokesman said cars were not under consideration for conversion currently, but if CNG gains in popularity as a fuel, the council would consider it.

A conversion of 70 refuse collection trucks will be the first to be completed before the council looks at converting its van fleet.

Running the refuse fleet on CNG is expected to save Leeds £1.5 million in diesel and AdBlue costs over a five-year period. It will cost approximately £24,000 to convert each truck. The council was unable to share its projections on fuel savings or how much it would cost to convert its van fleet.

The total cost for the project, including building the filling station, is expected to reach £5m, with funding provided in the form of a loan from Northern Gas Networks. The council will then enter into arrangements with a private sector operator to deliver payback of the loan based on a percentage of the profits from the fuelling station.

The station is expected to be operational by summer 2017 and can also be used to store and fill hydrogen, should that fuel prove popular in the future. The station will be accessible to both public and private sector customers.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental protection and community safety, said: “There is appetite for businesses to switch their fleet to greener fuels but, without the infrastructure, we’re not going to see the scale of change that will bring about a significant improvement to our environment and air quality.”

Dobson said investing in a CNG fuel station would change the current “chicken and egg” situation where businesses are worried about converting their vehicles with no easily accessible method to refuel.

The council said CNG would reduce its CO2 emissions by around 25%, cuts particulate matter by almost 100% and reduce NOx by 90%. There are currently 16 CNG fuelling stations spread out across the UK, but Leeds City Council argues there are no locations big enough to accommodate large scale conversions of fleets.

Leeds and the West Yorkshire Urban Area were included as a problem area in the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) recent NO2 projections. The area is expected to exceed the European Commission’s limit of 40 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre with an estimated output of 73 micrograms this year.

Independent sustainability organisation The Carbon Trust welcomed the move by Leeds to reduce emissions but doesn’t think CNG is the right choice as an alternative fuel.

Alex Hart, senior manager at the Carbon Trust, told Fleet News: “It is great to see anyone investing in bold measures to reduce CO2. But if we are to hit targets we will need transport technologies that are near zero CO2. Advanced biofuels, electric and hydrogen vehicles are a better alternative.”

DEFRA is working on drastically cutting UK transport emissions after being ordered to by the Supreme Court. Fleets will find out what measures will affect them by 31 December.

What is compressed natural gas?

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is made from the same natural gas that is used in homes for heating and cooking. By compressing the gas, it can be used to fuel vehicles that have been converted to run on it. CNG reduces CO2 emissions by up an average 25% compared to petrol-powered engines, it reduces NOx emissions by up to 95% versus diesel engines and reduces sulphur emissions by 50% compared to diesel.

Fleets can expect a 60% saving on CNG fuel compared to current diesel prices for the same distance travelled.


Motorway investments will ease congestion says FTA

The FTA has welcomed Highways England’s plans to invest £1.5bn on motorway improvements.

Highways England has announced investment in much-needed works on the M5, M6 and M1 that will see an extra 292 miles of carriageway in the form of smart motorways. This is where the hard shoulder is used as an additional lane to ease congestion on busy sections.

The FTA said the planned improvements will make journeys easier at traffic hot spots across the Midlands.

The three projects announced by Highways England are the M1 J19-J16 Northamptonshire, the M5 J4A-J6 in Worcestershire and M6 J16-J19 near Stoke-on-Trent.

Sally Gilson, Midlands policy manager for the FTA, said: “This is much-needed investment in the area which will help make journey times more reliable in these traffic troubled stretches of the motorway network.”

Addressing the potential issues of smart motorways, Gilson said: “They have been successfully used in other areas to increase capacity, resulting in greater reliability of the network, fewer accidents and lower emissions.”


New rules on alternative disputes resolutions delayed

The new rules on Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) have been put back a few months.

Legal expert Lawgistics has advised that the new rules were due to come in on 9 July 2015 in accordance with the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes Regulations 2015.

However, those regulations were recently amended and the implementation of the new rules, in terms of business information requirements, has been pushed back to October.

“In short, traders and consumers are being encouraged to use ADR to resolve their disputes as an alternative to going to court.

“Trading Standards are the body responsible for deciding who can become an ADR Provider for consumer disputes and for the ongoing auditing of those providers,” it said.

“There is no obligation to go to ADR unless you are a member of a trade association which requires you to do so but you will have to make customers aware that it is available to them,” it added.

Lawgistics is to update its Legal Rights Booklet to include details of ADR providers relevant to the Motor Trade.


Glass’s marks down used car values by 3% for August

Glass’s has marked down the values of used cars by 3% in August in a saturated market.

It is the fourth consecutive month that the guide has marked down prices by 3%.

Glass’s said the market was seeing higher stock levels at dealerships and auction houses and this was impacting adversely on values.

“The wholesale arena continues to see higher levels of stock compared to the equivalent period 2014.

“During market visits to both dealer and auction sites, the seven Glass Car Editors have seen some locations battling with space to park vehicles once more,” said Glass’s chief car editor Steve Jackson.

Jackson said that buyers could afford to be more selective with the greater choice of vehicles available.

“Poor condition and lower specification cars are under price pressure,” he said.

Glass’s issued a warning on used valuations caused by a forced used car market and the implications for values in 2016.

“Manufacturers continue to push hard to achieve market share in a growth market, and are incentivising the franchised network to achieve stretching registration objectives.

“With five registration months left to the end of the year, the pressure is still on for new vehicle growth. Once again caution is advised, as the market must look ahead at the impact of this growth on values of used vehicles in the near future.

“Today’s new vehicle registrations are tomorrow’s used vehicle stock, and an increase in used vehicle stock availability undoubtedly will affect used vehicle values,” he said.


Sainsbury’s announces another 2ppl cut in fuel prices

Sainsbury’s has announced that from tomorrow – July 28 – it will be cutting the price of diesel by up to 2ppl across its 300 forecourts. This is the third time in less than three weeks that Sainsbury’s has dropped the price of diesel, among a slew of similar announcements by rival supermarkets.

Avishai Moor, Sainsbury’s Head of Fuel, said:

“From tomorrow we’re once again dropping the price of diesel by up to 2ppl at all our petrol stations. We know that fuel is a big expense, especially during the summer holidays, and we are committed to helping our customers go further for less.”


Car hacking: more product recalls in the future, says security expert

FIAT Chrysler is to recall 1.4 million vehicles in America after a researcher hacked into a Jeep Cherokee and took control away from the driver.

Last week, it was widely reported that tech magazine Wired had hacked into the Cherokee’s internet-connected entertainment system, and then drove the car into a ditch.

Chrysler is now recalling the affected models to update the software. The company criticised the magazine, saying hacking its vehicles was a ‘criminal action’.

But today Tim Erlin, director of security and product management at Tripwire, said this wouldn’t be the last manufacturer recall for a software update.

He said: ‘Software patches for vehicles aren’t new, but the demonstration of this vulnerability was clearly attention grabbing.

‘The risks of the connected car lie in the ability to affect the operations of the vehicle from the outside world. The good news is that secure software development isn’t a novel concept. There are known best practices that can be applied to automotive software. Fiat Chrysler has an opportunity to use this incident to pioneer software security for the automotive industry.

‘A recall has very real, material costs for a manufacturer. Experiencing an urgent recall for a security patch to the vehicle’s software is likely to drive changes around how software is updated for all manufacturers. While new update methods can be built into new vehicles, there are millions of cars already on the road to consider as well.

‘The security of vehicle software is now a safety issue, and manufacturers will need to adapt to treat it as such. This won’t be the last patch we see for a car near you.’

Magazine security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have spent years investigating car control systems and developing ways to subvert them. Shortly after the recall was announced, Mr Miller tweeted: ‘I wonder what is cheaper, designing secure cars or doing recalls?’

Fiat Chrysler said exploiting the flaw ‘required unique and extensive technical knowledge, prolonged physical access to a subject vehicle and extended periods of time to write code’.

The affected vehicles are:

2013-2015 MY Dodge Viper specialty vehicles

2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups

2013-2015 Ram 3500, 4500, 5500 Chassis Cabs

2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Cherokee SUVs

2014-2015 Dodge Durango SUVs

2015 MY Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans

2015 Dodge Challenger sports coupes

A spokesman for Fiat Chrysler confirmed no vehicles sold in the UK were affected.

It was also reported in the UK this week that it was potentially possible to hack a car’s control systems through its digital radio.


Nissan announces new retail insurance partnership

MOTORISTS purchasing a new Nissan will soon be able to obtain a competitive insurance quote and purchase their insurance policy through a Nissan quote-and-buy website. And ‘free to go’ driveaway cover will be available at Nissan dealerships through a dedicated portal.

The move, designed to further enhance the Nissan purchase and ownership experience, follows the appointment by Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd of Maiden Insurance partnerships as its new retail insurance partner.

The three-year deal will see the creation of online and offline insurance solutions specifically tailored for new Nissan car and LCV buyers – a first for Nissan in the UK.

Under the agreement, Maiden will also manage the Nissan employee car ownership scheme.

Mike Thompson, aftersales director at Nissan Motor (GB), said: ‘This new partnership will really add value for our customers by streamlining the process through which they can find a competitive quote and purchase an insurance policy for their new Nissan.’

Ronnie Simmons, head of partnership development (UK) at Maiden, commented: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be working with Nissan. The strength of their brand and vehicle sales performance allied with Maiden’s fresh and innovative approach presents a great opportunity to grow Nissan’s insurance business to the level expected for a leading manufacturer.’


Motorbike injury and death rates in Wales reach seven-year high

Despite government efforts, motorcycle injury and death rates have reached a seven year high in Wales

An increase in the number of injuries and deaths amongst motorcyclists on Wales’ roads has left road safety campaigners searching for a solution.

Official figures from 2014 show that there were a total of 28 motorcycle deaths, which has increased dramatically when compared to 17 motorcycle deaths reported during 2013.

The collective total of motorcyclists slightly injured, seriously injured and killed in 2014 is a huge 749, which is the highest figure since 2007.

The news comes despite the Welsh government providing nearly as much as £4 million to 30 road safety schemes in 14 different local authorities, along with donating £180,000 in order to help motorcyclists improve their road safety skills.

In fact, motorcycle fatalities made up 22 per cent of those killed or seriously injured in Wales last year.

A Welsh government spokesperson added: “Our road safety framework identifies measures to protect the most high risk and vulnerable road users, however, everyone has a part to play and needs to take some responsibility.”

Chris Hume, a spokesperson from GoSafe, said: “The continuing overall drop in fatal and serious injuries across all road user types is encouraging.

“However, with regard to motorcyclists in particular, we want them to enjoy the roads but most of all we want them to ride safely and responsibly.”

Swansea and Powys had the most motorcycle casualties last year, while Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr and Anglesey had the fewest.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 27/07/2015