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Daily News Round UpBack

Independent aftermarket fights changes to MoT


Leading trade associations have joined forces to fight proposals put forward in the Summer Budget to look at changing the frequency of the MoT test.

Last month Chancellor George Osborne said he plans to consult on increasing the period before a car receives its first MOT test from three years to four.

The Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group (AALG), which is made up of trade associations operating in the independent automotive aftermarket, argued that there are safety implications to making changes to the MoT.

The trade associations in the AALG include the Independent Garage Association (IGA), Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA), Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association (VBRA), Garage Equipment Association (GEA), Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The AALG cited a study carried out in 2011 by 25 organisations representing the interests of motorists and garages called PRO-MOTE, which found that moving to a 4-1-1 system would result in 55 additional fatal accidents every year and 2,000 injuries, of which 338 would be serious.

Stuart James, director of the IGA, said: “The condition of the UK’s roads are deteriorating, with potholes and other road conditions more frequently damaging cars, which affects steering, tyres and other vehicle components.”

Sandy Burgess, chief executive of the SMTA, said: “Bringing this into law, will cause lives to be lost and more injuries to be suffered as the 2011 study clearly highlights.”

Wendy Williamson, chief executive of the IAAF, said: “Given that figures suggest one in five vehicles fail their MOT in the first three years and with new car sales at record highs, moving to an extended testing period would potentially cause more accidents and fatalities due to defective vehicles on UK roads.”

SMMT director of communications and international, Tamzen Isacsson said: “The Department for Transport’s own research has shown that decreasing the frequency of MOT tests would increase deaths and serious injuries.”


Dealers prepare for new dispute resolution rules

The government is drawing dealers’ attention to changes to consumer law.

The Consumer Rights Act and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive (ADR) comes into force on 1 October 2015.

Alternative Dispute Resolution can offer a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes than going to court.

“From October, certified Alternative Dispute Resolution will be available to all businesses to help when a dispute cannot be settled directly with the consumer.

Critically, the ADR changes in October deal with the information traders supply to customers.

Dealers do not have to use ADRs but they do have to give customers information about ADR services

This month the NFDA discussed the issue of ADR and used cars at an industry forum.

All NFDA members have access to a specific ADR, the National Conciliation Service (NCS), as part of their membership.

Legal firm Lawgistics said the new rules have ben crated to have fewer cases going to court.


IGA to increase its training courses for members

Current courses available are Hybrid Vehicle Awareness Training and Diagnostic Strategy and Procedures Training, and three further courses are under development.Current courses available are Hybrid Vehicle Awareness Training and Diagnostic Strategy and Procedures Training, and three further courses are under development.

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) is to more than double the number of technical IMI certified training courses available to their members, as well as significantly increasing the size of their training team.

Stuart James, IGA Director said: “Our members can’t get enough of our training, and we are committed to supporting the sector by adding more courses that focus on the real world needs of independent garages.

“We will be increasing the size of our technical training team to ‘ramp up’ the delivery of this high quality training to our members over the coming months.”


Consumers still fear pressure and negotiations when buying car even if reality is better than perception

The motor retail industry still needs to combat consumer perception of high pressure salespeople and deal negotiations.

According to research by Auto Trader into the car purchase journey of 1,000 car buyers, deal negotiations and salesperson pressure were the two principal pain points for those who buy from a dealer.

However, it also confirmed that consumers’ perceptions of the industry are often worse than reality. While 43% said they feared salesperson pressure and 33% worried about negotiation on areas like pricing, finance and part-exchange in advance of the visit, the showroom experience itself was often less painful.

Only 21% said salesperson pressure had actually been a problem, while 17% said they had not enjoyed negotiating with showroom staff.

One area where perception and reality were closely matched concerns finding the right dealer. 23% of respondents said they had found this hard, compared with 22% who worried about this in advance of their research.

The findings suggest retailers could do more online to build trust and drive traffic to their forecourts, said Auto Trader, which specialises in online classified advertising and web optimisation.

“There are clearly things that could be done to smooth the journey for buyers both on and offline,” said Nick King, Auto Trader’s director of insight.

“We know for example that part exchange negotiation is often the breaking point in a deal. We also know that more could be done online to inform buyers about competitive finance deals before they get to a showroom, perhaps pre-empting what might be seen as pushiness in the showroom. Making things more transparent online could help smooth pain points in the journey, leading to more business and happier customers.”

Auto Trader is the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace for buying and selling new and used vehicles. As part of the research, respondents were asked to select any number of responses from a wish list of things that they felt might improve the buying experience.

The top five were:


Freedom to browse without pressure – 32%

Better information on the real cost of cars – 32%

One-stop shop for everything online – 31%

Clearer information on car prices – 29%

Better information on the best car deals and finance – 28%


Side road accidents increase by 12% in one year, says Accident Exchange

The number of car accidents involving a driver pulling out of a side road accounted for an estimated 198,000 crashes nationwide last year.

The figures are according the accident management company, Accident Exchange, who analysed data from 39,000 cases of accidents it handled in 2014. Accident Exchange found that 9% of its cases were the result of a motorist emerging from a side road without paying enough attention.

In 2013, that figure was 7.9%, representing an increase in real terms of 12% in the space of just 12 months.

Based on the average car body repair bill of £1342.80 in 2014, the repair bill for these accidents is likely to be in the region of £266m said the company.

Figures dating back to 2010 reveal that the gradual increase is greater still. Five years ago, Accident Exchange said they handled 31,000 incidents of which 7% involved a side road crash, meaning a five-year increase of more than a quarter in real terms.

Liz Fisher, Sales Director at Accident Exchange, said: “Not looking properly at side road junctions before pulling out is one of the most common, and dangerous, errors a driver can make.

“The spike in this type of collision could stem from reduced concentration, particularly distracted drivers who follow the instructions of a navigation system and forget to adhere to the rules of the road or make the necessary checks before emerging.

Fisher continued: “The scrappage scheme of 2009/10 also removed thousands of older cars from the road. Newer models are renowned for their increased safety, but reduced visibility from thicker pillars and smaller glass areas means extra precaution should be taken when emerging from a side road into fast-flowing traffic.”


Manheim claims industry first for outdoor auction

Manheim has held what it claims to be the first ever offsite car auction. The sale, held for Citroen UK in Windsor, achieved a 100% conversion rate, selling all 222 cars offered, and an average hammer price of 98.2% of CAP Clean.

The sale was facilitated by Manheim’s Mobile Auction Unit and saw a total of 70 buyers gather at a marquee on the banks of the River Thames at Oakley Court in Windsor. Buyers also joined online via Manheim’s Simulcast platform. Of the cars offered, 70% sold to physical buyers with 30% were sold online.

Manheim confirmed this is the first of a series of offsite auctions which will utilise its Mobile Auction Unit.

Paul Drake, Remarketing manager for Citroën UK, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have held an auction that was the first of its kind, and could not be happier with the results that Manheim achieved, both in terms of conversions and sale prices. We know that the time pressures on car dealers are significant, so to be able to deploy Manheim’s Mobile Auction Unit gives buyers access to stock they might have missed in a physical auction.”


Nissan to add dedicated van dealerships

Nissan will add a new top tier of solus LCV dealerships for its strongest areas of the UK in the next 12 months.

Currently, all Nissan retailers can sell cars and commercial vehicles. However, there are 60 business centre dealers within the 200-strong network that have service facilities and dedicated staff for fleet and LCV sales. These business centres account for 80% of Nissan van sales.

The new top tier will have a dedicated showroom for commercial vehicles, according to network development director Dave Murfitt. He explained that revisions to the network were merited due to the renewal and expansion of the light commercial line-up.

“Nissan wants to become a bigger and better player in commercial vehicles. There’s potential for some growth in the 60 [sites] and we’re looking at a third tier of dedicated stand-alone CV sites. And we’ll have those in the next 12 months,” he said.

The Japanese manufacturer is expected to reveal a new Navara later this year at the Frankfurt motor show, followed by a new mid-size van to replace the Interstar.

Murfitt would not confirm exact numbers for the new solus van sites, but it is thought to be in the single digits, and the new operation would be based in or around major cities.

Nissan is also moving its entire 200-strong network of retailers to a new corporate identity.


No tax disc rule helps car thieves

The fact that motorists could be losing up to £40 million in the latest vehicle tax disc controversy is hiding a more sinister issue of easier car theft, reports car security enhancement specialists, DATAbloc.

Doing away with the round perforated tax disc is meant to save the Government around £7 million in printing and administration costs and to make things simpler for motorists. But there is a flaw in this move that has played right into the hands of car thieves.

Lawrence Shaw, Director of DATAblocsays thieves will very often use false or stolen number plates on a vehicle that has been stolen and laid up. This means that the registration number, false or not, cannot be visibly checked there and then against the true registration number on a visible tax disc.

He stated “When a stolen vehicle is parked on a road, in a car park or just laid up somewhere in a public area, passers-by will no longer be able to check on that vehicle and report it to the police or local authorities as being suspicious.”

According to DATAbloc the same is true if thieves then drive a stolen vehicle out of the country on a different plate. There is no direct means for customs or port officials to do a visual check. This applies to anyone having reason to check the car out visually when it is abroad.

The company says that car thieves can park a stolen vehicle in any area, knowing that a suspicious general public will only be able to contact the DVLA during the daytime, as their opening hours are Monday to Friday, nine to five.

“Electronic crime theft is easy enough for criminals with Range Rovers being stolen in around 30 seconds. Having no tax disc means they have a better chance of disposing of the vehicle and making it all the more difficult for the owner ever to see their car again,” exclaimed Lawrence Shaw.


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.”



US regulators have imposed a record fine of $105m on Fiat Chrysler (FCA) over recall failures. Under the agreement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the carmaker will also offer to buy back as many as 1.5 million vehicles and an independent observer will audit the company’s recall performance for three years.

The fine comes just days after the firm announced another recall over software faults in one of its models. The $105m fine sets a new record for the NHTSA, topping the previous record of $70m on Honda earlier this year.

The regulator accused the FCA of problems with the execution of 23 vehicle safety recalls covering more than 11 million defective cars. In a statement, the NHTSA said that Fiat Chrysler had since admitted violations in three areas, ‘effective and timely recall remedies, notification to vehicle owners and dealers and notifications to NHTSA.’

‘Fiat Chrysler’s pattern of poor performance put millions of its customers, and the driving public, at risk,’ said NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind. As part of the deal with the regulator, FCA agreed to give the owners of 1.5 million vehicles the option of selling their cars back to the manufacturer.

Included were one million Jeep vehicles with rear fuel tanks that can leak and catch fire in collisions. The fault has been linked to numerous fatal accidents. More than half a million of the cars subject to the buyback offer have faulty suspension parts that might cause a loss of control.

The recalled models covered by the agreement also include the Dodge Ram, as well as Dakota and Chrysler Aspen trucks with vehicles dating back as early as 2008.



German carmaker Daimler is planning to test self-driving trucks as early as this year, according to executive board member Wolfgang Bernhard.

He told a German newspaper, ‘We are positive that we will get approval for tests on German motorways within the next weeks,’ Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung quoted him as saying. ‘Then we will start immediately.’

First tests of semi-autonomous trucks will take place in Daimler’s home state Baden-Wuerttemberg while the start of production is two to three years away, Bernhard, who is in charge of Daimler’s trucks business, told the paper.

Wolfgang continued, ‘We are leaders in this technology and will stand up for ourselves,’ acknowledging that Apple, Google and other companies were trying to position themselves in the promising business of autonomous driving.’

He said that Daimler was unfazed by moves of companies like Apple to poach Daimler employees. ‘That is a clear sign of recognition if Apple decides that your business and or cars are so important to them that they want to be part of it.’

Car manufacturers and tech companies/suppliers have said the technology to build self-driving cars should be ready for public roads by 2020.


Independents to continue to ‘hold the high ground’ above dealers

Researchers predict a fall in the value of the servicing market but say independents will still come out on top

The latest findings from Trend Tracker’s consumer survey, which asks 1,000 motorists each month about where they last had their car serviced, shows the retention of customers is strongest among independent garages.

Having grown steadily alongside franchised dealers for ten years until 2005, the independent sector has since seen servicing retention accelerate, partly at the expense of franchised dealers and DIY servicing.

The numbers of cars ‘not yet serviced’ increased until 2006 and trended downwards to 2012, a result of the slowdown in new and used car sales during this period.

The data mirrors findings published in the GiPA UK annual ATO survey for 2015, which shows that motorists are less willing to recommend fast-fits, franchised dealers and autocentres.

However, as a surge in new car sales lead to a record high in the first half of the year, the report suggests the rate of service retention among independents will begin to steady as new car owners return their in-warranty cars back to the dealer.

Trend TrackerThe report states: “New car sales are replenishing the car parc with better made, more reliable cars that will require far less in the way of routine servicing and repairs.

“The used car market has also picked up, which, combined with increasing new sales, means motorists are changing cars more often and correspondingly spending less on servicing and repairs.”

Virtual collapse of DIY servicing

Whilst independent garages will see a slight fall in the servicing and repairs market value, the study claims that a ‘virtual collapse’ of DIY servicing will ensure independents take the biggest share of the market.

The report states: “The fact that the independent garages’ share of routine servicing is faltering does not mean dealer workshops are wresting back business from them.

“In the long run, independent garages will continue to hold the high ground because of the business gained from DIY.

“The outlook for the servicing and repair market is a return to slow decline in real terms; because motorists have started to change their cars more often, and surging new car sales introduce vehicles of higher build quality and reliability to the car parc.”


Experts warn brake systems can be attacked by hackers

Critical systems are vulnerable to attacks through DAB radio signals, study shows

The vulnerability was exposed by NCC Group after it found a way to carry out attacks by sending data using digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio signals.

It follows the news of a similar flaw discovered by US researchers who took control of a Jeep Cherokee by sending data to its internet-connected entertainment and navigation system via a mobile-phone network.

Using relatively cheap off-the-shelf components connected to a laptop, NCC Group created a DAB station.

Attackers are able to send a code that would let them take over the infotainment system and potentially use it as a way to control more critical systems including steering and braking.

NCC Group’s research director, Andy Davis, told the BBC a hacker’s DAB broadcast could affect many cars at once, depending on the power of the transmitter.

Davis said: “[An attacker] would probably choose a common radio station to broadcast over the top of to make sure they reached the maximum number of target vehicles.”

NCC Group declined to publicly identify which specific infotainment systems they had hacked whilst in a lab environment.

Computers on wheels

Jeremiah Grossman, founder and CTO of WhiteHat Security, said that both hacks underlined the point that cars were becoming computers on wheels, which need better protection than we currently offer PCs.

Grossman said: “We protect our PCs and servers from being hacked using special configuration settings, security software, and ‘best-practice’ behaviours.

“With car hacking, and cars being little more than rolling computers nowadays, are we expected to install security software, etc there too?

“Or, are manufacturers responsible for protecting their car’s occupants against a digital adversary?”


Researchers score independents best on price and fast repairs

Dealers shunned by motorists for expensive bills and longer waiting times

The independent sector has come out on top in an analysis of the UK aftermarket, with 82 per cent of respondents giving positive recommendations about an independent garage.

The GiPA UK annual ATO survey for 2015 shows that motorists are less willing to recommend fast-fits, franchised dealers and autocentres.

Dealers saw the highest proportion of unsatisfied customers, with 5 per cent giving negative recommendations about their experience.

Independents came out well with ‘flexible hours’, ‘quick repairs’ and proximity to home, although they were rated below average for ‘promotions’ by non-clients.

Motorists favour independents

Jack Bergquist, GiPA UK general manager, told GW that the latest results follow a trend that has seen motorists favour independent garages.

GiPABergguist said: “Independent Motor Traders have consistently scored above average in terms of consumer perception in all areas apart from promotions where they have always seen a lower score.

“However, this has still been above average for customers in every year since 2013, but below average for non-clients.”

The index score for ‘cheap price’, calculated by customers of the independent motor trade is 92 per cent above average and customers of franchised dealers appear to be aware that they are not the cheapest channel.

The findings reflect the results of Trend Tracker’s latest consumer survey, which asks motorists where they last had their car serviced.


Jeep’s hacking woes send warning to BMW, Audi and Mercedes

When friendly hackers landed a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Jeep in a ditch last week, it sent a warning to BMW Group, Audi and Mercedes-Benz as the German premium automakers compete increasingly on technology rather than just horsepower.

Mercedes’s E class will soon join the S class in being able to help steer itself, while Audi sent an unmanned RS7 down a track at race-car speeds and BMW’s new 7 series responds to hand gestures and parks itself. All three already offer self-braking systems and highly automated cruise control that are slowly shifting driving responsibility away from the human and toward the machine.

Now the automakers must reassure consumers willing to spend upwards of 45,000 euros that it’s safe to drive what has increasingly become a computer on wheels. All three companies say they have tools in place to thwart cyber-attacks, including encrypted connections and firewalls to shield safety and entertainment systems.

Still, today’s cars are so complex that more hacks may be inevitable, said Rainer Scholz, a Hamburg-based executive director for telematics and mobility at consulting company EY.

“The difficulty for the carmakers at the moment is the question whether they can keep pace with advances in technology, and especially hacking technology,” Scholz said. “We seriously doubt they can.”

Carmakers currently tend to focus on systems security after the final product has been built, to then patch holes, Scholz said. And hackers no longer need access to an entire car — which in the past might have required buying one — in order to seek out vulnerabilities, he said. Just having access to one component, such as an entertainment console, might suffice.


Volkswagen overtakes Toyota in sales

Germany’s Volkswagen became the world’s biggest-selling vehicle maker in the first half of the year, overtaking Toyota for the first time.

VW sold 5.04 million cars between January and June – slightly more than the 5.02 million sold by Toyota.

The Japanese company said on Tuesday its sales fell 1.5% compared with 2014, as growth in emerging markets slowed.

VW has long aimed to beat Toyota and has done so three years ahead of its 2018 target.

Toyota will announce first-half results on Tuesday next week, while VW releases its figures for the period on Wednesday.

Stefan Bratzel, head of Germany’s Center of Automotive Management, said: “VW is snatching the sales crown in difficult times with major car markets in decline. They will need to withstand the slowdown in China if they want to keep the top spot.”

VW’s success has been propelled by soaring sales in China, a market that now accounts for a third of its total, as well as a recovery in Europe.

The company, which also owns Audi and Porsche, this year aims to “moderately” exceed the 10.1 million cars it sold in 2014.

Toyota sold 10.23 million vehicles in 2014, but expects the total to slip to 10.15 million this year.

General Motors held the global sales crown for more than seven decades until being surpassed by Toyota in 2008.

GM regained the top spot in 2011, when Toyota’s production was hurt by the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

Toyota became number one again the following year and has held the title since.


BP profits fall on low oil price

BP has reported a sharp fall in profits for the three months to the end of June as lower oil prices continue to hurt.

Underlying replacement cost profit (RCP) was $1.31bn (£841m) compared with $3.63bn a year ago.

However, after setting aside $7.5bn for further costs relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, BP recorded a loss of $6.26bn.

On 2 July, BP reached an $18.7bn settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) over the oil spill.

BP said that in all, it was setting aside $9.8bn in the quarter for costs related to settlements with the DoJ and 400 local governments in relation to the oil spill, which became one of the worst environmental disasters in US history and claimed the lives of 11 people.

The results come at a time of continuing uncertainty for oil companies, with oil prices more than 50% lower than last year.

Brent crude oil stood at $52.93 a barrel on Tuesday, compared with roughly $115 a year ago.

The lower oil price is not only hurting the profits of the major oil firms, but also means they have cut back on investment in exploration in areas where they consider it makes little economic sense to drill.

BP chief executive Bob Dudley said: “The external environment remains challenging, but BP moved quickly in response and we continue to do so.

“Our work to increase efficiency and reduce costs is embedding sustainable benefits throughout the group and we continue with capital discipline and divestments.”


Posted by Lois Hardy on 28/07/2015