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Daily News Round UpBack

New GAP rules have major blind spot


The new GAP rules created by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) that come into effect in September have a major blind spot.

Under the rules dealers will have to explain to customers that, if they want GAP insurance, they will have to return to the dealership four days after purchasing their car.

The FCA has pushed ahead with the rules despite the National Franchised Dealers Association’s (NFDA) pleas to consider the impact they will have on dealers.

The blind spot by the FCA is extraordinary, given how severely the new GAP rules could inconvenience consumers wishing to purchase GAP insurance.

Perfectly legitimate candidates for GAP insurance who have bought a car on a finance plan could now see it denied, due to the second round of credit checks the new system dictates.

Two requests for significant amounts of credit in the same week could send alarm bells ringing in banks, and credit refused for customers who want or need it. This could also affect any future finance agreements for the customer.

We are increasingly seeing that customers want ‘packages’ when buying cars, much like a mobile phone contract.

Covering things like servicing, insurance and cost of the car in one monthly payment is becoming more and more popular.

I do feel that the new GAP insurance rules are in fact doing the opposite of what the FCA says about ensuring customers get the best deal, while affecting dealers at the same time.



The National Association of Bodyshops (NAB) Executive Committee, and the body repair arm of the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association (VBRA) National Repairers Council, met on 23 July 2015 to scope out their future plans for working together as a unified voice for bodyshops.

The meeting which was chaired by Tony Lowe, Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) board director, agreed the structure of a working group which would provide terms of reference – including a business plan and policies for both trade associations.

Lowe commented, ‘Both NAB and the VBRA deal with similar issues and concerns, and there is an overwhelming desire to establish a progressive and effective relationship that represents all bodyshops.’

Frank Harvey, head of NAB said, ‘Both associations have been working closely since the beginning of the year, and this meeting was the next step in order to plan our strategy in continuing to relay a unified voice in the bodyshop industry.’

Malcolm Tagg, director general of the VBRA commented, ‘VBRA and NAB currently have distinct approaches to services, benefits and methods of delivery. All these will be reviewed to provide best practice and value to benefit members.’


NFDA ‘confident’ that UK CV growth will continue for rest of 2015

The recent sustained growth in new commercial vehicle registrations in the UK should continue for at least the rest of 2015, according to the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA). Sue Robinson, the association’s director, said she is “encouraged by the continued growth”, commenting on figures published by ACEA. The NFDA represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK.

In June, there was an increase in demand for new commercial vehicles for the sixth consecutive month. All the major markets posted growth, with Spain continuing to have the highest growth at almost 50 per cent. The UK experienced double-digit growth along with the other major European markets of Italy, France and Germany.

In the first semester of 2015, the UK saw the second best growth in the EU after Spain, with commercial vehicle sales up 21.8 per cent. This was higher than the increase in the EU market as a whole, which saw a rise of 12.9 per cent. Germany, France and Italy experienced single digit growth.

Robinson stated, “In June, the heavy truck market (over 16 tonnes) experienced the highest rise in the EU at 32.7 per cent. Italy saw a massive increase of 50.5 per cent, while Spain experienced astounding growth of 105 per cent. The UK was in third place in this market sector, with a nonetheless impressive increase of 39.7 per cent.

“However, in terms of growth so far this year, the UK is in pole position, with an increase of 57.7 per cent in heavy commercial vehicle registrations. This is above the level of growth for the EU as a whole, which stands at 20.3 per cent, and far above Germany, where registrations have only increased 2.2 per cent.

“New medium and heavy commercial vehicles saw strong growth in all major EU economies. Spain once again had the highest boost in registrations at over 102.2 per cent, with the UK’s growth of 36 per cent behind Italy and France, but ahead of Germany at 11.3 per cent, and the EU as a whole at 31.4 per cent. It should also be kept in mind that government incentives are the driving force behind much of Spain’s growth in commercial vehicle registrations.

“For the year so far, Germany saw a slight decline of 0.4 per cent compared to last year. The UK saw similar growth to Spain on the whole; Spain saw an increase of 44.3 per cent, and the UK 42.7 per cent. In the EU, 15.9 per cent more medium and heavy trucks were registered.

“The light commercial vehicle market saw the lowest growth. New registrations increased by 16.3 per cent in the EU compared to June of last year. The UK saw growth of 16.4 per cent, again behind Spain, but ahead of Italy, Germany and France.

“For the year so far, commercial vehicle registrations have increased 12.3 per cent for the EU, and 19.8 per cent in the UK. Of the larger EU economies, only France saw no serious growth, with a rise of 0.8 per cent.

Robinson concluded, “The NFDA and our members are confident that both the UK and EU commercial vehicle markets will continue to grow for the remainder of 2015.”


Trade buying habits are changing, says NextGear Capital

The way trade buyers operate is changing, NextGear Capital learned on its recent UK wide auction tour.

In total the tour took in 20 auctions in just two weeks, covering 5289 miles. The team spoke with hundreds of trade buyers and the auction businesses that serve them, gaining insight on the marketplace.

Findings showed buyers are increasing their activity ahead of seasonal levels but in light of increasing supply, they are able to be more selective in their stock buying. They are also far more confident in buying remotely, albeit they value the camaraderie and insights to be gained by being on the auction floor first hand and continue to see this as a key part of a wider mix of activity.

NextGear Capital’s sales director Nigel Warrington (pictured) said: “What we have seen from this first hand ‘voice of the customer’ activity is that dealers are reacting to an improving market with real entrepreneurial spirit. Contrary to some perceptions, dealers are keen to leverage new technology, albeit they do value some support and the added account management. They have also embraced change in the way they buy stock. Much of this has been driven by the emergence of the well-informed consumer in the showroom.

“Dealers recognise the need to buy smarter and be more agile in their stock purchasing and inventory management to preserve margins in an increasingly commoditised marketplace. Suppliers who can help them in any of this activity are highly valued.”


Inchcape’s UK car dealerships report 10.5% rise in sales

Inchcape has reported a 10.5% rise in revenues from its UK dealerships in the first half of 2015.

The global automotive group’s UK dealerships, operating under Inchcape Retail UK, saw turnover lift year-on-year to £1.36 billion from £1.23bn.

Trading profit rose 1.6% to £32 million, while trading margin dropped by 0.2ppts from 2.6% to 2.4%.

Inchcape Fleet Solutions, its UK leasing business, recorded a rise in sales of 47.6% to £34.1m and a 10.2% increase in trading profits to £6.5m, however trading margin at this operation declined 6.4ppts to 19.1% from 25.5% a year previously.

In its statement to the London Stock Exchange, Inchcape said: “The first half of 2015 has seen a continuation of strong market growth driven by the underlying replacement cycle, a sustained high level of consumer confidence and attractive price offers in all segments.

“Inchcape’s brand partners continue to grow faster than the total market and we delivered strong (Inchcape Retail) like for like revenue growth of 10.3%.”

It said its ‘cross-brand’ online offering is having a positive impact on lead generation, with cumulative growth of 24% year-on-year to the end of the first half. Aftersales hours sold has also grown, driven by investment in customer contact centres to capitalise on the growing car parc.

Inchcape said the deline in trading margin was “in line with our expectations”, impacted by the higher contribution of vehicles sales to its gross profit, lower used vehicle margins for some of its brand partners and increased amortisation costs following investment in its IT systems.


Leasedrive salary sacrifice scheme helps Coventry City Council win best staff travel policy award

Coventry City Council has won the best staff travel policy award at the 2015 Employee Benefits Awards for its Mycar salary sacrifice scheme from Leasedrive.

The leasing company entered the local authority into the category for the most effective travel strategy for business and perk car drivers.

Jane Williams, payroll support and project specialist at Coventry City Council, who received the award, said: “Like all councils, motivating staff while reducing the cost of delivering services is a fine balancing act and Mycar has proven an innovative way to achieve this and position us as an employer of choice.

“We have more than 7,700 eligible employees for the salary sacrifice car scheme and Mycar has already delivered significant savings to the council by way of reduced national insurance and pension contributions.

“Average emissions for cars ordered on the scheme are just 101g/km, 27.3g/km lower than the average CO2 output of ‘at work’ private cars they replaced, boosting our corporate social responsibility.”


Nottingham City Car Club expands and goes electric

Nottingham City Council is set to add more vehicles and hire sites to its City Car Club programme, including one new location that will be dedicated to Nottingham’s first electric car share vehicle.

Around 60% of City Car Club members in Nottingham are corporate customers.

Councillor Nick McDonald, portfolio holder for growth, jobs and transport, said: “We know that for many people a car is their preferred travel option.

“City Car Club offers residents and businesses an option to use more sustainable cars in a flexible way to help reduce congestion and C02 emissions.

“We have worked closely with our business community to offer free memberships and drive time credits during the first year of operation, so City Car Club cars can offer businesses an alternative to grey fleet and pool car usage.”

In November, 2014, the council was awarded £37,000 by the Department for Transport (DfT) via CarPlus to help further develop Nottingham’s integrated transport network, expanding the City Car Club fleet from eight locations and nine vehicles to 11 locations and 12 vehicles.

There will be three new neighbourhood hubs introduced at key transport interchanges to offer access to a pool of shared cars, local public transport and Citycard Cycle hire.

The Citycard, the council’s integrated smart ticket, currently offers train, tram, bus and bike travel.

It can now also be upgraded to access City Car Club vehicles in addition to the usual scheme membership card. This means Citycard users can get off the bus or tram and straight into a City Car Club hire car.

City Car Club has operated car sharing on behalf of Nottingham City Council since May 2014, initially offering eight vehicles for hire within the city centre.

In all, 221 members have joined the City Car Club project in the last year, with members travelling more than 43,000 miles.


Survey highlights ‘offensive’ dealer labour rates

A new survey has highlighted what it described as the “offensive” labour rates being charged by some dealers.

Using data supplied by used car warranty provider Warrantywise, Auto Express found the highest recorded hourly rate of an individual garage was £240 per hour in West Byfleet, Surrey.

This contrasted with the lowest cost of £36 per hour at a garage in Smethwick, Birmingham.

Average rates reach a peak of £141 per hour in Twickenham, south-west London, compared to the cheapest average rate of £44 per hour in Kirkwall, Orkney. Overall, the average cost of labour in Britain is £84.30 per hour.

London recorded the highest average labour rate (£101.60) while Scotland was the cheapest with an average labour rate of £71.42.

Graham Hope, deputy editor of Auto Express, said: “Obviously higher hourly rates in London are to be expected, but the huge difference in average costs across Great Britain shows motorists are not being treated fairly. And a difference of £204 per hour between individual garages is completely unjustifiable.”

Lawrence Whittaker, CEO of Warrantywise, said: “Some of the differences Warrantywise has discovered are, frankly, offensive.”

Despite motorists paying a premium, Auto Express’s Driver Power satisfaction survey, which polled more than 61,000 motorists revealed that Brits are happier than ever with their dealers.

The average satisfaction score was 87.84 per cent, up from 86.83 per cent in 2014. Nearly 50 per cent of the motorists who took part said they would be “highly likely” to recommend their dealer to a friend.

Lexus was voted as having the best dealer network – for the 14th consecutive year – with an overall score of 93.56 per cent.


Average price of insurance increases by £8 in Q2, says ABI

The average price of an annual comprehensive motor insurance policy increased by 2.1% in Q2 of 2015 compared to the first quarter of the year, according to the Association of British Insurers

According to the ABI’s quarterly average insurance tracker, motorists paid an average of £367 for their policy in the second quarter of the year, up from £359 in Q1.

The average price of a premium in Q2 of 2014 was £356.

Average premiums are still lower than they were in Q2 of 2013 (£377) when the Government introduced changes to the justice system, including a reduction in fixed legal costs for personal injury claims

The ABI clamed that insures have passed on savings of £1.1bn to motorists since the reform.

However, the ABI claims the number of personal injury claims related to road accidents was 12% higher for the year ending April 2015 compared with the previous 12 months.

“With pressure on premiums increasing however, it’s important the Government continues its work to tackle the compensation culture and attack the high cost and number of whiplash claims,” said Rob Cummings, ABI manager for general insurance. “UK drivers benefit from one of the most competitive motor insurance markets in the world, but with pressure on claims costs and an increase in insurance premium tax adding an additional £12.80 to the cost of the average policy from November, other factors are starting to put up costs.”



Audi is presenting the next step in its pioneering automotive lighting programme at the IAA in Frankfurt. The Vorsprung durch Technik brand is forging ahead with new Matrix OLED lights that open up further creative opportunities for design due to their thin and flat composition and significantly increased homogeneity, which makes them even more adaptable within today’s lighting installations than point light sources like conventional LEDs.

As the leading brand in automotive lighting technology, Audi has systematically developed all aspects of OLED technology over the years. Matrix OLED lights are a perfect synthesis of high-tech engineering and design – initial projects are currently underway to implement OLED technology in production rear lights. They are being shown for the first time in a concept car at the IAA.

In each Organic Light Emitting Diode or OLED unit, two electrodes – of which at least one must be transparent – incorporate numerous thin layers of organic semiconductor materials. A low DC voltage – between three and four volts – activates the layers, each of which is less than one‑thousandth of a millimetre thick, to light them. The colour is based on the molecular composition of the light source.

In contrast to point light sources – such as LEDs – which are made of semiconductor crystals, OLEDs are flat light sources. Their light attains a new level of homogeneity, and its dimming is continuously variable. The lights do not cast any shadows and do not require any reflectors, light guides or similar optical components – and this makes the OLED units efficient and lightweight. In addition, they hardly need any cooling.



A survey by OSV Ltd shows that although the car industry is heading towards an autonomous car revolution, a whopping 75% of the UK population do not want a driverless car. The survey also showed that the English were most against driverless cars, with 82% stating that they did not want one.

This week the government announced plans to put £20 million into the research of driverless cars. Thanks to this funding, autonomous cars are set to be trialled in the UK by the end of the year.

With this in mind, OSV Ltd spoke to the UK population to find out if they wanted driverless cars. Surveys have previously been carried out when the conception of autonomous cars was first released. OSV wanted to find out if people’s opinions about driverless cars have changed now the research has developed.

The results from the survey carried out by OSV Ltd were overwhelming, with 75% of the UK population stating that they did not want an autonomous car. Of the people surveyed, a huge 82% in England said that they wouldn’t want one. People from Scotland are slightly keener than other countries in the UK with 26% admitting they would want a driverless car.

Interestingly, men are more drawn to driverless cars than women, with 30% of those surveyed stating that they would like one. Women are less likely to want an autonomous car with only 19% sharing that same desire.

This contradicts other research which suggests women have the most to gain. Those with driverless cars will not need a driving license and with more women than men without licenses, women therefore will benefit the most.

Another insight from the survey found that a whopping 43% of 18-25 year olds would want to buy an autonomous car. On the other end of the spectrum only 10% of 55-64 year olds shared that same interest. Surprisingly, that figure rose to 27% for the over 65’s, showing that the youngest and eldest age groups are the most interested in the driverless car revolution.


Porsche announces record half-year figures

PORSCHE has announced the best half-year financial figures in the company’s history.

It says the past six months have seen new record figures for deliveries, sales revenue and earnings.

The sports car maker delivered 113,984 vehicles in the first six months of the 2015 fiscal year, 30 per cent more than the same period a year ago. Revenue rose 33 per cent to 10.85 billion euros. The operating profit surpassed last year’s figure by 21 per cent and reached 1.70 billion euros. The number of staff also increased by 10 per cent to 23,477 employees.

Matthias Müller, chairman of the Executive board of Porsche AG, said the reason for the success was the ‘especially attractive’ range of Porsche cars.

‘All models and derivatives that we recently launched on the markets have proven to be top sellers,’ he said.

porsche keyring‘This pertains to the brand-new Macan series as much as it does to the new GT models 911 GT3 RS and Cayman GT4, plus the new GTS versions 911 Targa GTS, 911 Carrera GTS and Cayenne GTS.’

Even in the difficult Chinese market the sales figures of Porsche look good, and Müller added: ‘We have won over many new customers with the new Macan. The SUV is exactly the right model at the right time.’

Porsche is planning to invest more than one billion euros in plants in Zuffenhausen and Weissach by 2020, and another half a billion euros to extend its Leipzig plant.


New six-month sales record for Audi

Audi production 1THE Audi Group delivered more than 900,000 vehicles to customers worldwide between January and June – its best-ever six-month total.

The company increased its revenue to 30 billion euro and its operating profit to 2.9 billion euro. It achieved an operating return on sales of 9.8 per cent, at the upper end of its strategic target corridor of eight to 10 per cent.

At the presentation of the half-year interim report, chairman of Audi’s board of management Rupert Stadler said strong demand continued for the company’s products, although important models were about to be replaced by the next generation.

With an increase in unit sales of 3.8 per cent in the first half of the year, Audi is on track to set a new record in 2015 for a full year.

The Ingolstadt-based manufacturer delivered 902,389 cars in the first six months of this year, compared to the 2014 total of 869,357. The A3, Q3 and Q5 are particularly popular with customers worldwide.

Audi production 2Between January and June, the Audi Group generated total revenue of 29,784 million euro – in 2014 the total was 26,690 million, an increase of 11.6 per cent.

The company achieved profit before tax of 3,150 million euro for the first half of 2015, compared to 3,102 million a year ago. Profit after tax amounted to 2,429 million euro.

Axel Strotbek, a member of Audi’s board of management and responsible for finance and organisation, said: ‘We are deliberately making large investments in new models, technologies and production capacities, which will pay off in the medium and long term.’

In the biggest investment programme in Audi’s history, by 2019 a total of 24 billion will go to new models, new technologies and the continuous growth of the worldwide production network.

This year, Audi has taken on more than 2,000 new employees and plans to recruit about 4,000 people in Germany alone by the end of 2015. Worldwide, Audi intends to expand its workforce with approximately 6,000 new employees by the end of the year.


Supercar dealer calls for common sense over anti-social laws to combat super-rich London boy racers

THE founder of a supercar dealership in central London has claimed new laws planned by the local authority to halt boy racers could harm his business.

Alex Prindiville has hit out after the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea announced it is planning to introduce new anti-social behaviour laws principally to stop super-rich car owners from causing a nuisance.

It is proposing a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) be imposed on a huge swathe of Knightsbridge – an area that will include Harrods and the streets around it.

But Alex Prindiville, founder and owner of Prindiville, central London’s only supercar showroom, says: ‘The proposal to draft a new set of anti-social behaviour laws to deal specifically with the “menace” of wealthy Middle Eastern supercar drivers is heavy-handed and unnecessary.

‘Existing laws are already perfectly adequate to deal with the minority of supercar drivers who step out of line, provided they are properly enforced.’

The new laws will make it illegal to:


Rev engines;


Sudden or rapid acceleration;

Driving in convoy;


Leaving the engine of a stationary vehicle to run idle;

Souding horns

Playing music;

Causing an obstruction on the road, whether moving or stationary.

Prindiville said: ‘While I can fully sympathise with local residents who are upset by the anti-social behaviour of the few, the proposed terms of the PSPO are an excessive response.

‘If I show up in Knightsbridge with, say, three cars I wish to show to a client, I don’t want to feel that I could be liable to prosecution simply for parking them all together.

‘If I were to go shopping at Harrods in the Ferrari LaFerrari currently in the Prindiville showroom and when I started it up it revved loudly – which it would, because that’s simply what happens with supercars like these, whether you like it or not – would I be arrested and have my car impounded?

‘Will these new rules be evenly applied to all, I wonder. Will three Range Rovers in a row taking kids to a party be treated as a convoy? If those Range Rovers then stop on double yellow lines to disgorge the children, will that be seen as a stationary obstruction? If the mums dropping the kids off then have a little chat by the roadside with their doors open and music playing inside the car, will they be prosecuted?

‘I don’t doubt that some of the young Arabs in their powerful supercars do cause a genuine nuisance, but apart from the price of their cars, are the rest of them so very different from young lads the length and breadth of this country? Existing police powers will sort out the troublemakers in Newcastle or Birmingham, Bristol or Brighton, so why does Kensington and Chelsea require anything extra?

‘Good old-fashioned policing could sort out a lot of local residents’ concerns – devising new laws is simply political posturing. Please let common sense prevail.’


Mazda’s quarterly profit falls 5.4% despite strong China, U.S. sales

TOKYO (Reuters) — Mazda Motor Corp. today said quarterly profit fell 5.4 percent despite higher auto sales in China and the U.S. that helped cushion the blow of foreign exchange losses and costs booked for new plants in Mexico and Thailand.

Mazda said in a statement that its April-June operating profit was 53.32 billion yen ($430 million). That was down from 56.38 billion yen a year ago.

Mazda’s global vehicle sales in its fiscal first quarter jumped 16 percent to 370,000, helped by brisk demand for the remodeled Mazda2 and CX-3. Sales in North America, its biggest market, rose 5.6 percent.

New model launches helped sales in China to surge 31 percent to a record 57,000 vehicles, helped partly by government incentives favoring the environmentally-friendly Mazda3 model. But the automaker remained cautious on China, as concerns linger on whether recent stock market turmoil and economic jitters might squeeze consumers’ appetite for new cars.

“To be honest, it’s difficult to read [the Chinese auto market],” said Masahiro Moro, managing executive officer and head of global marketing. “Up to now it’s been growth and growth, but that’s no longer quite the case,” he said.

The sales boost took the sting out of depreciation costs of 5.6 billion yen booked for new plants, and 10.8 billion yen in foreign exchange losses.

Mazda left its financial forecasts for the year ending March 2016 unchanged, projecting operating profit of 210 billion yen, slightly up from 203 billion yen a year earlier.


European automakers set to win lion’s share of TTIP gains

Mutual recognition of auto regulations across the Atlantic could bring over €18 billion per year for the European Union and the United States economies, with the EU set to reap up to 90% of the total gains, according to a new study.

Greater regulatory harmonisation under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is expected to raise EU-US auto trade by at least 20%, according to a study by the Petersen Institute of International Economics, a US-based think tank.

This would result in additional national income gains for both sides of “over $20 billion per year in the long run” – or just over €18 billion, the researchers found.

The study was presented on 15 July at the Brussels office of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), and was endorsed by the American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC), the US carmakers lobby group.

“The bigger share goes to the EU,” admitted Caroline Freund, the study’s co-author, when asked by EurActiv how the gains would be distributed between Europe and the US.

She estimates the EU’s share at “about three quarters” of the total gains, saying trade alone would represent an increase in national welfare of about $9 to $10 billion per year. The rest would come mainly from efficiency gains in the global supply chain.


Wirral council and police join forces to enhance motorbike summer safety

Joint initiative ramps up motorbike safety measures

Wirral council has launched a joint initiative in conjunction with local police, aimed at increasing motorcycle safety throughout the summer months.

The safety-drive will launch on Thursday (30 July), when motorcyclists will be able to speak to officers who will be present on the Wirral-side entrance to the Mersey tunnel.

Dave Rees, head of the council’s road safety team, believes dialogue between officers and riders is integral to reducing accidents: “We want riders to share some of their experiences with us so that we can hear first-hand what and where the dangers are for motorcyclists.

It’s their chance to speak to police and road safety officers who are themselves bikers”.

Officers will provide information on the Bikesafe scheme as well as provide those in attendance with a free gift aimed especially at local bikers.

Sergeant Paul Mountford from Wirral Police’s road force highlighted some of the increased preventative measures in force: “Throughout the summer we will be using our latest unmarked and camera equipped police vehicles to detect careless and dangerous riders and drivers who are a danger to themselves and other road users.”

The local scheme will carry through to National Motorcycle Week at the close of summer, from 31 August to 6 September, which will again mark a period of extra policing and interaction between officers and bikers across the country.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 30/07/2015