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Daily News Round UpBack

NAB and VBRA to provide “one voice” for crash repair sector

car service

The first steps have been taken to ensure the RMI’s National Association of Bodyshops and the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association promote the crash repair sector with a unified voice.

The NAB executive committee, and the body repair arm of the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association (VBRA) National Repairers Council, met last week to scope out their future plans for working together.

The meeting, which was chaired by Tony Lowe, 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 said: “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, VBRA director general, said: “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.”


Owners say Peugeot dealers just keep getting better

Peugeot owners have praised the brand and its dealer network in the latest Auto Express Driver Power survey.

The newly published report, which gives owners the opportunity to rate their experience at Dealerships, saw Peugeot move up four places for aftersales since last year, to finish fifth overall.

In the six aftersales areas, respondents are asked to rate helpfulness and attitude, standard of workmanship, cleanliness and atmosphere, technical knowledge, keeping owners informed and value for money.

For sales, owners believe Peugeot dealers have made a significant step forwards – up from 14th last year to eighth.

This year the Auto Express Driver Power survey collated the experiences of 60,988 UK car owners. Respondents are owners of new and used cars with 56% owning cars that are less than three years old.

Peugeot dealers finished ahead of their 2014 place in five of the six categories.

Peugeot owners aren’t just happy with their Dealerships; they’re pleased with their cars and the ownership experience too. The company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), a ranking used to gauge the loyalty of customers to brands, is more than 70% when the average of all models is taken. The rating is more than 70% on the 108, 2008, current 308 and RCZ. Any NPS ranking higher than 50 is viewed as ‘excellent’.

As a manufacturer, Peugeot finished in 10th position overall out of 32 – up four places compared to 2014. The survey also revealed that 85% of PEUGEOT owners wouldn’t rule out buying another car from the French maker.


Car dealer Caffyns begins search for new finance director

Mark Harrison, finance director at car dealer group Caffyns, has given the firm his notice of retirement.

Caffyns said he plans to retire on July 31, 2016, but will continue in his present role until then.

The car dealer group, with showrooms in the South of England for brands including Volkswagen, Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover, will start the formal recruitment process to identify his successor with immediate effect.

Simon Caffyn, chief executive said: “Mark has been finance director of Caffyns since April 2000 and has played a hugely significant role in the company and has made an outstanding contribution to the business during that time.

“He will continue in his present position until he retires and we shall, in the meantime, identify a suitable successor.”

Since 2000 Caffyns turnover has gone from £143.4 million to £193.2m according to Companies House data. Operating profit has gone from a £0.3m loss in 2000 to a £3m gain in 2013.


Motability weekend a success for Melksham Mitsubishi

A Mitsubishi dealership in Wiltshire has held a tactical weekend to promote its vehicles’ suitability for the disabled.

Melksham Mitsubishi joined forces with Motability, an adaptions partner Specialised Vehicle Options (SVO), and the Westbury-based service and repair centre Mobility Works for a special weekend event at its showroom to raise awareness of mobility aids.

Marketing ensured the event brought in several prospects and led to some orders.

Sales manager James Ryan said: “This was the first time I’ve done an event of this type and it went very well. We did a couple of Motability sales on the Saturday and we’ve got a couple of people coming in because of the event, so there has definitely been a general increase in awareness.

“It was well worth doing and we’ll do it again next year.’

Customer John Stevens has placed an order for a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on the Motability scheme. He discussed with SVO the adaptations that he wanted done to the vehicle, namely, a wheelchair hoist and an electric driver’s seat.

During the first quarter of this year more than 2,500 Motability applications were received by UK Mitsubishi dealerships.

The Japanese brand has 24 models and derivatives available under the scheme.


Nick Hewitt resigns from the AA board

The AA has announced the immediate resignation from the board of its executive director Nick Hewitt for personal reasons.

Hewitt will continue as an employee of the company for several months to complete a number of key projects.

Bob Mackenzie, the AA’s executive chairman, said: “Nick Hewitt and I have worked together for many years. He worked assiduously on the MBI of the AA by means of an accelerated IPO in June 2014 and played a significant part in this successful transaction.

“Nick has decided to step down as a Director of the AA plc now we have entered the operational phase of our restructuring.

“He will continue to support us on several key projects over the next few months after which Nick intends to refocus on originating new transactions in the public and private markets.”

In January, Hewitt took a leave of absence from the organisation due to illness and was away for several months while receiving essential medical treatment.


Glass’s warns of turbulent times ahead for used van values

Glass’s Guide has warned of turbulent times ahead for the used van market with residual values coming under increased pressure.

It said manufacturers are achieving record new van sales through heavy discounting and other incentives and this will harm values of nearly new vehicles.

In the first half van sales rose 20% to 186,404 units, according to SMMT figures, which attributed the registrations to rising confidence.

“Vehicle manufacturers have honed in on the strength of the UK’s economy, determined to force-feed us with new vehicles of every type with this being driven by excessive levels of discounting and other incentives,” said Glass’s chief editor commercial vehicles George Alexander.

“As record registrations are announced for 2015 in the first weeks of 2016 the PR spin will attempt to make this all sound sustainable by trumpeting the good bits such as improved road safety and job generation.

“The truth is if supply and demand were kept in balance, we could expect to see far less volatility in LCV residual values, he said.

Alexander said “a great number of bad deals are still being struck” in the new commercial vehicle market to shift stock.

Glass’s also commented on the high volumes of stock at auction, with older vans prices under pressure.

“Across the auction scene, LCV numbers are standing uncomfortably high for the time of year.

“Interestingly, on-line auction business has remained steady and might be proving itself to be less prone to fluctuation than physical auctions.

“However, whatever the format, top money continues to be paid for anything with warranted low miles, higher horsepower and/or the best level of specification.

“A less encouraging trend is that, although still proving saleable, older stock is now drawing significantly less money,” he said.


Shortlist for 2015 Low Carbon Champions Awards published

The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) has published a shortlist of nominees for the 2015 Low Carbon Champions Awards.

The shortlisted organisations and projects reflect the UK’s continued progressive thinking in the area of low carbon transport, said LowCVP.

The awards, now in their fifth year, will be presented at the networking and awards dinner in Milton Keynes, in collaboration with the not-for-profit low carbon consultancy, Cenex. The event will take place on September, 9. Wednesday.

The awards celebrate outstanding and innovative practice in the UK, in accelerating the shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels: as well as reducing road transport emissions.

The LowCVP Low Carbon Champions Awards have received accreditation by the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA), enabling category winners to go forward to the European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE).

The awards encompass nine award catagories with an array of entrants including vehicle manufactuers, city coucils and SMEs.

LowCVP managing director Andy Eastlake said: “The record number of entries, as well as their quality and diversity,again show how the UK’s vibrant low carbon vehicle and fuel sector is leading innovation in clean transport.”


Consultation starts on living wage

The Association of Convenience Stores has urged the Low Pay Commission to fully consider the impact of the national living wage on local shops and other businesses after a consultation was published seeking views on the issue.

The Commission’s consultation asks for views on the future rate of the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage, although the National Living Wage rate of £7.20 per hour for 2016 has already been dictated by the Chancellor in the 2015 Budget.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We support the Low Pay Commission gathering and assessing evidence to set the minimum wage rate for under 25s, but this should be extended to setting the mandatory pay rates for all staff without pressure from Government to hit an arbitrary £9 per hour target by 2020. It is totally wrong that the independent commission have had their powers reduced so drastically, and that wage rates are now being set by the chancellor based on politics.

“We will play a full part in this consultation, setting out the devastating impact of the national living wage, which puts thousands of stores and jobs at risk in our sector, as well as undermining investment and leading to price increases. We need convenience retailers to tell us about the impact of the living wage on their business, in terms of staffing and investment decisions, so that we can make the best possible case to the Low Pay Commission.”

The consultation also sets out the intention to bring NLW and NMW recommendations into the same time frame – currently minimum wage recommendations are made in February, while the first living wage recommendation is due to be made in October 2016.

The consultation is due to run until September 25th.


Certas donates carrier bag money to charity

Certas Energy has donated £1,677 from the sale of plastic bags at its 21 company owned filling stations across mainland Scotland (during October 2014 to April 2015), to the Stroke Association in Scotland.

In October 2014, the Scottish Government took a stand against litter with the introduction of a 5p charge for all single use carrier bags. The initiative is an attempt to reduce the amount of litter produced in the country and make small incremental environmental improvements by lowering the number of carrier bags used by shoppers annually.

Since the introduction of the bag levy, Certas Energy has charged 5p for every new single use carrier bag purchased in its service station stores.

Scott Harris, business manager, Certas Energy, commented: “We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the number of bags customers are requesting as they are reusing bags to avoid the charge. We took the decision from the outset to donate any money generated to a charity and approached our employees to select one to receive the funds. We’ve deliberately chosen a charity that supports individuals in Scotland who have suffered from this debilitating affliction.

“Certas Energy’s approach is novel in that we openly notify customers where the funds will be donated, and we give our staff the option of nominating a charity which is often one that’s close to their heart. We will change the charity selected on an six-monthly basis, in-line with the financial year. The next charity to receive these funds will also be chosen by Certas Energy employees, most probably keeping the Scottish theme.”

Kirsty Scott, the Stroke Association community and events fundraising manager in Scotland, said: “In Scotland one in six of us will have a stroke. Around a quarter of strokes in Scotland happen to people of working age or children and over half of people affected by stroke are left with a disability. We are delighted with this generous donation from Certas Energy and would like to thank all Certas employees who decided to support a cause and a charity that relies on help like this. All the funds we receive will be used to help people affected by stroke in Scotland.”

All retailers in Scotland, regardless of type or size, are required to apply the carrier bag charge. The Government openly encourages businesses to contribute the net proceeds from the bag charge to charitable good causes from sales to charity, but there is no obligation for retailers to do so.

The introduction of the bag charge follows the successful implementation of similar legislation in Wales and Northern Ireland.


Retailers urged to act over Sunday proposals

Retail industry bodies the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) have called on members to write to their MPs explaining the negative impact that proposed changes to Sunday Trading regulations could have on their business.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The existing Sunday Trading regulations are a small but crucial advantage for thousands of convenience stores who are operating on very tight margins, many of which are on the edge of profitability. It is essential that retailers outline the damage that removing Sunday Trading rules could have on their business by writing to their local MP and asking them to raise the issue with the Prime Minister.”

NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter commented: “We are disappointed that the government feels these changes are necessary, however we will not accept them willingly. Our aim is to engage as many small retailers as possible and that’s why we are urging them to take action. It is crucial that retailers let their MP know how much of an impact changes to Sunday Trading hours will have on their business, we cannot let them go blindly into this most important of decisions.”

In the Budget, the Chancellor outlined plans to devolve the power to allow large shops to open at any time on a Sunday to local authorities, promising that more details would be revealed in a consultation on the issue. However, this consultation is yet to be published despite being initially scheduled for release two weeks ago.

A template letter is available for retailers to download from the ACS website. Retailers are also encouraged to write their own letters, detailing their personal experience of the importance of Sunday Trading rules.

The proposed change would only apply to England and Wales, as there are no restrictions in Scotland.


Sainsbury’s voted UK favourite petrol retailer

Sainsbury’s has become the UK’s preferred petrol retailer with 52% of those surveyed choosing it for its exceptional service and experience, according to an independent study by consumer intelligence firm, Market Force Information.

A survey of 5,900 consumers in June 2015 asked participants to evaluate petrol-retailers on the experience delivered, including price, service, brand image, and value added services such as food and coffee shops.

For the rankings, Market Force Information asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent petrol retailer and their likelihood to refer that petrol retailer to others. The results were averaged to rank each brand on a Composite Loyalty Index.

Overall, consumers rated supermarkets as providing a better experience than traditional petrol brands, with loyalty cards being a primary driver for that preference. Tesco’s loyalty programme provides the most pull, followed closely by Sainsbury’s (58% and 57% respectively). Sainsbury’s took either first or second place in five of the nine attributes measured, and the traditional petrol brand Shell took the lead in fuel quality and brand reputation followed closely by BP.

BP (including its partnership sites with M&S Simply Food) also led the way for fresh food and good coffee. Asda received the best ratings for price with Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons coming in as distant seconds.

Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force Information, said: “We found that one in six consumers were dissatisfied with their most recent fueling experience,” said. With the plethora of options available to motorists, it’s difficult for brands to differentiate. To be competitive, brands must deliver on core customer expectations like a competitive fuel price, good fuel quality and ease of getting in and out of the location. In addition, they have opportunities to differentiate on service, site maintenance and overall image. Attention to these will lure customers over and over again.”

The survey also found that fuel-related mobile apps are gaining in popularity among motorists, particularly those on the hunt for low-priced fuel. Five per cent of participants said they have used a fuel-related app. When asked which features they have used within the app, finding a location and comparing fuel prices came out on top.


Perrys nominated for two digital awards

Perrys have been nominated for Best Use of Video and Best Automotive Campaign at The 2015 Drum Awards for the Digital Industries – known as the DADI Awards.

After the group’s successes in the past 12 months at numerous automotive industry award ceremonies, Perrys have been recognised by The Drum for the website and their innovative video strategy.

The judges said Perrys stood out among the nominees, and are the only in-house team to make the shortlist for both categories. They are the only automotive brand in the entire Use of Video Award category, and will be up against some of the world’s biggest digital agencies that represent major brands such as Topman, YouTube, The National Lottery, Gillette and Samsung.

In the Best Automotive Campaign Award, Perrys are the only dealer group in a category full of manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Audi UK, Fiat, Renault and Citroen.

Lee Manning, Perrys’ digital marketing manager, said: ‘It is fantastic to be nominated for such a prestigious industry awards event. To be up against some of the largest brands in the world is a brilliant achievement, showing just how far Perrys has grown in the past 12 months.

‘Our video content is integral to our digital marketing strategy, where we aim to give our users the most helpful and trustworthy experience throughout their entire car-buying process.

‘We’ve not only worked hard on our website to provide our customers with a better user experience online, but to also enhance their journey from online to offline.

‘All our dealership staff have been key to achieving this and have been fantastic in supporting the digital changes we’ve made.’

Perrys were a double winner at the Car Dealer Used Car Awards, taking top spot in the best use of social media award as well as the best used-car dealership group.


Dealers facing ‘imminent HMRC crackdown’ over demonstrators

POOR record keeping on employees’ use of demonstrators and courtesy vehicles could see dealers facing stiff fines from the HM Revenue & Customs.

That’s the warning from Dean Pipitone of Cooper Solutions, who believes up to 80 per cent of dealers could be failing to keep sufficient records of employees’ vehicle use.

Known as the ‘averaging’ scheme in the trade, the rules for calculating benefit in kind (BiK) tax rates for staff using multiple company vehicles were introduced six years ago. Since that time, dealers have been left to record staff use of company vehicles, ensuring they drive cars only within or below their designated tax banding.

Cooper Solutions, the web-based dealer systems specialist, says it has relationships with more than 1,600 dealers nationwide, and has undertaken soundings to assess the level of non-compliance across the industry.

Cooper Solutions is working closely with national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young, which understands HMRC is ready to undertake detailed audits of motor dealers’ records. Although liability technically rests with the employee concerned, in practice it is often the employers who administer the scheme who will also be liable.

HMRC’s company car averaging scheme was introduced in spring 2009 to simplify the way car dealerships with company car fleets account for the BiK charge by allowing firms to calculate the employee benefit on a band average basis. However, UHY Hacker Young says that, six years on, HMRC is now targeting its attention on this area, as various HMRC enquiries have been made to the automotive sector.

Matt Hodgson, partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: ‘While vehicle banding is an important administrative discipline for dealers to satisfy, it’s also a key demonstration of their duty of care towards employees. Should a revenue inspection end with a prosecution, the dealer and staff members affected could be liable.’

Pipitone said: ‘HMRC will take a tough stance if they find dealers have not been following correct procedures. They will also be looking for proof that the use of performance or high-end luxury static demonstrators have been accounted for correctly.’

One of the big headaches facing dealers is the capture and management of information relating to staff’ vehicle use. According to Pipitone, there are solutions available. He said: ‘Adopting a real-time solution to driver and vehicle record-keeping indicates your dealership has instilled a robust process designed to comply with these requirements and avoid potential exposure to significant financial penalties.’

Cooper Solutions is advising dealers to ensure they have a robust data capture system and policy in place outlining how they have designed and implemented the scheme.

Pipitone adds: ‘The issue of averaging has become a ticking time bomb for dealers – and those without auditable records of vehicle use are open to time-consuming and potentially-costly scrutiny from the HMRC. There’s still time for dealers to address this issue, but time is running out. We believe where revenue inspections are concerned, it’s not a question of “if” but “when”.’

Several dealers, though, have already adopted steps to pre-empt a potential HMRC visit. Stephanie Bostock, financial controller of Sandicliffe, said: ‘We decided to install Coopers Solutions’ FullCompliance software so all company-car users could log in and update as they went along.

‘This has been a great success and it has cut down a lot of the old-fashioned number crunching needed to comply with HMRC. In addition, we have saved considerable time working out personal mileages for reimbursement of expenses.’


Burglars raid dealership – right next to a police station…

DEALERS have often complained that their forecourts are a common target for thieves. So if you have a dealership, you’d have thought the ideal site is right next to a police station.

Apparently not.

Burglars waited until the early hours before breaking into Five Star of Formby dealership and stealing four cars worth £26,000, as well as the keys to another 20 vehicles.

And the dealership’s neighbour is the Formby police station. This image from Google Maps shows just how close they are…

But that certainly didn’t put off the burglars. They also strolled across the road and raided the newsagents opposite, too.

The four cars taken were:

A black Mercedes C180 (KR55 CKE),

A black Land Rover Discovery (FH54 YCK),

A silver BMW 5 Series (BD61 HWF), and

A silver Audi TT (Y611 KDM).

The police station was closed at the time, but patrol cars parked outside at all hours of the day and night.

Owner Alan Gabrielson told the Liverpool Echo it would cost about £2,000 to change the locks on the 20 cars. The thieves also took ‘a beautiful framed photograph of Everton captain Phil Jagielka,’ he said.

He said he didn’t believe the cars would be sold. ‘Our fear is the cars are bound for a chop shop to be sold on as parts,’ he said.

Police said an investigation was under way.

A police spokesman told the Echo: “It is believed the vehicles were taken sometime between 6.30pm on Wednesday, July 29 and 8.50am on Thursday, July 30. An investigation into the matter is on-going and a forensic examination of the scene has taken place. CCTV opportunities are being explored.’


Honda quarterly profit rises 20% as U.S. sales, weak yen offset quality costs

Honda Motor Co. said today its quarterly net profit jumped 20 percent as strong sales in the U.S. and a weak yen helped it absorb the impact of higher quality-related costs.

Between April and June, net profit at Japan’s third-biggest automaker rose to 186 billion yen ($1.5 billion), from 155.6 billion yen a year earlier. Honda reported the first-quarter results under international accounting standards for the first time.

Like other Japanese automakers, Honda has benefited from the cheaper yen, which boosts the value of repatriated earnings.

Honda is still absorbing large quality-related costs as it continues to recall cars equipped with airbag parts made by supplier Takata Corp. The automaker has recalled tens of millions of cars globally since 2008 to replace potentially faulty inflators, including almost 5 million vehicles just two months ago.

Regulators have linked eight deaths – all on Honda’s cars – to Takata’s inflators, which can explode with too much force and send metal fragments inside the vehicle. Honda, which didn’t break out details of quality-related costs for the first quarter, restated its earnings for last year to reflect additional costs for the expanded recalls.

Honda said global car sales rose 4.9 percent to 1.14 million.

Sales in North America advanced 11 percent in the first quarter, driven by increased production of its popular HR-V compact SUV at its new plant in Mexico. The U.S. market – its biggest – has been buoyant, with a range of automakers reporting higher sales there.

Meanwhile, car sales in Asia jumped 19 percent, thanks partly to a strong performance in China helped by the refreshed Vezel SUV and other models. The gains in Asia and North America more than cancelled out a 27 percent drop in Japan and a 16 percent decline in Europe.

Honda left its financial forecast unchanged for the year ending March 2016, calling for a modest 3.1 percent rise in net profit to 525 billion yen.


Norton motorcycles win huge government windfall

Government fund offers bright future for Norton Motorcycles

Motorcycle manufacturer, Norton, looks set to benefit from George Osborne led initiative aimed at fortifying advanced British industries.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne yesterday (28 July) announced Norton Motorcycles would receive £4 million in funding as part of the government’s new Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI).

Osborne visited Norton’s headquarters, based at Donington Hall to reveal a grant which is projected to create 600 new jobs for the British firm and its 11 industrial partners. The AMSCI fund, which is aimed at improving the UK’s global competitiveness in advanced manufacturing supply chains, will also contribute towards the genesis of a British Motorcycle Manufacturing Academy (BMMA) to foster the next generation of engineering talent.

Norton chief executive, Stuart Garner, lauded the investment saying: “Training and skills are key to our industry. Putting down a dedicated Academy for the British motorcycle industry finally gives us a sustainable future”.

Of the new jobs, 159 are direct employment at Norton Motorcycles, with the company expected to expand to 600 across Norton and its partners, including 200 apprentices over five years.

The Chancellor hailed the move as part of a broader economic package designed to back “successful British brands like Norton” and rejuvenate industry in the Midlands.

In an attempt to encourage world-class industrial standards, the money will also go toward a new 10,000 square feet manufacturing facility, as well as research and development that hopes to yield a new green motorcycle within two years.


Honda in huge recall over fire worry concerns

American Honda has issued a recall of 45,000 motorbikes due to fears surrounding a faulty starter relay switch, with speculation the recall could also soon be issued across Europe.

The issue is thought to emanate from an incorrectly applied sealant to the starter relay switch, which results in a loss of power in the electrical system, provoking stalling, as well as a heightened crash risk and potential for fire.

The affected models are the CB500, CBR500, CRF250L, CBR650, CTX700, NSS300, VT750, VT1300, 2015 CB300F, CBR300, CBR600, and NC700.

Honda is set to notify customers of troubled bikes and will provide complimentary replacement starter relay switches. The recall, although not currently extended to the UK, is thought to possibly be confined to Germany and the US. Nevertheless, if you own an affected model, it is advised you seek out your nearest Honda dealership.

American Honda is yet to provide a notification schedule to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).


Plane crashes into Blackbushe Airport car warehouse

British Car Auctions in Farnham said the plane crashed into its warehouse

A private plane has crashed into a car auction warehouse at Blackbushe Airport.

Hampshire Police said officers were called to the scene in Yateley at 15:09 BST.

Ambulance and fire crews are also in attendance, police said.

British Car Auctions in Farnham said the plane crashed into its warehouse, which was evacuated. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said it was aware and making inquiries.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 31/07/2015