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Daily News Round UpBack

NFDA holds dealer workshop on new Consumer Rights Act

NFDA Grey logo April 2012

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) is holding a Consumer Rights Act workshop on Friday 11 September.

The workshop comes ahead of the new act coming into force on 1 October. The NFDA represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK.

The event, which is being held at the Hilton Hotel Warwick, will be an opportunity for dealers to gain a valuable insight into the new act which is due to have a major impact on businesses, and the way in which consumers will be given significant new rights when buying goods and services.

Sue Robinson, NFDA director said: “The Consumer Rights Act is the biggest change to consumer legislation for many years and although it combines much of the existing legislation into one place, it does add significant changes that you as a dealer will need to be aware of.

“Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and the issue of satisfactory quality are just a few of the topics that we will be discussing at the workshop.”

Guest speakers on the day will include Miles Trower from TLT Solicitors, who will be giving a presentation on what the legislation means for dealers and Julian Mason from the National Conciliation Service (NCS), who will be giving a briefing on ADR.


Newbury car dealer to appeal against £24,000 fine

Newbury car dealer Daniel Stokesberry is set to appeal against his £24,000 fine for selling unroadworthy cars.

Daniel Stokesberry, who traded as 3D Car Sales in Bone Lane, was fined nearly £24,000 by magistrates after admitting five counts of exposing unroadworthy vehicles for sale and also two counts of breaching consumer protection regulations.

Stokesberry is now appealing against the sentence, stating on court documents that he feels the punishment was “massively excessive”.A hearing at Reading Crown Court is planned for August 26.

Stokesberry’s operation came to light after an investigation by trading standards officers revealed that the dealer had a number of vehicles for sale that were not fit for the road, including two cars with tyres below the legal limit and two vehicles with excessive tinting.


Four killed as plane crashes into BCA Blackbushe site

A private jet crashed into the compound of BCA’s Blackbushe motor auction on Friday, killing four people.

The Saudi-registered jet was attempting to land at neighbouring Blackbushe Airport but overshot and exploded as it hit BCA’s compound, killing the four people on board and destroying a number of cars being stored.

Staff and customers at the BCA site were evacuated from the area while emergency services brought the resultant fire under control.

The four dead were the pilot and three members of a family, which media reports suggest may have been linked to the Bin Laden family.

At least 20 cars in the compound are believed to have been destroyed by the fire, and at least one BCA employee was treated for shock.

A police and Air Accident Investigation Bureau inquiry is under way.


Large jump in fleet car disposals, reports Epyx

Epyx is reporting a 40% year-on-year volume increase for its 1link Disposal Network e-commerce platform.

The rise has been largely prompted by fleets and manufacturers using the product to manage and control the flow of stock onto the used market as pressure has increased on residual values, said David Goodyear, head of business development.

He said: “There is a high level of awareness that ex-fleet stock, whether coming from leasing companies or manufacturers, could potentially underperform as general supply continues to improve.

“However, there is also a determination to offset this effect as much as possible by using the technology available to gather information and control how and where stock is sold.

“As a strategy, this does work, with disposal through the platform beating the overall market by an average of 2% so far in 2015.”

The 1link Disposal Network is used by major fleets to manage online the selling of defleet stock to traders and dealers through a wide variety of channels including online and auctions.


Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz buy Here digital mapping business from Nokia

Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have struck a deal with Nokia to acquire its mapping and location services business Here for £1.9 billion.

The acquisition is intended to secure the long term availability of Here’s products and services as an open, independent and value creating platform for cloud-based maps and other mobility services accessible to all customers from the automotive industry and other sectors.

The three partners will each hold an equal stake in Here, but it has been agreed that none of them will seek to acquire a majority interest.

Subject to the approval of the relevant antitrust authorities, the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016.

“High-precision digital maps are a crucial component of the mobility of the future,” said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG.

“With the joint acquisition of Here, we want to secure the independence of this central service for all vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and customers in other industries.”

Here is laying the foundations for the next generation of mobility and location based services.

For the automotive industry this is the basis for new assistance systems and ultimately fully autonomous driving.

Extremely precise digital maps will be used in combination with real-time vehicle data in order to increase road safety and to facilitate innovative new products and services.

On the basis of the shared raw data, all automobile manufacturers can offer their customers differentiated and brand-specific services.

“Our environment is constantly changing. That’s why the information in digital maps has to be continually updated so that maximum utility can be offered,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of the board of management of Audi AG.

“The high-precision cameras and sensors installed in modern cars are the digital eyes for updating mobility data and maps; in this way, information such as speed limits or critical driving situations are already recognized today.”

All data gained will be processed in compliance with strict data-protection rules.

Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG, said: “Here will play a key role in the digital revolution of mobility, combining high definition maps and data from vehicles to make travel safer and easier for everyone. This knowledge will be to the benefit of all carmakers and their customers.”

High-precision maps are important for autonomous driving and many other forms of assistance systems, as these technologies require an up-to-date plan of a vehicle’s surroundings exact to the nearest centimetre, in order to react in real time.

While Here already produces extremely precise static maps, they can be verified more exactly and continually updated with a constant flow of data from vehicles’ surroundings.

Here provides mapping and location intelligence for nearly 200 countries in more than 50 languages and is one of the main providers of mapping and location services.

The company will continue to develop its position as a strong and independent provider of maps and location-based services, will expand its product offering and continue to make it available to all customers across industries.

The management of Here will continue to be independent – with the goal of moving the Here business case forward as a platform, open to all customers. The consortium says it will not interfere into operational business.


‘Green truck fund’ called for by FTA

The FTA is calling for a ‘green truck fund’ to help operators adopt environmental technologies.

The call has come following the release of the latest figures from the Government’s Low Carbon Truck Trial.

The association said the fund would support operators in adopting alternative fuels and low carbon technologies, to reduce carbon emissions and air pollutants.

It said the high costs of vehicle conversions or purchasing ultra-low emission vehicles, plus a lack of public refuelling infrastructure are significant barriers to putting greener trucks on the road.

Rachael Dillon, th FTA’s climate change policy manager, said: “The majority of funding to date has been allocated towards cars and vans.

“If the Government is serious about supporting green vehicles, it must ensure that freight receives a fair share of funding particularly given its key role in delivering the goods and services vital for the UK economy.”

She added: “Based on the results to date from this trial, we would urge the OLEV, which is providing an overall £500 million funding package for ultra-low emission vehicles (2015-2020) to seriously consider a ‘green truck fund’ to enable more operators to utilise alternative fuels and low carbon technologies when the current trial ends in 2016.”


DVLA unlikely to meet other licence check requests after lengthening code lifespan

The decision to extend the licence check code’s lifespan from 72 hours to 21 days has been described as a “victory for common sense”.

However, several other recommended changes to the DVLA driving licence-checking service look less likely to succeed.

The authority’s online licence checking service was officially launched on June 8, when the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence was abolished.

Fleets can now view up-to-date driving licence information using the DVLA’s Share Driving Licence service, which is accessible via the View Driving Licence website.

To share their details, motorists must generate a code, which can then be redeemed just once by a third party.

Dudley Ashford, drivers’ services manager at the DVLA, told Fleet News: “For some, the 72-hour validity period is not long enough, particularly for those who may need it when travelling. That is why we have extended the validity period to 21 days.

“We originally set the validity of the check code to 72 hours to provide a balance between the practicalities for those who need the code and minimising the risk of unauthorised access to potentially personal data.

“Security is maintained as the code can be cancelled at any time, putting the user in control of when their record can be accessed and by whom.”

Critically, each code can still only be used once, maintaining privacy.

The move has been welcomed by the RAC and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).

RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “This is a dramatic U-turn from the DVLA which feels very much like a victory for common sense.

“The move to three weeks is sensible as it provides sufficient flexibility for people hiring a car in the second or third week of a holiday or business trip.”

Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA, continued: “We’re pleased that the DVLA has listened to industry feedback that the code lifespan was too short.”

However, the BVRLA is calling on the DVLA to make other changes that it says would benefit fleets.

“We think that the DVLA should extend the opening hours of its call centre, because not all renters have access to the internet,” said Keaney.

“The agency should also waive the cost of the premium line telephone service that is used to check endorsements when motorists turn up without a code.”

The BVRLA also thinks that the DVLA could make it easier for people to access the website by being more flexible on the ID required, using a passport number rather than a national insurance (NI) number, for example.

The DVLA said that not everyone holds a passport, but everyone is issued with a NI number when they get to 16 years of age. It is, however, looking to introduce Verify as the authentication means for View Driving Licence in the future.

“As for the premium rate line, this is something that we set up many years ago in response to calls from the car hire industry,” said Ashford.

“They wanted a facility that would allow them to check a driver’s details if they forgot or didn’t have the paper counterpart.

“At their request, we’ve kept the service since we got rid of the counterpart to help them carry on their business if a driver can’t go online and needs to generate a code.

“We know that the average cost of this service to car hire companies is less than £1, but we also know that car hire companies can charge customers significantly more than that for using the service.”

The telephone enquiry line is available from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm on Saturdays.

Ashford concluded: “Our experience is that these times can cover the vast majority of enquiries. And, while we’re not currently considering extending opening hours, as always we’ll keep this under review.”


Black Horse boosts lending by 33% in first half

Black Horse increased year on year net lending growth by 33% to £8bn in the first half of 2015.

As part of the Lloyds Banking Group it added 155,000 new customers across its motor, bike and leisure business during the first half.

It has also continued to invest heavily in its digital offer, launching Halifax Car Plan Extra secured online car finance.

The service is being offered with rates as low as 3.6% APR on deals between £3,000 and £60,000.

The Lloyds move is part of a growing trend in banking to use digital tools to boost business.

In its half year report, group chief executive António Horta-Osório, said: “We are adapting to the digital revolution and today we have more than 11 million online users and nearly 6 million mobile users.

“This provides significant opportunities for serving our customers in new and more efficient ways.

“Earlier this year we launched our Halifax Motor Finance offer, the market’s first direct-to-consumer secured car finance proposition, providing a simple hire purchase and personal contract purchase offering via our digital channels.”

Richard Jones, managing director, Black Horse said: “We are very proud of these results, delivered during a period of substantial change for the market.

“Our progress has been driven by new business growth and working hard with dealers and manufacturers to offer competitively-priced and transparent finance offers for consumers.

“A significant digital investment drive also ensures that we meet changing dealer and customers’ needs in an efficient and secure manner.”

Jones said the group had worked over the past 18 months to put the right processes in place to deal with the new changes in selling finance.


European alternative fuel vehicle registrations up by 17.4% in Q2

Alternative fuel vehicle registrations in Europe increased by 17.4% to 143,595 units in the second quarter of 2015, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association has said.

Electric vehicle registrations increased by 53.0%, rising from 18,024 units in Q2 2014 to 27,575 units in Q2 2015, while demand for hybrid vehicles increased by 22.6% totaling 53,443 units.

ACEA said the UK saw the largest increase in AFV registrations during the quarter (+ 64.2%), followed by France and Spain


Spain fines GM, Ford, other automakers for anti-competitive practices

Spain’s CNMC competition authority fined 21 automakers and two consultancy firms 171 million euros for anti-competitive practices.

The biggest individual fines were 22.8 million euros for General Motors and 20.2 million euros for Ford Motor. French carmakers received the next highest penalties with Renault fined 18.2 million, Peugeot 15.7 million and Citroen 14.8 million.

CNMC said that the automakers acted like a cartel by exchanging sensitive details relating to car sales, repairs, maintenance activities and car parts. Information exchanged included details of price incentives to avoid a discounting war for new-car sales, according to Spanish media reports.

This is the biggest fine imposed by the CNMC, which began a series of investigations into Spain’s motor trade in 2013. To date these have involved 124 companies. Last March CNMC fined 45 Toyota, Hyundai and Opel dealers for setting up a price cartel in Madrid and Galicia. It has recently launched an investigation into Volvo dealers.

The carmakers have two months in which to lodge an appeal against the finding and the fines. CNMC imposed the fines based on the annual revenue of the companies and the seriousness of their anti-competitive practices.

VW, Seat escape sanction

Volkswagen and its subsidiaries, including its Spanish brand, Seat, will not be fined because of the help they gave to the investigation.

The investigation began following a joint complaint by Seat and Volkswagen. Although a participant in the activities now deemed anti competitive, Seat identified the issue in the first place and helped the competition authority to find proof of collusion. Had it been fined, Seat would have faced a penalty of 39.44 million euros.


Alfa Romeo completes prep work on new SUV

Alfa Romeo has finished preparation work on its first SUV and the model is on track to launch next year.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Alfa parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said the sporty brand’s second new model after the Giulia midsize sedan will go into production at the end of the first half or beginning of the second half of 2016.

“All the preparation work” in connection with the launch of the second Alfa is done, Marchionne told analysts on a conference call Thursday to discuss Fiat Chrysler’s second-quarter results. “Alfa’s plan is progressing as we told you it will go,” he said.

Marchionne did not say on the call what type of vehicle the second model is, but supplier sources say it will be a midsize SUV, code-named project 949, that will be a rival to the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

The SUV will be based on the Giulia sedan, the sources said. Its European sales launch likely will be in September or October in 2016 with a U.S. launch following about three months later.

Marchionne said Alfa has already spent almost 2 billion euros of the 5 billion euros allocated by Fiat Chrysler for the brand’s revival. The money has been used to develop the Giorgio rear-wheel-drive platform used by the Giulia, as well as its powertrains and on production startup costs.

Fiat Chrysler Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer confirmed that the Giulia will enter production in the fourth quarter. The sedan was unveiled to selected journalists in June and will have its public debut at the Frankfurt auto show next month.


Subaru says suppliers have been told to treat workers fairly

Fuji Heavy Industries (7270.T), the parent company of automaker Subaru, has told its network of suppliers that it expects them to treat workers fairly and to uphold “human rights and international standards of behaviour.”

“Fuji Heavy Industries does not condone the exploitation of any class of worker, either in its own operations or within its supply chain,” the company said in a statement released on Friday by its U.S. marketing and sales affiliate, Subaru of America.

“Our supply chain network has been made aware of our policy and expectations,” it said.

The Subaru statement came in response to a Reuters investigation of factory conditions at Subaru and its suppliers in Japan published last week. The report found widespread employment of asylum seekers and other cheap foreign labourers from Africa and Asia.

Those workers complained of working conditions that included lower wages than Japanese labourers doing equivalent work, a lack of safeguards and abuses at the hands of labour brokers who charge up to a third of their wages to place them in Subaru-related jobs, Reuters found.

Fuji Heavy said it “expects all employees to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect and to be provided with appropriate workplace protections.” It said its policies called for respect for “human rights and international standards of behaviour and the ethical standards of our stakeholders.”


Posted by Lois Hardy on 03/08/2015