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Daily News Round UpBack

IGA introduce diagnostic specialist accreditation

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IGA’s Technical Committee keeps independent garages ‘up to speed’ with advances in automotive technology

A new Technical Committee focused on the future of automotive technology has created a new Diagnostic Specialist accreditation.

The committee, which was set up by the IGA, is formed of independent garages who work on the cutting edge of vehicle technology, testing the latest multi-brand diagnostic tools and assessing manufacturer websites using Pass-Thru, looking at the problems of today to seek the solutions for tomorrow.

They will be the first UK garages accredited for manufacturer security information under SERMI.

The accreditation will recognise the diagnostic capability of a garage and will act as proof that they have the ability to communicate with newer cars.

As the award will be from a trade body with no commercial interests, it will also help fleets know which independents are able to service their work.

The award will be available early next year and will be available to members who have:

· Completed all IGA training courses

· Been security accredited by RMISC under SERMI

· Undertaken software updates using Pass-Thru

· Updates electronic service records

· Trust My Garage membership

· Audited by IGA

Source: garagewire.co.uk

Jump in sales and profits at UK’s top car dealer Pendragon

Pendragon has achieved a 17% rise in operating profit year-on-year in the first half of 2015, while revenues have grown by 10.7%.

The UK’s largest car dealer group reports that turnover for the period stood at £2.29 billion from £2.07bn in the first half of 2014.

Operating profit was up to £56.3 million from £48.1m. Underlying profit before tax was at £40.3m, a 22.9% rise on the £32.8m of H1 2014.

Gross margin declined from 12.9% to 12.4%, but operating margin strengthened from 2.3% to 2.5%.

Pendragon’s anticipated trading result for the full year is “comfortably ahead of expectations,” said the company, which retails cars and commercial vehicles under Stratstone, Evans Halshaw, Chatfields and Quicks brands.

Trevor Finn, Pendragon chief executive, said: “Our business continues to perform strongly across all sectors, owing to a combination of our strategy, market leading initiatives and favourable market conditions.

“We continue to be excited by the initiatives launched last year, ‘Sell Your Car’ and ‘Move Me Closer’, which appeal to customers from our key brands of Evanshalshaw.com and Stratstone.com.

“ We plan to expand our footprint, by adding sites particularly in areas where we have no representation, which will provide further convenience to our customers.

“The group has had an encouraging start to the year and our anticipated outturn for the full year is comfortably ahead of expectations.”

Highlights from trading include a record used vehicle performance with an 8.3% rise in gross profitability and revenues up 11.8%, a 6.7% lift in aftersales gross profit and revenues up 5%, and a 11.3% jump in new vehicle gross profit with revenues 16.5% up.

Visits to its Evanshalshaw.com and Stratstone.com websites increased by 3.1 million (+39.7%), from 7.8 million to 10.9 million, as the group has invested in TV advertising to promote its Sell Your Car and Move Me Closer market initiatives.

The group’s net debt was £53.1 million at June 30, 2015, a reduction of £55.7 million from December 31, 2014. Within the period Pendragon received proceeds of £22.4 million with respect to the disposal of the King Arthur Property S.a.r.L property investment of £10.0 million.

“As a consequence of this lower debt level and strong EBITDA performance, the debt : underlying EBITDA ratio has reduced from 0.8 at 31 December 2014 to 0.4 at 30 June 2015 and remains below our target range of 1.0 to 1.5.

“This reflects the appropriate balance of capital efficiency and growth potential, providing both a strong balance sheet and, with our strong cashflow generation and realisations from low performing assets, the ability to invest for the future,” said Pendragon.

Source: am-online.com

Company car drivers shunning responsibility for car maintenance

Only 42% of company car drivers see maintenance of their vehicle as their own responsibility, according to a survey by Venson.

58% of company car drivers think it’s their employer’s responsibility to get the car serviced at the appropriate times, even though the employee is accountable.

The leasing company says fleet managers need to ensure their drivers know exactly what needs reporting and where responsibilities lie, in order to stay in control of their costs.

When asked if they undertake any vehicle maintenance, company car drivers are least likely to top up water coolants (52%) with only 53% checking oil levels. 66% check their tyre pressures and inflate if necessary.

Almost one in three drivers (28%) ignore warning lights on the dashboard.

Gil Kelly, operations director at Venson said: “Only 42% of the company car drivers we surveyed see maintenance as their responsibility, which could see fleet managers facing hefty charges at the end of the vehicle’s lease. This could be avoided if fleet managers, with the support of their fleet provider, communicate about service and maintenance responsibilities, not only at the time of handing over the keys of the car to an employee, but throughout the term of the lease to reduce wear and tear costs.

“In addition, by encouraging regular maintenance checks, businesses can identify issues early. This should include pre-collection inspections, prior to the end of a contract, to allow any damage to be identified and rectified. Fleet managers could also consider implementing a policy whereby company car drivers are fined as a result of issues not being reported, and result in unnecessary costs being incurred by the business for persistent offenders.

“We also advise firms to ensure their fleet provider has provided a clearly defined end of contract damage process so it is transparent what is acceptable. There should also be room for a firm to challenge their fleet provider about the cost breakdown, to ensure there are no hidden charges. By going into a lease with a clear understanding of the procedures regarding damage and making them clear to their drivers, businesses can stay on top of damage and/or maintenance issues, as they happen.”

Source: am-online.com

CAP warns used car trade values about to come under pressure

Used car prices may be under pressure from the end of August, according to valuation experts at CAP.

However, CAP says steady consumer demand has kept the wholesale vehicle market fairly buoyant and dealers are keen to keep their forecourts stocked up.

With volumes in the used car market high, and ahead of the same time last year, values in general edged down in Black Book Live during July, but only resulting in a month-end drop of 1.2% at the 3-year, 60,000 mile mark.

Derren Martin, senior editor, CAP Black Book said: “Depreciation over the last two months has been slightly lower than anticipated. So, will the market catch-up with where many expected it to be?

“We have reported many dealers are seeing margin compression. When accounting for high volumes in the used car market, and a likely increase in the long-term, there is the potential for some pressure on trade prices.

“August is likely to lead to a small drop off in consumer footfall, so the supply and demand balance may promote further price erosion. Longer term, there could be added pressure with a new registration plate looming, resulting in more fleet returns and retail part-exchanges.”

Of the main volume sectors, SUVs were the hardest hit, due to large volumes in the market and partly the time of year. The Nissan Juke and Skoda Yeti saw values drop in July due to high volumes in this ever-growing SUV sector – which has seen 125% increases in used car sold volumes over the last five years – is likely to remain under pressure in the long term, according to CAP.

Upper medium, or “D” Sector cars fared slightly better than the average in July and this could be due to stable volumes in the used car market. Used car sales volumes in this sector are down 2% since 2010. Values of common ex-company cars such as diesel variants of the non-current BMW 3 Series, Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia all stayed level in July, showing they remain a popular choice for the used car buyer, and represent good value when priced against many of the SUVs.

Values of convertibles declined in July, particularly from the middle of the month onwards. The worst affected were those cars that appeared in higher volumes, such as the previous version of the Audi A3 Convertible and the current Volkswagen Golf Convertible.

The pace of convertible depreciation has steadily increased over the past three months in Black Book Live, moving from just 0.2% during May, to 0.8% in June and then 1.6% in July. The window of opportunity is rapidly closing for these cars, if a dealer is looking to buy wholesale in August, by the time the car is prepared and on the forecourt, summer will more than likely have passed.

“We are entering an interesting few months for the used car market. At this time last year, contract hire and leasing companies reported a drop off in their sales. What followed later in the year was high supply and low demand and this led to not insignificant pricing realignments. Black Book Live reported these movements on a daily basis last year, keeping subscribers updated real-time. Whatever happens over the next few months, CAP will be analysing the sold data real-time and moving any values accordingly,” added Mr Martin.

CAP has reported a positive response from the market to its “little and often” movements that reflect changes as they happen. This is seen infinitely more accurate than large monthly value drops.

Source: am-online.com

99% say they would ignore a car alarm

The car alarm is possibly the most ignored sound in Britain, with 99% of drivers and householders saying they wouldn’t go to investigate if they heard one sounding, research suggests.

A survey by Flexed.co.uk has found that the constant beep of a vehicle alarm tops the list of late-night annoyances in suburban living.

The car leasing company has instead turned to drivers and householders to come up with alternative sounds for car alarms that deter criminals and get people coming to investigate.

“It’s one of those facts of life that nobody does anything about a late-night car alarm,” said Mark Hall from Flexed.co.uk.

“You might get the odd twitch of a curtain, but the huge majority think it’s somebody else’s problem, even if the horn doesn’t stop for several hours.

“We end up with a ‘boy who cried wolf’ thing. Genuine thefts go unnoticed simply because there have been so many false alarms.”

Flexed.co.uk asked 3,000 people whether they would investigate a car alarm at certain times and locations. The results showed a huge apathy toward the unrelenting horns, whistles and sirens:

In a public car park: 98% said ‘no’

In their street at night: 99% said ‘no’

In their work car park: only 5% said ‘yes’

At home, and they knew it was their own car: Only 26% said they’d go and look

“Most people now consider the sound of a vehicle alarm to be a false alarm,” said Hall, “and even most owners say their most likely reaction would be to reset the device using the remote control and go back to bed.”

Hall puts this lack of reaction down to the simple fact that car technology has moved on in recent years.

Most cars now have immobilisers, which mean alarms are only set off by vandalism or break-ins. “Or, as some cynics might suggest, a leaf falling off a tree two streets away,” said Hall.

What would get people paying attention to car crime would be if alarms made a more natural noise that would prompt people to investigate.

Flexed asked the same 3,000 people what sounds would improve vehicle alarms enough for them to be taken more seriously. Some, we think, would be more effective than others:

Baby crying

Sound of a police siren

Dog barking

Ice cream van jingle

Heavy metal guitar

Classic FM (“It keeps me out of my mum’s kitchen at any rate”)

A Nigel Farage speech

Air raid siren

The white noise that some emergency vehicles now use

A human voice that calls out for help

Flexed.co.uk says that human voices have been tried before for car alarms, with limited success.

“The problem was that they used voice artists that sounded like they were in a studio,” said Hall. “Alarms need a number of different voices that sound natural, that invite people to investigate. We’d certainly investigate a realistic cry for help.”

However, the one suggestion that every householder and car owner can support is a simple one: a short burst of sound while the alarm sends an alert to the car owner’s phone.

“Surely that’s not beyond the minds of alarm developers?” asked Hall. “This will have the desired effect and let the rest of us have a good night’s sleep for once.”

But the one suggestion that Flexed.co.uk likes the most is the ice cream jingle. “Who can resist the sound of an ice cream van?” said Hall, “Even at three in the morning, I’d be out there waiting for a 99 with sprinkles.”

Source: fleetnews.co.uk

TfL fines UK Power Networks more than £17,000

Transport for London (TfL) has successfully prosecuted UK Power Networks in connection with a range of roadwork offences.

TfL said it was part of it’s focus on tackling poorly planned and managed roadworks, to improve the safety and reliability of London’s roads and to reduce avoidable road traffic congestion.

The roadworks, which took place between December, 2014 and February, 2015, were carried out in Cheam, Lower Clapton and Masons Hill in Bromley.

During the work TfL Roadwork Enforcement inspectors identified a range of issues, from the wrong signage to disorganised traffic management. At one of the locations, Masons Hill, school children were forced into the carriageway during heavy traffic due to inadequate provision of alternative routes for pedestrians – potentially putting lives at risk, said TfL.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court fined UK Power Network a total of £13,000 and ordered them to pay TfL’s full prosecution costs of £4,637, bringing the total financial penalty to more than £17,000.

Garrett Emmerson, chief operating officer for surface transport at TfL, said: “The scale of the unsafe, unchecked and frankly appalling works carried out by UK Power Network in just three months is shocking.

“Ensuring that any roadworks are carried out in a safe manner is vital, especially in a major city such as London.

“I’m glad that the management of UK Power Networks have already taken positive action to ensure there is no repeat of this type of behaviour,” said Emmerson “However, regardless of promises by senior management, we will continue to monitor and firmly prosecute anyone who tries their luck carrying out unsafe working practices on our roads.”

Source: fleetnews.co.uk

Glass’s appoints new commercial vehicle and leisure valuations manager

Vehicle valuations experts Glass’s has appointed Jayson Whittington to the newly-created role of commercial vehicle and leisure valuation manager.

The creation of his role coincides with the departures of George Alexander and Randal Thomas, who have both retired. They held the roles of chief editor of commercial vehicles and chief editor of leisure vehicles.

Glass’s said the two positions had been combined as part of enhancements in the way that Glass’s handled and processed its data.

Whittington joined Glass’s in March 2014 as the editor of leisure vehicles, and has a 20 year track-record in the motor industry, including roles at Manheim, Carshop, Robins & Day and Arval.

“Glass’s is the market leader for valuations in commercial and leisure vehicles and I am looking forward to maintaining and building on the reputation that we have for fairness and accuracy,” Whittington said.

“We have been making changes to our management structure and data processes for some time and are now in a position where we believe that our team and our valuations are market-leading. This is an exciting time for Glass’s,” said Rupert Pontin, head of valuations at Glass’s.

Source: businesscar.co.uk

RAC reports 5ppl drop in diesel prices for July

The average price of diesel at the pumps fell 5ppl last month, according to RAC Fuel Watch data.

The motoring organisation’s latest report shows that at the start of the month diesel was 120.63ppl, but by the end it had dropped almost 5p to 115.74ppl. On Wednesday July 29, the country saw the first forecourt price flip between diesel and petrol since summer 2001 with diesel at 116.28p, just below the average petrol price of 116.64p.

Half a penny a litre also came off the petrol price in the month, which reduced from 117.05ppl to 116.51ppl. Both petrol and diesel wholesale prices remain low as a result of the price of oil falling below the $60 a barrel mark on 3 July and remaining there ever since. In the course of the month the oil price fell 9% from $61 to $52 a barrel. This combined with the pound staying strong against the dollar at $1.56 is keeping petrol and diesel cheaper.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “July was a month of good news for motorists with diesel vehicles. The 5ppl diesel saving recorded in July means the cost of filling up an average 55-litre diesel family car, such as a Ford Focus, has dropped by £3 in a month. This is particularly welcome for motorists setting out on their annual holidays who are driving long distances to destinations in the UK.

“And, if the supermarkets continue to battle over prices as they pass on further wholesale cost savings, pump prices should reduce to around an average of 111p a litre – a price last seen in January 2010. This would shave another £2 off a tank of diesel. To put this in perspective, this is even lower than the 113p average price reached in January after oil hit a near six-year low of $45 a barrel.

“The cheaper wholesale price of diesel – now almost 6p a litre cheaper than petrol – has been brought about by the fact two new refineries in Saudi Arabia are now producing diesel to meet the large European demand. We expect this to be good long-term news for the nation’s 10.7m diesel car drivers as well as for businesses operating commercial vehicles. Everyone should benefit from a better, fairer deal at the pumps going forwards.”

HMRC fuel usage statistics for June* show 2.5bn litres of diesel were sold – a 4% increase on May. Petrol sales remained static at 1.5bn litres. Compared to June 2014; however, petrol was down 4% and diesel was up 5%.

Combined fuel sales generated £2.3bn revenue for the Government in fuel duty. This was 2.5% up on May and 1.4% up on June 2014.

Source: forecourttrader.co.uk

NFDA AND SMTA TO MEET

With increased government regulation and mounting manufacturer pressure, franchised dealers are facing continuous challenges within their businesses. The current environment— Consumer Rights Act, MOT consultation— highlights the importance of having a strong, unified voice.

To address the many issues, the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, and Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA), which represents all aspects of the retail motor trade in Scotland, are planning a joint-meeting to discuss pressing industry issues. The two industry bodies already have a long-standing informal association to ensure that their members receive comprehensive support and advice, wherever they may be located in the UK.

Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA stated, ‘NFDA and SMTA member’s alike benefit from working together, especially when franchised dealers face the same problems both north and south. We look forward to discussing a range of issues with the SMTA at our joint-meeting and can assure members of both organisations that we will address the challenges facing the retail motor industry.’

SMTA chief executive, Sandy Burgess said, ‘The SMTA and NFDA have a long history of working together successfully on issues affecting the motor retail industry in all four corners of the UK. This meeting is another chance to work together on the big issues of the day for franchised dealers.’

The joint-meeting will take place on the 30 October at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow. Members of both associations are more than welcome, but due to limited space please contact karen.thompson@smta.co.uk to register your interest.

Source: bodyshopmag.com

Educating clueless motorists is key to quality servicing, say technicians

Survey finds 92 per cent of people don’t know what’s included in their annual vehicle service

The majority of consumers are oblivious to the servicing requirements of their vehicle, leaving them vulnerable to breakdowns and hefty repair bills, a recent Motoriety study indicates.

As professionals, it is the role of all vehicle technicians to advise and even educate owners about their vehicles, a point that’s setting the independent sector aside from the main dealers and fast-fits, according to data from the GiPA UK annual ATO survey for 2015 which – among other factors – show that independents are favoured for their good advice.

Without wanting to tar vehicle owners with the same brush, there are unsurprisingly some motorists who wouldn’t know what kind of service they require, let alone what is involved and that there is indeed a variation in part specifications.

Mahesh Perera, Director at Vale Auto Tec, Aberdare told GW: “The servicing on one car can be very different to the servicing on another but some drivers just haven’t got a clue.

“There are people that still think a service is just changing the oil and then there are others who think the MOT is a service.”

Source: garagewire.co.uk

Garage owner left ‘aggrieved’ after genuine apprentice pay mistake

JRM Motors was one of 75 businesses in the country that failed to pay the minimum wage

John Redgrave, owner of JRM Motors, says it was a genuine mistake that he fell foul of the new changes that had come into force.

Redgrave took on an apprentice from Hartlepool College of Further Education as he had done for the past 30 years without issue.

However, during the course of the scheme his apprentice turned 21, making him eligible for a higher wage.

The issue came to light six months later, when Mr Redgrave set about making the changes to his pay to correct the problem.

Mr Redgrave said: “This wasn’t a deliberate act. I have taken on apprentices for 30 years and never had any problems.

“I’ve got one lad working for me now who started as an apprentice.

“This was a genuine mistake, as soon as I was made aware of it, I put it right. But by then I had been caught.

“It’s left me aggrieved as there was no support from anyone. I won’t be taking on anymore apprentices now.”

Commenting on the news, Jim Gillespie wrote on a local media website: “I’ve known John for many years and know he is a decent, hard working small business owner.

“As a small business owner myself, I know how hard it is to keep abreast of all the rules, regulations and revenue instructions.

“Errors of this nature are easily done when taking on apprentices.”

Source: garagewire.co.uk

FLG boasts elevated position in Sunday Times HSBC ranking

An internationally renowned distributor of premium quality replacement components

As the First Line Group (FLG) continues to follow its development strategy and fulfil its overseas growth plans, the company’s meteoric rise in its export business, which has been spearheaded with its historic Borg & Beck brand, has elevated its overall position in the latest Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 ranking to 51, the highest placed mainstream automotive parts distributor.

The 200 ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales, measured over their latest two years of available accounts.

Managing Director, Dan Joyner said: “It is a powerful endorsement of the core business principles that have served us and our customers so well here in the UK over the last 30 years, that these same fundamentals have also proved to be the correct formula for our export endeavours.

“To even be placed in the rankings is notable in itself, but to move up 75 places in just two years, particularly during a period when the global economy presents such a mixed picture, is a great achievement and one that every member of the First Line team should take enormous pride in.”

Source: garagewire.co.uk

Family-run independents generate the most engaged workers

Employees prefer a traditional family style business culture, according to Employee Outlook survey

A recently published report indicates that small independent garages provide one of the most favoured working environment for employees.

Produced by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in partnership with Halogen Software, the report researches employment trends and, for the first time, included questions on culture in the workplace.

More than half of those surveyed said they wanted to work in an organisation “with a family feel held together by loyalty and tradition.”

The survey suggests that employees aged 18-24 prefer an informal work life and are more likely to be looking for another job than their older counterparts.

Areas for improvement

The report urged employers to respond to the demand for a more paternalistic structure and an improved work life balance.

CarVue’s Alex Knight said: “As an employer of a small team of people, it is likely your so-called old fashioned approach to running a business is exactly the type of company in which the vast majority of us would like to work in the 21st century.

“If you are managing to combine a family business with some very modern processes, for example, effective yet easy to use software which makes your operation as smooth running as possible or advanced workshop equipment and diagnostic tools, your combination of old and new ticks several boxes for today’s employees.”

The report also identifies areas where all employers can improve with the weakest areas for managers being their lack of consultation with employees.

Knight adds: “It may be your business, but involving your employees on strategy or business decisions will boost engagement, accountability and ownership which can only be a good thing for your business performance.”

Less than two thirds are satisfied with their relationship with their manager, a slight decline over last year’s figure.

Job satisfaction

Referred to as micro businesses in the survey, employing two to nine people, these workers report the highest levels of engagement with 64 per cent claiming they felt engaged in the business in spring 2015 compared to 61 per cent for the same time last year.

Those employed in micro businesses also report the highest levels of job satisfaction.

Women are more satisfied than men and older workers, aged over 55, are more satisfied than younger workers.

Knight said: “The least satisfied employees are those aged 18-24, so if you do employ youngsters, especially apprentices, it could be worth giving them some additional attention, asking their opinions more often, ensuring they have a full understanding of the business and its goals or even giving them some extra training to increase their levels of engagement and satisfaction.”

“Overall garage owners who typically follow the model of a small, family run business are likely to have some of the most engaged people in Britain’s workforce.

“However, there’s always room for improvement and if you take on board some of the CIPD’s findings, your garage could well incorporate all the ingredients for a perfect workplace.”

Source: garagewire.co.uk

Blurred lines: Buyers are more open-minded when planning a purchase

EVIDENCE from Auto Trader suggests that the lines between buying a new car and buying a used car have become increasingly blurred.

Today, consumers are far more likely to consider both, rather than starting from the premise that they want either one or the other.

Covering the period April to June 2015, the company’s quarterly market tracker traced the views of more than 1,000 motorists. Seventy-two per cent of those who’d recently bought a used car said they had also considered new, while 75 per cent of those who’d recently bought new, said they’d considered used.

That compares with 43 per cent and 61 per cent respectively for the same period a year earlier.

‘The lines we once drew around buying a new car or used car have become less relevant in today’s marketplace,’ said Nick King, Auto Trader’s insight director.

‘That may have something to do with the changing face of ownership in the new car market. The new car market is increasingly driven by PCP deals where monthly payments, rather than outright price is key. It would certainly explain why there has been such a dramatic increase in those considering new cars, before buying a used model.’

Once again, the research revealed that not getting the asking price was the biggest obstacle for consumers in trying to sell their cars. Forty-two per cent cited this as an issue, compared with 27 per cent for the same period in 2014.

Source: cardealermagazine.co.uk

Recovery in European cars sales continued in July

The recovery in European car sales continued in July as sales rose in the major markets of Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The monthly increases ranged from 2 percent in France to 24 percent in Spain.

Passenger car registrations in Germany increased 7 percent last month to 290,000, industry sources said today. The increase extended the seven-month gain in car sales in Europe’s biggest auto market to about 1.9 million units. It follows an increase of 13 percent in June.

French car sales rose 2 percent to 147,132 in July, the CCFA industry association said on Monday, with automakers PSA/Peugeot-Citroen benefiting from the launch of new or refreshed models.

Sales in Italy rose 15 percent last month to 131,489 vehicles while volume in Spain increased 24 percent to 102,922 cars, marking 23 straight months of growth as a recovering economy and a renewed scrappage program encouraged purchases.

The UK, Europe’s second-largest car market after Germany, reports sales later this week.

Reuters contributed to this report

Source: europe.autonews.com

Toyota profit jumps 10% to quarterly record on cost cuts, currency gains

Toyota Motor Corp. today posted a third straight year of record profit for its first quarter as cost cuts and currency gains made up for slightly weaker vehicle sales.

April-June net profit jumped 10 percent to 646.39 billion yen ($5.22 billion). Operating profit rose 9.1 percent to 756 billion yen on revenue that grew 9.3 percent, Toyota said in an earnings release.

Toyota’s sales growth continued to be held back by a self-imposed halt on increasing production capacity aimed at preventing quality problems. Toyota’s global retail sales slipped 0.4 percent to 2.502 million vehicles during the quarter.

Sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market, have been hit by intensifying price competition, especially for the RAV4 SUV as automakers seek to capitalize on a vogue for SUVs. Toyota’s sales with its Chinese joint ventures declined 0.1 percent in January-March. That featured in today’s earnings as Toyota reports Chinese income one quarter later, and books them at net level under U.S. accounting rules.

The Japanese automaker left its net profit forecast for the year ending March unchanged at 2.25 trillion yen, and raised its revenue guidance slightly to reflect higher-than-expected currency gains.

With its sizable production base in Japan, Toyota benefited from a yen that is 17 percent lower against the dollar a year earlier. That boosts the value of models exported from home and softens the blow from weak demand in Japan and Southeast Asia.

Slumping sales in those markets led to Volkswagen AG’s global deliveries inching ahead of Toyota’s in the first six months. The automaker said last week that it sold 5.02 million vehicles in the six months through June, trailing the 5.04 million that Volkswagen reported. Deliveries declined 1.5 percent for Toyota and 0.5 percent for Volkswagen.

Toyota cut its full-year volume sales forecast to 10.12 million units from 10.15 million. The company told workers in Japan in June that it would be “very difficult” to meet its annual sales target due to weak demand in emerging markets. In a union newsletter, Managing Officer Yoichi Miyazaki said the company must make up for the shortfall by boosting sales in developed markets.

While Volkswagen may have surpassed Toyota by sales during the first half, the Japanese carmaker still leads the industry in profits. Analysts project the company may earn about $26 billion in operating profit for this financial year, almost double the $14.8 billion estimated for Volkswagen.

Toyota has lifted the three-year freeze on new factories. The company said earlier this year it will spend about $1.4 billion to build factories in Mexico and China, adding about 300,000 vehicles of production capacity by 2019.

Bloomberg contributed to this report

Source: europe.autonews.com

Royal Enfield sales increase by 49 per cent for 2015

Royal Enfield reports on impressive summer sales surge

Royal Enfield has posted total sales of 40,760 units for July 2015, selling an impressive 27,314 units for the month and indicating a 49 per cent increase over the equivalent period last year.

While sales on the front increased by 48.7 per cent to 38,967 units from 27,314 units last July, during the month exports rose by 72 per cent to 893 units in comparison to 518 units.

Eicher Motors CEO, Siddhartha Lal, said: “Royal Enfield continues its strong momentum by posting robust volume growth and maintaining a very healthy order book in Q2.”

Lal added: “We continue to make investments as per our plans towards capacity expansion, enhancing our brand experience and in product development. Towards this, Royal Enfield made a talent acquisition in June 2015 in UK where it acquired Harris Performance, a renowned engineering and motorcycle chassis designing firm.”

Source: motorbiketimes.com

New survey on street lights contradicts the AA’s findings on road traffic accidents

The AA believes that unlit streets play a role in night-time accidents, despite studies revealing no evidence of a link

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has revealed its findings of research conducted into the impact of street lights being switched off and the impact unlit streets have on road casualties, much to the AA’s surprise.

The school’s findings have stated there is no evidence of a link between street lights being switched off and road deaths and other casualties, which contradicts the growing death toll according to recent study by the AA.

The AA has been left surprised at the survey’s conclusion, as AA analysts found evidence in their own research attributing six road deaths between 2009 to 2012 to where street lights could have been a contributing factor in death according to coroner reports. In the six road deaths highlighted, police claimed the drivers would have had little to no chance avoiding the crash.

The Department for Transport has also recently suggested there is a connection between roads being lit and a reduction in night-time accidents on roads with lighting, versus town and city streets that remain unlit.

The AA’s president Edmund King wants road lights to be switched on, especially along 40mph roads. King also notes the AA wants its members to drive on full beam on residential roads where the street lights are switched off. Of course drivers should do so carefully, as not to distress other motorists. The AA wants roads lit to prevent death and injury of other motorists, and pedestrians and cyclists.

The AA cites a number of instances where unlit roads could have resulted in the death of drivers or pedestrians. Just last week a teenager died after she was hit by four cars, as well as a double-decker bus, on an unlit road. The coroner on the case requested street lights be installed on the road where the incident occurred.

Over the past several years, since 2008, accidents on 40mph roads have dropped 24 per cent with the use of street lights. When the lights on 40mph roads are turned off, or not present at all, the accident toll is down just ten per cent, implying that faster, unlit roads leave motorists and pedestrians at a much higher risk.

King said: “Although part-night lighting on 30mph roads has yet to show a problem in road casualties, it is the 40mph and faster roads that are the problem. Crash experts say there just isn’t enough time to react, even when driving at the speed limit with the headlights on.”

Source: motorbiketimes.com

London plays host to largest female motorcycle ride ever in association with Ace Cafe

Female record-breakers take to their bikes next weekend

The World’s largest ever female-only motorcycle meet is taking to the streets of London.

On Sunday 16 August, up to 600 women are expected to congregate at Stonebridge’s Ace Cafe to eclipse the current record, which stands at 221 women and was set in Ballina, Australia at the annual Babe Raid ride.

Ride organisers Nimisha Patel and Sherrie Woolf have confirmed sufficient rider numbers have already been registered to eclipse the current record, but Woolf urged maximum possible participation. She said: “We’re calling all female motorcyclists to attend and be a part of creating an Official World Record for the largest all female rider meet. Whatever you ride, all women are welcome.”

Patel and Woolf’s aim is to increase the profile of female motorcyclists and encourage manufacturers to more adequately cater for their specific needs. “It’s time to realise that women are no longer just sitting on the back of the men’s bikes, we’re buying our own and using them for touring, off-roading, track days and commuting, just like the guys,” Wolf said.

The event is well supported; MD Racing will be providing free suspension setups, Oval Motorcycle Centre are offering complementary safety checks and a Spot the Error competition could bag you an Off Road Day with Dave Thorpe Honda. To top it off, there will be a charity raffle for The Hospice of the Valleys with the chance to win MotoGP tickets courtesy of the Circuit of Wales, a set of tyres, a full service, workbench time, Motorcycle Maintenance training courses and Ace Cafe goodies.

TT Racer Maria Costello will be leading a preliminary ride to Ace Cafe from BMW Wollaston. Arrivals are expected between 9am and 1:30pm and full details can be found here.

Source: motorbiketimes.com

Posted by Lois Hardy on 04/08/2015