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Daily news round upBack


Industry News

Rise in domestic demand sees more than a quarter of a million UK cars built in 2015

The outlook for the car manufacturing sector continues to be upbeat. More than a quarter of a million cars have been made in Britain so far this year – a steady performance, which has been led by a strong domestic market,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.

“The UK’s appetite for British-built cars has consistently grown, with the number of cars produced for the home market increasing 51.9% since 2011. However, political instability abroad has hit certain export areas which will invariably have a small impact on total output.”

Car makers have invested heavily in UK production facilities, and this is expected to come to fruition in the coming year. Furthermore, the number of UK-produced components in British cars has risen steeply, meaning resilient car output will benefit the whole sector.


Auto Trader valued at £2.35 billion on LSE float

Auto Trader has floated on the London Stock Exchange, pricing its shares at 235p. This values the business at £2.35 billion.

Conditional share dealings began at 8am, and unconditional dealing starts on Tuesday.

The offer comprises 590 million shares, representing 59% of Auto Trader’s issued share capital on admission.

According to today’s statement to the London stock exchange, Apax, the private equity owners of Auto Trader, will raise £926.2m through the IPO.
The flotation will raise around £437m net for Auto Trader to pay down some of its debt facilities.



PCP popularity leads to focus on residual management says Kia UK boss Paul Philpott

To support the continued rise in Personal Contract Purchase’s (PCP), Kia Motors UK has put a focus on residual value management to maintain the equity in customers’ cars.

Speaking at the launch of the all-new Sorento model in Marbella, Spain, Kia Motors UK president and chief executive, Paul Philpott, said: “70% of our retail sales are now on PCP, which has meant we have really focused on our residual values – we have a very structured residual value management programme and are doing very well.

“PCPs are great, they enable people to get in a new car more easily, and provided we as a manufacturer keeps demand for used cars strong, chances are the buyer will have equity left in it at the end.

“The real key to residual management though is to not distress your new product i.e. do not sell a disproportionate amount of your volume into short-cycle fleet channels, and do not actively discount your new product to such an extent that it starts to damage your used car demand and used car values.”

The new Sorento marks the beginning of Kia’s product revamp and Philpott says that dealers, having now finished the roll-out of the new Space-Identity programme, are ready and excited.

“We work on a six-year change cycle, if you look back on Kia’s history, 2009 to 2012 saw us change virtually every model in our range, and the next four years will be a very busy period for us.

“To begin with, the Sorento is such an uplift in terms of refinement that we are entering a more premium mainstream segment,” Philpott said.

Sales expectations of the new Sorento are at 3,500 units for the first 12 months of sale – an uplift of 400 on its predecessor for 2014.

“Over the last seven years we have grown from less than 30k sales a year to this year targeting over 80k sales – this just shows the growth in our product and the growth in Kia as a brand.

“The new Sorento is already here and the all-new Optima is coming towards the end of year. We have already launched facelifts for the Rio and Venga models and an update of the Picanto will be launched in April. Not only that, important changes on the Cee’d are coming in the third quarter, including a brand new 1.0-litre three cylinder turbo GDi engine,” Philpott added.



Chancellor’s company car tax plans criticised by ACFO

Fleet decision-makers’ trade body ACFO has voiced its disappointment about changes to company car tax announced in the Budget.

Company car drivers will face a three percentage point year-on-year hike in their company car tax from 2019/20.

But, the Government has indicated that the rates for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) will increase “more slowly than previously announced”.

John Pryor, ACFO chairman, said: “The Government is ploughing hundreds of millions of pounds into encourage the uptake of zero and ultra low emission company cars so ACFO is disappointed that benefit-in-kind tax rates on these vehicles are increasing further in 2019-20.

“Given the government’s focus on encouraging demand for electric and plug-in cars through a range of incentives, notably grants, ACFO would have expected the chancellor to reduce company car benefit-in-kind tax rates, not increase them, on these vehicles.”

ACFO believes that it would also potentially encourage company car drivers to turn to ULEVs if they paid benefit-in-kind tax on the P11D value of the vehicle after taking into account the plug-in-grant.

He continued: “Currently company car drivers receive no benefit from choosing a car that is subject to a plug-in-grant, which only benefits the vehicle owner.

“It is something that ACFO will continue to raise in its discussions with HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs.

“Furthermore, ACFO is also disappointed that the Budget did not clarify mileage reimbursement rates for electric and plug-in vehicles.

“Once again, it is an issue that ACFO has frequently raised in discussions with civil servants and will continue to do so.”



Fleet sales surge for Mazda

A surge in fleet sales looks set to help Mazda drive back to pre-recession levels of business over the next 12 months.

Total volume delivered in the UK is on track to reach in excess of 50,000 units after a 45% leap in corporate registrations during the last three months, Fleet News can reveal.

“Our sales in the corporate sector are running at three times the increase seen in fleet business across the industry so far this year and I expect that to continue – fleet has become a very substantial part of our operations,” said Mazda Motors UK managing director Jeremy Thomson.

“It is so good to get away from the perfect storm we had to endure from adverse currency exchange rates, ageing product lines and the post-scrappage collapse. This is our transformation year.”

By the end of September, Mazda will have launched refreshed versions of the Mazda6 and CX-5 sport utility and introduced its new Mazda2, CX-3 and MX-5 models.



Paragon wars of automotive supply chain pressure

Paragon Automotive is warning of unprecedented pressure across the vehicle supply-chain as new car sales continue to hit records.

The March plate-change is expected to see a new record for the month, with manufacturers targeting retail buyers after seeing retail sales fall back in February when fleet registrations accounted for 58% of the market.

Commenting on the trend, Mike Pilkington (pictured), managing director of Paragon Automotive said: “From capacity at the docks to logistics and de-fleet, the automotive supply chain is facing unprecedented demand. New thinking is required if the supply chain is to cope with increased demand without significant investment.

“Record levels of PCP on shorter term contracts, and increased volumes through other short cycle routes to market, mean that new strategies are required to help manufacturers and dealers handle larger volumes of nearly new and two year old vehicles without affecting new sales.

“Our industry contacts tell us that daily rental volumes are up 31% year on year. Our own facilities are experiencing volumes at a seven-year high. These volumes can be accommodated if manufacturers can work with the supply chain to innovate and use new technology to work smarter.”

Paragon Automotive argues the current peak in volumes of new vehicles is a sign of a structural shift to new models of vehicle ownership that manufacturers will want to maintain even when new car sales in other automotive markets across the globe improve.

The company has developed a software solution that allows production capacity to be matched to manufacturer defleet forecasts over the year. This enables both more efficient workshop capacity and transparency when production will exceed or fall behind stock turn targets.



2015 Budget at a glance for motor retailers

The 2015 pre-election Budget received a mixed response from the motor sector today as Chancellor George Osborne revealed measures to boost consumer confidence.

The National Minimum Wage is set to rise by 20p an hour to £6.70 from October and national insurance contribution for the self-employed is to be abolished.

The tax-free personal allowance to rise from £10,600 in 2015-6 to £10,800 in 2016-7 and £11,000 in 2017-8

The threshold at which people start paying 40p income tax to rise by above inflation from £42,385 in 2014-5 to £43,300 in 2017-8

A personal allowance of £1,000, or £500 for higher rate tax payers (over £42,701), on interest received on savings

ISA freedom: £15,240 tax free allowance remains even if cash withdrawn. First time buyer ISA: £200 saved, government puts in £50



2015 Audi Q7 – prices, specs and engines

The new Q7, which will offer seven seats as standard in the UK, will be available with just one engine at launch – a 3.0-litre V6 diesel providing 268bhp and 442lb ft of torque.

Pre-orders for the new Q7 are now open, with the model due to arrive in UK showrooms in August. The German car maker says the big seven-seat SUV has shed a significant 325kg over its predecessor in 328bhp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine form, at 1970kg.

The enormous drop in kerb weight is credited to a detailed weight reduction program that has cut 100kg from the Q7’s suspension and 71kg from the body – some 24kg of which has been achieved through the adoption of aluminium doors alone.

Further reductions in weight have also been made possible by a new electric architecture and refinements to the floorplan, which now uses a greater amount of hot-formed high-strength steel and aluminium.

Ingolstadt’s flagship SUV boasts an evolutionary appearance, with a bold new single-frame grille similar in design to that recently brought to the facelifted Q3, more heavily defined wheel arches, tauter surfacing treatment, a more prominent shoulder and numerous crease lines within the flanks to help reduce its visual bulk.



General News

Osborne should spell out welfare cuts, says IFS

Chancellor George Osborne needs to spell out exactly how he plans to cut £12bn from welfare spending, says the independent forecaster the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Only £2bn of these £12bn cuts have been outlined so far, said IFS director Paul Johnson, in response to the Budget.

Yet all the cuts are supposed to be in place by 2017-18, he said.

“It is time we knew more about what they might actually involve,” Mr Johnson added.

Spending cuts planned for 2016-17 and 2017-18 would be “twice the size of any year’s cuts over this parliament”, said Mr Johnson, if the £12bn of cuts already announced and the Chancellor’s hoped-for £5bn of anti tax avoidance measures failed to materialise.


Budget 2015: Interest rates to stay below 2% for next five years, OBR predicts

The era of easy money is set to stretch even further into the future as the Government’s fiscal watchdog predicts interest rates will remain stuck below 2% in five years’ time, Budget documents show.

The Office for Budget Responsibility now assumes the first rise in interest rates from the Bank of England is still more than a year away in “mid-2016”.

And its forecasts for 2019-20 show interest rates of just 1.9%, 0.5 percentage points lower than its last forecast four months ago.

The OBR has slashed forecasts because of plunging yields on government debt. Experts said this led to an unprecedented mushrooming of cheap 10-year fixed mortgage deals in recent months.

The gloomy prospects for returns also underlined the Chancellor’s keenness for saver-friendly giveaways such as exempting up to £1000 of interest from tax.


Posted by Lois Hardy on 20/03/2015