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Daily News RoundupBack

Lookers opens Audi used car superstore near Glasgow

R8

National car dealer group Lookers welcomed Audi UK director Andre Konsbruck at the official opening of its new £3.5 million 6.5 acre used Audi car dealership in Hamilton, Glasgow.

The site is home to an Audi Approved used car showroom, 10-bay service centre, display spaces for more than 120 used Audis plus storage facilities for a further 450 vehicles.

Lookers already operates a full Audi dealership in Glasgow at Braehead, which was opened by Audi in 20014 with a three-storey showroom and 23 service bays.

The investment in Hamilton by Lookers, which bought the Lomond Audi group in Scotland in 2012, has created 30 new jobs and is one of the largest Audi Approved used car sites in Europe. Lookers said it is one of the first fully sustainable and environmentally-friendly sites in the UK and it includes biomass heating and water purification systems.

It will be headed by Derek Lyon, Lookers Audi head of business for Hamilton.

Lookers Audi is currently investing more than £6.5 million in its facilities and staff across Scotland, which includes a full upgrade and extension of its Stirling base following the purchase of a neighbouring 1.5-acre site.

An additional 1.5 acres has also been acquired to extend its Edinburgh Audi dealership.

As Lookers continues to pioneer how the automotive sales industry is driven in the UK, the new Audi Approved facility in Hamilton, is now one of the first fully sustainable and environmentally-friendly sites in the UK and Ireland which includes new, state-of-the-art biomass heating and water purification systems.

Lookers Audi managing director Steve Dean said: “The Audi brand has seen phenomenal growth in Scotland in the last few years which we, at Lookers Audi, are committed to supporting.

“Our existing facilities already established across the country have been complemented greatly by this exciting new facility and prove beyond doubt the commitment we have to expanding our customer base.

“This latest expansion provides yet another convenient location for the provision of our quality sales and aftersales service and it is a great achievement for Lookers and for Audi UK that we can proudly claim to represent one of the largest Audi Approved showrooms in Europe.”

The event was attended by the senior leadership team from Audi UK, led by Konsbruck as well as the senior management team from Lookers, including chief executive Andy Bruce, managing director Nigel McMinn and Steve Dean, Lookers Audi managing director.

Source: am-online.com

Vertu, Pentagon and Renault Retail Group among Auto Trader Click Awards 2015 winners

Vertu Motors, Renault Retail Group and Pentagon Motor Holdings represented the franchised retail sector among the winners at the eighth annual Auto Trader Click Awards, recognising digital marketing excellence.

Vertu Motors won best retailer digital customer experience and Pentagon was franchise dealer of the year.

Digital forecourt of the year went to the Renault Retail Group, while used car supermarket Caralot won the best integrated marketing award for retailers. Fiat triumphed in the manufacturer category.

A special mention went to Peter Vardy. As well as being highly commended for best integrated marketing campaign, digital marketing manager Euan Cameron took the accolade of best digital marketing individual.

This was the first time such an award had been presented.

Depending on the category, awards were made on the basis of consumer research, data and self , nomination – with the oversight of a panel of cross-sector, independent judges.

This included Dan Daly, senior marketing manager at Amazon, Tim Faircliff, executive chairman at AOP, Ben Sutherland, chief performance officer at iProspect, Mike Buckley, digital commercial director at Telegraph Media Group and Marc McNeill, Auto Trader’s customer experience director.

The line-up was chosen to reflect the new face of retail across all sectors, driven by changes in consumer buying behaviour.

The awards were presented by rugby superstar Martin Bayfield, with support from Auto Trader’s editorial director Jon Quirk and sales director Sharon Randall.

Randall said: “The Auto Trader Click Awards are a celebration of those at the cutting edge of this revolution in digital car retailing.

“Every winner should be proud of their achievement because it means they are reacting positively to changing consumer behaviour and blazing a trail in the sector. We congratulate all our winners today.”

Source: am-online.com

Auto Trader boss dismisses RAC Cars’ claim to be number one in the market by year-end

The boss of Auto Trader has dismissed the threat from RAC Cars to usurp its position as the number one digital market place for used cars in the UK.

Chief executive Trevor Mather said that the RAC is a long-standing, trusted brand, but only as a breakdown company: “You think about them first when you break down on a motorway, but not when I’m about to buy or sell my car.”

In March RAC Cars announced its listings were to be free of charge to dealers and consumers in a bid to “revolutionise” the car classified websites market. At the time it said its site was attracting about 600,000 visitors per month, but would not need to match Auto Trader’s 11 million figure, because it does not have fees to justify.

Then in June RAC Cars’ chairman Rupert Keane said it would be the market leader by the end of this year as it passed the 200,000 vehicle listing milestone within 55 days of making its service free. “Our stated aim is to have 500,000 vehicles by the end of this year, something that would make us market leader in terms of volumes,” he said.

Mather warned that RAC Cars announcement it would not charge for listing cars would attract retailers, but if it couldn’t attract a far greater audience of potential buyers, “all you’ve done is reduce the potential response level on every vehicle”. He spoke of the need for a balance between the right volumes of cars on offer and audience figures: “The right way is to balance both: RAC Cars wants 500,000 cars on its site by the end of the year. If it achieves that without an equivalent growth in audience response rates will plummet.”

He also questioned whether the marketing budget would be sufficient to drive sufficient, new amounts of traffic to the competitor site when car marketing was not core to the wider RAC business.

Achieving the 500,000 stock figure would also prove difficult, Mather predicted. “It’s not hard to get to 200,000-250,000,” he said. “It’s really hard to reach 400,000 – 450,000.”

Auto Trader has 350 staff sourcing stock and about 40 that “do nothing but make sure our search experience is as good as possible.”

According to Hitwise, it had a visit share in the car buying market in May of 63.2%.

Source: am-online.com

Nearly a quarter of car owners feel ripped off by mechanics

Almost a quarter (23%) of people felt ripped off by the price they were quoted when they last visited a car mechanic, according to ClickMechanic.

The research, which surveyed over 2,000 members of the UK public, looked into attitudes towards car workshops. It found 23% are stressed out by the whole experience of visiting a mechanic, and 25% feel nervous about even entering a garage.

45% had no idea how much common repairs on an average household car should cost, with a third of consumers feel uncomfortable with questioning a quote.

ClickMechanic has launched a price estimates tool which uses the genuine manufacturer approved repair times to price all jobs, from vetted qualified mechanics.

Co-founder and chief executive of ClickMechanic Andrew Jervis said: “Most mechanics are reliable and trustworthy, but there are a minority of cowboys taking advantage of the fact that most consumers just don’t know how much their car repairs should cost. Consumers are paying a lot of money to keep their car on the road and in times of austerity there is an obligation on the mechanic to be honest about the average price of repairs and establish a level of trust.

“Price comparison and peer-review websites are already helping consumers find the best car insurers and extended warranty providers, so there’s nothing to stop online tools helping just as much when looking for a respectable car mechanic and how much it should cost. Approaching car repair as you would any other supplier will go a long way towards helping consumers trust their local mechanics more. This is exactly why we have launched our price estimates tool.”

Source: am-online.com

BYD launches car which can create electricity and return it to the grid

An electric vehicle has been developed which can store and return electricity generated from renewable sources to the grid.

BYD says its e6 is the only production electric car equipped as standard with the capability to return power to the grid (V2G – vehicle to grid) via the AC charging system which is widely publicly available.

The e6, sold for taxi and private hire uses in Europe, is now operating in the UK, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands where a recent demonstration has proved the car’s flexibility.

A project in Utrecht has seen the opening of a public V2G EV charging point powered by solar energy.

Conceptually, e6 owners can charge their vehicle when the cost of electricity is lower – after a period of strong sunlight, for example – and using the capabilities of the e6 then sell it back to the grid at periods of peak demand.

The Utrecht AC charging point is capable of both charging and discharging vehicles.

The next-generation e6 model, just arriving in Europe, will have a much larger capacity battery capable of delivering a 400km range.

“The wide-scale adoption of EVs will bring a revolution in air quality which is only just beginning to be appreciated”, said Isband Ho, the managing director of BYD Europe.

“The ability to both store and then return excess energy is just one of the related benefits to the community and is fully in line with BYD’s ‘Green Cities Solution’.”

BYD is also currently introducing its range of pure electric city buses to Europe – more than 47 trials in major and capital cities have already been completed.

Source: fleetnews.co.uk

Stable prices bring strong performance for used LCVs at auction

Residual values have stabilised throughout 2015 at £4,599, representing the largest period of stability since November 2012, according to Shoreham Vehicle Auctions.

Average year-on-year prices have fluctuated just 6.6% throughout the year so far, compared with prices in the same period in 2014. This compares favourably with the last three years, where average prices have fluctuated by up to a fifth year-on-year.

Although used prices in 2015 have remained stable, average year-on-year prices have decreased for five consecutive months for the first time since 2012.

Meanwhile, falling demand for LCVs under two-years-old has affected month-on-month prices in this bracket throughout 2015, with residual values falling 3%, (£340) from £11,475 to £11,135, the largest physical fall in prices between January and May. Other prices have remained stable, with a £65 increase from £6,605 to £6,670 in the two to four-year age bracket representing the next largest physical fluctuation between January and May.

A fine balance of supply and demand of used LCVs is supporting this price stability across the market, as both increase and decrease in tandem, helping to increase overall volumes.

Increasing supply has seen overall volumes increase from 44,580 to 51,165, between January and May 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. This can be attributed to record volumes of used LCVs in the two to four-year-old bracket and with those over six-years-old, throughout 2015.

Volumes of used LCVs between two and six-years-old is being met by strong demand from buyers, as they look to take advantage of older, used LCVs in good condition at stable – and lower – prices. This strong and steady balance of supply and demand will continue throughout 2015, helping to keep prices at a consistent level, while driving volumes upwards.

“The used LCV market is in unprecedented territory, with strong supply levels helping to keep volumes high, while prices continue to remain at a high ceiling,” says Alex Wright, Managing Director of Shoreham Vehicle Auctions.

“We are confident that prices will not increase any further, resulting in a strong and buoyant market for the remainder of the year, with continuing price stability inspiring confidence in SMEs that are looking to balance quality and affordability,” he added.

Source: fleetnews.co.uk

Diesel remains more expensive at the pump than petrol despite lower wholesale prices, RAC has found

Despite the wholesale price of diesel being cheaper than petrol for all of June, motorists are still paying 3p a litre more at the pumps, RAC research has found.

The RAC’s Fuel Watch report for June shows wholesale prices of diesel are 1p to 3p a litre lower than petrol yet the average price of diesel is 120p per litre, compared to 117ppl for petrol.

While some retailers have closed the gap between petrol and diesel on the forecourt, very few – if any – have moved their diesel price below petrol, says the RAC.

In fact, the vast majority of retailers continue to keep a significant gap between the two fuels with diesel often 5ppl more expensive.

The latter group may be operating on wafer thin margins on petrol in order to remain competitive and trading this off against bigger margins on diesel in order to balance the books, says the RAC.

Simon Williams. RAC fuel spokesman, said: “The retail price of diesel has almost become a taboo subject despite 2.4 billion litres being sold in May, compared to just 1.5bn litres of petrol.

“While there are twice as many petrol cars on the road, the increase in diesel usage shown in Government statistics and the new car sales figures which show more than 50% of cars and light commercial vehicles leaving the showroom are powered by diesel, confirm that we are increasingly relying on diesel for both business and private use.

“Not only are diesel drivers now being demonised due to the increasing concerns over harmful nitrogen dioxide and particulate emissions, they are consistently having to pay a premium for their fuel.

“And, all this comes after years in which the taxation system has encouraged motorists to buy low CO2 vehicles. This has led to a big take-up of small fuel efficient diesel vehicles by motorists believing their choice of vehicle was good for the environment as well as their pocket.

“While retailers are obviously free to choose how much they charge for petrol and diesel, we believe that motorists deserve to be treated fairly and that means forecourt prices that reflect the wholesale market.”

The RAC’s Fuel Watch report shows that the price of diesel should drop by around 5p a litre in the next two weeks based on lower wholesale prices, although the motoring organisation has seen this throughout June with little to no forecourt price change so therefore has little hope of this saving being passed on.

Simon Williams added: “Essentially, what is required is a fundamental re-balance of pricing in the retail fuel market.

“We need greater transparency and a fairer pricing model for both petrol and diesel.

“We realise that with more and more forecourts shutting up shop every month that fuel retailing may not be as profitable as it once was, but there seems to be a clear intention to make more money from a higher diesel price while at the same time being seen to maintain a lower petrol price.

“We as a nation of motorists are far more focused on petrol prices and therefore there is a perceived benefit from a retailer’s point of view in keeping petrol prices lower for the country’s 20m petrol car owners than it is for the 10m-plus diesel car drivers.”

June saw fuel prices maintain an even keel for motorists as a result of oil prices staying flat and the pound remaining stable too. The average price of a litre of petrol was 117p – 14p cheaper than 12 months ago, and diesel was 120.75p – 15p cheaper. Both have gone up since the early February average price lows of 106p for unleaded and 113p for diesel.

Source: fleetnews.co.uk

Mercedes-Benz Retail pop-up does the business in Birmingham

Mercedes-Benz Retail, the factory owned dealer group, generated almost 500 leads from a pop-up shop in Birmingham over five weeks.

The pop-up in the Bullring Shopping Centre, Birmingham, attracted 45,000 visitors with its display of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, including the new Mercedes-AMG GT.

Operated by Mercedes-Benz Birmingham Central, Mercedes-Benz Solihull and Mercedes-Benz Tamworth between 25 May and 25 June, it generated 479 sales leads and sold £19,000 of Mercedes-Benz and AMG Petronas accessories and clothing.

Adam McCullagh, general manager for Mercedes-Benz Birmingham Central, said: “We are delighted with the results achieved through our pop-up shop, which have surpassed our targets and expectations.

“The experience has been a fantastic opportunity to meet with both current and potential customers and our thanks go out to everyone involved in making the store a success, from staff at the Bullring to each of our colleagues.”

Nita Chambers, head of commercialisation, said: “It has been a pleasure hosting the Mercedes-Benz Retail Group pop-up shop these past five weeks.

“The store attracted a great deal of attention and proved an exciting addition to the shopping centre.”

Source: motortrader.com

Auto Trader to exit bespoke dealer website design

Auto Trader will no longer build websites for dealers requiring high degrees of customisation, according to CEO Trevor Mather.

The business took the strategic decision 18 months ago to concentrate on providing a template service to customers but has told larger groups it will no longer build bespoke sites.

“We have stopped creating websites for customers that have serious custom needs. We build websites as a platform and offer them to be fully optimised and will carry on doing that and offer it to 4,500 customers.

“When it comes to the larger top-end customers that really want to do things their own way, it doesn’t work so we’ve stopped doing that.”

Mather said these bigger groups will still be offered its search and stock management tools under an API (Application Program Interface) agreement.

“A large dealer can come and say they want to work with their agency to build a website but want the plumbing of stock management and how it appears is done professionally and that is our core competence. We’ve been build that over the last six to 12 months and are launching that now.”

Source: motortrader.com

Bedfordshire Police piling on the pressure on Vauxhall thieves

Bedfordshire Police have said they are “piling on the pressure” on car thieves following an increase in the number of thefts involving Vauxhalls in the county.

The force said previous crackdowns, known as Operation King, saw offences come to a halt, but the problem has restarted with a rise in the number of bumpers, seats and bonnets being stolen.

Bedfordshire Police said that Vauxhalls are being targeted due to the popularity in the area, as Vauxhall’s headquarters is in Luton, as is the factory that builds the Vivaro van, and because several models are not routinely fitted with audible alarms.

“We are working hard to build up an intelligence picture surrounding this type of offending, and want the culprits to know we take the theft of vehicles and parts extremely seriously,” said Detective Chief Inspector Ian Middleton. “We want to increase awareness among the public of these crimes and encourage them to report any illegal or suspicious activity, in order to help us catch those responsible and cut off the practice at its roots.”

“The reason why these cars are selected is because there are lots of Vauxhalls in the Luton area,” a Vauxhall spokesman told BusinessCar. “This could happen to any other make of car.”

“There are no defects in our model line-up. It is down to vandalism,” the spokesman added.

Bedfordshire Police is advising residents to make sure all car doors and windows are locked and any alarms are enabled.

Anyone with information is urged to call the police on 101, it added

Source: businesscar.co.uk

Chancellor urged to maintain fuel duty freeze

Ramsay MacDonald, retail director, Certas Energy, has urged the Government to maintain its freeze on fuel duty at 57.95ppl in the forthcoming Summer Budget.

“Our industry already suffers from tax on tax and with fuel volumes slowly returning after a difficult few years, it would be a disaster, especially for many rural sites who already struggle to make ends meet, if the Chancellor were to see fuel duty as a short-term revenue booster.

“Ideally we would want to see fuel duty cut, reducing prices and stimulating growth, but we recognise that a long-term commitment to maintain the current freeze is more realistic. Anything that the Government can do to prevent pump prices rising is a benefit to all consumers.”

In addition, MacDonald also asked Government to review the current method for determining the business rate value of forecourt shops; currently valued on shop turnover rather than sales area.

“It cannot be right that a Sainsbury Local or Tesco Express of a comparable size can pay half of the rates of a forecourt. The system is anti-competitive; all we ask for is a level playing field.”

Source: forecourttrader.co.uk

RAC calls for “fairer” diesel pricing

The RAC is calling on fuel retailers to pass on savings on diesel after the wholesale price of diesel remained cheaper than petrol for all of June.

In the RAC’s Fuel Watch report for June it described the price of diesel as the “elephant in the room” with wholesale prices 1ppl to 3ppl lower than petrol yet the average price of a litre of diesel is 120ppl, compared to 117ppl for petrol.

It said while some retailers have closed the gap between petrol and diesel, the vast majority continue to keep a significant gap between the two fuels with diesel often 5ppl more expensive. It added that the latter group may be operating on wafer thin margins on petrol in order to remain competitive and trading this off against bigger margins on diesel in order to balance the books.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The retail price of diesel has almost become a taboo subject despite 2.4bn litres being sold in May, compared to just 1.5bn litres of petrol. While there are twice as many petrol cars on the road, the increase in diesel usage shown in government statistics and the new car sales figures which show more than 50% of cars and light commercial vehicles leaving the showroom are powered by diesel, confirm that we are increasingly relying on diesel for both business and private use.

“Not only are diesel drivers now being demonised due to the increasing concerns over harmful nitrogen dioxide and particulate emissions, they are consistently having to pay a premium for their fuel. And, all this comes after years in which the taxation system has encouraged motorists to buy low carbon dioxide emitting vehicles. This has led to a big take-up of small fuel efficient diesel vehicles by motorists believing their choice of vehicle was good for the environment as well as their pocket.

“While retailers are obviously free to choose how much they charge for petrol and diesel, we believe that motorists deserve to be treated fairly and that means forecourt prices that reflect the wholesale market.”

Williams added: “Essentially, what is required is a fundamental re-balance of pricing in the retail fuel market. We need greater transparency and a fairer pricing model for both petrol and diesel. We realise that with more and more forecourts shutting up shop every month that fuel retailing may not be as profitable as it once was, but there seems to be a clear intention to make more money from a higher diesel price while at the same time being seen to maintain a lower petrol price.

“We as a nation of motorists are far more focused on petrol prices and therefore there is a perceived benefit from a retailer’s point of view in keeping petrol prices lower for the country’s 20m petrol car owners than it is for the 10m-plus diesel car drivers.”

Source: forecourttrader.co.uk

Bodyshop eLearning gets industry backing

The IMI have launched a suite of eLearning resources to support body repair and paint apprenticeships at five road show events around the UK.

The IMI’s new eLearning resources for students studying Body Repair, Paint and MET received a strong vote of confidence from over 100 training providers, who attended the events. The platform uses a blend of multimedia learning styles, such as video, voiceover and photographs to enhance study opportunities for students and make the classroom learning experience more interactive.

The IMI visited five locations around the UK to demonstrate the new system, receiving feedback suggesting the resources are set to make a significant contribution to body repair and paint related apprenticeship training.

Comments received included: “The resources open the door to good teaching ideas – making our job much easier and more effective.”

“Extremely informative and ideal for future eLearning in my industry as a remote/field technician.”

“Help at last and very learner led – I would love to get on-board.”

Explaining the resources, IMI eLearning Development Manager Tom Denton commented: “The new resources are designed to support students through the majority of their apprenticeship, including functional skills requirements.

“The technical learning materials cover accident repair topics such as chassis alignment, metal work, surface preparation and trim. Paint topics include equipment, preparation and paint application.

“Additional modules are set to be added over time until all areas of the curriculum are covered from Entry Level 1 to Level 3.

“Nothing like this has been available to students until now. We believe these resources will go a long way to ensuring current training in vehicle body repair and paint related professions is up-to-date and fit for purpose in the modern industry.

“The body repair sector has been through a tough time recently. Ensuring that fresh talent entering the industry has received the best possible training is a vital ingredient in creating a successful and profitable future.”

Source: pmmonline.co.uk

BMW INTRODUCES DYNAMIC BRAKE LIGHT

Braking and being seen by traffic behind is crucial for those on motorbikes, to help with this BMW Motorrad has developed a new dynamic brake light system as a component of the Strategy ‘Safety 360’. It is an improved method of informing following vehicles when a motorcycle in front of them is braking.

This additional brake light function, which is still limited to the EU / ECE area, warns following traffic in two stages when the motorcycle in front brakes hard or makes an emergency braking manoeuvre.

Stage one is activated when the motorcycle decelerates from speeds above 50 km/h. In this case the brake light flashes with a frequency of 5 Hz. As the motorcycle approaches standstill (< 14 km/h), the hazard warning flashers are also turned on in the second stage. These remain turned on until the motorcycle accelerates again to a minimum speed of 20 km/h.

This new brake light technology will be offered along with BMW’s ABS Pro which takes ABS braking to the next step, offering increased safety when braking in bends by allowing ABS-supported braking when banking. ABS Pro prevents the wheels from locking even when the brakes are applied quickly; this reduces abrupt changes in steering force on shock-braking manoeuvres and stops the motorcycle from rearing up unintentionally. The benefits of ABS Pro to the rider are a sensitive response and a high level of brake and ride stability together with the best possible deceleration on bends.

Source: bodyshopmag.com

Nissan Leaf to get a big boost in driving range

Nissan Motor Co. plans a midcycle update as early as August that aims to deliver a big increase in the Leaf’s driving range, a person familiar with the project said.

The improvements will come from squeezing more energy into the Leaf’s lithium ion battery. The new battery will be the same size as the current 24-kilowatt-hour power pack but deliver 30 kwh, the source said.

CEO Carlos Ghosn outlined future EV steps at the company’s annual shareholders meeting Tuesday, June 23. Nissan is developing a lighter, thinner, cheaper battery to enable driving ranges comparable with gasoline vehicles in the “near future,” he said.

Nissan needs a battery breakthrough to help jump-start sluggish sales and ease range anxiety — the fear that a drained battery will leave EV drivers stranded.

Nissan launched the Leaf in 2010 and has made zero-emission technology and autonomous driving two pillars of its future product plans.

But Leaf sales in the U.S. tumbled 25 percent to 7,742 vehicles through the first five months of the year. Demand is undermined partly by the expiration of various EV tax credits and by a wave of Leafs about to come off lease at diminished value.

Meanwhile, Leaf sales in Europe were up 21 percent to 7,201 through May. The Leaf is the top-selling electric vehicle in Europe.

Ghosn sought to reassure shareholders that the company aims to stay at the forefront of EV technology.

Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan: “We are definitely making progress. We will see a full swing of mass-produced, mass-marketed EVs worldwide.”

Next to him on stage, Nissan displayed a Leaf equipped with a prototype next-generation electric drivetrain. That technology, which is under development and being tested, achieves a range of more than 500km (310 miles), the source said.

Ghosn said the goal of the next-generation battery is to eliminate range anxiety by providing enough cushion for people to complete their daily drive and “return home with ample charge.”

A video simulation showed the car charging up to a range of more than 500km and ending the day with a drivable range of about 260km still in reserve.

Yet even before that next-generation battery hits the market, Nissan plans an interim upgrade for its flagship green car. “We will not wait for its completion to move forward,” Ghosn said.

Source: bodyshopmag.com

Posted by Lois Hardy on 06/07/2015