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Daily News RoundupBack

Auto Trader reveals its fastest selling cars in April

Auto Trader

Audi has topped Auto Trader’s ‘fastest selling car’ list for April.

Top ten fastest selling cars (national) – April

Model Variant Average retail price
1 Audi Q7 2013 Audi Q7 SUV Diesel Automatic £37,004
2 Audi A4 Avant 2013 Audi A4 Avant Estate Diesel Manual £20,823
3 Audi Q5 2012 Audi Q5 SUV Diesel Manual £22,976
4 Mercedes-Benz SLK 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK Convertible Diesel Automatic £22,951
5 Nissan Note 2012 Nissan Note Hatchback Petrol Automatic £7,623
6 Toyota Aygo 2012 Toyota AYGO Hatchback Petrol Semi-Automatic £6,354
7 BMW 1 Series 2012 BMW 1 Series Hatchback Petrol Automatic £16,945
8 Ford Focus 2013 Ford Focus Estate Petrol Manual £14,477
9 Volkswagen Polo 2012 Volkswagen Polo Hatchback Petrol Automatic £9,699
10 Mercedes-Benz B Class 2012 Mercedes-Benz B Class Hatchback Diesel Manual £14,446


However, regional results were a little different.

Auto Trader Trade solutions director Karolina Edwards-Smajda said: “The April data continues to demonstrate the importance of pricing to the live retail market to optimise speed of sale. On average cars in the top ten were 99% aligned to their optimal price position, based on our comprehensive retail price intelligence.

“The regional figures underline the need to adopt a local view to demand and sourcing strategy based on regional desirability. The 2012 Citroen DS3, for example, may have been the fastest selling car in Yorkshire, but it only appeared in 178th place nationally.”

In four regions, the 2012 Nissan Qashqai topped the list of speedy sellers, with both diesel and petrol variants performing well. However, this strong regional performance was not quite good enough to elevate either car into the national top ten.

Fastest selling car in each region – April

Region Variant Average price
East of England 2012 Nissan Qashqai Hatchback Diesel Manual £12,552
East Midlands 2012 Vauxhall Astra Hatchback Diesel Manual £9,533
London 2012 Ford Focus Hatchback Petrol Manual £8,895
North East 2007 Vauxhall Corsa Hatchback Petrol Manual £3,437
North West 2012 Peugeot 208 Hatchback Petrol Manual £7,465
Northern Ireland 2014 Seat Leon Hatchback Diesel Manual £13,115
Scotland 2012 Nissan Qashqai Hatchback Diesel Manual £11,735
South 2012 BMW 1 Series Hatchback Diesel Manual £13,886
South East 2014 Mercedes-Benz A Class Hatchback Diesel Automatic £21,522
South West 2012 Nissan Qashqai Hatchback Diesel Manual £12,593
Wales 2014 Ford Fiesta Hatchback Petrol Manual £10,354
West Mids 2012 Nissan Qashqai Hatchback Petrol Manual £11,860
Yorkshire 2012 Citroen DS3 Hatchback Petrol Manual £8,900


IMI welcomes government goal of more apprenticeships

The chief executive of the Institute of the Motor Industry Steve Nash has welcomed the ambitious apprenticeships target of the new government, but questions whether it’s achievable.

Data from the Skills Funding Agency suggest that apprenticeship starts, in the motor retail sector alone, have plateaued in the last 12-18 months.

Nash wonders whether new minister for business Sajid Javid has been set a task too great to achieve.

Nash said: “If the government wants to achieve its goal of three million additional apprenticeships in 5 years, 50,000 new apprenticeships need to be created every single month – and the clock’s already ticking.

“Making the task even more challenging is the fact that young people will soon have to be in education or training until they are 18, which means that schools will inevitably be reluctant to release all but the least academically able students into vocational training, which is not what businesses need.

“Furthermore, the desperate lack of careers advice in schools will make it extremely difficult for candidates and their families to make reasoned choices.

“In their manifesto, the Conservatives promised to give employers much more control of apprenticeships so that they can ‘teach in the workplace’. The IMI is encouraged by this because we firmly believe that employers need to be able to tailor apprenticeships to their specific needs. We do, however, still have some concerns about the plan to replace job seekers allowance for 18-21 year olds with a ‘youth allowance’, limited to six months and then requiring the young person to take on an apprenticeship, traineeship or community work to continue to receive benefits. Is there a risk this will create a significant number of trainees or apprentices that are not actually in it for the training, but just to secure their benefits? High quality apprenticeships of the type that the government are exhorting businesses to create require high quality candidates, not conscripts.”


Positive news for vat refunds on demonstrators, according to ASE

Dealers’ claims for compound interest took a move forward last week, with a win for Littlewoods at the court of appeal, says ASE.

The case considered the long running issue of whether compound rather than simple interest should have been received on overpayments of VAT.

This is a positive result for dealers who have lodged claims for compound interest in relation to VAT refunds on demonstrator vehicles.

However, the issue is unlikely to reach a definite conclusion in the short term as HMRC, due to amounts involved, have sought leave to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

ASE’s tax director Michelle Malone said: “Although this is a step closer towards a successful resolution, matters in the courts could be lengthy and could still go either way with no automatic follow on from the Littlewoods case.”

The fact that dealers’ claims are lodged at the VAT tribunal, rather than in the courts, adds further complexity. Unless the Supreme Court makes a specific ruling on whether claims can also progress at tribunal, it is probable that further litigation will be required once the Littlewoods case has finally been resolved.


Porsche issues product recall for 918 Spyder model

Porsche has issued a global product recall for a service shop inspection of 47 918 Spyder models already delivered in the UK.

The recall is because the electric wiring harness for the radiator fan (in vehicles manufactured until the end of April 2015) could be damaged by a carbon-fibre component.

The wiring harness will be examined and re-mounted in the workshop.

The cause was identified following a detailed examination of complaints. Corrective measures have been taken in manufacturing.

The owners of the affected vehicles are being contacted directly by their Porsche contact partner. The workshop visit will be arranged as soon as possible and will be free of charge – the vehicle will need to be in the workshop for half a day.



Fiat announces changes to its parts and service structure

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles UK Ltd has appointed Rob Calver (pictured, image one) as its head of major business centres (excluding Italy), within its Mopar Service (EMEA region) parts and customer care department.

Former parts and service director for UK and Ireland Calver will be responsible for developing the major markets’ service and parts revenue and customer experience, on behalf of the Mopar brand.

Lee Titchner (pictured, image two) replaces Calver as the newly-titled Mopar Service, parts and customer care director for UK and Ireland. Titchner has been with the business for seven years and has held several roles within the group, including business development manager, aftersales zone manager and aftersales field force manager.

Titchner said: “With our aftersales CRM programme – ICONNECT – at the heart of our strategy to grow customer retention, improve customer experience and develop greater workshop revenues for our dealer network, I believe there is no better time to be part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.”

Mopar is the official service, parts and customer care organisation which supports all group vehicle brands and their customers, integrating all aftersales activities. It has replaced the previous department title of parts and service.


SME leasing grew sharply in 2014, says Lex Autolease

Lex Autolease has reported a sharp growth in vehicle leasing among small firms, after it saw saw a 29% year-on-year rise in the number of vehicles it leased to SMEs in 2014.

The company suggests the surge is an indication that SMEs are increasingly looking to streamline their operations and cut their overheads by stripping their balance sheets of depreciating assets.

This concern appears to be particularly prevalent for commercial vehicles, with the leasing specialist experiencing a 110% year-on-year rise in van leasing by small businesses.

The number of company cars leased by small businesses saw a year-on-year growth of 21% in 2014.

Simon Barter, head of SME Direct at Lex Autolease, said: “The UK’s nimble SME sector is focused on streamlining and operating more efficiently, and as many small companies shifted their business plans to expansion last year, they started looking at new, innovative ways of restructuring their operations.

“Company vehicles was one such area, and the sharp growth we’ve seen shows that increasing numbers of small businesses are seeing the benefits of leasing in delivering key, sustainable changes to their vehicle management that both streamline their operations and reduce costs.”

The most popular colour of cars for SMEs was black, with the number of black cars leased rising by 39.3% year-on-year in 2014. White remained the second colour of choice, but only rising 13% year-on-year in comparison.

In addition, the findings revealed the white van man is still alive and well, with white vans accounting for 64% of company LCVs leased last year – grey is the second most popular colour, with 10% of the market.


Allstar achieves information security ISO certification

Allstar has achieved certification to ISO 27001:2013, the international standard for information security management.

This recognised international benchmark for information security management was awarded to Allstar by the British Standards Institute (BSI) following an extensive audit process of security policies and procedures.

Peter Bridgen, managing director at Allstar, said: “This certification demonstrates our ongoing commitment to meeting global standards for information security. Achieving ISO 27001 shows how seriously we treat our customers’ information, giving them the assurance that the security policies and procedures we implement meet and exceed best practice. We are delighted to be the first and only UK fuel card provider to achieve this certification.”

ISO 27001:2013 is the best practice framework for information security which enables organisations to independently benchmark their security policies and procedures. The focus of the standard is on continually improving working practices.

Bridgen added: “By benchmarking our polices against this independent, internationally recognised standard, our customers, suppliers and stakeholders can be assured that their information is secure with us. Allstar prides itself on providing a first class service proposition – in fact we are already the only fuel card provider to regularly publish our service levels against a Customer Charter – and this certification further demonstrates our commitment to deliver this.”


FTA concerned over journey time reliability for road freight operators

The FTA has expressed concern over the discrepancy between industry opinion and government statistics, following official figures from Highways England.

The figures show that journey time reliability, although still below eighty %, marginally improved over the past year. FTA members consistently report that journey reliability has been getting worse over the past year, not better, said the FTA.

Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s head of road network management policy, said: “Our members’ perception does not match that suggested by the official figures. The latest Highways England statistics show an improvement in journey reliability – but our own information indicates that this is not the case for the vast majority of our members, who tell us that they have consistently experienced a decrease in reliability over the past year.”

Journey time reliability is crucial for road freight operators, who need to be able to route and schedule journeys accurately in order to avoid delays with deliveries, said the FTA, who currently estimate that it costs around one pound a minute for a forty four tonne truck to queue in traffic.

Bingham continued: “As the economy picks up, demand for freight inevitably will increase, putting additional pressure on already busy roads. Add to this the disruption which will result from the – very welcome – roads improvements planned by Highways England and we have a very challenging situation.

He added: “An efficient roads network is essential if the economy is to continue to grow – Highways England therefore must maintain focus on improving reliability and working with the freight industry to ensure improvements can be delivered with a minimum amount of impact on businesses.”

Previously FTA voiced its support for the Road Investment Strategy (RIS), which was announced by the Department for Transport in December 2014, stating that it believed it was good news for all road users. The RIS outlines plans for fithteen billion pounds to be spent over 5 years on one thousand three hundread new lane miles on motorways and trunk roads in order to reduce congestion, and fix some of the most notorious and longstanding problem areas on the UK road network.

Respondents to the FTA Logistics Industry Survey 2014/15 rated road improvements as their top priority for the new government. The results of the survey are published in The Logistics Report 2015, launched by FTA on May 20.


Inchcape reports strong start to the year

Inchcape has enjoyed a strong start to the year with group revenue up 4.1% to £2.191bn, according to its trading update for the four months ending 30 April 2015.

The group, rated fifth in the Motor Trader Top 200, described demand for vehicles as “solid and ahead of last year” across its international operations. It also said aftersales, which accounts for around 50% of gross profit, performed well and in line with its expectations.

“In the UK, revenue growth has been strong, with our brand portfolio continuing the long-term trend of winning market share. Year on year margins improved in new vehicles but there was pressure in used vehicles. Aftersales activities also performed well,” said the trading update.

The group also saw growth in other European markets with fleet sales outstripping retail sales in Belgium and the new car market in Greece continuing to recover.

“The first four months of 2015 have seen positive trading momentum in line with our expectations,” said Stefan Bomhard, Group CEO.

The positive update was welcomed by Mike Allen, director of stockbrocker Zeus Capital.

“Inchcape has delivered a solid update essentially confirming it continues to trade in line with expectations, with no changes to estimates expected. Within the mix, growth momentum in Asia has continued, the UK remains strong and the company continues to manage the situation in Russia effectively.

“However, following a strong share price performance, we believe the shares are starting to look expensive, and therefore believe there are better opportunities elsewhere in our view.”


First pictures: 2015 Skoda Superb estate

Skoda has revealed its new Superb estate ahead of the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Under the bonnet the petrol range kicks off with a 1.4-litre turbo with either 125hp or 150hp. If you need more power there’s an automatic-only 2.0-litre turbo with either 220hp or 280hp.

More relevant for business buyers (fleets snap up 70% of all Superbs) are the diesels. There’s just two – a 120hp 1.6-litre that comes with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic or a 2.0-litre with 150hp or 190hp.

The most frugal engine is the 1.6-litre oil-burner in 120hp which emits 108g/km of CO2 and returns 72.4mpg in the hatchback version.

It is available to order from June, but due in showrooms in September, and is based on the recently-released hatchback model.

Skoda claims the estate offers the best interior space in its segment. The driver and passenger have 39mm more elbow room than before, while Skoda said rear the rear leg-room is twice as much as its nearest competitor at 157mm.

The boot’s volume has also increased by 27 litres compared to the outgoing model, to 660 litres. Seats down, the boot volume reaches 1950 litres.

The Superb estate is equipped with a number of assistance systems including the firm’s dynamic chassis control system, MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an optional high-speed internet connection.

“With the new Skoda Superb estate, we have further developed the existing strengths of the Superb,” said Dr Frank Welsch, Skoda board member for technical development. “The combination of aesthetics technology and the highest practical benefits makes the new Superb Estate an outstanding vehicle within its segment. With the new flagship, we will attract new customers to our brand,” said Welsch.


Ford launches GoDrive car sharing service to public

Ford has launched its GoDrive car sharing service to the public as part of the Ford Smart Mobility experiments, which was announced earlier this year.

Ford claims the service is the only car-sharing scheme, that offers one-way journeys with guaranteed parking. Drivers are charged by the minute with congestion fees, insurance and fuel covered within the cost of using the service.

Motorists use a smartphone app to reserve and access a car. Half of the 50-strong fleet is made up of the firm’s Focus electric model.

Ford initially trialed the scheme earlier this year with 100 registered members accessing the electric Focus and 1.0-litre Focus EcoBoost models from secure parking hubs near public transport locations such as Waterloo and Victoria railway stations.

The American car maker is now inviting 2000 people to register for the expanded service, which offers 20 parking locations.

According to research by Ford, the car-sharing sector is set to grow by 23% from 2013 to 2025, while separate research found that 80% of Londoners are late for work once or more due to congestion on the roads.

“Our research tells us that car clubs currently are perceived as inflexible when it comes to booking, time slots and return locations. Features such as one-way journeys and pay-as-you-go extend the number of opportunities that drivers would want to car-share and could prove a game-changer,” said Alicia Agius, project leader of GoDrive at Ford. “More drivers are finding GoDrive to be a key service that can potentially empower people living in the city with its flexible approach.”


Idle vehicles cost SMEs £500 in lost revenue a day, says RAC

Vehicles off the road awaiting repair cost SMEs up to £500 a day in lost revenue, according to RAC Business.

According to research it carried out by the RAC’s business arm during the first quarter of 2015 small firms are losing thousands of pounds a year as trade is being lost when vehicles are sitting idle waiting for repair.

RAC suggested that on average small businesses run six to seven vehicles. A third of the 1000 SMEs surveyed said they did not know the financial impact on their company, which the RAC said could be up to £3500 a year based on a vehicle being out of action for a day a year.

“Obviously for the vast majority of small firms vehicles are an essential part of their operation and contribute to the income generation of the business, and we have seen an increasing use of vans and commercial vehicles in those businesses,” said RAC spokesman Mike Fogden. “This clearly demonstrates that being out of action due to breakdown can have a significant impact on the cash flow of a business which is why we are launching this new feature to help keep their business on the move.”

Meanwhile, small businesses are spending around £1700 on average each year maintaining each company car, according to separate research by RAC Business.

The motoring organisation claimed that one in five spends more than £2000 a year per car.

In the survey of 1000 businesses, which was conducted during the first quarter of the year, found that 37% of firms in Scotland are paying between £3000 and £4000 annually in company car maintenance, the highest amount in the UK.

By comparison, firms in the East Midlands are the least affected financially with 44% spending between £1000 and £1500 on servicing each of their company cars per annum.


HEVs are here to stay

Blue Print, ‘The Complete Solution for Asian & American Vehicles’, wrote an article on hybrid vehicles back in 2012 which quoted the report ‘Automotive 2020: Clarity Beyond the Chaos’, which was conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value, and is based on interviews with 125 motor industry executives in 15 countries, and stated all new cars will have “some degree of hybridization by 2020”.

At that point you could have argued that only the Prius had gained any real level of popularity, but fast forward three years and the story is very different. Virtually all of the major manufacturers now employ some form of hybrid technology and the popularity of electric vehicles continues to grow and be an ever more viable alternative.

If you weren’t convinced of the need to be trained in this technology then, you really should be now, even bleeding the brakes on a Prius requires the use of a diagnostic tool, but once you know how, it couldn’t be simpler – as our Blue Print video demonstrates.

Blue Print has trained hundreds of technicians in the UK on how to repair and maintain hybrid vehicles to IMI standards, and continues to produce articles and videos, and conduct seminars on hybrid and electric technology.


Driverless convoy: Will truckers lose out to software?

Sleepiness and stress are perennial risks for the long distance lorry driver, and accidents are sadly too frequent.

However, a radical new driverless truck being trialled by Daimler may offer a solution.

Earlier this month, the automotive giant was granted the first licence ever to test such a vehicle on a public highway by the US state of Nevada.

Using a combination of GPS, radar and video cameras, the Freightliner Inspiration can drive by itself on open stretches of road, freeing a driver to take breaks, check his emails and even watch DVDs.

The catch is that a qualified person must remain in front of the wheel at all times so they can take control if something goes wrong.

However, proponents say that the technology, once perfected, will reduce accidents by lessening the chance of human error, boost productivity and cut emissions.

Source: BBC News

Posted by Lois Hardy on 26/05/2015