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The National Motorcycle Dealers Association (NMDA) is encouraging the industry to reflect on the positive growth achieved during the past year. New registrations in 2014 were higher than in any year since 2009; December sales overall were up 10.6 per cent, with 4,554 bikes registered in the month, pushing the sales figure for the year over the magic 100k mark to a magnificent 101,277 new machines.
The biggest growth was in the 51-125cc sector, though demand also increased by 18.3 per cent and 13.7 per cent respectively in the 651-1,000cc and over -1,000cc sectors. In the style sectors, the naked category showed the greatest growth with an uplift of 32.1 per cent (much of it in the 125cc capacity band).
The NDMA believes manufacturers have successfully adapted and modified their product offerings to reflect the current demands, and are benefiting from generally increased confidence in the economy.
Easing finance conditions and demand for fast and expensive cars in the UK helped drive double-digit sales rises at car dealer Inchcape, but profits fell due to uncertainty in Russia.
The company sells brands including Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi across 26 countries, but outgoing chief executive André Lacroix said the UK had been “phenomenal” for the business – accounting for £2.5 billion of its global turnover, which rose 10% to £6.7 billion last year.
Lacroix added: “The UK market benefited from underlying economic growth and the easing of finance.”
But Inchcape’s exposure to the Russian market and political uncertainties meant it took a £47.4 million one-off hit, leaving pre-tax profit down 4% at £255.8 million, although markets in Greece and Singapore improved.
It is the final set of results under Lacroix, who leaves at the end of the month to join product-testing firm Intertek. He will be succeeded by Bacardi executive Stefan Bomhard.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has today launched a nationwide campaign to challenge what it calls the “increasing demonisation of diesel” as a fuel for cars.
The organisation has joined forces with major car makers includingBMW, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen to “set the record straight on diesel cars” in light of “widespread confusion” over pollutants emitted by diesel engines.
Diesel was once championed by policy makers for being the most efficient fuel type, but there has been a dramatic about-turn in recent months, with nitrogen oxides and other particulates produced by older diesel engines being blamed for respiratory-related health problems.
“Today’s diesel engines are the cleanest ever, and the culmination of billions of pounds of investment by manufacturers to improve air quality,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Bans and parking taxes on diesel vehicles therefore make no sense from an environmental point of view.
“We need to avoid penalising one vehicle technology over another and instead encourage the uptake of the latest low-emission vehicles by consumers. The allegations against diesel cars made in recent months threaten to misguide policy making and undermine public confidence.”
A poll by YouGov indicated a startling lack of knowledge over the efforts made by the motor industry to improve the cleanliness of diesel engines. Just under one in five of those surveyed correctly indentified that power stations, and not diesel cars, are the biggest contributor of nitrogen oxides.
Almost three quarters of motorists surveyed were against penalties for the UK’s cleanest diesel engines, while 87% of respondents were unaware of the latest Euro 6 regulation-compliant vehicle emission technology.
More information about the SMMT’s new ‘Diesel Facts’ campaign can be found at dieselfacts.co.uk or via a leaflet distributed at car dealers.
The BMW X5 topped Tracker’s most stolen and recovered vehicle table for 2014 – the sixth year in a row in has held this position.
BMW models have dominated the top 10 for the past three years, but 2014 saw an increase in the range of Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover marques being stolen and recovered.
The BMW M3 moved down from second place to sixth, in 2014, whilst the Mercedes C-Class moved up a place to take the number two slot.
The Range Rover Sport jumped four places, up to third position and the Land Rover Discovery makes a new entry at fifth, suggesting that 4x4s were in big demand for organised crime gangs 2014.
“The 2014 figures illustrate that prestige models continue to catch the eye of thieves, but the average value of stolen cars we recovered was just £25,600, suggesting that older models of prestige cars could be just as attractive to criminals as newer models, ” said Andy Barrs, head of police liaison at Tracker. Interestingly, the number of vehicles that are being stolen without keys has steadily risen over the last few years, accounting for 43% in 2014. We believe this is down to the growth in car hacking where criminals target keyless vehicles by bypassing their security systems, using technology they’ve bought on the internet.”