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SMMT urges Government to avert automotive industry ‘cliff edge’
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has set out its priorities to assure the UK automotive industry’s future success – a year ahead of Brexit. New figures compiled in Production Outlook, an independent forecasting report released today, have revealed that the UK’s vehicle production output will fall this year to around 1.729m but should climb to 1.8m by 2023. But while the SMMT said that the agreement of a Brexit transition period, designed to allow business to continue as usual while a new UK-EU trading relationship is negotiated, provides some welcome breathing space, it said in a statement that the industry “now seeks rapid progress on key automotive concerns to avoid another cliff edge on 31 December 2020”. It said that UK competitiveness starts with local conditions, stating: “Business rates, capital allowances and energy costs, for instance, must all be globally competitive; training and skills for a productive workforce must focus on new technologies and the UK supply chain must be attractive to investment.”
The SMMT said that the manufacturing sector is already one of the UK’s most important economic pillars, delivering an annual £22.8 billion direct to the Treasury, employing 169,000 people and responsible for 13% of all the UK’s export in goods. However, new figures published today show that the true scale of the sector’s economic contribution is significantly larger, at around £219 billion. The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) estimates the 590,000 people are currently employed within the automotive retail sector alone. A new SMMT study of economic figures highlights the industry’s impact on adjacent sectors, however, and claims that “some 200,000 people are employed in new car retail”, adding that UK-based car finance firms employ over 45,000 more, with an annual £12.5 billion economic contribution. On the road, the vehicle fuel industry supports 40,000 jobs, meanwhile, and a further 347,000 are employed in vehicle servicing and repair, it said.
Used car market at six-year-high says cap hpi
Figures from Black Book Live show the used car market in 2018 is proving to be the strongest year since the daily Live data product was introduced in 2012. Average values have increased by 1.2% since the turn of the year, compared to a drop of 0.7% last year. The previous strongest year was 2014 when values increased by 0.8%.
Derren Martin, head of current valuations at cap hpi said: “An increase in average values in March moving into April is not unprecedented. However, it is the cumulative increase since the turn of the year that is the main eye-opener.
“The sectors showing the main areas of pricing strength continued to be city cars, superminis and lower medium-sized cars, while convertibles are behaving as they normally do at this time of year, leading up to the spring and summer. The increase in demand for smaller vehicles is partly as a result of consumers downsizing but also a desire for petrol vehicles.”
IMI survey results reveal lack of knowledge about EVs
A new report commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has revealed some startling insights into how electric vehicles (EVs) are perceived by the UK public. Nearly one third of those people surveyed said that they would never consider buying an EV. Two thirds (66%) said they would not know where to find a charging point, while 82% of respondents said they don’t know enough about EVs to switch over from petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles.
Commenting on the survey results, the IMI noted that such attitudes could make it more difficult to implement the proposed 2040 ban on the sale of new vehicles fitted with internal combustion (IC) engines in the UK. The survey results further revealed that there is a lack of knowledge about the expertise and training required to service and maintain an electric vehicle. According to the results, nine out of 10 drivers are not aware of the training or qualifications needed by technicians working on EVs and, perhaps more troubling, 59% of respondents said they would be confident performing basic maintenance tasks on an EV, despite the inherent dangers of the high-voltage powertrain.
New electric vehicle training for rescue and recovery technicians
Allianz Worldwide Partners has teamed up with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) to create a new electric, hybrid and PHEV vehicle training programme for roadside recovery technicians. Almost 120,000 alternative fuel vehicles were registered in the UK in 2017, up from 88,881 in 2016, accounting for one in every 21 new cars. The Allianz Worldwide Partners is working to achieve a Level 4 accreditation in Electric, Hybrid and PHEV vehicles, with the IMI acting as the awarding body.
Mike Donley, technical training manager at Allianz Worldwide Partners in the UK, said: “The growth of the hybrid and electric vehicle market means the rescue and recovery industry need an understanding of the specific requirements for the safe handling of electric and hybrid vehicles. Whether it’s during transportation and recovery or minor repairs at the roadside, all technicians need to gain a clear overview of electric and hybrid vehicles and recognise the best practices and health and safety requirements for their job.
Clean Air Zones will keep used Euro 6 van prices high, says Shoreham Vehicle Auctions
The introduction of Clean Air Zones from 2019 will see demand for used Euro 6 vans grow, keeping values high, says Shoreham Vehicle Auctions. However, Alex Wright, the company’s managing director, is concerned that new Euro 6 vans will become increasingly difficult to source as manufacturers move their production into the left-hand drive economies that are starting to grow. He said: “There will be a high demand for used Euro 6 vans from 2019 as operators look to enter our cities without incurring massive fines, but my biggest worry is that the supply of new vans will become more restricted. “OEMs have invested tens of millions in aggressive discounts and finance offers to drive sales in the UK in the past few years.
“When you have other European economies that are growing and where demand for new vans is high then surely they will redirect their marketing money away from the UK. “That will mean prices of new Euro 6 vans will start to creep up, and UK operators will be faced with longer new van lead times as new stock becomes more restricted. They may even restrict supply to high discount high volume sectors of the market.
Manufacturers install cars with ecall
As of this Saturday (31 March), automobile manufacturers will equip all new car types with eCall; a system that automatically dials emergency services in the event of a serious road traffic accident. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) welcomes this milestone, which has been made possible thanks to huge investments by the industry.
‘eCall has the potential to save many lives by shortening the reaction time of emergency services. This means that ambulances, fire engines and the police can intervene as quickly as possible within the ‘golden hour’ after a collision,’ explained ACEA secretary general, Erik Jonnaert.
‘The rollout of eCall is just one of many developments designed to limit the effects of road accidents,’ Erik stated. ‘Looking towards the future, ‘active safety’ technologies – which can prevent accidents from happening at all – offer massive potential to further improve road safety, for example by automatically intervening when a driver fails to react in time.’ ACEA also calls for an integrated approach to safety, combining further improvements in vehicle technology with improved driver training, better road design and maintenance, and the enforcement of existing traffic regulations.
Boost for hydrogen as project wins £8.8m funding from DfT
Police cars and taxis will be among nearly 200 new hydrogen powered vehicles switching to zero emission miles, following a multi-million pound Government boost. The zero emission vehicles are part of a project that has won £8.8m in funding from the Department for Transport to improve access to hydrogen refuelling stations up and down the country and increase the number of hydrogen cars on our roads from this summer.
The winning project is run by a consortium managed by Element Energy and including expertise from ITM Power, Shell, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai. It is designed to capitalise on the reliable mileage of established fleets and see vehicles being procured by emergency services such as the Metropolitan Police, as well as Green Tomato Cars and Europcar to support the growth of refuelling infrastructure for hydrogen vehicles up and down the country. Roads minister Jesse Norman said: “Decarbonising our roads is an essential part of meeting our climate targets. The innovative new technologies involved present great opportunities for our increasingly low carbon economy.
“Hydrogen has huge potential, especially for those making longer journeys and clocking up high mileage. That is what makes this project truly exciting. Not only is it demonstrating the technology in action, but it is also developing the refuelling infrastructure needed for the future.” The project means hydrogen cars will be able to travel further around Britain, with new refuelling stations being planned for Southwark, Isleworth, Birmingham and Derby paving the way for future expansion.
The £8.8m grant will be matched by a further £13.1m investment including support from the companies in the consortium and other sources. The project will involve the procurement of new vehicles, construction of new stations and upgrades to existing stations.
Shell opens new hydrogen site at Beaconsfield M40 services
Shell has opened a new hydrogen refuelling station at Shell Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, just as the Department of Transport has confirmed a multi-million pound funding boost to increase the uptake of hydrogen.
Shell Beaconsfield on the M40 will be the first site in the UK to bring hydrogen under the same canopy as petrol and diesel. It follows the launch of the first fully branded and public hydrogen refuelling site in the UK at Shell Cobham in February in 2017. The company will soon open a third hydrogen refuelling site at its Gatwick North site. He said usage at the Cobham site was currently low – equal to one to three uses per day – at a site that serves 4,000 customers every day.
BMW to launch retail subscription model in US: reports
BMW is to pilot a car subscription service in the US state of Tennessee, according to reports. Citing an unnamed source in BMW, Bloomberg reported that starting April 2, the Bavarian carmaker will offer a subscription service from a dealership in Nashville, allowing customers to switch between models over the lifetime of the contract. Asked about the reports, a spokesman for BMW told Motor Finance the company was planning a subscription pilot for 2018, without giving further information.
BMW would not be the first carmaker to experiment with usage-driven, all-inclusive subscription services for consumers. Last year, Chinese-owned Volvo introduced subscription offers Europe-wide for its XC40model and UK-wide for its Polestar performance range. The monthly-payment packages include vehicle replacement every two years, servicing, insurance and tax. They also allow temporarily switching between similar vehicles during the contract. An equivalent offer, called Canvas, was launched by Ford in California, with plans to pilot a similar offer for the maker’s Lincoln brand.
BMW and Daimler to combine mobility services
German manufacturing giants BMW Group and Daimler have agreed to merge their mobility service business units, subject to approval from the responsible competition authorities. BMW and Daimler will both own 50% of the newly-created joint-venture.
According to a release, the joint venture model has been designed to combine BMW and Daimler services in car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking, charging and multi-modality. Until now, the two had been competing on mobility related fronts. Their relatively high profile carsharing platforms Car2Go and DriveNow were potential competition to one another – now these businesses will operate under one roof. The two businesses operate a total of 20,000 vehicles in 31 cities, and the companies said they have over 4m customers. It will also see Daimler and BMW’s various ride hailing apps, including mytaxi, Chauffeur Privé, Clever Taxi and Beat all brought together. It will also see their parking brands (PArkNow and Parkmobile), charging brands (ChargeNow and Digital Charging Solutions) and on-demand mobility services (moovel and ReachNow) all brought together.