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What the Papers SayBack

Fleet drives UK new car market to half-year record -SMMT

new car

UK new car registrations grew 7% in the first half of 2015 to the highest half-year total on record.

Figures released this morning by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that

1,376,889 cars were registered between January and June – higher than the previous record of 1,376,565 in the same period in 2004.

June marked the 40th consecutive month of growth in the market with a 12.9% increase in the month to 257,817 units.

A significant feature of recent months has been a strong surge in demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles, and this was once again the case in June with volumes rising 70.9%.

Fleet registrations continue to drive the growth, up 18.9% year-on-year, now representing 52.8% of the market, compared to a 50.1% slice last year. Year-to-date fleet registrations are up 13.1%.

Private registrations were up 6.6% in June compared to the same month in 2014. Year-to-date, they’re up 2.1%.

Mike Hawes (pictured), SMMT chief executive, said: “It is still a great time to buy a new car in the UK, and it is encouraging to see more consumers choosing British models.

“This is important for the wider economy with 799,000 people now employed across the UK automotive sector, including retail. We anticipate a flatter second half of the year as the market finds its natural running rate.”

Low interest rates and attractive finance deals, combined with a wealth of new models featuring the latest technologies, have continued to encourage consumers to purchase new cars, he said.

“It is extremely positive to see the new car market has now achieved 40 consecutive months of growth – increasing 12.9% in June,” said Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA).

“Although it is encouraging to see that the market is continuing to grow, feedback and information from the industry suggests that manufactures could be pushing the market through use of targets and incentives.

“There is speculation that registration figures may not reflect the real number of cars actually being sold to end users.”


Mercedes-Benz Retail Group pop-up shop drives success

The Mercedes-Benz Retail Group pop-up shop in the Bullring Shopping Centre, Birmingham, attracted more than 45,000 visitors between May 25 and June 25.

Opened in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz Birmingham Central, Mercedes-Benz Solihull and Mercedes-Benz Tamworth, the pop-up store generated 479 sales leads in the five-weeks it was open. The brand’s in-store offering of Mercedes-Benz accessories, clothing and Mercedes AMG Petronas merchandise also proved highly popular, with sales exceeding £19,000.

General manager for Mercedes-Benz Birmingham Central Adam McCullagh said: “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.”

The store displayed an array of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, including the new Mercedes-AMG GT super car. As well as a 2015-liveried Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One car.


MG opens 65th UK dealership – Ullswater Road Garage

Ullswater Road Garage in Penrith has become the 65th MG sales dealership in the UK.

Thirty five years ago Mark Windle opened the business as a body repairer, then included a 24-hour body repair operation.

Windle, managing director, said: “With the recovery business going flat out we started to branch out and bought land to expand our operations. We now have a business site covering four acres just off the M6 in Penrith and we have another site 27 miles down the motorway in Kendal.”

As well as car showrooms and work bays, the Penrith site houses the Cumbria Mini Centre, selling Minis and customised parts; retail units, a car hire business and the breakdown operation as well as a leased out restaurant, petrol forecourt and convenience store.

Ullswater Road Garage employs 40 people and the MG business has created a new post – the firm is now searching for an MG sales specialist and Windle has plans to expand the MG business.

He has already invested in a new dedicated showroom at their Ullswater Road site and have planned a summer programme of events, starting on Saturday by taking new MGs to the Skelton Horticultural Show.

“As soon as people knew we had won the MG franchise we started to get enquiries, and that was before we had cars or MG signage. So it just shows you the huge support and passion there is for MG.

Matthew Cheyne, MG’s head of sales and marketing, said: “Mark’s drive and ambition is matched by ours and we welcome Ullswater Road Garage to our rapidly expanding dealer network.

“Last year MG was the fastest growing brand in Britain and our sales, so far this year, are way ahead of last year. As more people take test drives, they realise what great products we have with the MG3 and the new MG6.”


Commercial vehicle registrations reach a half-year record in June

Commercial vehicle registrations reached a record half-year total of 209,515 to June.

Strong growth in van market is defining factor, with an all-time high of 186,404 vehicles registered in the first six months.

“The record half-year total for commercial vehicle registrations is not unexpected given the significant gains being made in the van market,” said Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ chief executive.

“Registrations of vans have been increasing strongly for some time, underpinned by economic confidence among large and small businesses, as well as the growing trend for home deliveries.

“The significant rise in truck registrations in June mirrors the sector’s performance in the year so far as it readjusts from the regulatory changes of 2014, while once again it was the heavier vehicles in van, artic and rigid segments that posted the largest rises.”

UK van and truck registrations: 2015 and % change on 2014
June % change Year-to-date % change Rolling yr % change
Vans 35,742 16.4% 186,404 19.8% 352,558 20.2%
Trucks 4,568 41.5% 23,111 40.6% 48,144 -6.2%
Total 40,310 18.8% 209,515 21.8% 400,702 16.2%


UK has “the world’s most expensive diesel”

The UK has the most expensive diesel in the world, said fuel card provider The Fuelcard People.

Steve Clarke, group marketing manager, cited the latest research by, published on June, 22, 2015.

He said: “It made headlines that the UK is back into the world ‘Top Ten’ for petrol prices, but nobody seems to have noticed the diesel chart. Of more than 170 countries surveyed, we have the world’s most expensive diesel.”

Clarke continued: “There is no mystery to the UK’s embarrassing position. Each nation buys oil on the same global markets, but then imposes its own taxes. The price on our forecourts includes 59% for diesel, 61% for petrol. Having to pay the highest fuel duty in Europe is crippling our economy and hindering the recovery.”

He put the high rates of duty into context and offered a warning to UK businesses. “Even firms in notoriously expensive places like Switzerland, Luxembourg and Monaco pay less for petrol. Everyone in the world pays less than our companies have to pay for diesel.”

Clarke added: “With fuel being a major cost for any business using the roads, we are trying to compete internationally on a very uneven playing field. With a deficit to clear and no room for manoeuvre, nobody should expect the government to be reducing fuel duty in the foreseeable future.”


AA says Government should avoid motoring tax hikes in emergency budget

The Government should avoid tax hikes on motorists in this week’s Budget, warns the AA.

A week ago, 73% of a Populus poll of 25,810 AA members said they fear a post-election rise in motoring taxes. Among blue collar workers, that worry rises to 83%.

More than 10% of all UK tax comes from motorists’ pockets – and the share is growing, the AA highlights in the run-up to Wednesday’s budget.

Fuel duty receipts from January to May are already £120 million higher than last year, and last financial year’s were more than £2 billion higher than in pre-recession 2007/8.

Although the Chancellor promised that the fuel duty freeze since 2011 is set to continue in September, the AA is concerned that urban emissions scare-mongering will be used as an excuse for raising fuel and car ownership tax (VED) – as has been the case with Islington’s £100 levy on diesel car ownership.

In the March budget, George Osborne committed to the cancellation of a fuel duty rise in September: “The Fuel Duty increase by RPI planned for 1 September 2015, due to be 0.54 pence per litre, will be cancelled.”

In reality, for the past three months, the Treasury has been getting at least an extra 0.5p a litre in VAT from non-business diesel drivers. Although the wholesale price of diesel has been the same or as much as 3p a litre lower than the cost of petrol, fuel retailers have been charging up to 6p a litre more for diesel at the pump – 20% of which is VAT.

UK voters with cars and other vehicles pay more in fuel duty (£26.9bn) alone than UK firms and companies pay in business rates (£26.8bn) and the equivalent of 97.5% of what is received through council tax (£27.5bn, according to the Budget Report 2015, Table C.3, page 110: Current Receipts – OBR). Other motoring taxes raise another £6.1bn in vehicle excise duties, and a further £25bn from VAT on fuel and car sales, company car tax and insurance premium tax. Of the £582.6 billion raised in UK taxes last financial year, almost 10% came from motorists.

These sums do not include: VAT from car repairs and other motoring-related expenditure, income to councils from parking charges, resident parking permits and penalty charge notices (parking and moving traffic offences), congestion charges, and bridge tolls. Dartford Crossing, alone, generates £90 million a year in income. All these contribute to the public purse at national or local level.

Rather than an even greater burden of tax, the AA calls on the Chancellor to be more innovative in using more of the existing tax haul to influence motoring behaviour – helping government to meet CO2 and other emissions targets while potentially generating more tax in the short-term.


Tributes paid to Suzuki dealer retail veteran Colin Appleyard

Colin Appleyard, who founded what became the UK’s largest Suzuki dealer, has died.

His son Robin, managing director of Colin Appleyard which has dealerships in Keighley, Huddersfield, Shipley and Ashton-Under-Lyne, paid tribute to his father, who had started his career as a motorcycle mechanic for Allan Jefferies in Shipley in 1951.

Having worked his way up to the role of sales director, at the age of 34 Colin Appleyard decided to open his own dealership in Keighley in 1970. Retailing Suzuki and Honda motorcycles, nine years later he became Suzuki Cars first retailer in the UK.

“Despite failing health he remained active in the business until his last few weeks,” Robin Appleyard told the Telegraph & Argus local newspaper.

“On his final trip abroad to the Suzuki conference and awards dinner in Amsterdam last December, he was delighted to be given a standing ovation when he stepped up to receive – for the sixth time – the Dealer of the Year title plus a special award to mark the company’s 35 years as a Suzuki dealer and reaching sales of 30,000 new cars.”

Colin Appleyard was awarded an MBE in the 2013 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his lifelong service to motorcycle racing.

The funeral will take place at 2pm, Thursday at St Peter’s Church, Moorhead Lane, Shipley, BD18 4JN and afterwards at The Bankfield Hotel, Bingley.



More than a quarter of all drivers had an illegal tyre on their vehicle, at the time they were replaced, according to results from a survey conducted by TyreSafe in partnership with Highways England. This suggests that nearly 10 million tyres on the roads of England, Scotland and Wales could be dangerous and illegal in 2015. That figure equates to potentially up to one in every four cars and LCVs of the 35.3m vehicles on Britain’s roads having an illegal tyre at some time during the year.

TyreSafe, the UK’s not-for-profit tyre safety organisation, is reiterating its long standing message about simple tyre safety maintenance, and is urging all drivers to check their vehicle’s tyres, making sure they are not adding a substantial and avoidable risk to both themselves and other road users.

The findings come from the most comprehensive survey across Britain’s tyre industry to date, which collated data on the tread depth of tyres when they are replaced. With the legal minimum at 1.6mm, tread depth plays a decisive factor in braking and steering especially in the wet. Research has demonstrated that the braking distance from 50mph to standstill in wet conditions increases by more than the length of a full-sized shipping container (14m) when using worn tyres rather than new ones, which dramatically raises the chances of a collision.

TyreSafe believes the main reason so many millions of motorists are taking risks with their tyre safety lies in a lack of awareness and driver education.

Source: off to a blistering start, the new online trade to trade platform set-up by the original management team of Autotrade-mail has already seen stock worth £1.5 million advertised within its first fortnight of trading.

Co-founder Laura Cannon said ‘With a severe shortage of quality stock, it’s been really nice to see prime retail stock coming on to the platform, from a Fiat 500 convertible to a choice of Mini Countrymans.’

The online B2B trade arena is heating up with lots of new businesses bringing their offering to the table, Cartotrade being one of the latest.

The Cartotrade team has considerable experience in this field not only from running Autotrade-mail for many years, but more importantly over 30 years’ experience working within dealerships.

Kevin Watson, another co-founder, said: ‘Before deciding to launch our own business, we carried out an in-depth analysis of the existing B2B players and came to the conclusion we could be refreshingly different. It’s nice not to be working for a corporation or reporting to shareholders – I’m not knocking BCA’s Tradeouts, or Manheim’s Dealer Auction or even Auto Trader’s Autotrade-Mail, but we have the freedom and fluidity to do precisely what dealers want.

‘We know it will take many months or possibly even years to become a true partner, but we’re determined to put in the hard work to get there.’

Wayne Rourke at VFM Cars Ltd said: ‘Fantastic result – sold a car yesterday within minutes of placing the advert, so impressed with the Cartotrade team and their offering. I’ve been recommending them to fellow dealers.’

Gee Pugsley, another co-founder, added: ‘We’re delighted with the initial reaction but we do need more dealers on board to create a truly fantastic platform. We urge our existing dealers to share their secret and tell industry friends and colleagues about the extended free trial on offer.’


Lookers opens one of the largest Audi showrooms in Europe

LOOKERS Audi has officially unveiled its new Audi Approved used-car showroom and after-sales service centre in Hamilton, Glasgow.

A major investment of £3.5 million by the company has resulted in the provision of at least 30 new jobs in what is now one of the largest Audi Approved sites in Europe.

Officially opened by Audi UK brand director André Konsbruck, the giant 6.5-acre site showcases more than 120 Audi Approved used cars with storage facilities for an additional 450 vehicles. The service centre has 10 fully functional bays and there are immediate plans to double this capacity.

Formerly known as Lomond Audi, leading UK car retailer Lookers plc acquired the Glasgow-based group in 2012.

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 which will be used to extend and enhance the Edinburgh Audi facility.

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.


Victory’s sporting future

American firm pins future on meeting sporty riders’ needs

Victory are about to embark on massive expansion as they attempt to become a more sporty brand, with both performance roadsters and even full-on sportsbikes being part of the plan.

The American firm entered this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) with Project 156, a large-capacity V-twin prototype. The bike was co-designed by Roland Sands Design, which made the chassis and minimal bodywork.

All of this was just two weeks after Northern Ireland’s Lee Johnston finished third in the Isle of Man TT Zero electric race on a Victory, lapping at an average speed of 110mph over the 37.73-mile course.

Both road racing attempts – along with their National Hotrod Racing Association drag bike – are part of a huge effort to raise the profile of Victory as the home of ‘American Performance’. The firm’s heritage brand, Indian, is tasked with taking the fight to Harley-Davidson, while Victory concentrates on performance.

Head of Product for Indian and Victory, Gary Gray, told MCN: “We are still going to be a part of the cruiser and touring market with Victory, because it’s a huge potential market and very, very important to us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t change the way we do things in these segments, and you will see the bikes are going to become more aggressive in terms of performance and styling, and we will move into more sporting segments.

“Whatever changes we make to the future of the Victory brand will work alongside Indian and we will ensure we make small, legitimate, steps.”


Bultaco bets on electric

New crossover moto-bike marks the return of iconic Spanish firm

Bultaco, the long-defunct historic Spanish brand best known for its iconic Sherpa trials and off-road bikes during the 60s and 70s, have relaunched, placing all their efforts into electric and hybrid bikes.

President and co-founder of the new-look Bultaco, Gerald Poellmann, announced the firm’s intentions with the launch of their Brinco electric motorcycle/mountain bike last week, while also hinting that we could see the Bultaco’s first electric motorcycle – the Rapitan – by the end of 2016.

Bultaco hopes the Rapitan Sport prototype, first unveiled alongside the standard Rapitan in 2014, will be available in dealers by the end of 2016. It’s estimated the Rapitan will cost around £10,000 when it goes on sale. To help with the development of their electric bikes, Bultaco have partnered several companies including established electric motorcycle gurus, MotoCzysz. Bultaco are also in the early stages of developing a scooter which uses hybrid technology.


Ducati report 22% global sales increase

Ducati have sold 32,600 motorcycles in the first six months of 2015 – an increase of 22% – leading to an all-time sales record for the Italian manufacturer.

The biggest percentage insreases were recorded in Italy (+51%), followed by Spain (+38%), the UK (+36%), Germany (+24%) and France (+23%). The USA is Ducati’s leading market, with sales rising by 10%.

9000 Ducati Scramblers have been sold so far this year, alongside 4700 Multistradas, 3700 Monster 821s and 3000 Panigales.

“This record-breaking performance by Ducati in the first half of 2015”, commented Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, “stems from the incredible efforts made over the last two years.

“Products like the Scrambler, Multistrada and 1299 Panigale reflect the extraordinary talent of workers who, day after day, dedicate themselves to making customers’ dreams come true.

“This exceptional growth is the result of teamwork, an ability to handle the complexity of selling in over 90 countries and running 11 branches and 3 production plants. That makes me incredibly proud. A big helping hand has, of course, come from the Ducati Corse racing division, of which our customers are the biggest fans.”


Posted by Lois Hardy on 07/07/2015