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HSBCOgilvie agrees £100m worth of investment from HSBC

Contract hire and leasing company Ogilvie Fleet has agreed funding with HSBC that will allow the company to double its fleet size by 2020.

Ogilvie said the bank’s £100m funding arrangement would allow the company to compete for contracts with larger leasing companies. The firm currently operates a fleet approaching 12,000 company cars and vans.

The firm said it has “started to beef up its sales team” ahead of the expansion plans. The finance package includes rental securitisation and core asset funding, and was designed and arranged through HSBC’s asset backed finance team, HSBC equipment finance and the Scottish Corporate Team.

“We are an ambitious business, looking to grow and create jobs. In recent times we have seen an increase in our customer base, invested in technology and devised a prudent disposal strategy, all of which is helping us reach our long-term goals,” said Gordon Stephen, managing director of Ogilvie Fleet.

Ogilvie appointed David Raponi as its new business development director in January.

The firm said it has been the fastest-growing independent contract hire and leasing company in the UK for the last 12 years.

The company has traditionally focused on winning sub-100 vehicle contracts.

Ogilvie said Raponi – who has more than 20 years experience in the industry – would report to the leasing company’s sales and marketing director Nick Hardy


251012 bca logoBCA set for £1bn takeover

Europe’s largest second-hand vehicle auctioneer, British Car Auctions, is expected to be sold for more than £1bn to a City of London consortium.

British Car Auctions is in advanced talks with Haversham Holdings — a listed consortium that is led by former Stobart Group chairwoman Avril Palmer-Baunack.

It includes some of the City’s biggest investors, among them Invesco, Aviva Investors, Artemis and Schroders.

Haversham confirmed that it was ‘advanced discussions which might lead to a transaction’ on Monday morning. Today, a statement was issued on the London Stock Exchange stating ‘at the request of the company trading on AIM for the under-mentioned securities has been temporarily suspended from 16/03/2015 7:30am, pending an announcement and publication of a document.’

Haversham was set up last year and aims to buy businesses in the UK and European automotive, leasing, engineering or manufacturing sectors.

BCA is owned by Clayton Dubilier & Rice, the US private equity company. BCA would reverse into Haversham, gaining entry to the stock market. CD&R is expected to receive a stake of about 10% in Haversham as part of the deal.

BCA declined to comment.


CrossClimateTyresMichelin Cross Climate tyres will be a ‘game-changer’ for UK fleets, says ATS Euromaster

Michelin’s new Cross Climate tyres, the first summer car tyres to be certified for winter use, will be a ‘game changer’ for UK Fleets, according to ATS Euromaster.

It is currently working to secure stocks across its centres in time for the official launch in May.

The company reports that while take-up of cold weather tyres has been high among bluelight, utility and home delivery vehicle operators, a much smaller percentage of company car drivers have committed to changing tyres between seasons.

Peter Fairlie, group sales director at ATS Euromaster, said: “Fitting Michelin Cross Climate tyres will become a simple step businesses can take to significantly improve mobility, safety and duty of care year-round, without any of the perceived hassles associated with fitting two different sets of tyres.

“We’re confident our customers will be as excited in this new tyre technology as we are. Cross Climate tyres have the potential to be a true game-changer in the marketplace.”

ATS Euromaster predicts this new generation of tyres will play a complementary role alongside existing premium brand summer and cold weather tyre ranges, giving fleets and consumers far greater choice.

Fairlie added: “Our advice to business owners where employees frequently drive in snowy and icy conditions will be to continue to fit dedicated cold weather tyres, which are designed for optimal performance in all winter conditions.

The rubber compound and tyre design in premium brand winter products ensures top quality performance on roads with snow or even black ice. However, they are not suitable for driving in hot weather.

“These businesses will be able to continue taking advantage of our ‘tyre hotels’ to conveniently store out-of-season fitments.”


BMWLogoBMW to launch X5 plug-in hybrid

BMW has launched the X5 xDrive40e – the first plug-in hybrid production car from the manufacturer’s core brand.

Its combustion engine and the electric motor, which together generate a total system output of 313hp, provide combined fuel economy of up to 85.6mpg and a combined electricity consumption of 15.3kWh. CO2 emissions are 77g/km.

Short journeys in urban areas can be completed on electric power alone, while in all-electric drive mode, the vehicle is capable of a top speed of an electroncially-limited 75mph.

The X5 xDrive40e goes on sale autumn 2015. Prices will be announced at a later date.


221012 IAM campaignIAM calls for driving test overhaul

Road safety charity Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has called for the driving test to be overhauled to keep it relevant for today’s new drivers.

The test is 80 years old this year: the Road Traffic Act was passed in 1934 and contained the legislation that paved the way for compulsory driving tests in the UK a year later.

The biggest developments in the driving test came into effect in the past two decades: in 1996 a theory test was added to the practical element. From 2002, learners also had to pass a hazard perception exam.

However, as it stands now, the driving test does not include any testing of a driver’s ability to cope safely with country roads, poor weather or driving at night – three aspects which are the main risk factors in the first six months of solo driving.

Road accidents remain the biggest killer of young people in the UK, higher than both alcohol and drugs.

In 2013, 191 people aged under 24 were killed and 20,003 injured when they were driving cars or riding motorbikes.

In the past five years (2009-13), 1,037 people under 24 were killed and 120,958 injured on UK roads as drivers and riders.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM, said: “The driving test needs to become a much more integrated part of a graduated licensing system that picks up on best practice from around the world.

“For instance, Austria has a ‘second phase’ licensing system, where young drivers come back in the first 12 months after the test for further interventions to examine attitude changes and skills.”

Young male driver casualties have dropped by a third in in Austria as a result of the initiative.

The IAM advocates the following changes to the driver training ‘system’ as part of its manifesto: road safety education to be part of the National Curriculum, support for a minimum learning period prior to taking the practical test, the inclusion of high-speed roads in the test itself, support for limits on peer passenger numbers after the test is passed, and a lower drink-drive limit for new drivers.

The organisationalso wants to see learner drivers allowed on motorways so they can learn from an expert rather than on their own after passing the test.

Greig said: “The driving test today does test a driver’s ability to a very high level, but it has fallen behind what is urgently needed today in 2015. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency by the next Government.”

He added that the driving test needed to take into account whether the influence of new technology and driver aids; such as satellite navigation and cradle-held mobile phones used as navigation devices, should play a part in a 21st century driving test.


SwanswayDealer group Swansway rises 40 places in Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list

AM100 car dealer Swansway Group, is celebrating their fifth consecutive year in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for list.

The family owned and run business was placed at number 35 in the list, a real achievement having risen from 75 in 2011.

The list recognises businesses that provide a great working experience for staff and as the results are based totally on anonymous staff surveys.

Swansway group director John Smyth said: “The ranking is purely based on employee feedback, so, as a family business it’s great to know we are getting it right.

We try to treat our employees as one big extended family and our consistent rankings, confirms that’s how they feel.”

His brother and fellow director David said: “Our core values of caring, honest and proud, may sound a little old-fashioned in this digital age; but the proof is in the results, our happy staff lead to happy customers, which in turn give us great results across the board.”

Swansway has 17 sites, with 11 brands, including Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Honda, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Jeep, Abarth and Land Rover.

Sytner came second in the 25 Best Big Companies To Work For countdown.

The Sunday Times’ citation for Swansway:

“Swansway Garages is a family affair. Michael Smyth, the chairman, is known as the father of the business, but Swansway is not his only baby — his sons David, Peter and John run it alongside their dad.

Smyth Sr has had 45-plus years in the car trade. He started out repairing and servicing vehicles in a shed, acquiring petrol forecourts before building and becoming the largest Toyota and Lexus dealer in Europe. His family now owns and runs an 18-strong chain of approved dealerships for car brands that include Audi, Volkswagen, Seat and Honda, as well as two accident repair centres.

With headquarters in Crewe, the 678 Swansway employees work in 18 sites across the northwest and West Midlands, selling new and used cars to individuals as well as to fleet customers, plus delivering services and repairs. Their bosses’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and get on with any task and their passion for the business is noted among the workforce, who say senior managers truly live the company’s values, giving this measure a top-30 score of 77% positive. The staff have faith in Smyth Sr (83%) and say he runs the company on sound morals (82%).

Constant easy dialogue is the Swansway approach to communication within the firm. An open-door policy allows workers to speak to line managers as and when needed. The company also has an allotted ‘buddy’ who acts as a sounding board for employees to speak to off the record if they would rather not go to their manager or human resources.

Backroom staff, who are often overlooked in favour of salespeople within the industry, are celebrated at Swansway with ‘unsung hero’ awards every quarter. People nominate colleagues who have made an outstanding contribution and, with board approval, the winners receive trophies and £50 of gift vouchers.

Those at the frontline get a look-in too, however, and competitive spirit in the sales and service teams is encouraged by productivity leagues. Top performers in the leagues competed in a challenge last year that saw 50 employees winning a trip to the Nurburgring in Germany for motor racing and go-karting.

“Swansway employees are excited about where the business is going (81%,) and believe their contribution to its success counts (86). The company is clear about what is expected of staff in their work (also 81%, ranking ninth) and they love working for the company (80%).”


GMLogoPlaintiffs’ Lawyers Say GM Internal Documents Contradict Valukas Report

Plaintiffs from around the country who are suing General Motors over faulty ignition switches have gained access to “millions” of previously confidential documents produced by the automaker and plan to depose numerous current and former top executives this year, two lawyers involved in a key case said [Monday]. Their comments suggest that GM’s confidential settlement last week with the parents of a Georgia woman who died in 2010 could mark the beginning of more disclosures about GM’s handling of the ignition defect, rather than just closing a chapter in the case. Lawyers Lance Cooper of Georgia and Jere Beasley of Alabama contend that the documents, which include internal communication between GM officials and the automaker’s attorneys, contradict the conclusions reached by GM’s internal investigation.

Source: Automotive News

ChryslerLogoChrysler to exit UK in 2017

Chrysler franchisees have been issued two years notice that the brand will withdraw from the UK in 2017.

Chrysler UK said the latest possible date that the brand will be operating in the UK will be March 15, 2017 and its network of car dealers has been given 24 months notice of termination.

The exit has been widely expected, as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles UK, the parent group, had begun promoting Jeep as a separate entity over the past 24 months after years of trading from Chrysler Jeep dealerships.

Chrysler’s product line-up, including the Ypsilon supermini, Delta family hatchback, 300C large saloon and Grand Voyager MPV, have struggled to garner significant interest among UK consumers.

In 2014 Chrysler’s new registrations totalled 1,982 units.


131211 Mobile phone usageSuppliers must be smartphone ready

Motor industry suppliers must ensure that customers can shop for their products and services through their smartphones, says iVendi.

The company points to statistics from CAP Gemini showing that, in the space of a year, the number of mobile customers willing to complete an e-commerce transaction through their smartphone had risen from one in five to one in four.

James Tew, CEO at iVendi said, ‘In recent years, a lot of dealer, car portal and manufacturer effort has gone into ensuring that e-commerce works well on tablets but the fact is that tablet sales are stagnating while smartphones continue to rise.

‘Whatever car-related product or service you sell, now is the time to ensure that they work excellently well on both Apple iPhones and Google Android smartphones. If you don’t, there is a good chance that customers will go to competitors who do.

‘There are some people working in the industry who will tell you that customers don’t feel confident in buying a car or making a finance application through to purchase using just their smartphone – but we see it happen every day.

‘Some people will complete their mortgage application on a bus or train using their smartphone, so it is unsurprising that people will buy cars and related products.’

James said that iVendi had spent considerable resources over the last year ensuring that its Quoteware online finance calculator and Car Finance Checker finance prequalifier provided a high quality experience on a wide variety of smartphones.

He said, ‘Preserving a high level of functionality on a smartphone screen isn’t always easy but we have arrived at solutions that we see working well. Motor industry web designers need to be as imaginative as possible to produce good, useable products.

‘A key area to monitor is security. Research shows that one of the reasons that people do not use smartphones to complete e-commerce transactions is because they are worried about this. You must ensure that your smartphone processes are as watertight as possible and that the customer has a high degree of confidence.’


FlyingCarFinally! A Flying Car Could Go On Sale By 2017

It’s the future promised to us by the Jetsons, “Back To The Future” and even as far back as Jules Verne: Finally after decades of dreaming and waiting, a company has plans to make a flying car commercially available to the public within 24 months.Last year, Slovakian company AeroMobil unveiled its latest prototype of an elongated, road-ready vehicle with stowable wings that can navigate both city traffic and the airspace in between landings and take-offs from the world’s airports. (Forbes contributor Federico Guerrini covered the reveal in Vienna in October; check it out for more details on the latest model known as the Aeromobil 3.0.) Then, this week at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Co-Founder and CEO Juraj Vaculik said that the company planned to move flying cars to market sooner than later. “We are now scaling up quite fast, building the team, and the plan is that in 2017 we’ll be able to announce… the first flying roadster,” Vaculik told CNBC. “The point is not only to showcase that it’s possible
to marry together a plane and a car, but to really commercialize it.”


Ford1Ford turns to Microsoft to provide wireless software updates for its cars

Car manufacturers are scrambling to introduce wireless fixes that allow connected cars to be updated in the same way that smartphones receive software upgrades. Over-the-air updates allow carmakers to add functions and improve the performance of vehicles. That connectivity also means that software problems can be fixed without drivers having to visit the dealership, offering savings for manufacturers and convenience for customers.


NFDABudgetGood times to roll with £10bn extra for budget

George Osborne will today use a £10 billion windfall from a booming economy to offer voters a taste of post-austerity Britain as he kicks off the Conservatives’ election campaign. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) will upgrade GDP growth for this year and next in today’s budget, giving the chancellor room to ease planned spending cuts while meeting the deadline to clear the deficit and fund tax cuts for millions of workers.

AutoTraderAuto Trader ‘loses its way as website traffic falls’

The biggest online seller of used cars in the UK, which is scheduled to float this month, was accused yesterday of over-revving its future growth potential. Eagle Alpha, an online analytics business set up by a former Morgan Stanley banker, said that web traffic at Auto Trader Group had shrunk by 19 per cent year on year despite vehicle sales rising for 34 consecutive months.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 20/03/2015