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General news updateBack

NADACommentary: Price Competition Among Dealers Benefits Car Buyers

What’s in 2.2 percent? As a percentage of total sales, it’s a number that represents the average pretax, net profit at U.S. franchised new-car dealerships, according to NADA Data 2014. And what may be a startling fact is that the 2.2 percent profit, which accounts for sales in the new- and used-vehicle, service and parts departments, is more than a one-percentage point less than what many other retailers earn. This figure has remained the same for the third straight year. And this dynamic is attributed to fierce competition at dealerships that benefits car buyers. In fact, a recent study from the Washington, D.C.-based Phoenix Center proves that price competition among auto dealers lowers car prices for consumers, often by $500 or more per car. Click here for the full commentary.

Source: NADA

RocketJune 2015 Economic Update from Rocket

Welcome to our latest economic report with all the key data on the economy and information about loan rates. It is also my turn amongst the team to write the introductory copy; this month I compared the hard work involved in preparing for a marathon with that required for success in a work endeavour. As I write this covering note, I’m pleased to report that I ran and completed the marathon reported and my thanks to all the many well wishers – the hard training graft really was worth the effort!

Our latest report is available to download by simply clicking here.

DieselNewsE-diesel’ could offer alternative to fossil fuel

Fleets have given a warm welcome to a breakthrough development in fuel research that is promising to give every diesel vehicle a clean bill of health within the next decade.

Harmful tailpipe emissions could soon be banished by e-diesel, a remarkable synthetic liquid just starting to flow from an experimental production facility in Germany set up by Audi and Joule, the US biotech company.

So far, only a small amount of the fuel has been created at the special Dresden unit for evaluation, but the new development coincides with growing criticism of diesel transport.

The fossil fuel faces potential tough new penalties as legislators begin to attempt to cut the amount of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from exhausts in a bid to improve air quality in cities and built-up areas.

As the first batch of the environmentally-friendly alternative to the traditional fossil-based fuel was being tested by German Government officials, Graham Telfer, fleet manager at Gateshead Council welcomed the development.

Telfer, who operates a fleet of 500 vehicles and more than 1,000 items of plant and machinery, said: “Any effort to reduce carbon emissions and demand on fossil fuels is very welcome indeed. Our authority uses more than 250,000 gallons of diesel per year and I totally support this development.”

Telfer’s support was echoed by ACFO chairman John Pryor, who added: “We’re always interested in advances that assist in reducing emissions.

“We don’t know enough about this new fuel to fully understand its implications for the fleet market, but we look forward to learning more about its potential benefits as soon as possible.”

Scientists at Dresden are using a patented process to harness energy from the sun to turn industrial waste CO2 and salt water into liquid fuel with the help of an army of microorganisms, each measuring just three-thousands of a millimeter.

After being adapted to prevent them following the normal course of growing more cells, the tiny microorganisms produce a continuous stream of the paraffin alkanes that are important components in diesel. The process begins with turning water into steam and then separating it into hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis at high temperature.

Under high pressure, the hydrogen then reacts with CO2 to produce ‘blue crude’ – a liquid similar to regular crude but free from sulphur or aromatic hydrocarbons when it is refined to create e-diesel.

“The CO2-neutral mobility we are striving to attain is only feasible with new sustainable forms of energy that can replace fossil fuels over the long term,” explained a company spokesman.

“Conventional fuels, based on petroleum, release CO2 into the atmosphere and diesel from renewable raw materials like corn and rapeseed achieve a better environmental balance because the plants have previously absorbed the CO2 released in combustion.

“However, these fuel sources require costly processing and compete with food agriculture so they can’t be a long term solution.

“We are using renewable ‘feedstock’ for e-diesel – it is a fuel that has no need for agricultural land or fresh water.”

According to experts, vehicles running on e-diesel are as eco-friendly as pure electric vehicles that operate on ‘green’ electricity.

Because it is free of sulphur and aromatics, the new fuel also boasts the advantage of high purity compared with petroleum-derived diesel, which uses a mixture of hydrocarbon compounds.

In addition, it is claimed to offer excellent ignition performances as a result of its high cetane number and is said to permit unlimited blending with fossil fuel diesel.

Significantly, e-diesel calls for no modifications to the millions of TDI motors that have been built by Audi and it is expected to be ready for the commercial market early in the next decade.

Head of Audi UK fleet sales James Douglas told Fleet News: “This is a genuinely exciting development. The potential benefits for fleets are evident; we’re pleased Audi is spearheading pioneering development work of this kind.”


ABILogo80 year old test needs updating

On the 80th anniversary of the driving test, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is urging the Government to start the long overdue process of modernising the way young people learn to drive to bring the UK in line with other major nations like the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Since the driving test became compulsory on June 1st 1935 it has evolved to recognise the end of hand signals, the arrival of automatic gear boxes and to include a separate written theory test. The ABI says the time has now come to introduce a compulsory learning period and additional restrictions for new, young drivers in an effort to cut deaths and injuries on the road.

James Dalton, the ABI’s director of general insurance policy, said, ‘Car crashes remain the biggest cause of accidental death among young people, and more than 20 per cent of all road deaths can be traced back to young drivers. Evidence from overseas indicates these numbers could be drastically improved with the introduction of graduated driving licences.

‘Passing your driving test is only the start of becoming a safe driver. We want to see a minimum one year learning period for under 25s and then an initial period of 6 months when there would be limits on the number of passengers which could be carried. Better driver training would reduce collisions, bring down motor premiums and, most importantly, save hundreds of lives.’

The ABI’s Safe Young Drivers Campaign is calling for:

• A one-year minimum learning period, starting from 16 and a half
• Limits on the number of passengers allowed in a car with a new young driver
• zero tolerance on alcohol
• Limits on young people driving overnight, eg between 11.00pm and 4.00am

Experiences overseas show how effective these additional restrictions can be at reducing accidents involving young drivers. These can be introduced in ways which don’t restrict travel to work or education.

• In Ontario, Canada, a study found a graduated driver licensing programme brought about an immediate 31% reduction in vehicle crashes for drivers aged 16-19, and a 42% reduction for those aged 20-24.
• Two years after a graduated drivers’ licensing system was introduced in New Zealand there was an 8% reduction in the number of accidents involving under 19s.
• In Australia It was found drivers aged 18-20 who learnt to drive with graduated licensing were 23% less likely to be involved in crashes in which someone was injured compared with a control group of full license holders aged 26-38.


EuropeanWhat new ADR legislation will mean for your business

New EU legislation comes into play next month and requires all businesses to have an ADR process in place

Due to a new EU Directive, as of 9th July 2015 businesses will be required to have an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process in place.

ADR offers a cheaper, faster and less formal way of resolving unsettled consumer complaints than via the courts, following the purchase of goods, services or digital content. Other disputes such as discrimination claims and disputes between businesses will not be covered.

The industry has been using conciliation and arbitration services to avoid the need for the legal process for many years and ADR is simply a new acronym for us all to be aware of, say the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI).

In a statement, the RMI said: “The difference is that historically these have been offered to consumers on a voluntary basis or formed a part of consumer code schemes such as Trust My Garage.

The Directive was created due to a lack of sufficiency and consistency for ADR and consumer rights across the EU.

“Ensuring that consumers have a fast, low-cost way of resolving disputes is hoped to boost consumer confidence and increase awareness and uptake of ADR.”

From next July 9, in the event of an unresolved dispute all businesses must provide information about an appropriate certified ADR provider to their customers, and advise whether or not they will use ADR in attempt to settle a dispute.

If a business is obliged by law to use a particular trade provider (which the motor trade isn’t), or through membership of a particular trade association such as the RMI, they must provide information about that certified provider on their websites, and in sales and services contracts if applicable.

The ADR procedure must be free of charge for consumers or available at a nominal fee. Consumers must have the option to submit a complaint themselves, and disputes must usually be concluded within 90 days of receiving the complete complaint file.

The Directive also requires ADR providers to be certified, and the UK government has appointed Trading Standards Institute (TSI) as the competent authority in charge of monitoring ADR entities in the UK.

ADR bodies will need to undergo an initial approval process with TSI and will be monitored to make sure that standards and procedures are enforced.

One of the RMI’s key services to its members is its National Conciliation Service (NCS), a unique ADR facility which offers mediation to solve disputes amicably and fairly, and gives peace of mind to both members and consumers.

The NCS is expected to be approved and certified by the time these new laws come into date.

Contact 0845 305 4230 to find out more about the RMI’s NCS or click ‘More Details’ below.


LCVAverage values dip 2.7% as age, mileage and volumes rise

Average used van prices fell 2.7% in March, with remarketing companies reporting mixed fortunes as the age and mileage of stock rise.

Online remarketing firm Autorola’s average price fell from £11,536 to £8,910 in Q1, the most dramatic change since it began its van prices survey in 2012.

Jon Mitchell, sales director at Autorola, says: “Prices have started to fall, not because demand has reduced, but generally the age and mileage of vehicles coming back onto our online portal have increased.

“We think fleets, and in particular rental companies, are now keeping to their extended post-recession replacement cycles, which is also having an impact. The condition of some of the older used stock is also weaker, which is affecting prices.”

The impact of a fall in residuals depends on the gap between leasing companies’ forecasts and their achieved values (or van fleets’ own forecasts if they buy outright or on finance lease).

Leasing companies have enjoyed strong profits on the back of the better-than-predicted van values of the past three years; this downturn could see them take a more pessimistic view of the future, resulting in a rise in leasing rates.

The National Association of Motor Auctions (NAMA) says average used van prices fell 2.7% in March, although more units (11,329, 23% higher than March 2014) were sold. With the exception of nearly-new LCVs, the total number of vans sold at auction increased within each age band.

However, Alex Wright, chairman of NAMA’s commercial vehicle group, struck a positive note.

“The wholesale market’s performance continues to deliver an upbeat message, with demand holding firm despite sizeable increases in overall sales volume and average age,” he says. “The 7.2% volume increase over February 2015 was expected following the new registrations entering the used LCV market. Even more significantly, we are pleased to see year-on-year growth has reached 23%.

“LCVs over six years old recorded the largest number of sales following a downward trend. We are hopeful that the outlook for the summer months looks promising.”

BCA bucked the trend with a 1% year-on-year increase in average values in March, a rise of £59, although performance against CAP declined by 2.5 points over the year.

The average van being remarketed is two months younger and travelled 1,600 fewer miles, but condition is a concern.

BCA head of commercial vehicles Duncan Ward says: “We continue to see rising volumes of poor condition or similar model vans, which is creating pressure on average values. We have been predicting a tipping point in used values for some time and both fleet/lease and dealer part-exchange vans averaged lower values in March 2015 than a year ago.”

Glass’s Guide notes that a number of late-plate, low-specced vans have been coming off short-term contract in the past few months and have been struggling.

Chief commercial vehicle editor George Alexander says: “This type of LCV, which will have been sold at a massive discount and without all the kit, fails to attract much interest. Similarly, and possibly counter-intuitively, late-year vans remarketed directly from a manufacturer source through the block receive mixed sentiment and under-achieve.”

However, he adds: “It seems likely that the underlying strength of the UK’s economy will carry us safely through the next 18 months.”

Experts at CAP Red Book predict that values may continue to fall but is unsure whether it is part of a long-term trend.

Commercial vehicle editor John Watts says: “It remains to be seen if we are witnessing a return to more traditional seasonal buying patterns or [if] it’s indicative of a return to more sustainable pricing levels.”


CarPeopleCar dealers urge fleets to improve model remarketing plans

Dealers would like fleets to better plan ahead their remarketing model mix when purchasing their vehicles.

Jonathan Allbones, sales director of The Car People, told the Vehicle Remarketing Association conference that trade buyers want value for money, support from remarketing partners, choice and consistent of quality.

He said fleets have improved their remarketing in recent years, and there are fewer identical cars flooding into the market at any one time, but more can be done.

Technology items don’t help the used cars sell, as technology in the car is unable to keep up with the smartphone and tablet’s rate of change.

“You’ll never get that credible surprise and delight from in-car technology,” he said.

Used car buyers are actually more attracted by cosmetic features.

He said if anything the growth in in-car technology has made the retail buyer suffer more doubt over a vehicle if the service history is incomplete or has invalidated any remaining manufacturer warranty, so dealers will be less interested in these cars.

Quality of stock is key, and the NAMA used car grading system has improved supply. The worst cars from de-fleet now don’t reach the wholesale market until they have been refurbished, he said.

Allbones suspects a recovery of the used car market, with a fall in values, will bring average age of ownership down as more consumers feel able to afford a change of car.

Niche models have made the market more diverse so dealers now have to cover the country with several used car buyers in order to acquire the right stock, he said , and repricing a car is a more frequent, fluid process too in order to turn stock more quickly.


smmt logoHow pre-reg and PCPs changed the shape of the market

Much has been made in recent months of the very strong levels of new car registrations in the UK market, but views differ on how this exceptional run of success is being sustained.

SMMT data confirmed that March 2015 was the 37th consecutive month of improved registrations and the best in new registration terms since the two-plate system was introduced in 1999. Year-to-date registrations are up 6.9% on 2014.

Whether these registrations are all genuine sales is doubtful, but what is clear is that the UK economy and subsequent consumer confidence is encouraging manufacturers to push product into the UK market. PCPs are the key facilitator to move these cars to the private buyer so effectively […] the percentage of sales funded by PCP has increased in the past four years.

This is good in many ways. It ensures European over-production is dealt with in a constructive way without further damaging the European position, dealers are given the opportunity to make more money and, of course, the general public have the enjoyment of a new car.

It is also evident that to cope with the level of production due to come to the UK, manufacturers and finance companies will be pushing dealers to bring PCP change cycles forward from those originally agreed. On the face of it, this is again good news for all.

However, it does begin to bring a different dynamic to the used market, which will need to be prepared to absorb greater volumes of newer cars in a way it had not expected.


DavidCameronSMMT dismisses ‘unfair subsidy’ charge and calls for more investment in vans

The SMMT has called for “continuity” from the new Conservative Government to help support a robust van sector.

“The industry is doing well, business confidence is strong and customers are buying vehicles in increasing numbers,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

“We would like to see greater investment in manufacturing based on the UK being competitive, support for the supply chain and reform of Europe.”

Hawes predicted that van registrations will remain “reasonably strong” this year, but believes the truck sector will be more uncertain.

“It was affected last year by the move to Euro 6. The first quarter was depressed so it will be more stable this year.”

Fleets operating trucks have told Commercial Fleet that engines conforming to Euro 6 regulations have hit their fuel consumption by 12-14%, with one saying: “There is a trade-off between air quality and CO2 emissions – you can’t have both.”

Hawes dismissed calls in the specialist rail media for the Government to stop unfairly subsidising road transport – their argument is that it pollutes more than rail, causes congestion and is more expensive on a cost-per-mile basis.

“Modal shift is hard to quantify; there will always be a road element to the final destination, so it’s down to cost,” he said. “Vehicles do produce more emissions than rail but you have to deliver at an affordable rate for business to be competitive.

“Car plants are close to the rail infrastructure but they have struggled to make it work.”

Hawes also does not believe that a near doubling of the national van parc over the next five years – Government forecasts are for the number of vans on the road to rise from 3.3 million to six million by 2020 – will result in greater congestion on the roads.

He points to a rise in out-of-hours deliveries which were so successful in London during the Olympics.

“An increase in telematics and connectivity will increase the road network capacity and efficiency of business,” Hawes added. “Absorbing that increase in trucks and vans can have a positive effect.”

The move to a connected road network will be driven by a mix of Government and industry investment, with vital input from the communications and technology sectors.

However, there are concerns over the use of personal data which the previous Government had yet to address.

“The Government isn’t sure what role it should take. It doesn’t want to legislate to inhibit development.

“But where is the line for safeguards and standards, while protecting privacy? It needs a multi-stakeholder approach,” Hawes said.

The SMMT’s priorities this year are to invest more effort into promoting the UK manufacturing and supply chain internationally, to support the move to greater car and road connectivity; to continue pushing for future investment into research and development; and to ensure that the UK remains a competitive place for the automotive industry.


Ford1Ford announces new UK boss

Andy Barratt (pictured) has been appointed as the new chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain. He starts at the beginning of July and succeeds Mark Ovenden who has been appointed president and CEO of Ford Sollers, the joint venture of Ford Motor Company and JSC Sollers in Russia.

Barratt has been Ford’s UK sales director since 2011, prior to which he was director of the Customer Service Division. He also served as a district sales manager and led UK sales teams for five years in the Eastern and Northern districts.

Ovenden was appointed as chief executive of Ford of Britain in 2011 before taking on the additional role of chairman in 2013. Prior to that he was the managing director and president of Ford Russia.

Jim Farley, executive vice president and president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “I am delighted to welcome Mark back to Russia following a successful period improving sales and increasing the quality of our business in Britain. He is well equipped to deal with the current difficult market conditions in this market as well as the tremendous potential it offers.”

Roelant de Waard, vice president of marketing, sales and service, Ford of Europe, said: “Andy has a wealth of experience in the UK business that makes him well placed to manage Ford’s biggest European market and to take on the chairman’s responsibilities, representing Ford on key issues such as the future of UK automotive manufacturing, skills, research and development, and the low-emissions agenda.”

Andy Barratt has been appointed chairman and managing director, Ford of Britain, from July 1, 2015, succeeding Mark Ovenden who has been appointed president and CEO, Ford Sollers, the joint venture of Ford Motor Company and JSC Sollers in Russia.

Mark Ovenden returned to Britain as managing director in August 2011 and was appointed to the dual role as chairman and managing director in April 2013. Before his August 2011 appointment he was managing director and president of Ford Russia, as part of a three-year assignment, which makes him ideal for his new role.

Andy Barratt was appointed director, Sales, Ford of Britain, in July 2011, prior to this he was director, Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD), Ford of Britain. Andy Barratt was a district sales manager in Ford of Britain before his role as director FCSD and before that had led the UK sales teams for five years in the Eastern and Northern districts.

Jim Farley, executive vice president and president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “I am delighted to welcome Mark back to Russia following a successful period improving sales and increasing the quality of our business in Britain. He is well equipped to deal with the current difficult market conditions in this market as well as the tremendous potential it offers.”

Roelant de Waard, vice president of marketing, sales and service, Ford of Europe, said: “Andy has a wealth of experience in the UK business that makes him well placed to manage Ford’s biggest European market and to take on the chairman’s responsibilities, representing Ford on key issues such as the future of UK automotive manufacturing, skills, research and development, and the low-emissions agenda.”


MotorTraderPressure mounts on used car margins

Pressure is mounting on used car margins as dealers contend with higher refurbishment costs for vehicles.

Black Book Live Senior Editor, Derren Martin, said older, higher mileage cars will form a significant proportion of cars available as the summer progresses.

He warned that pressure is likely to grow on late-plate cars during June and July, with a knock-on effect for some older vehicle values.

“When the pre-registered cars from March find their way back into the used car market they are likely to be priced as attractively as possible by dealers to ensure they do not end up with overaged stock.

“This sometimes means they reappear in the market at lower prices than slightly older equivalents.

Taking into account low deposit offers and other incentives this unnatural dynamic inevitably affects older values if the situation is sustained,” he said.

“Continued downward pricing movements are likely across the board, with volumes in the market not likely to decline any time soon.

“However, these downward movements are only likely to be in-line with the movements over the last two months and are nothing untoward or unexpected,” he added.


251012 bca logoBCA acquires SMA Vehicle Remarketing in £43m deal

UK auction giant BCA Marketplace has acquired SMA Vehicle Remarketing for £43 million.

The deal includes the acquisition of SMA’s physical auction sites in Kinross, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle and Leeds offering sales for cars, light and heavy commercial vehicles.

SMA recorded revenue of £37.2 million and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of £4.7 million in the year ended 31 October 2014.

BCA’s acquisition price of £43m includes the repayment of SMA’s existing debt, which has been settled in cash through BCA’s existing resources and the company’s revolving credit facility.

Avril Palmer-Baunack, executive chairman of BCA, said she was pleased the company was able to make a value adding acqusition so soon after listing on the stock market.

She said the company is already delivering on its previously stated intention to pursue both organic and non-organic routes to accelerate the company’s growth.

She said: “We welcome the SMA management team led by Bob Anderson to the BCA Group and look forward to working with them to continue to provide a pre-eminent service to our buyers and vendors.”

BCA has also successfully syndicated its existing £200m term loan and £100m revolving credit facility. The firm now has total funding facilities of £375m “in order to provide additional headroom for future projects”.

BCA was recently acquired itself by Haversham Holdings at the end of March this year for £1.2 billion and was then listed on the stock market.

The company was renamed to BCA Marketplace following the completion of the acquisition at the beginning of April.

Haversham is lead by former Stobart Group chairwoman Palmer-Baunack.


TeenTestTeen becomes first to pass new ‘satnav’ driving test

The revised test has been on trial in 20 locations across the UK since April.

17-year-old Grant Ferguson of Bishopbriggs in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland had to follow a route on a sat-nav for 20 minutes during the revised driving test.

Mr Ferguson said: “I had been learning to drive for about a month when the opportunity came up to try out the new test. I felt like I was part of an important change.

“Introducing the satnav into the test is about training to make sure that you’re only listening for guidance and not staring at the screen too often.”

Other changes to the test will see the reverse around the corner replaced with reversing out of a parking space.

Candidates will also be asked safety questions while on the move, instead of at the start of the test, and will need to be prepared to pull up on the right before re-joining traffic.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) expects 1,000 learner drivers to take part in the trial tests, which will continue until the end of the year.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Ferguson’s driving instructor, Drew Nicol, said: “Lots of people have criticised the idea of using sat-navs but people are going to use them when they drive so it makes sense that we teach them to use them properly.”

The driving test marked its 80th anniversary yesterday.


WSJAuto Makers Posted Strong U.S. May Sales

Industry demand runs at 17.8 million annualized pace

Cheap financing and a spate of Memorial Day promotions led to another strong month for U.S. auto sales in May, running at an annualized pace to achieve the highest volume since 2001. Several top car makers logged better-than-expected results for the month, propelled by demand for sport-utility vehicles and trucks that remains robust despite rising gasoline prices. Luxury-car buyers also are driving sales gains using low-price leases and low-interest auto loans that extend several years to trade up to pricier vehicles. May’s seasonally adjusted annual sales rate, or SAAR, was 17.8 million vehicles, the highest recorded since July 2005, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Absolute sales growth was up a modest 1.6% over last year because there was one less selling day than in May 2014.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Posted by Sue Robinson on 05/06/2015