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General News UpdateBack

Fiat‘Do things the way we want you to or you’re out’ new Fiat Professional boss tells dealers

The recently appointed head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for the Fiat Professional brand Domenico Gostoli is warning dealers if they don’t represent the brand correctly then they will lose the franchise.

Fiat’s commercial vehicle department is undergoing a global dealer-network restructuring to improve brand perception, Fiat Professional is looking at all of its dealers to see whether they will continue to work with them.

Speaking at a media briefing last week, Gostoli spoke passionately about the Fiat Professional brand and his enthusiasm to build its brand perception, saying that dealers are the key to the impression that customers get of the brand at the front-end.

Gostoli said: “Dealers are either in or they’re out. We’re completely reshaping our dealer network, and this is across the world, not just in the UK. We need the dealer network to be a reflection of us and do things the way we do, not how they want to .

“There are plenty of dealers that want to work with us and there will be a ‘zero tolerance’ approach with dealers.”

Fiat Professional UK country manager Sebastiano Fedrigo joined the UK Fiat Professional brand representing the UK, in September 2011. He said: “When I joined back in 2011, we had to sack 52 dealers from our network straight away. We now have 73 sales locations and the overhaul is part of a process to get to 100 quality dealers – 100 dealers that represent us correctly and help to build our brand.”

Gostoli, previously sales and marketing manager Asia Pacific region (APAC) for Iveco, assumed responsibility for the Fiat Professional brand earlier this year.

Gostoli was unable to add any more on its dealer-network plans.


VolvoLogoVolvo Cars acquires 100% of Polestar

Volvo Cars has acquired 100% of the Swedish high performance car company Polestar.

Polestar will now be used as the model name for special high performance Volvos, and will utilise Volvo’s twin engine electrification technology to develop next generation performance cars.

Volvo and Polestar share a long history. They have been working in motor sport since 1996 and, in recent years, signed a cooperation agreement to jointly develop Polestar versions of Volvo cars that combine a comfortable Volvo driving experience with a very high level of power and handling.

President and chief executive of Volvo Cars Hakan Samuelsson (pictured) said: “Driving a Volvo Polestar is a special experience. We have decided to bring this experience to more Volvo drivers, placing the full resources of Volvo behind the development of Polestar as the model name for our high performance cars.”

In 2015, Volvo expects to sell 750 Polestar versions of the V60 wagon and S60 sedan globally. Polestar sales are forecast to increase to between 1,000 and 1,500 cars a year in the medium term under Volvo’s ownership.

The Polestar brand is already firmly established internationally through the sale of Polestar-branded Volvos. Volvo will also benefit from the sale of aftermarket Polestar performance optimisation kits for existing Volvos.

No financial details of the deal have been disclosed. Existing Polestar Performance employees will become Volvo employees.

The Polestar racing team will remain under the control of Christian Dahl, the former owner of Polestar, and will be renamed. The Polestar brand will continue to work alongside Christian Dahl.

“We are extremely satisfied with the way the performance business with Volvo has developed. But we are a racing team first and foremost. This is an opportunity to return our full attention to our core business – to develop and race Volvo cars,” said Christian Dahl.


DieselNewsMPs urge Government and London mayor to get tougher on diesel cars

MPs are calling on the Government and London Mayor Boris Johnson to introduce more stringent measures to dissuade drivers from choosing diesel engined cars – and penalise diesel owners.

In a report released this morning, the London Assembly says Johnson needs to go much further than he has committed to reducing the popularity of ‘deadly diesel’ in the capital.

In its report, ‘Driving away from diesel: reducing air pollution from diesel vehicles’, the group of cross-party MPS says he should introduce the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) before the planned 2020 and it should be wider and be covered by more stringent controls.

The report says: “The ULEZ…will rightly penalise diesel vehicles older than the new Euro 6 standard entering central London.

“But even with the newest standard, the testing is inadequate and some certified Euro 6 diesel cars emit several times more pollution than the standard allows in real urban driving.

“The mayor should press for effective new tests to be brought in soon.

“The mayor should also consider further tightening the ULEZ standard as circumstances allow.

“With a government scrappage scheme, the mayor should consider removing all diesel cars from ULEZ exemption – other European cities are considering diesel bans.

“And, supported by effective charging infrastructure, the mayor should bring forward from 2025 the date by which he proposes to restrict the exemption to zero-tailpipe-emission cars.”

And Stephen Knight, chair of the assembly’s environment committee, said: “Where once it was a deadly mixture of soot and smoke from coal-fired power stations and factories that was largely responsible for London’s air pollution, today it is the combustion of diesel that is to blame for much of the problem – with diesel powered vehicles alone responsible for around 40% of London’s nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions.

“The failure of modern European Union engine standards to deliver the emission reductions expected from diesel vehicles, combined with government policies aimed at encouraging more efficient vehicles, which have indirectly incentivised the uptake of diesel, has left a generation of dirty vehicles on our roads.

“The dieselisation of our fleet shows no obvious signs of stopping either: 50% of all new cars sold in the UK last year were diesel, compared to only around 30% a decade ago.

Yet the drive to diesel cannot be allowed to continue, with the Government having recently been ordered by the Supreme Court to prepare a new air quality strategy that will bring the UK into line with legally binding limits on levels of harmful air pollution as soon as possible.”


LowEmissionZoneLocal councils ‘fail’ to embrace LEV policies

Fewer than one in three councils (29%) employ policies to support the procurement of low emission vehicles (LEVs), with only 12% making a similar provision for buses and coaches.

The findings, from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), are published in a new guide for local authorities aimed at helping drive the uptake of LEVs and ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

It says that sustainable procurement strategies are particularly important, along with broader low emission strategies.

In 2012, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issued guidance on “official Government buying standards” for vehicles. It said the fleet average for new cars should not exceed 130g/km, new vans should not exceed 175g/km and that cars and vans should comply with a minimum of Euro 5 standards.

The guide, Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles, says: “It is a central Government requirement, but local authorities and other agencies are encouraged to use these standards as well.”

A key recommendation in the guide is that policy measures implemented at the local level should be consistent with each other, and that common definitions and vocabulary for low emission vehicles should be established.

The LowCVP guide, released to coincide with its annual conference, has identified five ‘P’s – levers that local authorities can most effectively use to influence low emission vehicle uptake at the local level.

They are:

• Parking: discounts for LEVs or dedicated bays.
• Permits: discounts for LEVs to operate in low emission zones and for residents, and preferential permits for LEV taxis.
• Planning: embedding consideration for LEV fuelling infrastructure into local development.
• Procurement: local authorities specifying LEVs for their own fleets and setting leading standards for their service providers.
• Promotion: of the benefits to business and via educational activity within the local community.

The guide is published to a timescale intended to benefit the bidders for the £35 million available from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ (OLEV) Go Ultra Low City scheme.

Gloria Esposito, head of projects at the LowCVP, said: “The guide can help local authorities to offer consistent benefits to individuals and companies that will give LEV drivers the peace of mind and confidence they need to make the switch.”

The LowCVP guide comes in the wake of a warning against ‘demonising diesel’ in policy changes from pricing experts Glass’s. It suggests that knee-jerk reactions to studies showing the negative impact of diesel emissions on urban air quality could be counterproductive as well as affect sales and use of diesel cars and commercial vehicles.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations, points out that while some older diesel vehicles undoubtedly pump out too much nitrogen oxide and other potentially harmful substances, those that meet the latest emissions standards are virtually as clean as petrol.

He said: “The latest diesel emissions standards are very stringent and newer vehicles are unlikely to have the same kind of impact on the air that we breathe.”


MoneyRelief as salary sacrifice untouched in budget, says Fleet Evolution

Salary sacrifice scheme provider Fleet Evolution says it is thrilled salary sacrifice programmes have remained untouched in the Chancellor’s emergency budget.

Andrew Leech, director of Fleet Evolution, said: “The new Budget was definitely a pro-motoring one – we feel the Chancellor has definitely recognised the positive effect cars and fleets have on the Treasury’s accounts! Tax loopholes allowing umbrella companies to offer tax savings will be closed, and we’re thrilled that salary sacrifice schemes will remain untouched.”

The announcement comes after a nerve-wracking few weeks for salary sacrifice experts, after rumours that the Chancellor would tackle salary sacrifice in his summer Budget. There was speculation Osborne would impose tighter restrictions on salary sacrifice, but the Chancellor has decided to focus on tax avoidance rather than tax efficiency.

He added: “With the fuel duty price freezes and the brand new Roads Fund that is set to overhaul our crumbling highways and motorways, motorists and fleet managers across the country will be rightly thrilled with these elements of this year’s Budget.”


InterimServiceService plans are ‘good for customers and good for business’

Giving your customers a good reason to return cannot be ignored, says CarVue’s Alex Knight

Speaking at industry magazine AM’s aftersales conference, Angela Barrow, managing director of Emac’s motor service plans UK and Europe, said service plans are not a hard sell, but are something which customers want.

According to Barrow, figures from Emac show customers are 60 per cent more likely to return to the garage for servicing if they purchased a service plan compared to 40 per cent who are not service plan holders.

CarVue’s Marketing Director, Alex Knight said: “Whilst service plans provide a way for customers to budget for routine servicing by paying a set monthly amount or a one-off, upfront cost, in general, they do not fall under the auspices of the Financial Conduct Authority so if your business is not FCA authorised, this should not be an obstacle when considering selling service plans.”

“There are several service plan providers on the market so you don’t have to manage the payments yourself or develop your own marketing materials to promote them, yet your garage will still reap the benefits of returning customers and customer loyalty.”

Service plans encourage customers to return to your garage for their vehicle’s next service simply because they will have paid for it by the time their service is due.

As well as enabling motorists to better manage their finances and not have to find the money for a larger than usual outlay, a service plan means a customer fixes the price of their next service irrespective of any price increases.



Millions of motorists could potentially be driving with invalid insurance, or far lower cover than they believe to be in place, according to new research from Churchill Insurance.

Over a third (35 per cent) of people with a UK driving licence think that if they have a fully comprehensive car insurance policy they can drive any vehicle with the same level of cover. This figure rises to 46 per cent of those aged 18-34 years old. In reality, almost no insurers offer ‘open’ cover for using cars not listed on their policy.

The new research also suggests that less than 24 per cent would inform their insurer if they wanted to drive another vehicle. Just 40 per cent of Brits with a UK driving licence have ever checked whether there are exclusions that would prevent them from driving someone else’s car. As such, drivers could be getting behind the wheel and not be covered.

In fact, drivers are usually only insured third party when driving other people’s cars and this is only intended by insurers to be used for a very small proportion of the time. The intention of this cover is to ensure third parties have some degree of legal protection if the insured customer has to drive a car in an emergency, such as the owner of the vehicle being taken ill.

Rob Miles, director of Motor at Churchill Insurance said, ‘Fully comprehensive insurance does not cover every driver in every situation and it’s worrying to see that so few motorists understand this. Drivers have a duty of care to passengers, fellow road users and pedestrians to ensure they have appropriate insurance cover in place when they get behind the wheel. Uninsured motorists drive up the cost of insurance premiums for all other drivers and ignorance is no excuse. We’d therefore urge all motorists to check their policies before using someone else’s car.’


150911 Traffic congestionMotor tricycles denied exemption from congestion charge

We would all like to worm our way out of London’s congestion charge, so we can’t blame the motor tricycle community for trying

Despite the efforts of their riders, large three-wheeled scooters known as ‘motor tricycles’ have had their request denied to be exempt from the £11.50 per day congestion charge of central London.

Transport for London (TfL) has denied this request because the Piaggio MP3 500, Gilera Fuoco 500, Peugeot Metropolis 400, the 346cc Quadro3 and the four wheeled Quadro4 are too long. TfL’s rules state that motor tricycles can only be exempt from the congestion charge if they are two metres long or less.

But TfL aren’t the bad guys in this story, in fact a spokesperson for the company has claimed that Piaggio’s 278cc MP3 Yourban, which is 2,040mm long, is eligible to exemption because “there’s a degree of discretion allowed and it’s only four centimetres over.”

Owners of the Piaggio’s 278cc MP3 Yourban ‘motor tricycles’ have to send individual applications to TfL, including a photograph of their vehicle, in order to receive exemption from the congestion charge.

Sadly for the ambitious riders, the Peugeot Metropolis 400 is 2,152mm long, the Gilera Fuoco 500 is 2,210mm and the Piaggio MP3 500 measures at a much too long 2,205mm.The 346cc Quadro3 is even longer, measuring at 2,270mm and the four-wheeled Quadro4 measures at 2,180mm. TfL refuse all applications from the owners of these vehicles.

In discussion of the MP3 500 and Quadro4, a TfL spokesperson explained: “Neither of them qualify for a discount as they do not meet the specified requirements, outlined here.”

“Across all brands it seems that when exemption is applied for and a picture is submitted, some are granted and others are not. Hence we are applying to have this resolved as we have been caught by an unintended consequence,” said Dean Clements of Quadro importer Clements Moto.

The unpopular congestion charge can be dropped to £10 per day if road users take part in TfL’s ‘auto pay’ agreement, where central London drivers are charged automatically each month by credit or debit card for each day their number plate is recorded in the congestion zone.

Despite TfL’s efforts, some motor tricycle riders who use the ‘auto pay’ system are not being charged congestion fees, because the vehicles only have number plates on their rears, but many of the cameras in the congestion zone are front-facing. You can read about this in the Modern Vespa scooter forums.


Posted by Sue Robinson on 17/07/2015