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LeedsCityCouncilLeeds Council to save £1.5m with switch to CNG

Leeds City Council is looking to convert its fleet of 200 vans to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) following funding approval to build and run one of the UK’s biggest filling stations for the alternative fuel.

A spokesman for the council told Commercial Fleet a conversion for its fleet would have to be considered if the council wants to move away from its “reliance on diesel”.

The van fleet is currently made up of Ford Transits, Fiesta vans and Peugeot Partners. The council also has a fleet of 21 Ford Galaxys and Peugeot Expert Tepees, as well as 29 “various” cars.

The spokesman said cars were not under consideration for conversion currently, but if CNG gains in popularity as a fuel, the council would consider it.

A conversion of 70 refuse collection trucks will be the first to be completed before the council looks at converting its van fleet.

Running the refuse fleet on CNG is expected to save Leeds £1.5 million in diesel and AdBlue costs over a five-year period. It will cost approximately £24,000 to convert each truck. The council was unable to share its projections on fuel savings or how much it would cost to convert its van fleet.

The total cost for the project, including building the filling station, is expected to reach £5m, with funding provided in the form of a loan from Northern Gas Networks. The council will then enter into arrangements with a private sector operator to deliver payback of the loan based on a percentage of the profits from the fuelling station.

The station is expected to be operational by summer 2017 and can also be used to store and fill hydrogen, should that fuel prove popular in the future. The station will be accessible to both public and private sector customers.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental protection and community safety, said: “There is appetite for businesses to switch their fleet to greener fuels but, without the infrastructure, we’re not going to see the scale of change that will bring about a significant improvement to our environment and air quality.”

Dobson said investing in a CNG fuel station would change the current “chicken and egg” situation where businesses are worried about converting their vehicles with no easily accessible method to refuel.

The council said CNG would reduce its CO2 emissions by around 25%, cuts particulate matter by almost 100% and reduce NOx by 90%. There are currently 16 CNG fuelling stations spread out across the UK, but Leeds City Council argues there are no locations big enough to accommodate large scale conversions of fleets.

Leeds and the West Yorkshire Urban Area were included as a problem area in the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) recent NO2 projections. The area is expected to exceed the European Commission’s limit of 40 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre with an estimated output of 73 micrograms this year.

Independent sustainability organisation The Carbon Trust welcomed the move by Leeds to reduce emissions but doesn’t think CNG is the right choice as an alternative fuel.

Alex Hart, senior manager at the Carbon Trust, told Fleet News: “It is great to see anyone investing in bold measures to reduce CO2. But if we are to hit targets we will need transport technologies that are near zero CO2. Advanced biofuels, electric and hydrogen vehicles are a better alternative.”

DEFRA is working on drastically cutting UK transport emissions after being ordered to by the Supreme Court. Fleets will find out what measures will affect them by 31 December.

What is compressed natural gas?

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is made from the same natural gas that is used in homes for heating and cooking. By compressing the gas, it can be used to fuel vehicles that have been converted to run on it. CNG reduces CO2 emissions by up an average 25% compared to petrol-powered engines, it reduces NOx emissions by up to 95% versus diesel engines and reduces sulphur emissions by 50% compared to diesel.

Fleets can expect a 60% saving on CNG fuel compared to current diesel prices for the same distance travelled.


FTAMotorway investments will ease congestion says FTA

The FTA has welcomed Highways England’s plans to invest £1.5bn on motorway improvements.

Highways England has announced investment in much-needed works on the M5, M6 and M1 that will see an extra 292 miles of carriageway in the form of smart motorways. This is where the hard shoulder is used as an additional lane to ease congestion on busy sections.

The FTA said the planned improvements will make journeys easier at traffic hot spots across the Midlands.

The three projects announced by Highways England are the M1 J19-J16 Northamptonshire, the M5 J4A-J6 in Worcestershire and M6 J16-J19 near Stoke-on-Trent.

Sally Gilson, Midlands policy manager for the FTA, said: “This is much-needed investment in the area which will help make journey times more reliable in these traffic troubled stretches of the motorway network.”

Addressing the potential issues of smart motorways, Gilson said: “They have been successfully used in other areas to increase capacity, resulting in greater reliability of the network, fewer accidents and lower emissions.”


Glass'sGlass’s marks down used car values by 3% for August

Glass’s has marked down the values of used cars by 3% in August in a saturated market.

It is the fourth consecutive month that the guide has marked down prices by 3%.

Glass’s said the market was seeing higher stock levels at dealerships and auction houses and this was impacting adversely on values.

“The wholesale arena continues to see higher levels of stock compared to the equivalent period 2014.

“During market visits to both dealer and auction sites, the seven Glass Car Editors have seen some locations battling with space to park vehicles once more,” said Glass’s chief car editor Steve Jackson.

Jackson said that buyers could afford to be more selective with the greater choice of vehicles available.

“Poor condition and lower specification cars are under price pressure,” he said.

Glass’s issued a warning on used valuations caused by a forced used car market and the implications for values in 2016.

“Manufacturers continue to push hard to achieve market share in a growth market, and are incentivising the franchised network to achieve stretching registration objectives.

“With five registration months left to the end of the year, the pressure is still on for new vehicle growth. Once again caution is advised, as the market must look ahead at the impact of this growth on values of used vehicles in the near future.

“Today’s new vehicle registrations are tomorrow’s used vehicle stock, and an increase in used vehicle stock availability undoubtedly will affect used vehicle values,” he said.


FiatChryslerCar hacking: more product recalls in the future, says security expert

FIAT Chrysler is to recall 1.4 million vehicles in America after a researcher hacked into a Jeep Cherokee and took control away from the driver.

Last week, it was widely reported that tech magazine Wired had hacked into the Cherokee’s internet-connected entertainment system, and then drove the car into a ditch.

Chrysler is now recalling the affected models to update the software. The company criticised the magazine, saying hacking its vehicles was a ‘criminal action’.

But today Tim Erlin, director of security and product management at Tripwire, said this wouldn’t be the last manufacturer recall for a software update.

He said: ‘Software patches for vehicles aren’t new, but the demonstration of this vulnerability was clearly attention grabbing.

‘The risks of the connected car lie in the ability to affect the operations of the vehicle from the outside world. The good news is that secure software development isn’t a novel concept. There are known best practices that can be applied to automotive software. Fiat Chrysler has an opportunity to use this incident to pioneer software security for the automotive industry.

‘A recall has very real, material costs for a manufacturer. Experiencing an urgent recall for a security patch to the vehicle’s software is likely to drive changes around how software is updated for all manufacturers. While new update methods can be built into new vehicles, there are millions of cars already on the road to consider as well.

‘The security of vehicle software is now a safety issue, and manufacturers will need to adapt to treat it as such. This won’t be the last patch we see for a car near you.’

Magazine security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have spent years investigating car control systems and developing ways to subvert them. Shortly after the recall was announced, Mr Miller tweeted: ‘I wonder what is cheaper, designing secure cars or doing recalls?’

Fiat Chrysler said exploiting the flaw ‘required unique and extensive technical knowledge, prolonged physical access to a subject vehicle and extended periods of time to write code’.

The affected vehicles are:

2013-2015 MY Dodge Viper specialty vehicles
2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups
2013-2015 Ram 3500, 4500, 5500 Chassis Cabs
2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Cherokee SUVs
2014-2015 Dodge Durango SUVs
2015 MY Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans
2015 Dodge Challenger sports coupes

A spokesman for Fiat Chrysler confirmed no vehicles sold in the UK were affected.

It was also reported in the UK this week that it was potentially possible to hack a car’s control systems through its digital radio.


Nissan1Nissan announces new retail insurance partnership

MOTORISTS purchasing a new Nissan will soon be able to obtain a competitive insurance quote and purchase their insurance policy through a Nissan quote-and-buy website. And ‘free to go’ driveaway cover will be available at Nissan dealerships through a dedicated portal.

The move, designed to further enhance the Nissan purchase and ownership experience, follows the appointment by Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd of Maiden Insurance partnerships as its new retail insurance partner.

The three-year deal will see the creation of online and offline insurance solutions specifically tailored for new Nissan car and LCV buyers – a first for Nissan in the UK.

Under the agreement, Maiden will also manage the Nissan employee car ownership scheme.

Mike Thompson, aftersales director at Nissan Motor (GB), said: ‘This new partnership will really add value for our customers by streamlining the process through which they can find a competitive quote and purchase an insurance policy for their new Nissan.’

Ronnie Simmons, head of partnership development (UK) at Maiden, commented: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be working with Nissan. The strength of their brand and vehicle sales performance allied with Maiden’s fresh and innovative approach presents a great opportunity to grow Nissan’s insurance business to the level expected for a leading manufacturer.’


SurveyAuto Express reveals top dealers in Driver Power 2015 survey

Auto Express has revealed what it describes as the best and worst dealers in its Auto Express Driver Power 2015 survey.

Lexus once again retained the number one position with high scores in helpfulness and attitude, standards of workmanship, cleanliness, technical knowledge, progress and cost of work and value for money.

Lexus has topped the Diver Power dealer survey every year since the survey was launched in 2002.

“It’s an impressive record and 2015 was Lexus’ best year yet as it also won top car and top manufacturer,” said Auto Express.

Toyota was in second slot, rising four places and posting “exceptional results” for work standards and staff.

Jaguar was in third position, rising four places. It would have been in second place except for a low “value for money “ score.

Honda and Peugeot were in fourth and fifth places respectively.

At the bottom end of the table the worst performing franchise was Suzuki, which fell 15 places with the network recording bottom-of-the-table results in four categories. The biggest complaint was for non-identification of faults.

Volkswagen was in 30th slot, moving up one place to be second from bottom. Lack of communication was a serious criticism of the network.

Nissan, Chrysler-Jeep and Seat made up the remaining worst performing five neworks.

Best Dealer Networks 2015

Brand Overall Score %
1. Lexus 93.56
2. Toyota 91.44
3. Jaguar 90.91
4. Honda 90.65
5. Peugeot 90.2
6. Subaru 90.15
7. Skoda 90.01
8. Porsche 88.92
9. Citroen 88.9
10. Mini 88.65


CAPDealer margins come under increased pressure in first half

Dealer margins are coming under increased pressure, according to a survey from CAP looking at the first half of 2015.

The majority of dealers, 88%, said retained margins had been squeezed or remained the same in June compared to the previous month, the highest it has been in 2015.

“Through the entire first half of 2015, there was only April where the market felt they had seen an increase, with just over a third stating; they had improved,” said Cap Black Book editor Philip Nothard.

“June was the worse month, where nearly 90% had either experienced further compression or little change from May.

“This is certainly something that could be a concern for some time forward, with rising costs and increased retail competitiveness,” he said.

The majority of dealers, 51%, also recorded a decline in footfall in June compared to the previous month while just 15% said it had improved and 33% said it had remained the same.

Online activity also declined for 44% of dealers in June according to May while 29% said it had increased and 27% remained the same.

“Physical Footfall has experienced a switch in dealer’s sentiment from 70% reporting an increase in January, through to 51% now expressing a decline in June

“Unlike the physical footfall, on-Line activity has experienced a stronger performance throughout the initial four months during the period; however, this strength didn’t continue, as in both May and June, the majority sentiment switched to either a decline or little change,” said Nothard.

The survey revealed falling demand from consumers with 58% of dealers saying demand was worse than in May.


Consumer demand keeps used car depreciation steady, says CAP

Consumer demand is keeping depreciation steady at 1.2%, according to CAP.

With volumes in the used car market high, and ahead of the same time last year, values in general edged down in Black Book Live during July, but only resulting in a month-end drop of 1.2% at the three-year, 60,000 mile mark.

Of the main volume sectors, SUVs were the hardest hit, due to large volumes in the market and partly the time of year. The Nissan Juke and Skoda Yeti saw values drop in July due to high volumes in this ever-growing SUV sector – which has seen 125% increases in used car sold volumes over the last five years – is likely to remain under pressure in the long term, according to CAP.

Derren Martin, senior editor, CAP Black Book said: “Depreciation over the last two months has been slightly lower than anticipated. So, will the market catch-up with where many expected it to be?

“We have reported many dealers are seeing margin compression. When accounting for high volumes in the used car market, and a likely increase in the long-term, there is the potential for some pressure on trade prices.

“August is likely to lead to a small drop off in consumer footfall, so the supply and demand balance may promote further price erosion. Longer term, there could be added pressure with a new registration plate looming, resulting in more fleet returns and retail part-exchanges.”

Upper Medium, or D Sector cars fared slightly better than the average in July and this could be due to stable volumes in the used car market. Used car sales volumes in this sector are down 2% since 2010. Values of common ex-company cars such as diesel variants of the non-current BMW 3 Series, Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia all stayed level in July, showing they remain a popular choice for the used car buyer, and represent good value when priced against many of the SUVs.

Values of convertibles declined in July, particularly from the middle of the month onwards. The worst affected were those cars that appeared in higher volumes, such as the previous version of the Audi A3 Convertible and the current Volkswagen Golf Convertible.

The pace of convertible depreciation has steadily increased over the past three months in Black Book Live, moving from just 0.2% during May, to 0.8% in June and then 1.6% in July. The window of opportunity is rapidly closing for these cars, if a dealer is looking to buy wholesale in August, by the time the car is prepared and on the forecourt, summer will more than likely have passed.

Martin added: “We are entering an interesting few months for the used car market. At this time last year, contract hire and leasing companies reported a drop off in their sales. What followed later in the year was high supply and low demand and this led to not insignificant pricing realignments. Black Book Live reported these movements on a daily basis last year, keeping subscribers updated real-time. Whatever happens over the next few months, CAP will be analysing the sold data real-time and moving any values accordingly.”


TyreserveSurvey finds 25% of cars have underinflated tyres

Tyre pressure monitoring expert WheelRight has discovered that a quarter of the UK’s cars have at least one tyre that is dangerously underinflated. This follows on from research by Tyre Safe which found that up to 10 million cars on Britain’s roads have illegal levels of tread depth.

Meanwhile, the average HGV is driving on Britain’s motorways with at least one dangerously underinflated tyre at any one time, according to WheelRight’s data.

WheelRight’s survey of the nation’s tyres took place at Keele Services on the southbound M6 during March to June 2015. The scheme is being run by UK company WheelRight in association with Highways England and Welcome Break.

John Catling, CEO of Wheelright, said: “We’ve been offering a free pressure check to motorists and HGV drivers using our drive-over tyre pressure system at Keele Services on one of Britain’s busiest stretches of road – the M6.

“We have taken thousands of tyre pressure readings and have collated some pretty shocking statistics which reveal the true extent of our tyre neglect. Every year, the UK sees approximately 25 deaths and nearly 1,500 serious accidents attributed to poorly inflated or defective tyres. We believe that lack of awareness on the impact tyre pressure can have on road safety is putting drivers at risk.”

He added: “The lowest tyre pressure reading we’ve taken for a motorist on our system was a very low, and very dangerous, score of just six psi (pounds per square inch), when it should have been closer to 30 psi to be safe. An accident waiting to happen.”

Catling concluded: “We’ve seen first-hand that motorists are keen to learn more about what action they can take to keep their vehicles and themselves safe. If a motorist using our system receives identifies a low pressure reading, our on-site support team at Keele Services will direct drivers to the air machines located a few metres away and provide advice on how to inflate tyres correctly and to what level.

“We believe that regular tyre pressure checks offer significant cost and safety benefits to all drivers – not to mention, peace of mind.”


PeugeotSignPeugeot profit surges, meets recovery goals early

PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) posted positive first-half net income on Wednesday for the first time in four years, meeting most of its recovery goals early while warning that it faced tougher market conditions in the rest of the year.

Paris-based Peugeot recorded net income of 571 million euros (404 million pounds) for January-June, after a 114 million euro loss a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Revenue rose 6.9 percent to 28.9 billion euros.

Core manufacturing earnings surged to 975 million euros, lifting the divisional operating margin to 5 percent, a level not seen for more than a decade, according to the company.

Operating free cash flow rose by two-thirds to 2.792 billion euros for the period, Peugeot said.

The company nonetheless stuck to medium-term recovery goals it has already surpassed in the first half, including a 2 percent auto division margin and 2 billion euros of cumulative cash flow by 2018.

A weaker euro, falling raw material costs and other seasonal tailwinds accounted for about one-third of the operating income of 1.08 billion euros, Chief Financial Officer Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon said, adding that conditions would get tougher.

Challenges include the slowing of demand in China, he told reporters, where the company now sees full-year market growth of just 3 percent.


VWLogo3Volkswagen second-quarter profit grows on Europe, cost cuts

Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) posted higher quarterly profit on a strengthening European autos recovery and cost cuts but lowered its sales guidance as demand in China slows.

Operating profit at Europe’s largest carmaker rose to 3.49 billion euros (2.46 billion pounds), VW said, in line with the average estimate of 3.48 billion in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Full-year deliveries may be flat on last year’s record 10.1 million sales, VW said on Wednesday, after previously guiding for a “moderate” increase.

Six-month sales eased 0.5 percent to 5.04 million cars, reflecting an accelerating decline in China though that was just enough to overtake Toyota (7203.T) as the world’s largest carmaker.

“The difficult market environment and fierce competition, as well as interest rate and exchange rate volatility and fluctuations in raw materials prices all pose challenges,” finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch said.

VW stuck to its outlook for profit and revenue, saying the operating margin may come in 5.5 to 6.5 percent this year, after 6.3 percent last year.

Annual revenue may rise as much as 4 percent from 202.5 billion euros in 2014, VW said. Its second-quarter revenue rose by a bigger-than-expected 10 percent to 56 billion euros, benefiting from a weaker euro and other seasonal tailwind

VW’s second set of upbeat quarterly earnings since a leadership wrangle in April forced the ouster of patriarch Ferdinand Piech contrasts with a power vacuum at the top of the group which is looking for a new chairman and revamping the company’s structure.


Posted by Sue Robinson on 31/07/2015