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General News UpdateBack

carsNew car registrations across Western European markets increased by 9.5% in July to 1.1 million units, according to the latest IHS Automotive forecast.

The performance in July pushed the year-to-date increase for the first seven months of the year from 8.1% in June to 8.4% year-on-year in July to 8 million units.

As reported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the UK’s growth in July was more moderate in comparison to other European markets with a 3.2% rise to 178,420 units.

Tim Urquhart, IHS automotive principal analyst, said: “All the major markets in Western Europe recorded positive increases, although France and the UK showed signs of slowing growth.

“The UK is beginning to suffer from a higher base comparison and the fact that private-sector sales are slowing down.”

The market was led by Germany as its new car market continues to increase with registrations increasing by 9.5% year-on-year to 290,196 units.

Spain’s scrappage scheme (which ended in July) helped the market post double digit growth in July with a boost of 23.5% to 109,922 units.

French new car registrations rose at the slowest rate of any of the large European markets, with a rise of 2.3% year-on-year to 147,132 units.

Italy recorded growth of 14.5% year-on-year to 131,489 units.

For the full year, IHS Automotive is predicting a registrations increase of 3.6% year-on-year to 3.13 million units, including a slowdown in the last five months of the year.


CitroenNew finance offers for Citroen Ready to Run conversions

Citroen has launched new finance offers for its Ready to Run range of van conversions.

James Birch, head of Citroën Contract Motoring said: “With finance lease deals starting from just £249 + VAT per month, these new CCM finance packages are amongst the very best available. Indeed, our research shows that, like-for-like, no other manufacturer’s ready-bodied special vehicle programme is available at such competitive rates.”

The expanded Relay Ready to Run range now includes finance lease deals for all models, with a dropside conversion starting from £249, and luton conversions from £309 a month.

In addition, CCM is also offering a competitive contract hire deal on both Relay Ready to Run Luton models, with monthly lease payments from £339.

All Relay Ready to Run models are based on a new, high specification Relay Enterprise chassis cab, which offers the benefits of enhanced specification, with the addition of Smartnav & Trackstar stolen vehicle tracking telematics package, air conditioning, cruise control with variable speed limiter, alarm, touch screen/DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, audio streaming & SMS and CD player.


VansPotential RV boost for vans as dealers urged to increase their stocks

Vans could get a residual value boost after NextGear Capital urged dealers to stock up on used LCVs.

Encouraging economic news is feeding through to the LCV market with the SMMT forecasting a new record of 355,000 new sales in 2015. The last record was set back in 2007 at 337,000.

This year’s new LCV sales will not join the wholesale auction market for the next three to five years. In the meantime, stock shortages reported by NextGear Capital’s partners look set to continue and this means that even older LCV stock has real retailing potential.

James Davis, director of commercial vehicles at Manheim Auctions, said: “Older vans represent a good value proposition with younger vans set to continue to be in scarce supply.”

To put the situation in context, in May, more than 40% of all LCVs sold by Manheim were more than 60 months in age. More than half of the 3.8 million vans on UK roads are more than seven years of age.

Commenting on the opportunity, NextGear Capital’s sales director Nigel Warrington said: “We can see that many LCVs do not stay on our stocking plan for long for our dealer customers. LCVs are a definite opportunity for dealers right now.”


DfTFleet Industry Manifesto success as new policy unit for driverless cars to mirror OLEV

The creation of a cross-departmental approach to intelligent mobility, called for in the Fleet Industry Manifesto, has been adopted by the Government.

The new joint policy unit has been established by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)

Called the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV), it will co-ordinate Government policy on driverless cars and connected technology.

C-CAV is currently working on a range of new technological developments, including plans to test new roadside communication technology to improve traffic flow and safety through ‘connected corridors’. This would pilot technology that will provide drivers with useful journey and safety information.

Transport minister Andrew Jones said: “The UK is in the best position when it comes to testing driverless cars and embracing the motoring of the future. We now look forward to working with industry to make this a reality.”

The Fleet Industry Manifesto was launched at the House of Lords by Fleet News, fleet representative body ACFO and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) to MPs representing the three main political parties prior to the general election (, December 24, 2014).

The report, the culmination of an eight-month project, called on the Government to tackle a number of important issues facing the fleet and leasing sector, including tax, red tape, safety and road infrastructure.

Policy measures, such as a more consistent approach for road funding allowing long-term infrastructure planning post-election, have already been met, as has greater support for car clubs and mobility services.

However, this latest announcement on creating a joint policy unit, which aims to mirror the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), marks yet another success for the Fleet Industry Manifesto, which called on the Government to follow the blueprint of OLEV in creating a similar structure to pursue the benefits of intelligent mobility and its response proves it has listened to the fleet industry.

“The decision to set up a dedicated Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles is vindication of the BVRLA’s pleas for more joined-up thinking in Government,” said Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA.

“Our Fleet Industry Manifesto called for the creation of a cross-departmental team to work on Intelligent Mobility. We sent the Manifesto to the policy teams of all three major political parties, and met with departmental advisors within BIS and the DfT to give them hard copies.

“By giving evidence to the Transport Select Committee’s Motoring of the Future report, and sitting on the Automotive Council’s Intelligent Mobility Working Group, we have promoted the fleet industry’s vital role in this area.

“Our members are early adopters of connected vehicles and new automotive technology, so we look forward to our meeting with the C-CAV later this year.”

The announcement of a new joint policy unit came with the news that the Government has launched a £20 million competitive fund for collaborative research and development into driverless vehicles.

The measures, announced by Jones and business secretary Sajid Javid, aim to put the UK at the forefront of the intelligent mobility market, expected to be worth £900 billion by 2025.


PerrysCar dealer Perrys buys GK Group

Perrys Group has acquired GK Group Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

Perrys already operates 46 showrooms in 26 locations across the country and the addition of GK Group brings the total to 53 dealerships.

Chesterfield-based GK Group runs five Ford showrooms, one Mazda showroom, one Kia showroom and an accident repair centre in Worksop.

The company employs 400 members of staff and has a turnover of circa £175 million.

GK Group was owned by George and David Kenning and their families. George and David will be retiring after the sale and Paul Rogers, the GK managing director, will be joining Perrys.

George Kenning said: “Perrys are a strong, highly successful, privately owned business with a reputation for excellence. We are delighted that this sale offers our staff enhanced security and better opportunities for the development of their future careers.”

This will be the largest acquisition that Perrys have made since its management buyout in 2001.

Chairman Ken Savage said: “We are very happy to announce the acquisition which extends our relationship with Ford, Mazda and Kia.

“The addition of GK Group will make a great fit for Perrys with our new dealerships located just south of our existing sites in Yorkshire.

“The group’s ongoing success can be credited to its commitment to the core values of customer care, high-quality vehicles and staff retention. I am sure everybody will welcome the GK staff into Perrys and make them feel part of the team.

“Alongside the arrival of new franchises in the last few years, such as Nissan in 2013 and Hyundai in January of this year, the addition of GK Group Ltd will add considerable scale to the group.”

The deal was brokered by UHY Automotive partner David Kendrick who represented GK Group.

He said: “GK Group is one of the oldest Ford dealer groups in the country and has a very strong reputation. We are delighted to have assisted the shareholders with their exit and I have no doubt that the acquisition will add significant value to Perrys group moving forward.”

Perrys will now operate seven Ford businesses, six Mazda and four Kia in England, in addition to their existing 15 Vauxhall, one Jaguar, a Land Rover, six Peugeot, three Citroen, two Fiat, one Hyundai, one Nissan, one Renault, one Dacia and one Seat dealerships.

This news follows last week’s announcement that work has started on Perrys’ new £7m, multi-franchise development in Preston.

Expected to open in April 2016, the move from their Blackpool Road premises will see new Mazda, Kia and Vauxhall showrooms off junction 13a of the M6.


CVRegHGV levy brings in huge sums for treasury coffers

An HGV road user levy, which all vehicles weighing 12 tonnes or more have to pay, has generated revenues of £192,000 since it was introduced on April 1, 2014.

The levy, which costs £10 per day or £1,000 per year, has helped ensure that all HGVs at or over 12 tonnes, (including overseas hauliers) contribute to the cost of maintaining UK roads.

Around a quarter (24%), or £46.5 million of the total revenue raised was generated by HGVs not registered in the UK.

For most UK registered HGVs, the amount of vehicle excise duty (VED) they pay has been reduced by the same amount as the levy, which is payable alongside VED.

The figures were released in a written statement by Andrew Jones, parliamentary under secretary of state for transport.

He said: “I am pleased to announce that the HGV levy has proved to be a great success in its first year of operation. Receipts from foreign vehicles are significantly ahead of the projected £21m.”

Jones attributed that to the fact that 91% of more than 160,200 foreign HGVs registered on the levy system were paying daily rates for only one or a few days at a time, despite discounts being available for long duration purchases.

He said that 3% of levies purchased were weekly, 5% were monthly and 1% were annual.

Nearly one fifth (18%), or £8.5m, of revenue raised came from annual levies compared to £22.3m (48%) from daily levies.

Jack Semple, director of policy at the RHA, welcomed the figures.

“It’s a big success that we support. It was certainly one of the big successes of the last Government – it was timely and well executed,” he said.

The RHA played a role in seeing the levy implemented, taking part in discussions with the Department for Transport and the Treasury before its introduction last year.

Jones said the levy “removes some of the inequality UK hauliers feel when paying to use roads abroad”.

“There was a lot of complaint from those within the industry and the general public that overseas hauliers were paying nothing towards contributing to the cost of maintaining the UK’s roads, before the levy was introduced,” he said.

The largest overseas contributor to the levy was Poland, making up 27% of the payments, followed by Romania at 12% and Spain at 9%.

Jones described the levy as a success in terms of digital delivery and customer service, too. Almost all levy purchases were carried out via an online portal, using registered accounts.

Overseas operators have also been able to make use of a multi-lingual customer service call centre to support them in purchasing the levies.

In addition, Jones reported a high level of levy compliance from overseas vehicles, and claimed that effective roadside checks from the DVSA had contributed to a levy compliance level of 95%.


RMI2UK fleets face challenges in dramatic shift from trucks to vans

The number of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) on UK roads is on the rise, with the current vehicle parc of 3.4 million forecast to almost double to six million by 2020, according to the Government.

That growth is being driven by fleets downsizing from light trucks – to smaller, cheaper, less CO2/NOx-emitting, more manoeuvrable and less regulated vans (Commercial Fleet, May 2015) – and the home delivery sector, which is fast becoming shoppers’ preferred option for everything from groceries to electrical items to general goods.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) 2014 figures report that the annual average weekly spend online was £718.7m, of which 15% was food retailing, 37% non-food stores (e.g. department, household goods) and 48% non-store retailing. This was an increase of 11.8% compared with 2013.

Home delivery from department stores is the fastest growing sector, rising 53% since 2011, according to the ONS. However, just 10% of total sales are made online, suggesting this level of growth will continue to accelerate.

Likewise, food retailing. Less than 4% is sold online (3.7%), but the growth since 2011 is 37%.

The van parc trend – which has already seen the national LCV fleet rise from about 2.5m in 2002 – is broadly supported by the Fleet200, the listing of the 200 biggest fleets in the UK. The van parc within the Fleet200 has risen from 233,861 in 2010 to 250,908 this year.

However, while rising annual van sales are contributing to the growing van parc, the number of older LCVs on the road is also on the increase, according to finance provider LDF.

Its figures, sourced from the DVLA, show that one in three vans is at least 10 years old, which it claims is evidence of SMEs putting off investment in their fleets. In 2007, before the recession, 10-year-old-plus vans accounted for about one in five (22%) of the van parc. Consequently, the number of older vans on the road has risen from 690,000 to more than one million.

Peter Alderson, LDF managing director, said: “A lot of small businesses are pushing their vans and other parts of their commercial vehicle fleet to the absolute limit, with many often well beyond their useful economic life.

“It’s not just the repair costs and efficiency of these older vans that create problems – there’s also the very substantive negative impact on the business’s brand of using tired, dated vehicles and, additionally, the environmental factors to consider.”

Almost half of the UK van park (47%) is registered in the name of a business. The remainder are privately owned, although many will still be used for work purposes.

For company-owned vehicles, the majority of time (35%) is spent collecting and delivering goods, according to analysis by AECOM in its Van Travel Trends report published this year, of which 36% occurs between 6am and 10am and a further third between 10am and 2pm.

However, that is narrowly ahead of commuting, at 32%. Meanwhile, almost one fifth (19%) of their time on the road is spent travelling between jobs, and 3% is personal use. A further 11% is classed as ‘other’.

Why are LCV numbers on the rise?

Van activity is forecast to almost double between 2010 and 2040, with evidence that they are being used to replace larger trucks as fleets look to downsize. AECOM suggests that pay may be one reason: a van driver may earn £15,000 while an HGV driver could make £25,000.

Congestion, emissions zones and increasing urban use for home delivery also contribute to the preference for vans over trucks. Fleets are being far more analytical about their needs, which has seen many downsize their vehicles.

AECOM research also says 39% of vans are poorly used as they are less than a quarter full. The average load factor is 38%, which equates to about 300kg (interestingly, each 300kg load adds about 5g/km in CO2 emissions). Just 34% of vans operate with more than half a load while 14% run at more than three-quarters capacity.

However, the type of load has a significant influence on a van’s use and, in many instances, it is not possible for an LCV to be 100% used.


ChargerChargemaster launches monthly membership scheme

Electric charging point operator and installer Chargemaster has announced a new subscription scheme which will allow users to borrow vehicles including BMW i8s.

The subscription is priced at £7.85 a month, and includes access to Chargemaster’s network of 4000 UK charging points.

More than 80% of the charging points are free to use, with the remainder costing around 9p per unit of electricity.

Chargemaster said pay-as-you-go instant access rates will also be available for non-members.

Members accrue usage points, which can be redeemed against various electric vehicle loans. Users receive 10 points each time they charge in a town or city across the country each month.

Chargemaster said 100 points results in a loan of a BMW i8 for a week, while 10 points will allow users to borrow a Renault Twizy.

Members go into a lottery each month, with the person accruing the most points getting the first choice on cars.

Other models included within the scheme are Nissan’s Leaf and the Tesla Model S.

Chargemaster claimed forthcoming models from Tesla, Audi and Mercedes will be available for members to sample after they are introduced to the UK market.

“Polar Plus is a hugely attractive proposition to the growing population of electric motorists across the country and in particular the heavy user,” said David Martell, chief executive of Chargemaster “Electric vehicle usage has more than trebled over the last year and now is the time for there to be an expanding robust nationwide charging network.”

“Not only will EV motorists gain access to a national network of serviceable, state of the art charging points but they will be able to sample all the latest in electric car technology,” Martell added.

Polar Plus membership will be available from 17 August.


Posted by Sue Robinson on 14/08/2015