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General News UpdateBack

Car dealershipFailure to find the fault is the biggest complaint consumers have with car dealers

A little over a third of 61,000 people who took part in the magazine’s Driver Power 2015 study said this was the biggest complaint about the franchised dealer of their choice – it was the biggest issue amongst 22 of the 31 dealer networks rated.

The next biggest complaint was unanswered phone calls, at 28%. Following these were failure to explain a problem (15%), discourteous staff (11%), cars not being cleaned (8%) and unexplained bills (6%).

Lexus was voted as having the best dealers. The biggest complaint amongst its customers? Unanswered calls.

More than one in five survey respondents has had cause to complain to their dealer, and just 30% said they were happy with the response they got.

A total of 72% went to a franchised main dealer – up from 69% in 2014.

The main reason for this choice (26%) was that owners had bought their car there.

Recommendations from friends and cheap deals are on the up, while one in five decides to visit a dealership because they feel like they’re treated well. Expertise with a particular marque was also an important reason for choosing a dealer.

This year, dealers were polled in seven separate categories, including how helpful staff were, how clean the showroom appeared and the standard of work. Plus, our readers told us how long the work took and how expensive – or competitively priced – any repairs were, as well as rating franchises for their level of technical knowledge.

Best car dealers 2015 (“Biggest gripe”)

1. Lexus (unanswered calls)

2. Toyota (didn’t identify fault)

3. Jaguar (didn’t identify fault)

4. Honda (didn’t identify fault)

5. Peugeot (didn’t identify fault)

6. Subaru (didn’t identify fault)

7. Skoda (didn’t identify fault)

8. Porsche (unanswered calls)

9. Citroen (didn’t identify fault)

10: Mini (didn’t identify fault)

Worst car dealers 2015 (“Biggest gripe”)

27. Seat (didn’t identify fault)

28. Chrysler Jeep (didn’t identify fault)

29. Nissan (didn’t identify fault)

30. Volkswagen (didn’t identify fault)

31. Suzuki (didn’t identify fault)


ApprenticeStartsGovernment apprentice targets ‘impossible to achieve’

Government plans to increase apprentice numbers by 2020 to 3 million are doomed to fail, according to the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the professional association for individuals working in the motor industry.

A survey, conducted by the IMI found that while the majority of training providers welcomed the Government’s ambition to increase apprenticeships to 3 million but feared they will be impossible to achieve.

Education cuts, poor careers advice, and schools keeping pupils on to maintain funding, are all identified as contributing factors.

Seventy eight per cent of respondents said that careers advice, which has been provided in schools on an ad hoc basis since 2012, was “unhelpful”


Just 10% think advice offered by the National Careers Service has any impact on apprentice recruitment.

Anecdotal evidence collected as part of the survey points to a lack of understanding in schools of the technical and academic requirements of an apprenticeship.

Eighty four per cent said that most applicants do not have the required academic grades

Most businesses reported that the “employability” of prospective trainees sent to them by schools was poor

All respondents said the current situation is set to get much worse now the education participation age has been raised to 18 in England.

It is not widely understood by parents or young people that this is not restricted to school, and apprentice trainers report that schools are hoarding students and withholding information about vocational training at 16.

IMI CEO Steve Nash (pictured) said, “With funding for education set to be squeezed, employers and training providers in the motor industry are voicing fears that they will lose out in the race for the best learners.

“Schools will seek to keep as many ‘paying’ students in 6th form as possible. They need only to ration information about alternatives and the already small talent pool available to fill apprenticeship vacancies will be drained.

“The Government has pledged to increase the number of apprenticeships to 3 million by 2020, but with skills shortages starting to appear in every sector of the economy this looks like a conservative ambition. The leaving age problem raises serious questions over its ability to hit even this target without investing in a serious careers advice programme, which it is currently refusing to do.”


EV3E-car crime on the up

Criminals are becoming increasingly able to plug into a vehicle’s OBD Data Port and duplicate a key in which to disarm a car, open the doors and drive off, probably never to be seen again. All by using electronic equipment and data reading machines,

The OBD Data Port is the ‘Achilles Heel’ of many high-end vehicles. Models including Range Rover, BMW, Ford RS, Audis, VW’s and even the Mini have all been affected.

30 seconds is all it took recently for thieves to steal a keyless Range Rover off the streets of London, reports vehicle security enhancement company, DATAbloc.

Sadly, the owners of the stolen Range Rover are the innocent victims of a new low and possibly a new record time for electronic car crime that is currently sweeping Britain.

The crime took place in Woodford Green, north London at 3.20 on a Sunday morning when most people were asleep. CCTV footage showed thieves breaking into the high end Range Rover in just five seconds – and without causing any damage to the vehicle!

DATAbloc is dedicated to foiling electronic car crime criminals and has produced security enhancing data port protectors for a wide range of cars at risk.

Thatcham tested, they are available through online order to the public, Dealers, motor manufacturers, insurance firms and the aftermarket. Motorists can fit themselves or have them fitted via a network of professional installers.

The company believes that its range of fit-for-purpose data port protectors is the first line of defence in deterring e-car crime thieves.

Lawrence Shaw, Director of DATAbloc stated ”DATAbloc port protectors are robust, straightforward to fit and they work. I would say to owners of high end and expensive Range Rovers and BMW’s etc. can you afford to take a risk that your prized possession will be not be ‘gone in 30 seconds’?



Car makers Volkswagen and Mazda have had to recall over 600,000 vehicles in the US. Volkswagen has had to recall vehicles due to air bag issues and Mazda are recalling vehicles because of potential steering loss.

Volkswagen issued a vehicle recall order covering 420,000 vehicles in the United States due to an issue that could prevent the front air bags from properly deploying during a crash.

The recall order covers eight Volkswagen models, including the Tiguan, Passat and Jetta, with the model years of the affected vehicles ranging from 2010 to 2014.

Specifically, the vehicles included in the recall order were the Tiguan, Passat and CC from 2010 to 2014, the Jetta and Eos from 2010 to 2013, the GTI and Golf from 2011 to 2014 and the Jetta SportWagen from 2011 to 2013.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), debris could possibly rip through a cable that powers the front air bag, leading to deployment failure in the event of an accident. Nine customers have sent in their complaints regarding the issue, but the NHTSA said that no injuries or accidents involving the problem have so far been reported.

Volkswagen revealed that a fix is currently under development for the issue, and that the owners of the affected vehicles will be notified once it is ready to be deployed. However, the automobile manufacturer said that customers that see their air bag monitoring lights on should get in touch with their dealers right away for a vehicle inspection or repair.

Mazda’s vehicle recall involves 193,000 units of the CX-9, its biggest SUV, to fix suspension parts in the vehicle that can potentially rust and come loose, which would lead to steering loss.

The affected vehicles in the United States have models years from 2007 to 2014. According to regulators, the front ball joints of the CX-9’s can accumulate rust due to water leakages, and then separate from the vehicle’s suspension. The ball joints are the components that cause the wheels of the vehicle to pivot after the driver turns the steering wheel.

Owners of the affected vehicles that take their CX-9’s back to the dealers will have the problematic suspension parts replaced.

Mazda first discovered the issue in May 2012 and fixed the problem in its factories in January last year. The NHTSA, however, started to investigate the problem after 16 owners sent in complaints.


taxVehicle tax prosecutions up by a third – parallels with personal tax returns?

The latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice show a 33% rise in court prosecutions for failure to pay vehicle tax – a figure that raises questions about the impact of the decision to abolish paper tax discs.

Back in April 2011, in the early days of the coalition government, the cabinet office launched the Red Tape Challenge – a programme designed to cut unnecessary regulation and save taxpayers money. Civil servants and members of the public were invited to submit ideas which would then be considered for action by ministers.

One of the project’s trumpeted successes was the abolition of the vehicle excise duty (VED) paper tax disc which was withdrawn from 1 October 2014. This, we were told, would reduce paperwork and save the public over £12m per year.

However, the latest prosecution figures raise questions as to whether the policy has led to higher rates of non-compliance, and simply pushed the red tape burden onto the courts.

In 2013, prior to the introduction of the new rules, evasion rates for vehicle duty were low – just 0.6% of traffic on Britain’s roads was driving without a valid tax disc, costing an estimated £35m in lost revenue, according to the Government’s own figures.

Under the new regime, drivers still receive an annual written reminder prior to the tax being due, but they no longer have the daily reminder in their windscreen – a possible factor behind the higher non-compliance rates.

Confusion may also be playing a role. Motorists are now no longer able to sell a car with the remaining tax, and buyers must ensure that car tax is paid before driving away. These reforms to a system that had been largely unchanged for 90 years have led to many people being caught unawares, prompting criticism from the AA about poor communication from the DVLA.

Finally, the increased use by the police of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to identify vehicles that are not taxed is also likely to be increasing detection rates among non-payers.

The result is that the DVLA is clamping more than 8000 untaxed vehicles a month and vehicle tax prosecutions are now clogging up the courts. Along with TV licence evasion and common assault cases, they now account for over half of all summary non-motoring offences in the magistrates courts – hardly the liberation from bureaucratic red tape that was promised.

Are there parallels to be drawn here with the government’s digital strategy for personal tax returns? That is also designed to eliminate paper, automate processes and put the onus very firmly on the taxpayer. Will it truly reduce compliance costs all round and make life easier for all involved in the tax system or will it, like the VED changes, merely be displacement activity and shift the burden elsewhere.


PendragonStratstone MD James Brearley to leave Pendragon

James Brearley, managing director of Pendragon’s premium £1.6bn-turnover division Stratstone, is stepping down after 24 years with the group.

Brearley joined Pendragon as a dealer principal in 1991 and moved on to hold responsibilities for both volume and premium manufacturers. He helped re-brand the premium businesses to Stratstone in 2004.

As MD of Stratstone he presided over 76 franchise points, representing Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Morgan, Porsche and Smart vehicles as well as three motor-cycle franchises. He was also MD for Chatfields DAF commercial vehicles business.

Stratstone has been performing strongly. Pendragon recently published its interims which saw operating profit for the premium arm increase 20.3% to £20.8m on turnover up 8.6% to £884.3m

Used car revenue was up by 9.5% on a like for like basis and aftersales grew strongly with gross profit up 5.4% on a like for like basis.

Brearley still serves on the Jaguar Land Rover Retailer Board and stepped down as Jaguar Dealer Council Chairman, a position that he held for 20 years, earlier this year.

Pendragon told Motor Trader: “We can confirm James Brearley will be leaving the Group on 31 August.

“The team at Pendragon would like to thank James for his contribution to the business over the last 24 years and wish him every success in the future.”


MarshallMotorMarshall invests in major JLR and Audi site redevelopments

Marshall Motor is making a multi-million pound investment in its Jaguar Land Rover operations in Suffolk and Cambridge and its Audi business in Exeter.

The dealer group, which this week released its first interims since floating in April, is embarking on three major property developments which it will fund from £39.9m earmarked for developments and acquisitions.

The group is reorganising its Suffolk market area operations following it recently being awarded the vacant Land Rover franchise for Ipswich. Marshall has already acquired land for development in the town and plans to relocate its nearby Land Rover Halesworth business, acquired last year from Hammonds, to the new £7m facility which will also house its relocated Ipswich Jaguar business. Halesworth will be retained as an authorised repairer and used car site.

The group is also undertaking a major redevelopment of its Jaguar and Land Rover operations, opposite its Cambridge headquarters on the Newmarket Road, at a cost of £7m.



Skoda has been named as the UK’s most dependable brand in a new JD Power study.

The inaugural 2015 UK Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) asked owners to report problems with their new cars – from serious breakdowns to troublesome in-car entertainment issues. Once analysed, the results gave Skoda a clear victory, with the brand comprehensively outscoring luxury brands.

The study, which focused on new cars registered between April 2012 and March 2014, used owner data to generate an overall dependability score for each brand. Skoda’s score of 77 was the lowest in the entire survey, with the industry average for 2015 recorded as 114.

Commenting on the survey, Alasdair Stewart, director of Skoda UK said, ‘This result perfectly illustrates Skoda passion for delivering quality and dependability. As this study shows, our build quality is the envy of the industry, and I’m delighted that this has been recognised. We’re always striving to improve quality and reliability, and we hope that this will be repeated in future studies.’

Following the JD Power report findings, UK Consumer organisation Which? has also named Skoda as a firm favourite with owners. The organisation’s 2015–2016 Car Guide named the Superb and the Yeti as the most satisfying cars to own in the estate and SUV classes, achieving owner satisfaction ratings of 96 per cent and 93 per cent respectively.

Skoda has won numerous industry and media awards for customer satisfaction and has been in the JD Power top ten for more than 20 years in a row. The brand has also been named Best Manufacturer in the Auto Express Driver satisfaction survey three times in the past four years.



Over 16 million UK motorists judge other drivers based on the colour, type, and cleanliness of their car and even let it affect how they drive according to a new study released today.

Some 45 per cent of Brits allow their own prejudices to affect how courteous or aggressively they act towards other road users – with something as simple as a bumper sticker prompting millions to see red.

In a survey of 2,000 drivers, more than a third admit they allow their assumptions to affect them behind the wheel, meaning they are intentionally more or less reckless as a result.

The research for Continental Tyres also revealed that we are twice as likely to not let someone out at a junction if they are in a flash car because ‘they think they’re it’. Yet, the biggest reason why drivers will not let someone pull out is if they can see the other person at the wheel using their mobile phone.

It was also revealed that six in ten get agitated by a sticker for a rival sports team or in support of a cause or organisation. Mark Griffiths, spokesman for Continental Tyres, said: ‘It is alarming that 34 per cent of drivers will change their driving style based on a prejudice about something as unimportant as how clean a vehicle is.’

It seems UK motorists are not bothered about the prejudices made about their car. Over half expect to be stereotyped – though only one in seven admit it affects their choice of car.


Posted by Sue Robinson on 21/08/2015