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Dealers are being reminded of new regulations on the way guaranteed asset protection (GAP) insurance is sold to consumers is due to come into force on September 1.
Sue Robinson, National Franchised Dealers Association director said of the Financial Conduct Authority regulations: “It is important to note that any car sold with GAP that is delivered on or thereafter this date, and has been ordered prior to September 1, will be subject to the new rules.
“Dealers will be required to call customers in by Friday, August 28 and ensure they have the prescribed information about the GAP products they are being offered.”
If dealers have any questions or concerns ahead of these new rules, the NFDA hotline number is 01788 538 303.
THE RAC has signed up 45 dealers to its used car network in Northern Ireland in just three months, rapidly creating a strong presence there.
This has been achieved since Colraine-based Tom Reid was appointed the RAC Dealer Network’s representative in the region.
He explained that dealers were recognising both the strength of the RAC brand name and the way in which working with the RAC allowed them to build a complete customer proposition to support used car sales.
Reid said: ‘Signing 45 dealers so quickly is very pleasing but we are sure that we will see many more join the network over the coming months.
‘As in the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland dealers are becoming more and more aware that simply putting a warranty on a used car is not enough. Customers are looking for a complete support package that allows them to feel a high level of confidence in their purchase.’
Reid has been involved in the warranty sector for more than a decade and was previously regional manager for Lancia Cars and Suzuki GB, covering Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland.
He also has an extensive track record in the dealer sector, having been sales manager and general manager for a number of large retail groups in Scotland, covering marques ranging from Rolls-Royce and Bentley to Nissan and Vauxhall.
Dealers are missing out on £591m in lost service revenue a year, according to new research by AutoProtect.
The research looked at the service revenue missed by not offering service plans to customers buying cars. It also assessed the impact of missed revenue opportunities from both labour and parts.
AutoProtect said the average dealer is missing out on additional revenue of £62,690 a year per site as sites that sell service plans benefit from incremental revenue as the figure is multiplied over the life of a three year service plan.
“Despite the strong performance of new car sales, dealers are continuing to face pressure on profit margins. This study underlines the need to approach aftersales revenue in a structured way,” said Jo Selby, national sales manager for AutoProtect’s Foresight Service Plan.
“We know that service plans can help build closer and lasting relationships with customers that help to drive revenue across the business.”
AutoProtect’s findings are based on research of 4,900 franchised dealers and 4,550 independent sites. It estimated that the average income lost is £174 per plan with customer data showing an average of 30 plans sold per month per site.
Ford has taken almost 2,000 Mustang orders in the UK since January.
The Mustang will be exclusively displayed and sold by the brand’s new FordStores, located in major conurbations and selling the Blue Oval’s full car and van ranges and upmarket Vignale sub brand.
The Mustang was introduced in the US in 1964 but is now being made in right hand drive for the first time.
The first of these right-hand drive cars are coming off the production line at Flatrock Assembly Plant in Michigan, North America.
Ford said the majority of UK customers, have opted for the fastback body style over the convertible and 70% have specified the 416PS 5.0-litre V8 engine over the more fuel-efficient 317PS 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine.
Mustang’s six-speed manual transmission is the slightly more popular choice (55%) over the six-speed automatic, which comes with sporty SelectShift paddle control.
Race Red is the most-popular exterior colour among UK buyers, with 23% of Mustang orders.
Magnetic Silver and Shadow Black are joint second choice with 16.1% each and Deep Impact Blue (10.7%) and Triple Yellow (8.6%) complete the top five. Ebony Black is the top pick for interior colour, selected by more than 75% of customers.
UK customer deliveries are expected from November with prices starting at £29,995 for the EcoBoost and £33,995 for the V8.
Six years after Accident Exchange exposed the fraud perpetrated by Autofocus on behalf of defendant solicitors and their insurer clients, Accident Exchange has launched a second investigation as evidence of similar dishonest practices emerge.
Accident Exchange chief executive, Steve Evans has launched a fresh investigation as a result of concerns identified from reviewing more than 100 statements regarding the cost of hire deployed by insurers in the last month alone.
Evans said, ‘The Autofocus matter will now proceed and I would not want to say anything to prejudice the right of the seven to a fair trial. However, it’s rather pathetic that the abhorrent behaviour that polluted the legal system between 2007 and 2010 has re-emerged as ‘normal business’ for some defendant solicitors and insurers.
‘In 2009, insurers claimed that they were deceived by Autofocus and didn’t know the evidence deployed on their behalf was dishonest. In 2015, there is no excuse for those same insurers – and their instructed solicitors – to be relying on similarly dishonest rate evidence simply because it helps them settle a case for less.’
Of the evidence reviewed, Evans has identified a number of alarming traits, including: former employees of Autofocus, against whom there is primary evidence of aberrant behaviour, still routinely providing evidence tainted by the same aberrant behaviour; Individuals deliberately concealing documents that challenge the evidence in their own witness statement, in order to deceive the court and defraud the innocent Claimant; organisations claiming in witness statements reliance on historical records of telephone conversations with hire companies, but refusing to disclose the transcript of those conversations or, in cases where they have been disclosed, revealing that the notes are not necessarily accurate or true records of the conversations that took place, and in some instances entire witness statements are predicated on evidence of available hire rates, which the maker knows cannot be true.
Evans continued, ‘You really would think with the insurance industry’s continual claims about the importance of eliminating fraud that those solicitors commissioning and paying for this evidence would have made sure that it was fit to be put before the courts as honest, complete and reliable.
‘After the lessons learnt in 2009, you would also hope that insurers had taken ownership of what was being done in their names.’
Permission was given by the Divisional Court to apply to commit seven former Autofocus employees to prison in February 2012 and, on 30 July 2015, Lord Justice Laws dismissed an application from four of the seven to strike out the claims against them, saying that ‘there is a substantial case to the effect that the course of justice has been comprehensively perverted up and down the country’.
Car buyers are to continue to be able to benefit from £5,000 off the cost of an electric car after the Government announced today it would extend the plug-in grant scheme.
The financial incentive will continue to be available until at least February.
Previously, ministers had announced that grant levels would be reviewed once 50,000 vehicles had been sold, a milestone expected to be reached in November.
As a result, all plug-in cars with CO2 emissions of 75g/km or less will remain eligible for a grant. Grants are available for 35% off the cost of a car, up to a maximum of £5,000 and 20% off the cost of a van, up to £8,000.
Transport minister Andrew Jones said: “The Government is maintaining the current levels of grant, even as we move past the milestone of 50,000 vehicles.
“The UK is now the fastest growing market for electric vehicles in Europe.
“We will continue to invest to help make this technology affordable to everyone and to secure the UK’s position as a global leader.”
The Government recently announced that a minimum of £200 million has been made available to continue the plug-in car grant and this latest news will add extra incentive to private buyers and fleets who were looking to ‘go electric’ in 2015 and 2016.
Further details about how the plug-in car grant will be structured beyond February are expected following the Government Spending Review in November.
Drivers across Europe are showing an increasing appetite for the semi-autonomous technologies that are the building blocks of tomorrow’s cars, according to a new Ford Motor Company study on buying trends in Europe.
Ford Car Buying Trends 2015 studied new car buying habits in 22 countries across Europe, highlighting regional trends and national differences. The study showed significant increases in the number of cars with technologies that help drivers to park, avoid collisions, and maintain set speeds and distances from vehicles ahead.
‘While manufacturers including Ford are working toward autonomous vehicles, our customers are already embracing many of the smart technologies that make driving and parking easier and safer,’ said Roelant de Waard, vice president, marketing, sales and service, Ford of Europe. ‘We are seeing increasing demand for features that relieve the stresses of driving, and make it more enjoyable – for example, people have very quickly become accustomed to systems that help them to find a suitable parking space and reverse into it.’
Ford earlier this year announced Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to help change the way the world moves through innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.
Ford has announced 25 global Ford Smart Mobility experiments – several of which are located in London and included projects that will test different ways of alleviating congestion in dense urban areas. The recently-announced GoDrive car-sharing service, for example, offers flexible, practical and affordable access to a fleet of cars for one-way journeys with easy parking throughout the city.
In the US, a fleet of fully autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicles, which mirrors the sensor and computing technology in Ford vehicles today, is undergoing further development and ongoing tests as Ford shifts its autonomous vehicle efforts from a research programme into an advanced engineering project.
iVendi is developing a new product that will enable non-FCA dealers to provide their used car customers with a motor finance option.
According to iVendi the customer would be offered a fully FCA compliant online process, usually presented by a motor finance provider, that will enable them to choose a finance option that suits their needs.
The dealer will effectively be acting as what is known in FCA terminology as an Introduced Appointed Representative and will receive a marketing commission from the finance provider.
James Tew, CEO at iVendi, said: “This product is designed to fill a gap for customers that want to sort out their motor finance needs at the same time as buying a car and for dealers to meet that requirement.
“The process is very hands-off for the dealer. The customer is walked through an online motor finance process that shows them the pros and cons of different product types and allows them to try varying deposits and payment terms. They can then make an application online that will normally be processed in minutes.
“The whole process is designed to be as transparent as possible and to place the customer in total control. It creates an infrastructure for dealers who are choosing not to go down the FCA route to still offer a customer a finance option, even if they are effectively several steps removed from the process itself.
UK petrol consumption has fallen compared with a year ago, despite it being 14ppl cheaper.
UK fuel consumption figures released by HM Revenue and Customs show that petrol consumption flat-lined at around 1.475 billion litres a month from May to July.
This is lower than last summer when the petrol price averaged as much as 131.70ppl, compared with a maximum of 117.28ppl this summer.
Despite petrol pump prices 11% lower than a year ago and below 2008’s 119.70ppl peak, car traffic remains below 2007 and 2008 pre-financial-crisis levels. There is more car traffic on motorways and small rural roads, but 5% less on urban A-roads (42bn versus 40bn vehicle miles), 2% less on rural A-roads (70.6bn versus 69.2bn vehicle miles) and 4.5% less on urban minor roads (56.2bn versus 53.6bn vehicle miles) than the peaks in 2007.
“With the sun and heatwaves in June and July, the UK looked set for a bumper motoring summer. But, with UK petrol consumption at a level normally associated with winter months, the season barely got going. This is astonishing, particularly with petrol 14ppl cheaper than a year ago,” says Paul Watters, the AA’s head of motoring policy.
“Perhaps it is other budgetary pressures on families, although the Office of National Statistics last week reported ‘the longest period of sustained year-on-year growth’ in retail sales. That leaves the scourge of the sudden surge at UK fuel pumps, following yet another leap in petrol prices – from a low of 106.39p in February to 117.28p in late June.”
“If UK pump prices fall to £1 a litre, and it’s a big ‘if’, there is no guarantee that this will bring about a last-minute revival in UK summer motoring. The only thing that UK drivers know they can rely on is that, for every crash in pump prices, there will be a surge afterwards – hardly encouragement to use the car more.”