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Volkswagen dealers are becoming increasingly negative about the franchise they represent, according to the Summer Dealer Attitude Survey from the NFDA.
In this as in past surveys, dealers were asked to rate the overall value of their franchise against all others.
The Volkswagen brand had the most negative change in score this time, down 1.8 points to achieve a rating of 4.9 out of 10.
This is on top of a fall of 0.4 points in the Winter survey giving 2.2 point drop in the score since last Summer.
“This is a considerable change indicating that there has been a noticeable negative shift in the relationship between the dealer network and its manufacturer over a very short space of time,” said the NFDA.
“Fiat has also fallen noticeably in this survey, down 1.7 points to 6.0. In the previous two surveys their score has been above average but is now below.”
Vauxhall was down (-1.4), Jaguar (-1.2), Renault (-1.2) with their scores falling to 5.3, 5.0 and 5.8 respectively.
But some brands improved their performance. Toyota improved most, up 1.6 to 7.3 since the last survey.
BMW had the second largest change of 1.1 points followed by Nissan which improved by 1.0 point giving it a score of 6.6.
“This is the first time Nissan has scored above average since the Summer 2013 survey,” said the NFDA.
Honda also improved its rating. Last Summer it scored the lowest score with 4.6. Since then its score has steadily improved with 5.5 scored in the Winter and 6.3 this survey.
“This would suggest Honda have made significant improvements in their relationship with dealers over the past 12 months,” said the NFDA.
The poor state of Britain’s local roads has been found to be the number one concern among drivers, according to the RAC Report on Motoring 2015.
One in 10 motorists (10%) said the condition of local roads was their top concern, while a further 20% listed the issue as one of their top four concerns. Half (50%) of the 1,555 motorists surveyed for the report – now in its 27th year – believe the condition of roads in their area has deteriorated in the past 12 months with just 10% claiming it has improved; the remainder reporting no change.
Road conditions are a particularly big worry in Scotland and the South West of England, where one in five (19%) motorists say this is their top concern.
The latter is not surprising given that Devon has the most miles of roads of any county in England and one of the highest maintenance backlogs in the country.
Londoners, however, are more positive: only 30% of motorists in the capital say their roads have deteriorated since 2014. This is half the rate (59%) reported among drivers who live in villages or rural areas.
For the 50% who say roads are worse, the vast majority (99%) attribute this to potholes and general damage to the road surface, although litter is a source of annoyance for a quarter (24%), as is poor maintenance of verges for a fifth (21%).
A study undertaken by AXA UK has suggested that there would be business and consumer advantages in adopting driverless haulage and logistics vehicles.
According to AXA, nearly £34bn in savings to the haulage industry could be delivered by autonomous vehicles.
The report, The Future of Driverless Haulage, found that when considering the anticipated cost savings across four cost categories: labour, fuel, insurance and vehicle utilisation, there would be an estimated £33.6bn of savings. AXA said that figure has the potential to climb to £47.5bn after 10 years.
AXA also said that if these savings were passed onto consumers, this would equate to over half of a person’s weekly retail expenditure or almost one and a half weeks’ worth of groceries – £150.
David Williams, head of underwriting at AXA UK, said: “In commissioning this economic modelling, we wanted to discover the financial impacts of introducing driverless haulage fleets.
“The results confirmed our suspicion that automated freight will not only be much more efficient and make the roads safer for other users, it will also reduce the prices of the end products that we all buy.
“Autonomous vehicles can help reduce the needless number of lives lost through road traffic accidents caused by human error and assist in driving down fuel costs and consumption.
“HGVs alone were involved in 6,000 road accidents in 2013, comprising a total of 8,448 casualties, 258 of which were fatalities.”
Williams added, “These are preventable, human-error accidents and the introduction of driverless technology has the potential to transform the haulage industry, with significant implications for the UK’s roads, in terms of safety and congestion, for its environment, business and the UK economy as a whole.”
A homemade gadget can disable the systems that allow self-driving cars to see where they are going, a security researcher has said.
Jonathan Petit demonstrated how a modified, low-cost laser could create ghostlike objects in the path of autonomous cars.
The cars slowed down to avoid hitting them.
If enough phantom objects were created, the car would stop completely, Mr Petit told tech magazine IEEE Spectrum.
Mr Petit, principal scientist at software company Security Innovation, used a laser, similar to a mass-market laser pen and added a pulse generator – something that can be created using a low-cost computer such as the Raspberry Pi.
The set-up cost was just $60 (£40), he said.
This device created phantom objects – cars, walls and pedestrians – that fool the “eyes” of self-drive cars – known as lidars.
“I can spoof thousands of objects and basically carry out a denial of service attack on the tracking system so it’s not able to track real objects,” Mr Petit told IEEE Spectrum.
“I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want,” he added.
Lidars – a combination of light and radar – work by illuminating a target with a laser and analysing the reflected light, to measure distance and map out where objects are.
Thousands of these expensive sensors are used on self-driving cars.
Mr Petit targeted the lidars produced by IBEO Lux but was keen to point out that it is not a problem just for them.
“I don’t think any of the lidar manufacturers have thought about this or tried this,” he told IEEE Spectrum.
His paper, written while he was a research fellow at the University of Cork’s computer security group, will be presented at the Black Hat Europe conference in November.
Of course, for mischief-makers intent on causing chaos, there are already plenty of ways to disrupt traditional driving.
Standard laser pens have proved to be a dangerous toy in the wrong hands.
Reports of people pointing laser pens at drivers and pedestrians regularly hit the headlines, while several people have been sent to prison for shining the devices at police helicopters and other aircraft.
Jaguar Land Rover has launched its Academy, the first of its kind in the UK automotive sector.
The new Academy will offer all Jaguar Land Rover workers the opportunity to take part in continuous development programmes to enhance their careers and provide the skills the company needs.
With an annual learning and development outlay of £100 million, Jaguar Land Rover invests heavily in skills. The creation of the Academy gives renewed focus to that investment and will deliver improved skills for the long-term by strengthening the links between training and business needs. All training provided through the Jaguar Land Rover Academy will meet quality levels defined by a recognised and standardised accreditation process.
Commenting on the launch, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ralf Speth said, ‘We are investing significantly in the future of Jaguar Land Rover by creating very special vehicles for our discerning customers and, just as importantly, by employing and developing the highly skilled people that will help ensure our continued success. For me, our workforce is our most crucial asset and I see the Jaguar Land Rover Academy as the lifeblood of our organisation. The aim of the Academy is to maximise the talents of our workforce and give them new chances to develop their careers to the full. Through providing opportunities for continuous learning from recruitment to retirement, the Academy will ensure that we have the skills needed to compete globally.’