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Peter Johnson has been appointed as president of automotive industry charity Ben. This is a newly created role as the former joint position of president and chairman of the board of trustees, held by Robin Woolcock, has been divided into two senior leadership roles. Woolcock remains chairman of the board of trustee, Johnson will lead Ben in its ongoing strategy to be an integral partner to the automotive industry.
He has more than 40 years’ experience in the automotive industry, having spent 30 years in senior roles in retail and distribution with the Rover group, Inchcape and Marshall Motor Group. Johnson is currently non-executive chairman of Marshall Motor Group and chairman of the Retail Motor Industry Federation.
Peter Johnson said: “I’m committed to working with Ben’s board and senior leadership team to help the organisation achieve its future potential by making sure Ben’s services are relevant to the needs of the people working in the industry and really add value.
“I look forward to working with colleagues across the company and harnessing their energy, passion and drive to help Ben in continuing to support the people in the automotive industry.”
Source: AM Online
Vertu Motors has recorded increases in both revenue and profit in the six months to the end of August 2016, compared to the same period last year. The auto retailer saw revenue rise 17.7 percent to £1,454.6 million, with profit before tax up 14.0 percent to £18.7 million compared to £16.4 million for the previous year. Adjusted profit before tax was up 14.7 percent to £19.5 million, up from £17.0 million for 2015. The interim dividend is up 11.1 percent on last year to 0.50p.
The retailer, now with 129 sales outlets, attributed the results to improvements made in its recently acquired businesses, growth in higher margin service activities and a strong used car performance. On the latter, the company observed an 8.5 percent sales volume increase – the 10th consecutive half year period of growth. In contrast it saw a slowdown in new private retail sales with like-for-like volumes down 4.2 percent, a trend it said was in line with SMMT data.
Commenting on the results, Robert Forrester, Chief Executive, said: “In the first six months of trading, our proven growth strategy has delivered a record set of results with increased revenues, gross margins and profits [..]. The outlook for the remainder of the year remains positive, underpinned by low interest rates and record high levels of employment in the UK economy.”
Source: Auto Retail Agenda
At the end of 2015, Mercedes-Benz UK’s new car registrations smashed its personal best. The 145,254 total was more than 20,000 units up year-on-year, its largest annual rise, and the three-pointed star was the top performer in the entire market for growth. Having sat far behind premium market rivals BMW and Audi last decade, it has rapidly narrowed the gap and is threatening to overtake by 2017.
The depth and breadth of its product line-up was a key factor in the AM judging panel hailing Mercedes-Benz as Manufacturer of the Year. Another driving force behind the carmaker’s success in the UK is its chief executive Gary Savage, winner of the AM Business Leader of the Year award.
Savage has driven cultural change at Mercedes-Benz UK: “One of the things that I was probably most struck with was that we had, as I described it back then, a sort of a parent/child relationship with the network. I felt there was a lot of latent ambition and opportunity within the network that was being probably subdued by this sense of mistrust in terms of their relationship with us […].” He and his senior team put more focus on the sales results, introducing monthly volume targets for the dealers, and encouraging a more consistent approach to fleet offers.
Savage pays a lot of attention to the twice-yearly NFDA Dealer Attitude Survey. He was concerned that, in the past, franchisees really valued having the three-pointed star above the door, but had a problematic relationship with the brand. Now, he is confident the momentum can be sustained because of such a high degree of engagement between the dealers and the manufacturer.
For the past four surveys, Mercedes-Benz has remained the highest-rated franchise.
Source: AM Online
Over 100,000 new cars were registered in one day during the closing week of the September plate-change, indicating the level of self-registration activity was higher than expected.
SMMT figures published last week showed 469,696 new cars were registered over the course of September, a year on year increase of 1.55%. Within these figures year on year private demand slipped -1.7%, whilst fleet grew 7.3%.
However, Mike Jones, chairman of ASE, the dealer profitability specialist, said: “Whilst headline September registration levels were strong, the change in the mix towards dealer fleet and the fact that over 100,000 cars were registered on a single day at the end of the month show that the market undoubtedly included a significant number of dealer registrations. The future, profitable, disposal of these self-registered units will be vital to overall performance”.
A Government-backed campaign to make cities greener is likely to increase fleet electric vehicle adoption, according to leasing company Arval.
The first Go Ultra Low Cities – Nottingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes and London – were named and awarded shares of £40m Government funding in order to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.
Schemes include making public parking free for electric vehicles and offering EV owners use of bus lanes.
“We are at a stage where there is widespread interest in EVs but relatively few fleets have bitten the bullet and actually acquired any. However, momentum is building. There is growing awareness of how to operationally manage the limited range of EVs and the circumstances in which they are most appropriate for businesses,” said David Watts, fleet consultant at Arval UK.
Source: Business Car
Brake has urged the government to lower the UK’s drink driving limit, an opinion shared by 77% of the public.
England and Wales have one of the highest drink drive limits in the world. Set 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, it is greater than the rest of Europe (with the exception only of Malta), as well as Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Lowering our drink drive limit to 50mg alcohol/100ml blood would reduce drink driving deaths by at least 10%.
Gary Rae, Brake’s director of communications and campaigns, said, ‘Drink driving remains one of the biggest causes of devastating road crashes […]. It’s shocking to see how many crashes, many involving deaths and serious injuries, have involved men in their 20s.’
There has been no reduction in the number of drink driving deaths since 2010, with drink driving causing 240 deaths and more than 8,000 casualties in the UK each year. This costs £800 million a year.