Auto Industry Digest Issue no. 407
This week’s news for company executives February 03, 2011
This Week’s Briefing The Editor’s View
ARE fleets really likely to run company cars and
Fuel prices hit record high: vans ‘into the ground’? Years ago it used to be the
April duty rise to be scrapped? case that company cars were replaced at three
years/60,000 miles, while LCVs were run for
Survey highlights top leasing much longer - often till they fell apart. However,
firms for customer service more recently the trend has been for the average
Volvo reports 20% corporate age of company cars to increase by three or four
sale rise with dealer focus months over the historic ‘benchmark’ figure, but
average mileage has reduced. Simultaneously,
Resilient LeasePlan looks to the LCV fleets have tended to replace vehicles more
future with 20% profits rise frequently - particularly as more are leased. Apart
from protecting residual values, the older a vehicle
Struggling BSM acquired by the more it costs to maintain. But, if data from
AA from administrators epyx is correct, some fleets are extending
Saab restructure signals new UK replacement cycles into ‘unknown territory’. If
managing director that starts to happen on a widespread scale then
the impact on new vehicle sales could be severe.
Model update: Alfa Romeo, Already under pressure with the ‘collapse’ of the
Ford, Vauxhall, Volvo retail market, if fleets extend replacement cycles
to five years/150,000 miles and beyond - perhaps
Campaign group fights back in part due to improved vehicle reliability - then it
over ‘blinding’ car lights signals the dawn of a whole new era for vehicle
manufacturers and the entire fleet industry.
Fleets extending replacement cycles into ‘unknown territory’
SOME fleets are continuing to extend replacement cycles with a few now running company
cars and vans into a fifth year and more than 150,000 miles.
The trend is being tracked by epyx through its 1link Service Network service and
maintenance e-commerce platform, which is used by fleets running two million company cars
and vans to manage service and maintenance through 15,000 franchise dealers, independent
garages and fast fit centres.
The company says that although this is not happening in large numbers, some companies
have resisted replacing vehicles almost completely since the start of the recession.
Ken Trinder, head of business development at epyx, said: ‘We are seeing some companies
effectively abandoning the concept of the traditional fleet replacement cycle. They look as
though they might be set to run their vehicles further still and, in doing so, are moving into
unknown territory for fleets in terms of age and mileage.
‘From their maintenance records, it seems as though these vehicles are bearing these high
mileages pretty well. The cost of keeping them on the road is not yet becoming excessive and
there are no indications that risk management compromises are being made.’
Trinder added that the move effectively meant that traditional fleet economics were being
abandoned by these operators.
He said: ‘The running cost calculations that fleets normally make are being thrown out of the
window because it appears that the residual value of the vehicle is no longer a consideration.
It is just a matter of keeping the car or van on the road in the belief that replacing it will be
more expensive than maintaining and repairing it.
‘Of course, some of these vehicles are suffering major component failure but surprisingly
few. The question now is - how long will these companies attempt to operate these vehicles
for? Will they simply drive them into the ground?’
Tax changes and less red tape demanded by BVRLA in Budget
THE British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association is urging the Government to deliver on
its promises of fairer taxes and less red tape in the Budget on March 23.
In its Budget submission, chief executive John Lewis said: ‘Our industry has helped the
Government deliver a successful emissions-based company car tax regime. We want to
continue this partnership by delivering a fairer tax system for road users and pointing out
some of the Department for Transport’s most glaring inefficiencies.’
The BVRLA believes that the UK needs a straightforward, technology-neutral company car
tax framework which delivers clarity and certainty to road users. It says that can be achieved
while also protecting tax receipts for the Exchequer.
In its submission, the BVRLA reiterates its call for the removal of the ‘out-of-date’ 3% diesel
supplement in benefit-in-kind tax for company cars and fuel.
‘This is the one glaring error in the entire company car tax regime,’ said Lewis. ‘It penalises
company car users for selecting the very same diesel vehicles that have the lowest emissions
in their class. This supplement is well past its use-by date.’
The association also wants the coalition Government to follow Labour’s policy of providing a
three-year advanced view of company car tax bands by announcing the figures for the
financial year 2013/14.
It also asks the Government to abandon the next increase in fuel duty planned for April and
introduce a fuel price stabiliser that will give essential road users a fairer and more settled
cost of motoring.
The BVRLA has identified a number of areas where it believes the Government can cut
waste both internally and for vehicle owners.
The advent of continuous registration laws and increasing use of automatic number plate
recognition (ANPR) cameras means that the tax disc is now obsolete, says the organisation.
Abolishing it would save the DVLA over £90 million a year in administration costs and
eliminate a massive amount of paperwork for fleet owners, it claims.
Allowing companies to pay their Vehicle Excise Duty on a multi-year basis would bring
Finally, despite the recent surge in fuel prices, the BVRLA shares the concerns of many in
the public sector about the tax-free mileage allowances being paid to employees using their
own vehicles for work - known as the ‘grey fleet’.
The current 40p per mile level of Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAP) is too
high and encourages people to use their own, often older, less environmentally-friendly
vehicles instead of more appropriate means of travel, including public transport, rental or
leased vehicles, says the BVRLA.
‘We urge the Government to align the rates to a level that represents the incremental cost of
using a private car for business, rather than the total cost of ownership,’ added Lewis.
Experteye reveals the three leasing firms that lead on customer service
EXPERTEYE has announced the winners of its 2010 Fleeteye CSI survey, which
recognises the contract hire companies that have achieved the highest customer satisfaction
scores last year, across three categories.
Winner of the 25 to 250 fleet size category was Ogilvie Fleet, the 250 to 500 category was
won by ING Car Lease, with Alphabet topping the 500+ sector.
The results are drawn from the Fleeteye CSI survey, which measures post-sale customer
satisfaction across a subscriber base of top leasing companies in the UK.
Fleet operators are surveyed independently by Experteye, which ask an extensive range of
questions via an electronic survey which is reported on a monthly basis. The annual CSI
awards go to the companies that have achieved the highest combined results across the entire
Rick Yarrow, managing director of Experteye, said: ‘The three companies have shown
consistently strong levels of service throughout the year within their categories.
‘We’re also delighted that our Fleeteye survey remains a pivotal measure of customer
satisfaction in the fleet sector, with many contract hire companies using it to formulate key
strategies and service initiatives.’
It is the second consecutive year that Alphabet has won the 500+ fleet size category. Director
Mark Sinclair said: ‘I’d like to thank our staff and our strategic suppliers for keeping
Alphabet consistently at the forefront of fleet customer satisfaction.
‘We have put a great deal of effort into ensuring that we remain the best for customer service
at a time when Alphabet is growing strongly.
‘Customer Service is at the heart of Alphabet and it is particularly gratifying to be recognised
in successive years, especially as the Fleeteye survey covers all areas from products and
services to vehicle ordering and delivery, communications, online facilities, reporting, billing
and meeting our promises.’
Ironically, 2010 was the first year in which Ogilvie Fleet decided to take part in the survey as
the company wanted to benchmark its customer service performance against competitors.
Nick Hardy, sales and marketing director Ogilvie Fleet, said: ‘It is the first time that the
company has won a recognised industry award for customer service so we are absolutely
The company employs 55 people in offices in Birmingham, Sheffield and Stirling. Hardy
said: ‘The achievement is testimony to every single member of staff who day after day works
incredibly hard to deliver a range of fleet solutions to our clients.
‘We have always known that Ogilvie Fleet’s employees deliver excellent customer service
and our customers tell us that we do, but to have that confirmed with such a prestigious award
is fantastic and gives the company huge credibility.
‘We didn’t know how the company would perform in the Fleeteye survey and while we
believe we deliver top-notch service, how that compared with the rest of the industry was a
Hardy concluded: ‘But we are not complacent and in 2011 we will be aiming to further
strengthen our customer service as Ogilvie Fleet will be seeking to retain its award-winning
fleet industry leadership.’
Yarrow added: ‘We’re also looking forward to supporting the fleet sector even further in
2011, with the Fleeteye CSI survey moving to a new platform that will enable far easier
collation and interpretation of the results by the contract hire companies. We have also
launched Fleeteye Touchpoint, which gathers driver feedback at key events during the life of
the vehicle, and we’ve combined our Industry Trends and Brand Awareness surveys into a
new format called Fleeteye Pulse.’
LeasePlan sees profits accelerate 20%
VEHICLE leasing and fleet management specialist LeasePlan has reported a 20% increase in
net profit to €199 million in 2010 (2009: €165m) returning the company almost to pre-
LeasePlan’s 2009 net profit included an incidental net profit contribution of €47m, making
the underlying net profit increase in 2010 68%.
The improved performance, almost at pre-crisis levels, was driven by substantially lower
losses on terminated contracts and debtors compared to 2009 and by traditional income
sources being stable or slightly increasing, said the company.
Income grew by 18% and expenses by 16% compared to 2009. Both income and expenses
were impacted by the depreciating value of the euro in 2010 versus 2009.
With the number of vehicles on its book stable at 1.3 million, Vahid Daemi, CEO and
chairman of LeasePlan, said: ‘We achieved a solid increase in net profit. Taking into
consideration an incidental net profit contribution in 2009, the increase in net profit of actual
business performance was even substantially higher.
‘The good performance was supported by a strong reduction in losses on contract
terminations because of improving used vehicle market conditions and our successful risk
mitigating actions. Other traditional income components were stable or increased slightly.’
He added: ‘Looking forward, the resilience of our business model in times of economic
turbulence has given us confidence for the year 2011. We expect further improvement in
LeasePlan's performance in 2011, provided that there is no significant relapse in the current
Speeding and mobile phone issues head list of fleet driving offences
SPEEDING and mobile phone offences head a new list of the 10 most common driving
offences committed by company car and van drivers released by fleet management software
company CFC Solutions.
The research is based on the users of the company’s Licence Link licence checking software
which was launched in 2009 and is now in use by fleets totalling several thousand drivers.
The results are:
Code and offence Percentage of total offences recorded %
1. SP30 Exceeding statutory speed limit on a public road 59.19
2. CU80 Using a mobile phone while driving a motor vehicle 10.74
3. SP50 Exceeding speed limit on a motorway 8.48
4. TS10 Failing to comply with traffic light signals 6.71
5. DR10 Driving or attempting to drive with alcohol level above limit 5.43
6. SP10 Exceeding goods vehicle speed limits 2.36
7. IN10 Using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks 1.77
8. MS90 Failure to give information as to identity of driver etc 1.16
9. SP20 Speed limit for type of vehicle (excluding goods or passenger vehicles) 0.77
10. CD10 Driving without due care and attention 0.41
Neville Briggs, managing director at CFC Solutions, said: ‘Every fleet manager knows that
speeding is by far the biggest offence committed by drivers of company vehicles. However,
that should not distract from acknowledging the fact that driving too quickly can be a
‘Also, the prevalence of mobile phone offences is worrying and shows that the safety
message about responsible phone use while driving that the fleet industry has been promoting
for some time has yet to reach everyone.
‘One fact that I find extremely worrying is that drink-driving makes an appearance in the top
five offences. This is potentially the most serious driving offence of all and will often lead to
an employee being unable to do their job and subsequently dismissed.’
Briggs added: ‘If fleet managers have a good idea of the type of offences that are likely to be
committed on their fleet, then they can put measures in place to help prevent them being
committed in future. Clearly, these statistics show that many fleets have some work to do
when it comes to educating drivers about the very real dangers of speeding and mobile phone
EDF Energy first to add new Peugeot electric car to its fleet
THE first Peugeot i0n car in the UK, the company’s latest generation electric vehicle, has
been sold and delivered to EDF Energy, Britain’s largest producer of low carbon electricity,
for use in its fleet including testing recharging solutions.
It is also the first vehicle to qualify under the Government’s Office for Low Emission
Vehicles (OLEV) scheme. Last year, the Government announced a £5,000 grant to support
the introduction of electric vehicles which came into effect last month.
Eric Salomon, energy field services director at EDF Energy, said: ‘We are delighted to add
the first Peugeot iOn in the UK to our fleet. It fits in perfectly with our ambitions to provide
low carbon solutions.’
EDF Energy is engaged in a wide range of activities within the electric vehicle market which
helps to position it as a market leader for recharging solutions for customers with electric
vehicles, including battery electric vehicles, plug in hybrids and range extended vehicles.
The Peugeot i0n is one of the first of the latest generation four-seat urban electric cars to go
on sale in the UK this month.
It has a potential range of 93 miles and can be recharged from a standard domestic plug in
around six hours, or via a quick charger in under an hour. Average running costs are
estimated at £1.72 per 93 miles.
The i0n is available in the UK via an ‘all-inclusive’ mobility offer consisting of a four-
year/40,000-mile contract, with a monthly payment of £415 excluding VAT.
Phil Robson, fleet sales director at Peugeot UK, said: ‘Electric cars are an important part of
future urban mobility, alongside hybrid vehicles and highly efficient diesel and petrol
‘As well as the all electric i0n, we will also this year launch the world’s first diesel hybrid
vehicle the 3008 HYbrid4, new e-HDi micro hybrid technology and later a range of highly
efficient three cylinder petrol engines. Together these new vehicles will help reduce CO2
emissions and reduce customers’ motoring costs.’
Northgate targets SMEs as demand for flexible vehicle hire grows
NORTHGATE Vehicle Hire is generating a string of new business opportunities as small and
medium-sized companies turn to hiring vehicles as a cost-effective solution to modernising
The new business inquiries being generated by Britain’s largest vehicle hire company are on
the strength of a major email campaign targeting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and a
far-reaching restructuring of the rental sector following the end of 2010 demise of some
Northgate Vehicle Hire operates a UK-wide fleet of more than 60,000 vehicles available for
hire from over 60 outlets and is renewing its fleet with 20,000 vehicles purchased last year
and the replacement programme continuing in 2011.
The email campaign targeting SMEs nationwide focused on the cost-effective benefits of
running new vehicles and how, with bank credit difficult to come by for some businesses,
flexible hire, rather than the leasing or purchasing of vehicles, was the optimum budget-
Northgate Vehicle Hire sales and marketing director Gareth Jones said: ‘A vast number of
leads have been generated resulting in talks with potential customers and more inquiries are
being handled daily.’
The new business comes on the back of the number of rental providers in the industry
recently reducing with GE Capital closing its TLS rental business, Newton Vehicle Rental
being sold and Leaseway Vehicle Rental going into administration and closing branches.
Meanwhile, industry research shows that fleets can slash fuel and service maintenance and
repair bills as well as Vehicle Excise Duty costs by as much as 25% by replacing old cars or
vans with modern, efficient vehicles.
Jones said: ‘Benefits include a reduced carbon footprint due to the introduction of new low-
emission engine technology, improved driver safety as vehicles are equipped with the very
latest safety features and an improved image due to the running of modern vans.
‘Instead of spending time and money repairing and maintaining older vehicles that will
increasingly cost more to run, Northgate’s flexible vehicle hire solution, Norflex, comes with
a range of benefits for SMEs including financial savings without any long term commitment.’
Norflex, he said, also overcame problems associated with applying for finance from banks
that aren’t lending to buy vehicles or signing a long-term term contract hire agreement when
SMEs have little idea of future business levels as well as, for outright purchase fleets, solving
issues associated with the volatility of the used vehicle market.
Jones said: ‘With such restrictive lending criteria being a common problem for many SMEs,
traditional methods for acquiring and running vehicles are proving cumbersome and require a
level of capital commitment that no longer makes sense for many organisations.’
Council to share public sector fleet best practice at Jaama workshop
BEST practice fleet management initiatives have been introduced by Luton Borough
Council’s transport department with the help of software from leading provider Jaama - and
now the Council is to share its processes and ‘lean working principles’ with other public
Jaama is holding a Public Sector Fleet Management Software Workshop in association with
the Council on Tuesday, March 15. The free Workshop takes place at the Chiltern Hotel in
Luton but will also include a visit to the Council’s transport department to see Jaama’s Key2
Vehicle Management system in action.
The Workshop takes place with public sector budgets under the microscope and the number
of public sector bodies introducing Jaama’s fleet management software to manage fleet
vehicles, plant equipment and workshops increasing.
Cost control is the number one priority in 2011 for all organisations across the public sector
with savvy decision-makers investing in technology to help them effectively and efficiently
manage their transport operations, according to Jaama sales director Martin Evans.
Online flexibility, touch screen technology, in depth management reporting and across-
department integration and accessibility were all key reasons behind the Council’s decision to
install the cutting-edge online technology two years ago.
With public sector budgets being cut and expenditure a focus for all management, the
Council’s pro-active approach to running its 563 vehicles and items of plant has won it a
number of awards. The vehicles and equipment managed using Key2 range from a strimmer
to a refuse collection vehicle and the Mayor’s car to a 57-seat coach.
Now Council transport manager Don Allison believes the approach the local authority has
taken can become a blueprint for fleet and transport departments at other councils and public
He said: ‘We needed to change our processes and working practices and have found that
Jaama’s flexible software is ideally suited. With the introduction of ‘lean principles’ we have
removed duplication and waste and have made significant efficiency savings.
‘The transport department has made significant improvements in terms of productivity,
efficiency and income generation. The public sector is under huge financial pressure and we
want to share our best practice initiatives with other organisations.
‘Everyone can learn from each other and ideas and solutions to problems should be shared,
particularly in the economic climate within which we all operate.’
Apart from Luton Borough Council other public sector fleets using Jaama’s Key2 software
include Chelmsford Borough Council, Hertfordshire County Council, the Norwich-based
Norse Group, which includes the management of public sector vehicles within its portfolio,
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust and the British Transport Police.
Evans said: ‘Public sector organisations such as Luton Borough Council have recognised that
if they ‘spend to save’ they will reap significant cost savings and administration efficiencies.
If investment is axed local authorities will find they become less efficient and costs actually
For further information and to book you place at the Workshop contact Ellie Whiten, Jaama
marketing manager or Collette Dooley on 0844 8484 333.
Leasedrive Velo drives value to re-sign Ceridian
LEASEDRIVE Velo has retained the business to supply contract hire and fleet management
services to Ceridian, the UK’s leading provider of HR and payroll services.
The sole-supply contract covers a fleet of around 100 contract hire vehicles and 120 cash-for-
car drivers. Vehicle supply is predominantly Audi, BMW and Volkswagen.
Leasedrive Velo Group commercial director Roddy Graham said: ‘For the past four years, we
have been delivering added value fleet solutions to Ceridian and we are delighted that the
company has opted to extend the contract indefinitely.
‘In those four years, the Ceridian fleet has become greener with average emissions reduced
by 19%, from 167 g/km to 136 g/km.’
Doug Sawers, managing director of Ceridian in the UK, said: ‘As the UK’s leading provider
of human resource management and payroll services, our focus is on delivering value into
customer organisations and to deliver and grow our services alongside our customers,
creating real, tangible value. We seek the same management ethos from our partner
Arval partners with Windsor Fleet to enhance international reach
ARVAL, which claims to be Europe’s leading operational leasing company, has appointed
Windsor Fleet as a partner in the Republic of Ireland.
Windsor Fleet is one of Ireland’s largest fleet management companies and the relationship
further increases Arval’s international presence. Windsor Fleet’s existing and potential new
customers will now have access to Arval’s global presence providing a true international fleet
facility for Irish companies.
Operating in 39 countries around the world, and with subsidiaries in 22 countries, Arval
manages nearly 700,000 vehicles with more than 1.2 million drivers using the Arval fuel
Windsor Fleet Management was established in 1999 to offer corporate customers a complete
package for their car leasing and fleet management needs.
Jonathan O’Brien, general manager at Windsor Fleet, said: ‘The partnership will provide
further global coverage for Arval whilst at the same time provide an international facility for
our existing customers and potential new customers.’
E-Training World launches fast track assessment and training system
E-TRAINING World is launching a suite of online modules that combine assessment with
Claimed to offer the simplest and quickest approach to driver improvement, the system asks
20 questions on a defined topic. It then scores them before immediately providing the correct
Graham Hurdle, managing director at E-Training World, said: ‘The beauty of it is its speed,
simplicity and flexibility.
‘Initially, we’re looking at using it to launch a series of very short and punchy driver
assessment and training modules on specific topics such as mobile phone usage, speed
awareness, vehicle checks and hazard perception. However, it can also be very easily tailored
to a company’s own vehicle policy guidelines.
‘In other words, if you wish to ask your drivers 20 questions about your company car policy
you can do so, enabling you to evaluate the level of understanding of your policy throughout
the business, as well as provide immediate training as to what your policy is.
‘The scope of this system is incredible because we can see it applying to all aspects of
training when employers are looking to test then train all in one go. It is so flexible we can
easily extend it beyond the fleet arena so that it can be used for companies’ health and safety
policies, their customer care processes and any aspect of business whereby firms need to
audit and train staff in the most efficient way.’
The system costs £5 per login but as part of its launch they are offering a series of four
modules for £15.
Zurich offers telematics technology to fleets
INSURANCE giant Zurich is to offers fleets telematics technology as part of its new,
integrated fleet risk management programme.
Called Zurich Fleet Intelligence (ZFI), Trimble’s telematics devices will be offered to
customers to help to minimise fleet operating costs and reduce crashes.
Bryn Fosburgh, vice president of Trimble’s Mobile Solutions Division, said: ‘As part of the
programme, Trimble will offer Zurich’s risk management and driver training services to
complement our industry-leading telematics solutions, in order to help organisations manage
risks, increase fleet driver safety and improve productivity.’
ZFI works by combining data from telematics devices with Zurich’s analytical tools to turn
the data into meaningful insights that can help fleet managers reduce their fleet operating
Zurich will not receive any fees or commission from Trimble when a customer selects their
Ford to sell current Focus alongside new model
FORD will continue to sell the current Focus alongside the next-generation model when it
goes on sale in March.
It will be a single model called the Focus Sport and it will be highly specified with a £15,000
price tag in comparison to the entry level price for the new Focus which starts at £15,995,
according to industry website am-online.com.
The Focus Sport will be on sale between the plate-change months of March and September
The Sport comes with satellite navigation with European mapping, Bluetooth and USB
connectivity, voice control, parking distance sensors, 16-inch ST-style alloy wheels, auto
headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and self-dimming rear-view mirror.
The model will be available as a five-door with a choice of two engines - the 1.6 litre 99 bhp
petrol manual and the 1.6 litre 108 bhp TDCi manual.
Meanwhile, Ford has no plans to produce a three-door version of its all-new Focus, but has
not ruled out the possibility of a sporty coupe based on the model’s underpinnings.
Insiders said there were a number of ideas for such a car in the design studios although they
added that nothing was immediately in the pipeline.
Ford of Britain sales director Jon Wellsman told Headlineauto: ‘We have dropped the three-
door model because it only accounted for a very small percentage of Focus sales. It had
limited value as a lead-in for fleets and some private buyers, but the bulk of sales are five-
The UK will take the five-door hatchback and estate versions while saloon version of the
Focus will be sold in other regions of the world.
For the UK, the Focus will have a vast array of technologies available, including low-speed
crash avoidance, lane departure warnings and driver assistance systems such as traffic sign
recognition and blind spot warning systems.
Asked what the take-up of such technologies will be, Wellsman said: ‘We have moved away
from trying to market these technologies individually, we have put together a number of
packages so we think we will get a good take-up.
‘This is also part of our strategy to reduce complexity with four trim specifications and a
choice of three petrol and four diesel engines.’
Following next month’s launch of the five-door Focus, the estate will go on sale around one
month later and a high performance ST version, still in a five-door bodystyle, will join the
range early next year.
New Vauxhall Astra model trumps key rivals
VAUXHALL has expanded its Astra range with a five-door model which it claims ‘squarely
targets similarly-priced rivals from Ford and Volkswagen by offering levels of standard
equipment and trim not usually seen outside the options list.
Starting at £18,110 for the 140 PS 1.4 litre Turbo model, the ES Tech comes as standard with
a CD500 Satnav system (including CD player, MP3, USB, iPod control, seven speakers and
aux-in socket), Bluetooth, a DAB radio, 17-inch alloy wheels and air conditioning.
That equipment complements standard equipment found in most Astra models, such as
curtain airbags, ESP, daytime running lights, cruise control and steering wheel-mounted
Compared with the £800 more expensive Golf 1.4 TSI (122 PS) Match, the Astra ES Tech
1.4 Turbo gains satnav, in addition to offering an extra 18 PS of power from its 140 PS
engine. The Astra’s benchmark performance figures also beat the Golf’s, with a 0-60 mph
time of nine seconds and top speed of 126 mph.
For diesel buyers, the Astra ES Tech is available with the 125 PS 1.7 CDTi engine, and with
sub-120 g/km emissions the version is one of Vauxhall’s growing range of ecoFLEX models.
At £19,530, the ES Tech ecoFLEX gains key items of standard kit over Ford’s new Focus
challenger including satnav and cruise control. The model completes the 0-60 mph spring in
10.7 seconds, top speed is 122 mph) and combined cycle fuel consumption is 62.8 mpg.
‘We know that the competition is fierce in the compact class, so the Astra needs to deliver,’
said Duncan Aldred, Vauxhall’s managing director. ‘The new ES Tech models now raise the
bar for value and equipment levels in the class and should make buyers think twice before
putting their hard-earned cash down on a Ford or Volkswagen.’
Five-door variant of race-bred Chevrolet to make Geneva debut
THE Chevrolet Cruze has won both the British and World Touring Car Championship titles
and now a five-door variant with race-bred overtones will debut at next month’s Geneva
On sale in the UK in the summer, the Cruze hatchback will be available with a new range of
engines, with the range-topping diesel unit the same as that of the newly-launched Orlando,
with 163 PS and a standard six-speed manual gearbox.
‘The Cruze hatchback will give us a huge opportunity in the UK,’ said Chevrolet managing
director Mark Terry. ‘This year alone, we’ve got four major new model launches that will
have a significant positive impact on our product line-up in the UK, as well as the Camaro to
cast a halo over the rest of our range.
‘Alongside Orlando, the new Captiva and new Aveo, the Cruze hatch delivers greater choice
and versatility to our customers, and as well as offering the same great value and quality
finish that our retail customers are used to, it will give us a far greater presence in the hotly
contested fleet market.’
Jason Plato won the British Touring Car Championship in the Cruze in its first ever season in
the sport, while the Chevrolet team also took home the World Touring Car Drivers and
Terry added: ‘Motor sport is part of Chevrolet’s DNA. What we learn on the track is passed
down to our road cars, and this latest incarnation of Cruze proves that.’
Hyundai updates city car range
AN updated version of the Hyundai i10 city car range will go on sale on March 1 and
includes the arrival of the manufacturer’s first sub-100 g/km Blue model, along with
specification and design upgrades for the rest of the line-up.
The new version of Hyundai’s entry-point model is claimed to represent a significant step
forward over the outgoing i10.
Chief among the changes are enhancements to the i10’s design - both in the cabin and on the
exterior of the car. They bring a clear family resemblance between the new i10 and other
recently launched Hyundais, including the ix35 and ix20 models.
A new and improved range of Euro5-compliant engines include the all-new 1.0 litre ‘Kappa’
engine, which replaces the old 1.1 litre ‘Epsilon’ unit. It achieves 67.3 mpg on the combined
The 1.25 litre ‘Kappa’ engine has also been improved giving 13% more power (85 bhp),
9.2% less emissions (108 g/km) and 8.7% better fuel consumption (61.4 mpg) than the
outgoing 1.25 litre ‘Kappa’ engine.
To make the most of the new 1.0 litre engine, Hyundai has introduced an all-new model - the
i10 Blue. This special ‘eco’ edition of the i10 emits 99 g/km. Hyundai says it is currently the
only sub-£10,000 five-seater car on the market to achieve such an emission figure, and the
first of a family of Blue models that will underscore Hyundai’s commitment to environmental
The revised range consists of four trim grades - Blue, Classic, Active and Style. Equipment
specification across the i10 now includes as standard air conditioning and an iPod plug-in.
Prices start at £8,195 for the entry-level Classic model.
Volkswagen reveals prices for new Jetta
PRICES for the new Volkswagen Jetta have been announced with the entry-level S 1.4 litre
TSI 122 PS model starting at £16,960 on-the-road and topping out at £22,320 for the 2.0 litre
TDI with DSG.
All new Jettas are fitted with air conditioning, an MP3 compatible CD stereo, six airbags,
ABS, Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP), an alarm and folding rear seats.
Compared to the car it replaces, the new Jetta is 90 mm longer at 4,644 mm with a wheelbase
increase of 70 mm to 2,648 mm. This allows the rear legroom to increase by 67 mm.
Powering the Jetta is a range of TSI petrol and TDI diesel engines. Two petrol engines are
offered - joining the 1.4 litre TSI 122 PS entry-level engine is a range-topping twincharged
1.4 litre TSI unit developing 160 PS.
The diesel range starts with a 1.6 litre TDI engine developing 105 PS. Equipped with
BlueMotion Technology features including Start/Stop and battery regeneration as standard,
it’s capable of achieving 67.3 mpg on the combined cycle while emissions are 109 g/km. A
2.0 litre TDI engine developing 140 PS is also returning 58.9 mpg with emissions of 126
The 1.6 litre TDI and the 1.4 litre TSI 160 PS unit can be specified with the option of a
seven-speed DSG gearbox. The 2.0 litre TDI is available with a six-speed DSG transmission.
The Jetta is available to order now, with first customer deliveries due in May.
Mini expands range with new performance diesel model
MINI is expanding its model range with the addition of a performance diesel - the Cooper
The new 2.0 litre 143 bhp engine will be available in all body types - hatch, convertible,
clubman and countryman and promises more power, frugal fuel consumption and lower
The 2.0 litre four cylinder power unit follows the design philosophy of the familiar 1.6 litre
engine but produces 143 bhp at 4,000 rpm, almost 28% more than the Cooper D and nearly
60% above that of the One D.
Torque is 305 Nm (225 lb-ft) from 1,750 to 2,700 rpm, the highest torque value of any Mini
engine. Combined cycle fuel economy is 65.7 mpg for the hatchback and emissions are 114
On-the-road prices start at £18,750 for the hatchback and rise to £23,190 for the Countryman
All Cooper SD models are equipped as standard with a new super light six speed manual
production-ready car with carbon dioxide emissions below 50 g/km, which translates into
fuel consumption of 150 mpg – at the Geneva International Motor Show next month.
The car will go on sale in 2012 with Volvo claiming to be the first manufacturer to market
with the new breed of hybrid, which is the result of close cooperation with the Swedish
energy supplier Vattenfall.
Volvo to take wraps off new breed of hybrid
VOLVO will unveil its V60 Plug-in Hybrid - a virtually
The V60 Plug-in Hybrid, says Volvo, features the very best properties from three different
car types in one sports wagon and they include a possibility for the driver to drive up to 32
miles on pure electricity.
‘This second-generation hybrid is the perfect choice for the uncompromising buyer who
wants a carbon dioxide-lean car packed with driving pleasure,’ said Stefan Jacoby, president
and CEO of Volvo Cars.
The front wheels of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid are driven by a five-cylinder 2.4 litre D5
turbodiesel, which produces 215 bhp and maximum torque of 440 Nm. The rear axle features
ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive) in the form of an electric motor producing 70 bhp, which
receives its power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The car features a six-speed
‘To get true car enthusiasts to think green, you have to offer them the opportunity to drive
with low carbon dioxide emissions without taking away the adrenaline rush that promotes
genuine driving pleasure. The V60 Plug-in Hybrid has all the traditional properties of a
genuine sports wagon. What we’ve done is to spice it up with spearhead technology,’ said
Alfa launches new automatic transmission in MiTo
THE sporty compact Alfa MiTo is the first model in the Alfa Romeo range to feature the all-
new TCT automatic transmission with dry twin clutch.
Now available in the UK, the transmission is fitted to the 1.4 TB MultiAir 135 bhp petrol
engine and combined with a Start&Stop system. Combined cycle fuel economy is 51.4 mpg
and emissions are 129 g/km.
The Alfa MiTo 1.4 TB MultiAir with Alfa TCT is available in Lusso and Veloce trim levels,
with prices starting from £16,745 on-the-road.
Euro NCAP names its five safest cars
VEHICLE crash test organisation, the European New Car Assessment Programme, has
named its best performing cars of 2010 in its five main model categories.
Each of the vehicles achieved a high overall score and attained the coveted Euro NCAP top
The top achievers by category were: supermini, Honda CR-Z; small family car, Alfa Romeo
Giulietta; executive category, BMW 5 Series; small MPV, Toyota Verso; and small 4x4, Kia
To be a top achiever means that the cars accomplished a high combined score based on the
scores in each of the individual four areas of Euro NCAP’s assessment, while notably
exceeding the thresholds for a five-star overall rating. In addition to the top five achievers,
the Suzuki Swift, Kia Venga, BMW X1, Volkswagen Sharan/SEAT Alhambra, Citroen C4
all exceeded the 80% mark in overall score putting them on the list of best performing cars of
Dr Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP secretary general said: ‘Every year, car manufacturers
constantly work to innovate and make their cars better and safer for the driver, whatever the
size of the vehicle. The presence in these categories of high performing five-star cars
demonstrates car manufacturers’ commitment to safety for all sizes of vehicles.’
Last year, Euro NCAP crash tested 29 vehicles, 65% of which reached the five-star rating,
compared to 90% in 2009.
A Euro NCAP spokesman said: ‘This decrease of 25% clearly shows that Euro NCAP’s
criteria to reach five stars are now tougher.’
Euro NCAP’s poorest results of 2010 were achieved by the Citroen Nemo with three stars
and by the Landwind CV9 which received only two stars.
Volvo corporate sales grow 20% aided by Magma partnership
VOLVO Car UK achieved a 19.7% growth in company car sales in 2010 (19,934 units), a
3,283 sales increase over 2009 and a 1.9% share of the fleet market, at a time when the entire
corporate sector grew by 9.2% to 1,072,891.
The increased performance has been supported by Volvo’s new relationship with Magma
Services, part of Magma Group, which began last summer.
Magma is providing Volvo with a six-strong team of business development managers
(BDMs) with the aim of increasing sales appointments with decision makers in 100-300
vehicle fleets and supporting five-100 fleet sales with Volvo’s 24-strong business centre
It is also proactively managing B2B sales leads and promoting Volvo’s own car leasing
product which is underwritten by Volvo Car Leasing.
Volvo’s network of business centres is benefiting from joint prospect visits with dealer staff
and members of the BDM team with a view to increasing market share on a local basis. The
aim is to increase new car sales, but also to gain extra servicing and maintenance work from
The BDM team supplements work by Volvo’s own team of six area development managers
which is building relationships with 300-plus fleets, current fleet accounts, growing its share
of the public sector, building affinity schemes, employee schemes and dealer daily rental
‘We know from experience that once a fleet decision maker or driver gets behind the wheel
of one of our cars for any length of time it makes its way onto the company’s car choice list
and is chosen by employees,’ explained James Shires, Volvo’s national corporate sales
‘Magma is providing Volvo with experienced BDMs to inform a greater number of fleets
about the Volvo product range and how the range has changed over the past couple of years
and its suitability for corporate use. The stats already show that we are getting onto more
choice lists which are steadily building fleet sales.’
A BDM demonstrator programme has been set up to support all fleet sales activity to increase
awareness of Volvo’s current product range, with specific focus initially on S60, with fleet
decision makers and user choosers alike.
‘The BDM team has effectively doubled Volvo’s corporate sales team and prospecting
activity overnight, which is starting to pay dividends both locally and nationally. Our team
comprises experienced fleet professionals that use their own expertise and contacts to build
awareness and sales momentum for the Volvo product,’ explained Keith Hawes, BDM
Commercial vehicle sales provide hope for the economy
THE economic news surrounding Britain’s shrinking economy (Digest: January 27) might be
bleak with the cost of living continuing to rise, but Britain’s motor industry is doing its best
to dig the country out of recession.
The UK’s manufacturing industry has started to rebound with car and van production leading
the way - car manufacturing up 27.1% last year and 10.6% last month and van production up
35.7% last year and 19.4% last month - but there are also other signs of growth.
Ford is reporting the green shoots of recovery in commercial vehicle sales, often a
bellweather of economic recovery.
Ford of Britain sales director Jon Wellsman, in an interview with Headlineauto, said that
sales of light and medium commercial vehicles had shown a ‘significant up-tic in demand -
particularly for the Transit’ since the beginning of the year.
He added: ‘This is usually an indication that some kind of economic recovery is taking place.
Sales of heavy commercial trucks are also up although this is not a sector we compete in.
‘Set against that, this does not seem to be happening with vehicles used by the construction
industry, but the automotive industry in the UK would seem to be the first to come out of the
downturn, having been the first to suffer at the start.’
Wellsman said that vehicle sales - car and commercials - were running at around 20% behind
January last year, although 2010 figures were boosted by Government incentives which
encouraged people to scrap old cars and buy new, greener models.
However, he added, that sales industry wide were still better than expected. He said: ‘We,
along with other manufacturers, expected the market to be down 28%.’
Renault becomes first manufacturer to launch own tyre range
RENAULT has become the first vehicle manufacturer to offer its customers an own-branded
Available from UK Renault dealers this month, the new Motrio tyre range has been specially
developed to suit the requirements of older Renault vehicles with prices starting from £36 per
tyre fully fitted.
The Motrio range is designed to deliver high performance - in wet or dry weather - and has
been tested to Renault’s strict specifications to ensure owners can be certain that the
performance of the tyre is in harmony with their vehicle.
Two tread patterns feature in the range: Motrio Impulsion maximises driving comfort for the
smaller models such as Twingo and Clio while Motrio Impulsion+ offers a more dynamic
focus to suit the rest of the range and the manufacturer’s sportier models.
Mark Crockett, director of service and quality at Renault UK, said: ‘After servicing, tyre
replacement is the second most frequent reason for a motorist to visit a dealership or
workshop and it is also one of the highest value items when maintaining a vehicle. Our new
own-brand tyre range is very competitively priced and in many cases is significantly less
expensive than the premium brands helping motorists to reduce their costs without sacrificing
Ford motors to best sales figures for a decade
FORD Motor Company has reported 2010 full year net income of $6.6 billion, an increase of
$3.8bn, from 2009 - the manufacturer’s highest net income in more than 10 years, as strong
products and new investments fuelled improvements in all of the company’s business
operations around the world.
‘Our 2010 results exceeded our expectations, accelerating our transition from fixing the
business fundamentals to delivering profitable growth for all,’ said Alan Mulally, Ford
president and CEO. ‘We are investing in an unprecedented amount of products, technology
and growth in all regions of the world.’
Full year 2010 pre-tax operating profit was $8.3bn, an increase of $8.3b, from the year before
Ford reported fourth quarter net income of $190m, a decrease of $696m from the fourth
quarter of 2009. The figures included the negative impact of special items of $1bn, primarily
associated with a previously disclosed $960mcharge related to the completion of debt
conversion offers that reduced outstanding automotive debt by over $1.9bn.
Ford earned a pre-tax operating profit of $1.3bn in the fourth quarter, marking the sixth
consecutive quarter of pre-tax operating profit. However, it was a decrease of $322m from
the fourth quarter of 2009.
In the fourth quarter, Ford of Europe reported a pre-tax operating loss of $51m, compared
with a profit of $253m a year ago.
The decline was more than explained by lower market share, higher structural costs to
support product launches, higher commodity costs, and lower industry volume, offset
partially by favourable exchange and mix.
The lower market share primarily reflected Ford’s decision to reduce participation selectively
in low-margin business, as well as the end of the favourable effect of scrappage programmes
on its small car sales. Fourth quarter revenue was $8.1bn, down from $8.2bn a year ago.
Compared to Ford’s most recent guidance for Europe, the fourth quarter result was lower
than expected, reflecting primarily lower market share driven by actions to maintain margins.
For the full year, Ford of Europe reported a pre-tax operating profit of $182m, compared with
a loss of $144m a year ago. The improvement primarily reflected the non-recurrence of prior-
year stock reductions, lower material and warranty costs, higher parts and services profits,
and favourable mix. However, that was offset partially by lower market share and higher
Light commercial vehicles______________________________________
Vauxhall ‘greens up’ CVs with new ecoFLEX vans
VAUXHALL is to offer an ‘eco’ model across its whole van range with the launch of
ecoFLEX commercial vehicles.
The range includes two new Luton-built Vivaro ecoFLEX vans, a 2.0CDTi (90 PS) and a
2.0CDTi (115 PS), both with CO2 outputs of 185 g/km despite having payloads of up to 1,254
The new vans complement the recently-launched Corsavan ecoFLEX 1.3CDTi (75 PS)
Start/Stop which emits 105 g/km of CO2.
Offering best-in-class CO2 output of 202 g/km, the Movano ecoFLEX is based on the 3.3
tonne L2H2 2.3CDTI (100 PS) model already on sale.
Meanwhile, Astravan and Combo will see the lowest CO2 output derivatives badged as
ecoFLEX, says Vauxhall.
Steve Bryant, brand manager, Vauxhall Commercial Vehicles, said: ‘Vauxhall is the first
manufacturer to offer an ‘eco’ product for each model in its range. Green credentials are
becoming a higher priority for customers looking to reduce the carbon footprint of their
vehicles. Our vans have always been known for their low running costs and the ecoFLEX
badge clearly identifies to our customers the lowest CO2 model for each vehicle in our
The full range of ecoFLEX commercial vehicles will be available to order at Vauxhall
retailers this month.
Yorkshire Bank funding puts spark into electric vehicles supplier
ONE of the UK’s leading suppliers of electric commercial vehicles is set for rapid growth
after securing a £1million funding package from Yorkshire Bank.
ePower Trucks grew sales by 55% in 2010, supplying electric trucks and utility vehicles to a
wide range of sectors including local authorities, health trusts and across the UK. The
Oldham-based company will shortly expand its range with the Alke XT series of 3.5 tonne
electric LCVs, with a range of up to 120 miles on a single charge, fast-swap battery pack and
a price tag starting at £30,000.
The funding package from Yorkshire Bank, which includes invoice finance facilities, will
support the company’s working capital requirements and assist in the launch of a new road-
legal electric powered commercial vehicle.
ePower Trucks’ managing director Jerry Hanss said: ‘We are constantly striving to supply the
broadest range of electric vehicles available in the UK and this working capital facility
supports our ongoing growth and expansion. Our new range of electric vans is providing a
viable alternative to conventional counterparts as the move towards cleaner air in our towns
and cities continues.’
Morgan Auld, business partner at Yorkshire Bank’s Manchester Financial Solutions Centre,
said: ‘ePower Trucks is a fast-growing business in a rapidly expanding sector and the
company has a bright future as demand for greener vehicle alternatives continues to rise.’
ePower Trucks is a trading division of Lift Safe Ltd which was founded by Jerry Hanss 10
years ago as a supplier of handling and lifting equipment and diversified into electric vehicles
Tevo hits the road with innovative new van racking
THE company behind an innovative new modular van racking system is hitting the road, to
showcase the product’s cost and weight saving benefits.
Tevo Ltd recently launched the Modul-System range, the world’s first totally integrated
racking system based on fully customisable modules. Built on the unique T-track frame, the
flexible design allows for thousands of configurations of drawers, shelves and lockers,
making it ideal for a wide range of professions and trades.
Following the success of the Modul-System range in the UK, Tevo this week started to take a
fully fitted demonstration vehicle on a road trip through Northern Ireland and the Republic of
Chris Dodd, area sales manager for Tevo, who demonstrated to fleet managers the
Modul-System’s design, said: ‘Every kilo of weight a van carries increases its fuel burn. With
pump prices higher than ever, the Modul-System range can help lighten the load as well as
providing a bespoke racking solution.’
Residual value update_________________________________________
‘Buoyant’ 2011 used car market predicted by experts
A ‘FAIRLY buoyant’ 2011 used car market with more buyers than cars keeping values high
is being predicted by KeeResources, a leading provider of automotive data to vehicle
manufacturers, retailers and the fleet industry.
The healthy state of the market should be maintained providing demand continues and buyers
can gain ready access to the necessary funding.
Managing director of KeeResources, Denis Keenan said: ‘Clean two to four-year-old de-
fleeted cars, with mileages ranging from 20,000 up to 100,000, are commanding good prices
at auction with plenty of bids per car.
‘With used car prices likely to achieve almost record pound values at auction again this year,
the used car remarketing landscape is also changing.
‘The ease and ever increasing confidence of buying on line now allows dealers to participate
in the market directly from their sales managers’ desk. This is assisting price stability, as
greater numbers of used cars are now being sold direct to retailers rather than to the trade to
Politics and regulation_________________________________________
Pump prices at all-time high: Chancellor to scrap April’s fuel tax rise?
THE seemingly daily rise in UK petrol and diesel pump prices means that in the past seven
days both have surged to new record levels.
Petrol prices have hit new record highs virtually daily and now stand at 128.62p a litre.
However, diesel remained slightly below the July 2008 record of 133.25p a litre until recent
days when it has risen to a UK average of 133.26p a litre.
The new all-time price highs were set as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne hinted
that the planned April 1 inflation rate plus 1p a litre rise in fuel duty could be scrapped. If the
proposed duty rise went ahead as planned, a 1p per litre increase could equate, including
rising inflation, to an increase of up to 5p per litre.
However, says the AA, a drop in wholesale petrol costs should be starting to filter through to
forecourts, which also points out that the 4.6p a litre difference between the cost of petrol and
diesel is considerably better for diesel drivers than the 13.6p differential in July 2008.
The new all-time high for diesel means that drivers are paying 19.21p per litre more than a
year ago (114.05p), adding £9.61 to the cost of a typical 50-litre refill. With petrol now
costing on average 16.39p a litre more than a year ago (112.23p), adding £8.20 to the cost of
Since late December, wholesale petrol has fallen from $850 a tonne to around $820 in recent
days. With the dollar/pound exchange rate strengthening from $1.54 to $1.59 in the same
period, the litre wholesale price has fallen from around 41p a litre to 39p.
‘Average petrol prices wobbled last week, dipping for the first time since the first week of
September before continuing to go up. We understand that prices remain volatile, but hope
that retailers will pass on savings when they can,’ said AA president Edmund King.
The Government is coming under increasing pressure to drop the planned rise, while it has
also been reported that employees who drive their own cars on business could be out of
pocket by up to £2,000 a year due to a failure to increase Authorised Mileage Allowance
Payment (AMAP) rates.
Tax-free AMAP rates - 40p a mile for the first 10,000 business miles and 25p a mile
thereafter - have not increased for a decade. The AA calculates that the running costs for a
small car are now 42.96p a mile, a lower medium sector car, such as the Vauxhall Astra,
53.25p a mile, while an upper medium sector car the pence per mile cost is 62.68p, according
to The Daily Telegraph (January 29).
With the average distance driven by someone who uses their own car for work calculated to
be 8,670 miles, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, it means the
driver of an upper medium sector car could be losing out to the tune of almost £2,000.
Revelations about AMAP rates come at the same time as ACFO has taken its concerns over
low over Advisory Fuel Rates - the business mileage reimbursement rates paid to company
car drivers - to HM Revenue & Customs (Digest: January 27).
When questioned in a BBC radio interview on plans made by the previous Chancellor,
Alistair Darling, to increase fuel duty on April 1, Osborne said: ‘We can override it, we are
looking at that.’
He also hinted that details of any concessions would be announced ahead of the March 23
Budget, saying that ‘if we are able to do something about it, we will do it before April’.
The comments were immediately seized on by a number of organisations that have already
called for the duty rise to be scrapped.
Geoff Dunning, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: ‘This is very
encouraging news. It proves beyond doubt that the noise we have been making on this issue
has not fallen on deaf ears.
However, he continued: ‘A duty freeze in April can only be regarded as a short term fix. If
we are to stand any chance of long term growth it is essential that we see a long term solution
to this problem.’
Freight Transport Association chief executive Theo de Pencier added: ‘We welcome Mr
Osborne’s public support for scrapping the fuel duty rise but we want more than just warm
words from the Chancellor for the sake of UK businesses and the country’s economic
recovery. We look forward to seeing the small print.’
SMMT joins call for Government to freeze fuel duty
THE Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has joined the growing call for
the Government to freeze fuel duty to relieve immediate financial pressure on businesses,
fleet operators, hauliers and motorists.
The inflation plus 1p a litre duty rise planned for April this year threatens industry, businesses
and consumer confidence at a crucial and fragile point in the UK’s economic recovery, says
It is calling for Government to reduce the stress on household budgets, taking a measured
approach to duty rates and motoring taxes that ensures stability and confidence among
businesses and consumers whilst protecting Government revenue.
‘Vehicle manufacturers spend millions of pounds each year to improve the fuel efficiency of
their vehicles to deliver the best deal to motorists. We now need Government to play its part
in helping consumers and businesses by freezing fuel duty and providing stability and
certainty on motoring taxes,’ said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.
‘Cars and commercial vehicle registrations recovered last year as confidence returned. This
recovery is fragile so it is vital that Government releases the financial pressure on motorists.’
Registrations of new vans and trucks were hit extremely hard by recent tough economic
conditions falling by 36% and 40% for vans and trucks respectively in 2009 alone, says the
SMMT. A strong recovery in 2010 of 19.6% for vans and a significant slowing of negative
growth for trucks of 0.8% demonstrates a recovery in business confidence.
However, the SMMT warns with the recovery is so fragile it could easily be knocked off
course by steep rises in duty, such as the increase set for April.
Meanwhile, the AA is calling on drivers to write to their MP and influence parliamentary
opinion on a duty freeze and consideration of a fuel price stabiliser after research found that
only 7% of the motoring organisation’s members had considered doing so.
But, an AA survey also shows there is little stomach for direct action through protests.
Instead, the vast majority of drivers will resort to gritting their teeth and trying to ride out
record prices by cutting back on car use and shopping around for best fuel prices, says the
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed have already reduced car use, other consumer spending
Mandatory daytime lights for all European-built cars and vans…
ALL cars and light delivery vans sold in Europe will be equipped with dedicated daytime
running lights from Monday (February 7) with claims that road safety will improve.
The lights will automatically switch on when the engine is started under new European Union
Brussels bureaucrats claim daytime running lights increase the visibility of motor vehicles to
other road users, and have a low energy consumption compared to existing dipped-beam head
The directive will be extended to include trucks and buses from August 2012.
…but campaign group fights back over ‘blinding’ car lights
A MAJOR campaign has been launched to fight the growing road safety issue of blinding
lights affecting a driver’s ability to perceive hazards.
The amalgamation of two separate organisations - Blinded Bi-Xenon and Drivers Against
Daylight Running Lights (DaDRL) - has led to the launch of the ‘Lightmare’ campaign,
which has now been backed by the Driving Instructors Association (DIA).
The campaign, which has its own website www.lightmare.org, is the culmination of many
years of work from both organisations on the effects of bright lights on road safety.
Ken Perham, a night-time London taxi driver for the last 40 years, has been campaigning
about the intensity of the modern ‘high intensity discharge’ (HID) headlight system.
The technology involves the headlights to ‘float’ and respond to the undulations in the road
surface. As this system cannot be checked sufficiently during an MoT test, vehicles fitted
with it can dazzle oncoming road users, in contravention of the Construction and Use
Regulations 1986 and the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989.
Perham said: ‘These lights are up to three times brighter than a standard halogen headlight
and the HID system causes severe distraction to a driver approaching them, to the point that
the intensity of these lights hides less conspicuous objects, such as motorcyclists, cyclists and
pedestrians, putting these vulnerable groups in danger. This situation must be considered as
an urgent matter to be redressed by the Government.’
Perham has teamed up with Roy Milnes, who has been at the helm of DaDRL for the last 12
years. He has been involved in a worldwide campaign involving other organisations and
ophthalmologists to look at a more common-sense way of vehicle lighting for daytime use.
New laws that come into effect in the UK on Monday (February 7) mean that daytime
running lights - which are 50% brighter than standard dipped headlights - will be mandatory
for all new European-built vehicles.
Motorcycle and bicycle action groups are concerned that the proliferation of lit traffic streams
will make less visible cyclists and motorcyclists more vulnerable within those streams.
Milnes said: ‘Car drivers are already overprotected in their vehicles, thanks to safety cages
and in-vehicle technology. Cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians don’t have this luxury.’
Howard Redwood, head of road safety at the DIA, said: ‘‘Lightmare’ has collected a
staggering amount of data and produced a very strong case to persuade the UK Government
to reconsider the current MoT system and the need for daytime running lights. The DIA is
more than happy to get behind this campaign.’
More information and a petition calling on the Government to eliminate daytime and night-
time blinding vehicle lamps can be found on the ‘Lightmare’ website at www.lightmare.org.
Time to end ‘Tarmacgeddon’, say driving instructors
THE Government should make the necessary funding available to restore the UK’s roads to
an acceptable standard, according to DIAmond Advanced Motorists, which administers
advanced driving tests on behalf of the Driving Instructors’ Association (DIA).
A feature in the latest issue of Driving magazine, the bi-monthly publication for DIAmond
advanced drivers, looks at the reasons for the pothole-ridden state of the nation’s roads and
their impact on motorists.
Using figures from the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s annual Local Authority Road
Maintenance (ALARM) Survey, Driving concludes that while the £9.5 billion needed to fix
the damaged roads in England and Wales is a ‘very large sum’, especially in light of the
current Government’s strategy for reducing the national deficit, motorists are justified in
expecting some payback for all the money they contribute annually to the exchequer.
With more than £40bn going to the Government’s coffers in 2009 from a combination of
Vehicle Excise Duty, fuel duty, plus VAT on fuel duty and new car sales, the publication
says that ‘it’s not unreasonable to expect the roads to be repaired to a condition that is at least
comparable to those of our European neighbours’.
Mike Frisby, DIAmond chief examiner, said: ‘Numerous surveys have shown that the road-
going public consistently thinks that improving our roads should be a priority for transport
expenditure. But successive Governments have been less keen on spending revenue taken
from motorists’ wallets in a way that will benefit them - and also the economy as a whole.
‘Not only do we now need remedial work to be undertaken as a matter of urgency, but the
UK Government also has to prioritise and fund a programme of planned maintenance on a
Half of drivers risk deadly head-on crashes by overtaking at speed
ALMOST half of drivers are overtaking at lethal speeds on single carriageway rural roads
with disregard for the consequences, research by Brake and Direct Line has revealed.
Of 942 drivers surveyed, 47% admitted speeding at more than 60 mph to overtake on country
roads at least once in the past year, with 23% confessing doing it at least once a month.
Incredibly, one in eight drivers also admitted overtaking when they couldn’t see what was
coming in the opposite direction.
The results suggest that drivers continue to feel a false sense of security on rural roads,
misguidedly believing that it is safe and enjoyable to drive at high speeds. However, in
reality, drivers are much more likely to die on a rural road than any other type, with speed
and overtaking major factors in causing deaths.
Ellen Booth, Brake’s campaigns officer, said: ‘It’s high time we tackle this irresponsible and
downright dangerous love of speed on our roads. Speeding down a country road isn’t the
epitome of freedom; it’s the epitome of stupidity. Drivers who overtake at speed on country
roads aren’t just risking their own lives - they are selfishly endangering their passengers and
anyone coming the other way.’
Andy Goldby, director of motor underwriting at Direct Line, said: ‘Two people die on single
carriageway roads every day, and these deaths could be prevented. Our own data suggests
that young drivers and their passengers are even more likely to die on this type of road.
Drivers should remember that patience is a virtue, when it comes to deciding to overtake
another vehicle at speed, as it could be a life saver.’
In Britain in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, 749 deaths occurred on
single carriageway roads with a speed limit of 60 mph - a third of all road deaths.
Additionally, almost a third of people killed on single carriageways with a 60 mph limit die
in crashes where ‘exceeding the speed limit’ and/or ‘travelling too fast for the conditions’ are
recorded as a factor by police at the scene.
Brake is calling on the Government to act to tackle the problem of drivers who overtake
irresponsibly and speed on rural roads. The road safety charity wants the Government to cut
the default speed limit on single carriageway roads to 50 mph or lower, with lower limits on
roads where there are particular risks.
The coalition Government has yet to respond to a 2010 consultation on setting speed limits,
which proposed that highways authorities should carry out speed limit reviews on ‘A’ and ‘B’
class national speed limit single carriageways and lower limits on rural roads where the risks
were relatively high and there was evidence that a lower limit would reduce casualties.
General motor industry news___________________________________
Struggling BSM bought by the AA from administrators for £1
THE UK’s largest driving school, the British School of Motoring (BSM), has been rescued
from administration by the AA for a reported £1.
The motoring organisation, which already has its own driving school, acquired BSM from
Reports that BSM was in financial difficulty surfaced over the weekend. The company was
bought by its management for £10 million in November 2009, but had struggled financially,
according to the Mail on Sunday (January 30).
The paper reported that plans by BSM joint managing directors Abu-Haris Shafi and Nikolai
Kesting to expand its pool of instructors from around 2,100 to 3,000 faltered.
BSM was also understood to have been unable to pay the January wages of its staff and owed
money on cars and properties.
On Monday (January 31), Matthew Hammond and Rob Lewis were appointed as joint
administrators of The British School of Motoring Limited, BSM Limited and Scorpio
Property Investment Limited (the Companies).
Immediately following the appointment, the administrators confirmed the sale today of the
business and various assets to Acromas, the AA’s parent company which also owns Saga.
The Financial Times (February 1) reported that as part of the sale process, BSM’s contract
with Fiat for the use by its instructors of cars for L drivers had been renegotiated.
In a statement, the administrators said: ‘The acquisition of BSM secures the future of one of
the best-known driving schools in the UK. BSM’s operations continue without interruption
on a business as usual basis, so pupils or instructors currently undertaking or providing
lessons are advised to continue to operate normal lesson arrangements.’
BSM is currently in its 100th year of trading, with approximately 2,100 franchised driving
instructors across the UK, approximately 30,000 learner drivers, and it also provides training
for new instructors.
BSM employs 135 employees at the head office in Bristol, and a further 145 located in 71
network centres located across the UK providing support to the franchised instructors.
Following the sale, all current driver franchise agreements and employees will transfer over
to the new company.
It is expected that the BSM and AA driving school brands will continue to trade separately.
UK to spend £7bn on electric cars by 2014
BRITAIN’S motor industry is in line for a £7 billion boost from electric cars between now
and 2014, according to a report in the Independent (January 31).
Yet, in the short term, motor dealerships face a ‘fraught’ 2011, as the stuttering economy and
subdued consumer confidence drag sales down by as much as 10% on last year.
The survey of 5,000-plus drivers by GfK Automotive found 1.8% of people would
‘definitely’ buy an electric car by 2014, equating to more than 300,000 electric cars if
extrapolated over the total car-buying population of 19.8 million households.
Using the newly released all-electric Nissan Leaf as a benchmark, the market will be worth
£7.2bn by 2014, according to GfK Automotive.
A further 3% of respondents - equating to 500,000 of all car-buyers - said they would
consider going electric in the future, once concerns such as battery ‘range anxiety’ were
Professor Garel Rhys from the Centre for Automotive Industry research at Cardiff University,
says UK new car sales could drop back to as low as 1.8 million this year, 10% down on the
two million sold in 2010, and also some way below the 1.93 million forecast by the Society
of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Alongside rises to VAT and National Insurance contributions, the biggest danger to Britain’s
car-buying is from the decline in real income levels as rocketing inflation far outstrips wage
increases, says Rhys.
‘Conditions are tough and were always going to be but we are still expecting improvements
in the second half of next year,’ said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.
People on the move____________________________________________
New pan-European role for Saab GB boss
SAAB Great Britain managing director Jonathan Nash is to head up a new pan-European
sales organisation as part of the Swedish manufacturer’s restructuring of its global sales
This week Nash became regional director - Europe, responsible for all of Saab Automobile’s
European markets outside the Nordic region.
Reporting directly to executive director global sales and aftersales, Matthias Seidl, Nash will
be based at Saab Automobile headquarters in Trollhättan as one of four regional directors
who will lead the new global sales organisation.
Saab Automobile is introducing the new structure, comprising the Americas, Nordic, Europe,
and Asia Pacific/Middle East/Africa regions, in order to create shorter lines of
communication and more effective decision-making processes. Each director will be
responsible for local market development and sales performance.
Nash (51) has been Saab Great Britain’s managing director since 1999. He joined the
company in 1989 as a regional manager before being promoted to senior national sales and
marketing positions. Prior to Saab GB, he held various management roles at Renault UK.
Charles Toosey has taken over as managing director for Saab Great Britain. Toosey (43)
brings a wealth of experience to his new position, having most recently been finance director
at Saab GB for the past six years.
He started his employment in 1991 with Saab GB as a financial accountant, and has, since
2001, held various management positions in Spain, Sweden and the UK for Saab Automobile
and General Motors.
Andrew Hill, formerly finance director at Saab’s London dealership, Saab City, take over as
finance director at Saab Great Britain on Monday (February 7).
Hill (44) has held various positions at Saab and General Motors since 2001 and is an
experienced member of the Saab senior management team.
Peck joins CD Auction Group
KEVIN Peck has been appointed commercial director at Northamptonshire-based CD
Originally from a finance background, Peck held senior management positions within the
contract hire and leasing sector - Avis Lease & Fleet Management and ALD Automotive -
before becoming sales director and managing director for one of the leading UK tyre
retailers, National Tyres and Viking International.
After taking a career break, Peck has joined CD Auction Group. As well as having extensive
knowledge of the fleet market, he will be using his contacts to help the company double its
Roger Woodward, managing director, CD Auction Group, said: ‘Kevin brings a wealth of
experience of the automotive and finance marketplace. Following the rebranding late last
year we set some challenging targets and I believe he’ll be a real asset to the business; he will
open us up to new market.’
The group now holds three online auctions a week with monthly branded sales for clients
such as BMW, BT Fleet and Venson Automotive Solutions. Other clients include TCH
Leasing, Inchcape Fleet Solutions, Toomey Eurolease, SG Fleet, Sandicliffe Vehicle
Contracts and Fleet Support Group - to name but a few.
PwC names Gane as new UK automotive leader
NEW head of the UK automotive group at PricewaterhouseCoopers is Richard Gane. He
becomes responsible for leading and co-ordinating PwC’s services to the industry across the
Gane, a Birmingham-based director, has taken up the role with immediate effect. A qualified,
chartered engineer by background, who has worked in and around the automotive,
transportation and related industries for over 35 years - his consulting career spans 20 years.
During that time he has worked for most of the vehicle makers around the world. He spent
the first 10 years of his career in General Motors at various locations in Europe and America
and then did a spell in the components industry before returning to the UK.
New senior appointment for Porsche Retail Group
CHARLES Tennant has been appointed group general manager of the Porsche Retail Group.
He has worked for Porsche Cars Great Britain for the past four years, joining the UK
subsidiary of the German sports car manufacturer as network operations manager in 2007.
Prior to joining Porsche, Tennant worked at BMW UK as national sales manager, as well as
in a variety of roles within sales and marketing in the Volkswagen Group. He also has senior
management experience in the BMW and Mini retail networks.
The Porsche Retail Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Porsche Cars Great Britain and
comprises five Porsche Centres in Reading, Guildford, Hatfield, West London and Mayfair.
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