Year: 2012

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Because the Motor Industry is a great place to be…..

Before I start I'd like to thank all the people who contacted me after my recent article about my car buying experiences.

I was trying to think about what to write in this final blog for 2012 and somebody suggested I provide some observations regarding things we at JGA feel perhaps need to change to help people and businesses into 2013.

This year has been a crazy time both within the Motor Industry and the world in general. We have seen all kinds of weather, the Queens Jubilee, the Olympics, an economic meltdown across the European Euro zone, the money lending market not lending and to cap it all according to the Mayan faith the end of the world is about to happen – TODAY! No doubt the DFS Sale will survive!

But what of the Motor Industry? Well after a poor start to the year its actually been a success story, vehicle manufacturers have invested, manufacturing in the UK is up a lot, we have more new models and face-lifted versions than in any time in the last 20 years, cars are better equipped, more economical and better build than at any time in history. The retail network has seen increased new car sales for the last 7 months in a row and private buyers are coming back into the market in reasonable numbers. The motor industry is in fact leading the economic recovery, the retail market is the strongest in Europe currently and the manufacturing base is stronger and larger than at any time since the mid-80’s. This of course puts everybody in a good place for 2013.
In my mind there are two key areas that if improved could make a world of difference for not much money. These are the internet and staff.

The internet is a powerful tool and I don't think most dealerships are using it to its full potential. We completed a bit of a survey back in the middle of the year and of 6 dealerships that were contacted by email not 1 of them came back to me in a professional way and 3 didn't reply at all. Of the 3 that did reply all but 1 were poorly written or written like I was their 'mate' on Facebook, not focused and didn't give me any options to purchase.

Take a look outside of the industry, the world has moved on, not only is replying to emails to a professional level and quickly a minimum expectation from customers but most companies display their products correctly on line, allow the customer different ways of buying and most web-sites now allow the customer to transact 100% online if they wish (it can be done as we know of a company that sold 1,200 used cars a month totally on-line).

Nearly 75% of all customer do research on-line before entering a showroom these days and that figure will only rise, the internet is today more important than a shiny posh showroom, as most people see your web-site before they visit so that's their first impression. 11% of all retail sales are now conducted on-line!

We then move to staff. As we have previously mentioned staff are under trained, too few in most areas, over worked and in many cases under motivated. Now I understand why that's the case and I know many, many Managers who have really had it tough for the last 3-4 years so it’s difficult to just keep going in many cases so I have some sympathies. But frankly the customer isn't interested in your problems they are just interested in having a good experience and my comments last month highlighted that.

That's enough of my ramblings for one year, 2013 could be a very positive year, the things I've said above may sound a bit harsh and of course are not a exhaustive list of things that it needs to run a successful business but I think they are important and easy, if we just open our eyes and observe.

Please feel free to disagree with me, I've only written these comments because I do think the Motor Industry is a great place to be and work in and it has a great future but we could all be better at what we do.

On that note I'll wish you a very Happy Christmas and

Looks Like It's Going To Rain-Dear…..

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain's top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. In response to the current severe weather warnings, he gives advice on driving in heavy rain:

Before you set off, set your heater controls – rain makes the windows mist up in seconds. You don't want to be fiddling with controls when you should be concentrating on the road. Watch your speed – In the rain your stopping distance should be at least doubled. Giving yourself more space will help to avoid spray; especially important when following a large vehicle. Keep your eyes on the road ahead and plan your driving so that you can brake, accelerate and steer smoothly. Be aware that harsh manoeuvres can unbalance the car. If you have cruise control, avoid using it on wet roads – it may create problems if you start to aquaplane. See and be seen. Put your lights on – as a rule of thumb, whenever you need to use your wipers you should also turn your headlights on, and before overtaking put your wipers on their fastest setting to allow for spray. Making sure your car is properly maintained will make a difference too. Check your windscreen wipers, tyre pressure and tread depth, and that all of your lights work and are clean. Make sure that as well as keeping your washer fluid topped up, you also clean the inside of your windscreen as not to hinder your view.

Rodger said: "There's nothing quite like getting to your car in the rain. It's a haven from the elements. But be cautious, especially after prolonged dry spells – rain on a dry road is dangerously slippery.

"The prospect of waiting for a bus in the pouring rain after your work Christmas party is a daunting one, but don't fall into the temptation of driving home after drinking – a drink-driving conviction is not worth the avoidance of soggy trousers."

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Notes to editors:

www.drivingadvice.org.uk Peter Rodger is the IAM's chief examiner The IAM is the UK's largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.

Media contacts:

IAM Press Office – 020 8996 9777

press.office@iam.org.uk

ISDN broadcast lines available

iam.org.uk

Just when you were thinking of a day off!!!

Boxing Day web boost for dealers

Dealers have been urged to prepare for an uplift in website traffic immediately after Christmas.
Data from Motors.co.uk last year showed a “dramatic” uplift in visits from potential used car buyers from Boxing Day onwards.
The classified website said the fall in online visits to used car portals is a shallow one, lasting between 23rd and 25th December before bouncing back strongly on Boxing Day.

Dermot Kelleher, head of research and marketing at Motors.co.uk, said: “Traditionally, dealers have seen the period between Christmas and New Year as dead time in retail terms, as customers are unlikely to be attracted by icy roads and frozen forecourts.
“However, the rules of retail have now been turned upside down, with buyers increasingly using mobile and tablet devices to research potential cars before arriving at the dealership.”

Motors.co.uk advised dealers to:
•secure advertising budgets based on a payment per click (PPC) – which is particularly good value over the Boxing Day period
•target mobile phone / tablet searches with mobile-friendly ads
•ensure dealerships are adequately manned to take advantage of online and physical enquiries

Fiesta beat off stiff competition to be“the perfect used car choice for motorists and used car dealers”.

FORD FIESTA has been named ‘Used Car of the Year 2012’ by CAP, the leading independent car information experts.
Fiesta beat off stiff competition during what has been a strong year for the used car market, with CAP’s judging panel declaring it “the perfect used car choice for motorists and used car dealers”.
CAP’s used car of the year award is unique in recognising the ‘real life’ qualities of a used car and the value it brings not only to its owners but to motor trade professionals who rely on strong products to make their living.
This means that only cars which promise a great, affordable ownership experience and a perfect trade or retail sale opportunity can qualify.
Among the criteria CAP’s used car market experts apply when choosing their ‘Used Car of the Year’ are:
•Affordability and practicality of ownership
•Trusted reputation
•Sustained popularity in the used market
•A ‘friend’ to the trade as well as the consumer
This rules out the impracticality of over-priced vehicles which are often chosen for awards simply on the basis of holding high residual values, for example, or technical features which excite car reviewers but matter little to the more cost-conscious used car buyer.
To win the CAP Used Car of the Year a vehicle must serve both public and trade equally well by offering value for money, reliability and displaying consistent desirability.
The Ford Fiesta exemplifies all of those qualities.
Among the comments about Ford Fiesta made by CAP’s experts during the judging process were:
• A car that defies the variations in consumer tastes
• Desirable image even with high volumes available
• One of the great mass-produced cars that still looks fresh even when an update is due
• Consistent reputation for reliability
• Pushes the boundaries for quality and reliability in the Supermini sector
• Always a top selling car and renowned for quality and value for money.
• Still one of freshest Superminis around , a car loved by young and old as well as a versatile workhorse, great drive and styling.
Because the acid test of a used car’s performance is ultimately affordability, any contender for the title of ‘CAP Used Car of the Year’ must also compare well with its competitors in terms of depreciation.
The final hurdle was therefore how well Fiesta would score against the strongest of competition.
The following table is based on a typical ‘real life’ scenario in which a 9 month old car was bought at ‘CAP Retail’ price, in January 2010, with 10,000 miles on the clock. The car now has 40,000 miles on the clock and will be part-exchanged with a dealer, who will typically offer ‘CAP Clean’ trade value for a good condition vehicle. The figures reveal the percentage of original price paid by the owner which has been retained.
Volkswagen Polo 56.6%
Ford Fiesta 55.6%
Toyota Yaris 55.0%
Hyundai i20 51.4%
Vauxhall Corsa 51.2%
Nissan Micra 51.1%
Renault Clio 49.6%
Citroen C3 47.4%
Peugeot 207 46.5%
The 3 clear winners in this test are Fiesta, Polo and Yaris. The fact that the Hyundai i20 appears in 4th place is testament to how far that brand has come over the last few years. It should also be noted that Kia did not have a competitive model available in used markets in 2010 but would likely have also had a strong showing if it did.
However, although it is just pipped to the post in terms of depreciation by the Polo, the Fiesta enjoys a very strong placing. Indeed, it is a testament to the Fiesta that despite the very large numbers of Fiestas available in the market at any time, it retains its value as a used car with remarkable consistency.
Mark Norman, of CAP, said: “It is always tempting for the motoring media and other industry observers to take the ‘petrol head’ approach when giving awards to cars which excite them but the CAP Used Car of the Year Award recognises the contribution a car really makes to consumers and dealers alike.
“Equally it is sim

New Alternatives To Car Ownership

The rapidly evolving car rental market is set to provide greater access to mobility, reducing car ownership and helping the government to tackle the congestion and emissions that blight many urban areas.

This is one of the main conclusions from a new think-piece published by the BVRLA and the RAC Foundation – Car Rental 2.0: New alternatives to car ownership.

It summarises the findings from a joint seminar held by the two organisations earlier this year, which explored alternatives to car ownership – car rental, traditional and one-way car clubs, and lift sharing.

According to the report these different pay-as-you-go motoring business models can complement each other as well as other modes of public transport. Technology, in the form of integrated ticketing or smartphone apps and in-car communications has the potential to link them all together, creating a 'mobility mix' that helps travellers choose the cheapest, cleanest or quickest appropriate way of completing their journey.

The paper also examines the potential for new car ownership models to kick-start the electric vehicle market, as well as the role of local authorities and central government in creating the necessary policy framework for car clubs and rental to mature.

"This is a very exciting era for car rental, with the market poised for substantial growth in urban areas, where more and more people want to avoid the cost and hassle associated with owning their own car," said BVRLA chief executive, John Lewis.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, agrees: "Access to cars has had a liberating effect across all sections of society, but it has also brought problems. The idea of borrowing or hiring a vehicle rather than buying offers the opportunity for yet more people to benefit from personal mobility but without compounding some of the detrimental impacts.

"And this is not just an academic concept. Car clubs, for instance, are springing up across the country because people see them as sound commercial ventures. The trick will be to make them a fully integrated part of the transport mix, with consistent policies across local authority boundaries and a sense of where these schemes can add maximum value."

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Notes:

Car Rental 2.0: New alternatives to car ownership – can be downloaded from the RAC Foundation website.
For more information:

Toby Poston – Head of Communications

toby@bvrla.co.uk

tel: 01494 545700

The perfect Christmas gift for all eager racing drivers…..

Ginetta Cars have today unveiled the perfect Christmas gift for all eager racing drivers, after launching their 2013 Starter Packages – designed to offer petrol heads everything they need to go racing; from the initial test day to receiving their racing licence.

After recognising that many would-be drivers miss out on fulfilling their racing ambitions due to both lack of time and understanding of the processes required to obtain a national racing licence, Ginetta are offering everything needed to get started in racing, for just £2,000.

Committed to making motorsport more accessible, this unique starter package sees Ginetta do all the hard work on drivers' behalf; arranging everything from the initial Ginetta G40 experience day, to passing the ARDS test and receiving their first race kit.

Lawrence Tomlinson, Chairman of Ginetta Cars said; "Ginetta are keen to support anyone wanting to take their first steps into the world of motorsport, whether that's as a teenager or adult. Recently, we have noticed many people fail to go racing because of the myths associated with actually getting on the grid.

Going forwards, Ginetta will provide a full 'hand-held' approach to ensure drivers receive the right amount of help and support at every stage of the process, from the first time they step into a race car, to their first time out on the grid – and with four incredible racing packages on offer for 2013, we hope to dispel the fears over both financial and time commitments needed to go racing. "

Held over two days, Ginetta firstly invite drivers to a test day at a recognised circuit close to their home, during which drivers experience the thrill of a race car across three, 20 minute sessions, with one-on-one tuition from an instructor.

Following the test day, drivers will receive their MSA starter pack which includes all the important licence application forms plus a DVD which explains the full application process and information on the theory and the practical test.

The second of the two days will see Ginetta guide candidates through all three aspects of their ARDS test which consists of three parts; driving, medical and theory. Ginetta will have a doctor on-site to conduct the medical, whilst the driving and theory are relatively simple to pass.

Once the ARDS test has been passed, Ginetta will complete all necessary documentation and submit a licence application to the MSA on drivers' behalf, before two short weeks later, drivers National 'B' racing licence will arrive in the post.

Completing the racing driver transformation, Ginetta will then supply all applicants with an official Ginetta race suit, helmet, boots and gloves.

Given the popularity of motor racing as a spectator sport and the rise of the supercar 'driving experiences', Ginetta believe the lack of knowledge on where to begin racing leads to the depletion of able-racers finally making their way onto the grid, but with the introduction of these innovative Starter Packages, Ginetta hope to give people the tools they need to go racing.

For more information on the Ginetta Starter Package, head to www.ginetta.com/becomeDriver or to find out more about the 2013 Championship Packages, visit; www.ginetta.com/info.

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For more information contact Ginetta PR Ruth Harrison on 0113 385 4165 / ruth.harrison@ginetta.com

BVRLA members expect fleets to grow in 2013

Leasing And Rental Industry Well Set For 2013 with the leasing sector defying the government's 'tax attack' and continuing to make a strong business case for the traditional company car.

In an interactive poll taken at the association's recent Industry Conference, 56% of rental and leasing executives said that, based on what their customers were telling them, the number of vehicles on fleet would grow in 2013. This left 34% expecting fleets to stay the same size and 10% expecting some shrinkage.

The conference saw members briefed on the impact of last March's Budget, which announced a tightening of the emissions thresholds within the company car tax regime and made it much harder for BVRLA members and their customers to claim tax relief (capital allowances) on lease and rental vehicles.

Asked if new Benefit-in-Kind thresholds would threaten the popularity of company cars, 65% of delegates said no. However, 58% of them admitted that not being able to claim 100% first-year allowances for ultra-low emission vehicles could challenge the 'lease versus purchase' model for a short period.

However, despite these concerns, 98% of members present remained confident that the industry could continue to make a business case for the company car through 2013 and beyond.

"Manufacturers will continue to develop low emission cars, mitigating the 2012 Budget, so that the company car will continue to offer great value", said David Rawlings of BCF Wessex, one of the speakers at the conference.

"Despite the capital allowance changes, contract hire will still be a tax-efficient service, and should not be seen as a low-cost commodity."

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About the BVRLA:

The BVRLA is the UK trade body for companies engaged in the leasing and rental of cars and commercial vehicles. Its members provide short-term rental, contract hire and fleet management services to corporate users and consumers. They operate a combined fleet of around 2.5 million cars, vans and trucks, buying nearly half of all new vehicles sold in the UK. Through its members and their customers, the BVRLA represents the interests of more than two million business car drivers and the millions of people who use a rental vehicle each year. As well as lobbying the government on key issues affecting the sector, the BVRLA regulates its members through a mandatory code of conduct.

For more information contact: Toby Poston – Head of Communications on:toby@bvrla.co.uk or tel: 01494 545700

Experience Counts In The Drive For Safer Roads

Older drivers are as safe as drivers from all other age groups, according to research published today by the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists). Contrary to widespread belief, the study shows they have better attitudes to safety, deal with hazards better than young drivers and use experience to increase their safety margins on the road.

The report reveals that drivers over 75 react just as quickly as other age groups when a vehicle emerges from a side road or if the car in front brakes suddenly on a rural road.

Official statistics show that people over 70 make up nine per cent of drivers but six per of driver casualties. This practical study found that where older drivers had slower reaction times, they used their experience on the road to compensate:

They drive at slower speeds on all occasions They keep a bigger following distance than drivers from other age groups.

Whilst the study found little difference in driving performance across the ages it did highlight two surprising areas of concern:

Compared with other age groups, the eldest group appeared to stop short of the stop line at junctions and not look as often as others before pulling out. Older drivers failed to look in their rear view mirror as much as other age groups on the motorway.

The report found that older drivers were likely to have less flexibility in neck movement and poorer vision standards but this did not translate into differences in driving performance. Neck flexibility varied widely, with some older drivers as flexible as some in the youngest group

The IAM believes it is important these findings are used in on-road and online assessments to ensure that older drivers understand the risks they face and what they can do to improve their driving in key areas.

In the light of this new report the IAM is calling for:
government action plan for older drivers More car manufacturers considering older drivers in vehicle design Greater publicity to encourage health professionals to discuss driving Better information for older drivers and their families Online self-assessment tools for older drivers Wider availability of voluntary on-road driving assessments Better partnership working at a local level

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "The government needs to create a strategy now to deal with the ageing driving population."

"Older drivers, their families and friends deserve access to assessment and information to help them stay safe on the road. As well as this, car makers need to look at innovative ways to use technology to help this growing sector and the medical profession has to improve the way it delivers support and advise to keep drivers fit for the roads."

TRL principal human factors researcher Nick Reed said: "This study for IAM using TRL's DigiCar simulator revealed that in many of the driving scenarios tested, older drivers were typically as safe as their younger counterparts. It was notable that performance was more varied across the older participants; seemingly reflecting differences in the ageing process and highlighting how difficult it is to make judgements about driving ability based solely on age. It was pleasing to identify specific areas of concern for older drivers and perhaps to correct some common misconceptions about their driving ability."

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Notes to editors:

Holding back the gears: The ageing process and driver safety can be viewed at: www.iam.org.uk/the-ageing-process-and-driver-safety.

State Of The Art Automotive Training Centre Opened By 3M

Diversified technology company 3M has opened the doors on its new, state-of-the-art training centre in Atherstone, Warwickshire.

Opened by Jim McSheffrey, Managing Director of 3M United Kingdom PLC, the 3M Automotive Refinish Centre (ARC) features a vehicle repair workshop and spray booth, along with various meeting rooms and breakout areas. The centre has also been fitted with dedicated paint mixing and gun cleaning rooms, enabling visitors to get hands-on with 3M's range of paint application systems.

Said Jim: "This is an investment being made by 3M here in the UK to create a modern and up-to-date facility that we can use to show our customers how to get the very best out of 3M products, enabling them to get hands-on with the solutions we offer."
As an accredited QAA training provider with several staff members holding senior level ATA qualifications, 3M is ideally placed to develop solutions and training programmes for bodyshops as Mark Deakin, general sales and marketing manager for the 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division, explains: "With the opening of the ARC we have created a facility which demonstrates our commitment to excellence in the industry and to furthering the skills of bodyshop operatives. The training offered will help bodyshops reach nationally-accredited standards, boosting their efficiency and their competitiveness. The ARC has superb facilities to provide training for bodyshop operatives and managers, our channel partners, paint companies and other industry stakeholders.

"As a leading brand in the refinish market, it is fitting that we are now able to offer the highest standards in training through what we believe will become one of the best automotive refinishing training centres in the UK."

3M is a trademark of 3M Company.

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‘Business as usual’ for now – but used car market change is on the way,

…say the experts at CAP Automotive who are warning that market stability during the first half of 2013 will almost certainly be undermined by the on-going level of pre-registration activity as manufacturers continue to drive new car volume in the UK market.
Reporting on market conditions at the end of November, Black Book Live notes that the weekly fluctuations in trade values over the course of the month have largely been in line with typical winter seasonal performance.
Fuelled by a level of retail consumer demand on the forecourt that has remained constant all year, dealer appetite for high quality 3 year old cars in particular is strong. But those ‘ready to retail’ cars are increasingly rare as the market is flooded with ex-fleet cars up to 50 months old and with high mileages. Those cars attract high preparation costs for dealers, which eats too far into margins for comfort.
These factors are reflected in the auction hall where some cars that failed to sell first time are being re-entered anything up to 4 times before an acceptable bid is received.
However, dealers are still buying stock in preparation for the traditional January surge in retail activity, according to Black Book Live.
But there are signs that CAP’s original expectations that trade prices would perform strongly until at least the middle of next year may now have to be revised.
CAP’s Mike Hind said: “Our view now is that the only restrainer on a substantial rise in values during the first part of 2013 is pre-registrations and the pressure on prices created by a super-abundance of late plate cars.
“While we continue to expect prices to rise into January we are no longer as confident as we were that values will continue to increase into the summer.
“This may be good news for hard-pressed dealers but fleet and contract hire disposers – and anyone else selling their cars into the trade – need to be aware that the on-going level of pre-registration activity will inevitably impact throughout the market.
“To put it in plain language, we are fast approaching the point where there is nowhere for late plate values to go without forcing a reduction further down the age bands. Looking at the state of the Eurozone economies, we see little likelihood of the pressure on Britain to soak up this new car supply easing any time soon.
“We are not being alarmist about this, because our view is that manageable levels of pre-registration are a perfectly sensible approach to car retail. Not only does it keep people in work throughout the new car supply chain, but provides consumers with genuine value for money choices.
“Nor do we argue that rising used car trade values are automatically good news because, for dealers and consumers, a rising market simply means a more expensive market.
“But we do believe that price stability is desirable because it makes trading for everybody much smoother and enables a much clearer view of risk for all the businesses, from contract hire operators to insurers and banks, who are exposed to it.
“A rise in the volume of late plate stock is not the end of the world but after the stability of this year a return to the old norms of high depreciation will certainly come as a shock to the system. Suffice to say, this is one area on which we are keeping a very close watch.”
ends
For further information contact Mike Hind, Communications Manager – CAP
Tel: 0113 222 2044 / 07710 152030
Twitter – @MikeH_CAP