Month: January 2012

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CAP Used Van of the Year 2011 named as Volkswagen Transporter T5

The Volkswagen Transporter T5 has been voted ‘Used Van of the Year’ for 2011 by CAP – the UK’s independent benchmark used van pricing experts.

A panel of judges comprising of and vehicle valuation experts at CAP chose the Transporter from a shortlist of 6 models. Points were awarded by the judging panel based on CAP’s criteria of excellence relating to all relevant aspects of the vehicle.

The judging criteria (based on a 3 year old van at 60K miles) were:

• Value retained vs cost new compared with peer group
• Model range coverage
• Options availability
• Perceived reliability/cost of ownership
• Image & brand perception
• Dealer network professionalism and support

Winning vans were selected from the six main light commercial vehicle sectors before an overall winner was chosen.

The judges analysed performance on the used van market for the whole of 2011 and chose Volkswagen Transporter T5 on the strength of its consistent performance on all of the CAP criteria.

Judging panel chairman, John Watts – who heads the CAP commercial vehicle pricing teams – said of the Transporter T5:

“The T5 just feels right. It has a strong brand image, a very professional dealer network and extremely high retained values. It also appeals to a wide range of operators thanks to a reputation for solid build quality and reliability. This translates into trust when the T5 reaches the used market. Drivers love it and when we say the T5 ‘just feels right’ we are referring to that intangible quality that a truly great product has, which emerges when every feature is strong.”

Unlike other van awards, the CAP Used Van of the Year is designed to acknowledge all-round excellence from the perspective of everyone touched by the vehicle, including private owners, company van drivers, fleet operators and even used van dealers themselves.

While the Transporter T5 took the overall honours, the judging panel also nominated the following winners in each individual sector.

Best hatchback van – Ford Fiesta: “In its 5th generation and still a class leader in all respects.”

Small van – Volkswagen Caddy C20: “Brought new levels of quality to its sector and depreciation is among the lowest.”

Medium van – Volkswagen Transporter T5: “Just ‘right’ in every way.”

Large van – Ford Transit 330-350: “Ubiquitous and drives improvement across the whole market by setting the standard for others to aim for.”

Lifestyle pick-up – Toyota HiLux: “Great image and reputation for durability.”

Minibus – Ford Transit: “Enviable heritage and trust – the name says it all.”

The judging panel
John watts – Senior Editor, Commercial Vehicles
Ken Brown – Light Commercial Vehicles editor, CAP Red Book
Tim Cattlin – Editor, CAP Commercial Vehicle Monitor
Dale Ogden – Assistant Editor, Commercial Vehicles
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For further information contact Mike Hind, Communications Manager, CAP on 0113 222 2044 / 07710 152030

CAP warns operators and used van dealers of unforeseen future costs arising from Euro 5

NEW emissions rules could spell unforeseen costs for operators – sparking caution and lower residual values in the used market.

That is the warning from John Watts, of used van pricing experts, CAP.

Compliance with the new Euro 5 emissions legislation relies partly on the use of diesel particulate filters and this poses particular problems for owners restricting their operations to short-distance urban work.

Such filters can easily clog under the typical operating conditions faced in cities, spelling expensive repairs or replacement parts. This is likely to spark caution in the future used market, due to the ‘invisible’ nature of such problems – meaning trade buyers will factor in the risk of a clogged particulate filter when determining the price they will offer for a used Euro 5 van.

John Watts explained: “Many diesel particulate filters require specific drive cycles in order to remain working efficiently. These filters need to reach a certain operating temperature before effectively reducing particulate emissions, but if this is not achieved they can become prone to clogging.

“This problem will mostly emerge in low speed, short distance operating cycles, typically undertaken in large conurbations. This type of operating environment could become even more of a problem for future owners since operational radius tends to reduce in the secondary market.

“A typical example could be a city-based self-employed used van owner who travels less than ten miles to site from home and stays all day. A continuous operation of this nature could result in a blocked filter and a potential replacement cost.

“Most manufacturers issue guidelines about how to prevent total blockage. This usually consists of driving the vehicle at speed for a minimum time period in order for the filter to reach operating temperature so that it can burn off the carbon particulates. The need for this is usually indicated by a dashboard warning light. If this warning is continually ignored, permanent blockage can follow with subsequent filter replacement.

“There are several potential problems for the future used market. How will subsequent owners be made aware of this issue, especially when many vehicle handbooks are not present at the time of ownership change? If problems occur, how many will take their vehicles back to the supplier, expecting them to carry out repairs under warranty? Following on from that, how will the trade view vehicle values in the light of potential problems of this nature?

“CAP’s view is that the used vehicle trade need to be aware of the potential problem and ensure that vehicle documentation is complete, especially where a filter has already been replaced. in turn must be aware of the need for a functioning particulate filter for Euro 5 compliance and that problems may not be routinely covered under warranty.”

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For further information contact Mike Hind, Communications Manager, CAP on 0113 222 2044 / 07710 152030

Dealer miss out on mobile sales leads…..

According to Motors.co.uk. many dealers still have poor mobile web strategies and are missing out on sales leads from smartphones .

The classified website has seen visits to its mobile website double in the last 12 months. A sixth of its visits now come from mobile devices.

The firm has also seen a 200 per cent increase in visits from iPads and has already had more visits from mobile devices in January 2012 than in the whole of January 2011.

Dermot Kelleher, head of research and marketing at Motors.co.uk said: “Our mobile site continues to contribute response at a fast growing rate – traffic to our site from mobile devices has grown exponentially over the last 12 months.

“Perhaps more importantly from a dealer perspective, all stock goes onto our mobile site and our apps, at no extra cost.

“However, many dealers still have ‘poor’ mobile web strategies which mean they are missing out on leads as smartphone users are put off from their sites.”

Kelleher said consumers are increasingly visiting websites from their and iPads and they expect the content and functionality to be as good as if they were visiting the website from their PC.

“If they have a bad experience, they are unlikely to return,” he added

Is now the time to find the best talent ???……

It is believed by many of the Leading Recruitment Industry Talent Acquisition Managers that now is the time to find the best talent, rather than trigger a recruitment freeze by streamlining hiring costs
Uncertain times provoke a traditional response from modern business leaders. Sales reduce, revenue falls, so ‘cost centers’ must take the initial hit. Recruitment goes into freeze mode, while the HR community goes into consultation with the business leaders to reduce the workforce (hence appeasing investors and stock market jitters). “We did not hit our sales figures but we streamlined costs,” proclaim CEOs. Streamlining often involves the loss of good recruiters, a perceived ‘temporary’ cost on the business.
But does this strategy resonate now? Yes, maybe expansion and adding new headcount does not make sense. But hiring the best talent must still be top of the agenda. The ‘best’ will help grow and maximise those opportunities that mediocre talent cannot achieve. Does a recruitment freeze make sense if recruiters can attract better talent?
The ‘best talent’ need not only be recruited — they need to be retained. Top talent knows their value. They will not be fobbed off by the arguments of tough times, hence little or no salary review or bonus will mostly be met with a CV out on the market the next day. The best talent is happier to take risks in a recessionary job market, knowing they will always find work. It’s the weaker performers, who fear ‘last in, first out’, and hence stay put, weakening the organisational structure.
As we feel today’s chill winds of recession, down the line the warmer climate of growth and expansion will come again. Those who invest time planting seeds will truly reap the rewards with a fruitful harvest down the line
If expansion is not possible, then recruitment should be at the forefront of replacement hiring. This is where some would argue that the strength of a modern business lies in leaders ‘managing out’ the bottom 10% of performers, hence allowing recruiters to attract ‘better talent’ in their place. The perpetual self-improving workforce.

INVEST AND BUILD
Great recruitment leaders will see this downturn as an opportunity to get ahead of the curve: to identify structural weaknesses in their business and start to map out competitors in detail, then develop relationships with top talent — hence building those ‘predictable talent pipelines’ we all desire.
It is also an optimal time to invest resources into building corporate ‘manufactured communities’, plus gaining an understanding of and mapping ‘natural communities’, and then seeking ways to improve candidate experience and employment brand perception in the marketplace.
Recruitment leaders must also think of ways to generate revenue can be generated from their division. Yes, recruiting costs will fall further in this recession. There will be fewer hires, more ‘direct sourcing’. In-house teams will be internally pilloried if they use agencies and ‘roulette job boards’ and incur fees; hence maybe now is the time to develop premium content for corporate communities? Maybe creation of a profit centre, where staff are less likely to be axed, is closer to reality than previously considered?
Economic activity has tended to be cyclical in modern times. As we feel today’s chill winds of recession, down the line the warmer climate of growth and expansion will come again. Those who invest time planting seeds today, carefully nurturing their growth, will truly reap the rewards with a fruitful harvest down the line.

Those cutting back and doing nothing today will be criminally neglecting future profitability and growth of their business.

Recruitment has never been so vital… does your business realise it? Does your recruitment leader…?

Others think that Dealers are more ‘confident’ on used car margins…..

Dealers are more confident about the prospects for 2012 but it will still be a challenging year according to findings from a Manheim survey sent to over 5,000 franchised and independent dealers.
Overall, 78 per cent of respondents believe that used car sales will either improve or stay at similar levels to 2011 and 22 per cent think they will worsen.
A majority of respondents, 65 per cent, expect to experience either an improvement in or the same levels of margins but 35 per cent expect to see a decrease.
2011 was a difficult year with 52 per cent of respondents seeing a decrease in margins and 43 per cent a fall in used car sales.
But it was not all bad news as 15 per cent of respondents experienced an improvement in margins and 27 per cent saw an increase in used car sales.
Of the respondents selling new cars 23 per cent experienced an increase in sales during 2011 but 51 per cent saw a fall in sales
Prospects for 2012 seem slightly better with 32 per cent expecting an increase in new car sales and 36 per cent a decrease.
Craig Mailey, marketing director, Manheim said: “The fact that many dealers seem to be more confident about the prospects for 2012, even though challenges remain, is encouraging.
“The economic uncertainty will continue to put pressure on dealers’ margins while an increase in consumer confidence will be the key to any improvement in both used and new car sales.”

So, while some say that confidence may fall in 2012…

according to RAC Warranty, Used car buyer confidence is unlikely to see an increase in 2012 and may even decline.
Ian Simpson, sales and marketing director, said: “A used car is one of the single biggest purchases that a buyer makes and it is understandable in the current economic climate that spending such a large sum fills them with a high level of doubt.
“As far as the mood of buyers is concerned, it is difficult to foresee any improvement during the whole of 2012.”
“Customers continue to upgrade warranties at an elevated rate in order to create as high a level of peace of mind about their motoring costs as possible. In fact, the enhancement rates that we currently see bear comparison with the worst parts of the last recession.
Simpson added that the dealers who had enjoyed the best performance in the last 12 months were often the ones who showed the best appreciation of the mood of the buyer.
“It does not take a psychologist to recognise that at this time want a highly credible offering in order to feel secure – they want to buy from an established dealer, to be talked in detail through a full service history and to have the whole sales proposition underpinned by a comprehensive warranty from a recognised provider.
“In almost all parts of the market, the dealers who are familiar with these needs and work to meet them will be the ones who have the best 2012.”

Lotus Takes On Regent Street….

Group Lotus is delighted to confirm a brand new 'LOTUS ORIGINALS' flagship store will be opening in London's prestigious Regent Street – 52 Regent Street to be exact! Situated in London's from Spring/Summer 2012 the building will host a brand new Lotus experience: a 4,800 sq ft store situated in a Grade II-listed former 'Café Royal' with exciting displays and a full stock of apparel, accessories, gifts, toys, and limited edition collectables, it's one for Lotus fans and shopaholics alike.

The LOTUS ORIGINALS line made its debut at the 2010 Paris motor show alongside five new Lotus cars as a preview to the new Lotus lifestyle that the future Lotus car line-up reflects. Debuting with high-quality apparel, accessories and gifts, the move to Regent Street affords the space to showcase a much expanded LOTUS ORIGINALS collection. In the 16 months since the collections' preview, LOTUS ORIGINALS has grown to include exclusive sporting items such as bikes and helmets, toys and even stationery.

The development of the LOTUS ORIGINALS retail concept has been rapid, upon its launch in September 2010 the dedicated website www.lotusoriginals.com was the only retail outlet for the collection. The first shops soon followed with a store at Lotus' Hethel HQ and Norwich City Football Club's Carrow Road stadium opening in Late 2011. Dealer shops have also recently opened in China at new Beijing and Chengdu showrooms and a Shanghai store is imminent. The London flagship store is the next step in a fully integrated, international retail strategy for non-car Lotus products.

Wiebke Bauer Director of Licensing & Retail for Group Lotus said, "We are delighted to secure this iconic location, it's the result of many months of careful planning and negotiations – the completion of this milestone really demonstrates the success of the LOTUS ORIGINALS offering and the potential we have for the future. This is the cornerstone of our global retail strategy and we have lots to look forward to."

Dealers urged to exploit online tools

Dealers have been urged to increase their use of social media and other online tools to retain a competive edge.

New research of usage by Motor Trader Top 200 dealers, conducted by GForces, the specialist web software agency for the UK car retailing sector, shows the number of dealers utilising online tools has risen in the last 12 months, but the company says dealers are still falling short of their potential.

“Over the last two years more dealers have come round to realising the power of the web and its ability to generate genuine income opportunities. However, our research shows that the majority of Motor Trader Top 200 dealers are still not doing enough,” said Tim Smith, GForces’ commercial director.

“2012 looks set to be another tough year for new and used car sales – an effective web presence will make a crucial difference for many dealerships.”

The research shows social media is now used by 83 per cent of MT Top 200 dealers, compared with 20 per cent in January 2010. Another significant growth has seen a rise in the number of mobile sites from 2.5 per cent in January 2010 to 33.5 per cent now.

“The spike in dealer social media activity is clearly justified – nearly half of UK consumers now use it when researching a new car,” said Smith.

“With Google now indexing public comments made on websites that use Facebook, the content generated via social media channels can help create interest in your products and services, potentially leading to future sales,” he said.

Less than a quarter of websites in the Motor Trader Top 200 currently feature Live Chat, even though Smith claimed this is now one of the most effective tools for converting sales enquiries.

“Websites that offer visitors the chance to converse in real-time, by phone or on-screen, are proven to convert up to four times as many leads, thanks largely to the speed with which customers can have questions answered,” he said.

“You need to be able to talk with potential customers immediately these days. Any delay or unanswered questions about a car, part, accessory, or service will lead to people clicking away from your site faster than you might think.”

Motor Trader Top 200 dealers utilising online tools as at :
January 2010 January 2012

Social media 20% 83%
Live Chat 8% 23%
Live Chat 24-7 5%
Mobile 2.5% 33.5%
Video 7% 28%

Source: GForces

MARKET TRENDS & 2012 ?…..

MARKET TRENDS & 2012 ?

I guess my outlook on the current market is just one of many opinions and contains as much guess work as most others peoples views. Every time the stock market and the euro-zone which is dominating the economy currently seems to be settling down another spanner gets thrown into the works and its all over the news again, unsettling people and damaging further confidence in business generally. However sometimes its good to take a step back from the daily news and take the longer view.

Its said that in normal times economic forecasts and projections are only 50% accurate at best, so we shouldn't be surprised in times like these that they get re-aligned almost daily and in such times to be honest nobody can second guess what's coming next, good or bad. This quarter the forecasts for next year were reset downward but last quarter they were being corrected upward so its never good to react to today's news as tomorrow it will be different. I think only one thing is certain, it will get better sometime as what goes down must come up !

The job market is currently a curious place if we are all honest, people are recruiting and we are placing people and in fact since I've been writing this in the last few days we have had an influx of jobs for January starts but more people are currently coming onto the market than normal. The run up to Christmas is normally a time of change with people coming onto the market due to re-organisations and redundancies (doing this has been a 'tradition' for many years which always seems very cruel to me just before Christmas). However its fair to say this year that the quantity of people is greater than I have seen before.

So what's in store for 2012 ? Well it would be a brave person who would bet their pension on what's going to happen but here are my views. The 'first' recession in 2008/9 saw a lot of redundancies and cut backs but this was nothing compared with the last 4 months or so where a larger increase in the number of people becoming 'available' has been seen. This 'second' recession is real and actual whatever the statistics say. I think this was due to reduced levels of business in the Motor Industry generally, no confidence in the euro-economy and lack of available credit meaning that business's have had no choice but to reduce operating costs below the levels already reached.

So where does that leave everybody for 2012 ? Well not totally negative if you look closely, most business's are currently staffed below minimum operating standards, its an example I've used previously but I once worked for a major car manufacturer owned leasing company as an Account Manager, I looked after 5 of their top accounts and that filled my day. In total there were about 25 Account Managers at various levels, however today there are only 9 people doing this work.

These 9 people can 'hold the fort' for some time, but attention to detail will slip, accounts will be lost as they come up for renewal, customer service levels will drop, there will be no holiday or illness cover and time spent with each client will reduce. In effect all the KPI's that makes a business sustainable are being mortgaged.

This is mirrored in the retail dealer network, most dealers are below minimum staffing now, put a bit bluntly if these dealers were to carry on with current staff levels they will at some point fail all their KPI's and the manufacturers will take away their franchises so the tough times can't go on much longer as that won't be allowed to happen. However this additional recruitment above normal 'replacement' levels won't come until there is confidence in the market. That will happen at some stage, its just exactly when is the million dollar question.

So where does that leave us all in the early part of 2012, well as I've mentioned the bulk of the redundancies have happened so I do think the worst is behind us, if further staff l

Windy Days Ahead – IAM is issuing advice for driving in windy weather

Road safety charity the IAM is issuing advice for driving in windy weather as severe gales spread across the country.

Plan your journey – is there a route with less exposure to the weather and less risk of fallen trees? Choose a sheltered route if you have the option. Strong winds are not constant, they are usually gusty so ensure you hold the steering wheel firmly. Overtaking high sided vehicles or driving past buildings can result in a sudden gust from the side as you clear. Give cyclists, motorcyclists, lorries and buses more room than usual. They get blown around by side winds easily. Watch trees and bushes on the roadside – their branches show you how strong the wind is. Look well ahead, that way you don't need to take your eye off the road and you can see any windy patches before you get to them. Go slow enough to cope with the gusts. Wind can get under a car and reduce its handling and braking significantly. Keep an eye on what is happening to other vehicles – where they are affected will give you a pre warning. Keep extra distance between you and the car in front. Be careful of debris, try and have space beside you in case you need to dodge it.

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: "I have seen a parked car moved by the wind. Don't underestimate how powerful it is and how it can affect you whilst in the car."

To help drivers stay safe this winter, the IAM has launched a new website, drivingadvice.org.uk, with traffic updates, weather forecasts and tips on how to drive safely in winter.

Tips cover rain, snow, ice, fog and wind – everything you can expect in a typically unpredictable British winter. Check it out before you travel.

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