Archive | February, 2010

Government’s £5k carrot for electric car buyers

e-car

The Electric Car Corporation's four-seater Citroen C1 evia

Motorists will be encouraged to buy electric vehicles with a £5000 carrot, the Government announced on Thursday.

It has set aside an incentive pot of £230 million – the Plug-In Car Grant ­– which will entitle motorists to a 25% discount up to the value of £5000 from the list price of electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell car.

The incentives will be available to consumers at the point of sale from January 2011.

The Government also announced plans to roll out a £30 million fund for a network of electric vehicle charging hubs called Plugged-In Places.

The first Plugged-In Places will be London, Milton Keynes and the North East where 11,000 vehicle recharging points in car parks, at major supermarkets and retail centres will be installed during the next three years.

Welcoming the scheme, Paul Everitt, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “Manufacturers develop and produce new technology where demand exists. This incentive will encourage international investment in the UK as well as helping motorists cut CO2 emissions.”

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In-car digital radio switchover under scrutiny

The digital radio switchover debate has begun

The digital radio switchover debate has begun

SMMT chief Paul Everitt has been questioned by The House of Lords Communications Committee on the challenges facing industry over the move to digital radio.

The Government’s Digital Britain report states that by 2013 all vehicles should be fitted with digital radio as standard.

And by 2015, when the FM content will move to digital radio, all vehicles on the road should be equipped to receive the digital signal.

At the Inquiry, Everitt explained: “A pan-European approach to the introduction of digital radio in vehicles is vital to a successful switchover.

“Every one of the 31 million vehicles currently on UK roads will be affected by the switchover, so coverage and content concerns must be satisfied, in addition to a means of converting existing FM radios to receive the digital signal.”

The Committee heard that the Government should clarify how a digital platform could support traffic information, as well as the feasibility of continuing transmission of traffic information on FM.

The Inquiry also heard that satellite navigation relies on the FM signal for its traffic information and that significant investment will be required to enable the full functionality of these devices post-switchover.

Everitt stressed that it was important for broadcasters to engage with consumers to raise awareness of digital radio and the breadth of content on offer to increase demand for as-standard equipment in vehicles.

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1m “scrapped cars” back from the dead, warns Bluecycle

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2m cars are taken off the road every year

Millions of scrapped vehicles could be coming back from the dead because unauthorised scrap yards are reselling cars earmarked for destruction.

That’s according to Bluecycle, an online auction house for car salvage, which says that hundreds of unregistered scrap yards are cashing in at the expense of reputable recycling plants.

It claims that up to a million vehicles a year that are taken off the road are avoiding destruction illegally due to insufficient resources available to enforce legislation governing their recycling.

Bluecycle is calling on the Government to step up local enforcement of the European End of Life Vehicles directive.

Figures from the DVLA show that approximately 2 million cars a year are taken off the road, generating some 3.5 million tonnes of scrap.

This figure has been boosted by approximately 0.5 million tonnes as a result of the Government’s scrappage scheme, which finishes at the end of March.

The number of Certificates of Destruction issued by the UK’s 1558 Authorised Treatment Facilities, however, is closer to the 1 million mark, according to Andy Latham, Bluecycle’s reputation manager.

“It is a legal requirement for ATFs to issue a Certificate of Destruction to prove that a vehicle has been correctly destroyed but the DVLA does not require one to confirm that it has been taken off the road,” he said.

“We’re caught in a  ‘Lazarus effect’ where something like 50% of vehicles scrapped don’t get a Certificate of Destruction. They’re quite literally coming back from the dead.

“Until the audit trail is tightened up and more unauthorised sites are closed down, we cannot expect this figure to reduce by much, which flies in the face of the original legislation and more importantly, could put someone’s life at risk if a car finds its way back onto the road.”

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HiQ’s vote of confidence as turnover soars

HiQ forecourts saw 8% more customers in 2009

HiQ forecourts saw 8% more customers in 2009

98% of HiQ customers would use the company’s services again or recommend them to a friend.

In a boost for the fast fit, an independent survey found that nearly all of the 612 customers questioned would return to a HiQ forecourt.

The research was carried out by data capture specialists Connect Direct.

The news comes on the back of a strong year of trading for the company.

In the first 12 months of opening as a fully franchised operation, retail turnover was up in double-digit figures, average ticket value rose by more than 5% and retail footfall increased by 8%.

HiQ retail director Juergen Titz said: “The results are extremely encouraging for us but we know that there is still a lot of work still to do.

“Our strategy is to change the face of the fast fit sector and become ‘the fast fit network you can be sure of’.”

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Thule names its Dealer of the Year

GT’s Geoff Clarke (right) receives his award from Peter Barker, general manager, Thule UK

GT’s Geoff Clarke (right) receives his award from Peter Barker, general manager, Thule UK

GT Towing has been awarded Thule UK’s 2009 Dealer of the Year award along with £1000 worth of products.

The Hertfordshire-based company impressed its supplier with its “strong in-store displays, excellent aftersales service and implementation of the monthly [Thule] electronic trade letter”.

“We are very proud to receive this award,” said Sally Smyth, GT’s director. “Thule have a large display area in our showroom and this has clearly paid dividends.

“We ensure that our staff are thoroughly knowledgeable on our full range of products and services available and also provide a complete fitting service.”

Atlas Autos in Manchester and Epic Accessories of Leicester were close contenders for the title. Epic Accessories also won Window Display of the Month in August 2009.

Meanwhile, Bob Bleazard has been named Thule’s Salesman of the Year after achieving a 40% increase in sales over the last 12 months.

He said: “All the agents found 2009 tricky for sales but the strength of the Thule brand has led us through to a stable overall outcome.

“Considering the circumstances, we have all achieved well.”

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New customers for CAT’s Garage of the Year

Chris Meredith, MD, ABP Motorsport

Chris Meredith, MD, ABP Motorsport

Chris Meredith, managing director of Cheshire-based ABP Motorsport, has reported a “massive influx” of new customers since being named CAT Garage of the Year 2010.

“We have seen over 60 ‘New to ABP’ customers since our press releases went out and they are all mentioning the Award, which is fantastic!” he said.

“I’ve also received a letter from the House of Commons with our local MP congratulating ABP on our win and various local and national media have been in touch for interviews.”

CAT readers and motorists voted in their thousands online and by post in the magazine’s 2010 Awards competition.

The annual CAT Awards honour the people and companies who have made the biggest positive impact on their customers, peers and suppliers.

Chris Meredith was presented with the award by Donna West of sponsor Euro Car Parts at a special aftermarket star-studded ceremony at the Lensbury Hotel in Teddington in January.

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Garages show “healthy interest” in joining IAAF

Garages show “healthy interest” in joining IAAF

Independent garages are showing a “healthy level of interest” in the new IAAF, or Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (formerly the ADF), according to spokesman Brian Spratt.

“It is still early days,” he told CAT Magazine “but we’re very pleased with the response and also by the reaction of existing distributor members. We want to sell it as a unifying organisation.”

The news comes after Allparts Automotive, founder member of the UK Parts Alliance, committed its support to the Federation.

“This initiative combines the whole independent aftermarket under the same banner and for the first time provides us with a powerful lobbying voice promoting the interests of our entire sector,” said Steve Patten, Allparts’ marketing director.

“Allparts has long supported the excellent work that our Federation has engaged in, including defending our rights in the UK and European governmental arenas to supply independent garages with OE quality parts and services.

“This further forward thinking initiative can only strengthen our joint position and help us all continue with our mission of bringing a fair and competitive service to the consumer.”

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Ex IGA chair Parlett returns to lead garages

Colin Parlett

Colin Parlett

A former chairman of the Independent Garage Association has temporarily stepped back into the role after Jonas Zambakides of JZ Machtech resigned unexpectedly.

Zambakides stepped down before Christmas citing his wish to concentrate on running his specialist Porsche business, which he has recently expanded.

Colin Parlett, owner of CB Motors in Golders Green and long time supporter of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, now takes over with immediate effect.

Commenting on his appointment, Parlett said: “I have agreed to take on the challenge on an interim basis, pending the appointment of a new permanent chairman.

“Having represented the RMI in the UK and Europe on a number of industry committees, I fully understand the needs of members and the importance of representing their interests in all areas affecting their daily businesses.

“My personal goal during my chairmanship is to ensure that the needs of members are clearly communicated. I will be attending regional meetings to gauge the views of all members and allow us to formulate our strategy for the future.”

Rob Foulston, RMI chief executive, added: “We are very pleased that [Parlett] has agreed to lead the IGA during a period of significant change.”

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Xenon light buyers make safest drivers, finds study

Light output difference between halogen (top) and xenon (bottom) headlights

Light output difference between halogen (top) and xenon (bottom) headlights

Drivers who use xenon headlights drive up to 70 percent more safely but many are put off by the price, according to research by the German ADAC motoring association.

The study found that xenon light provides two to three times more light than halogen versions. However, it also recognised many drivers are put off by the comparatively expensive xenon versions.

“The price is not wholly to blame as the study showed 56 percent of car drivers still do not know enough about xenon,” commented Hella lighting expert Steffen Pietzonka.

“Common misconceptions about the alleged strong glare caused by xenon headlights were strong although researchers found that xenon does not generally cause more glare than other headlights.”

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Revolution in online Subaru retail venture

Revolution's new Subaru web shop

Revolution's new Subaru web shop

CAT Magazine’s Retailer of the Year, Revolution Performance Motorstores, has had a busy start to the new decade, not only winning the 2010 accolade but expanding its internet retailing operations.

The Gateshead-based retailer has launched a new website targeting Subaru Impreza owners. The online store deals solely with lines for the Subaru marque and has a particular emphasis on the Impreza.

The website includes fitment guides and Revolution claims the wheel section houses Europe’s largest online wheel and tyre store for the Subaru marque.

It has more than 150 styles of wheels on display and offers 33,000 fully priced wheel and tyre packages.

Tuning, styling and maintenance products are also well served with secure online payment facilities that use 3D encryption technology and password account protection.

“We are genuinely excited about this next chapter in Subaru online retailing,” said managing director Glenn Campbell.

“By grouping all these products on one dedicated site, we’ve created a convenient facility for our customers, helping them to navigate more quickly and easily.”

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