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The Institute Of Couriers Meeting at IOD Venue

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The Institute Of Couriers Meeting at IOD Venue

The recent Institue of Couriers meeting at the IOD involved two workshops, three speakers, a capture of senior views on strategy and skills for transport around the LEP Midlands strategy plan.

Driver workforce heading almost every agenda, fuel, compliance and electric vehicles were all mentioned and discussed.

IOC has worked with LLEPs over the past year to help them understand and support the sector. The workshop reviewed the plan developed for D2N2 LEP and ranked the proposed actions in terms of importance to their businesses. The group included national players with a significant presence in the east Midlands.

Actions associated with the current driver shortage were identified as the clear, top priority by all the employers – these included actions to build links with schools and colleges and to ensure training for new drivers and other operative roles.

1-(1)The second ranked action is for ongoing dialogue with statutory bodies regarding the planning of future infrastructure and road works that will impact on logistics operations.

Significantly, the third ranked actions were those involving partnering with local authorities to create an infrastructure to enable the use of low emissions vehicles. All the proposed actions were reviewed and all were considered to be relevant and well worth developing with the LEP and local partners.

Clydesdale bank had sponsored the most senior network IOC briefing of the year, it was transport talk from the start with a bacon butty lunch to set the tone of logistics vision on an employer focus.

First the round table workshops, then a report on the three guest speakers between the strategy round table workshops.


The original article can be found at

The Netherlands is most expensive European country for motorists, finds LeasePlan

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The Netherlands is the most expensive country in Europe to drive a car, new research from LeasePlan has found.

The leasing giant’s CarCost Index studied the costs of car ownership and usage in 11 European countries – said to be the first time that all the cost elements of an automobile have been mapped out in such detail at an international level using this index methodology – and found that the cost of driving a diesel car can vary as much as €350 a month across Europe.

On average, Dutch motorists spend between €600 and €800 their cars each month, depending on their fuel choice. This was followed by Italy, Spain and then the UK, where driving a petrol car costs €600 per month on average and €630 for diesels.

In Germany and the Czech Republic however, monthly costs are significantly lower, particularly for diesel cars.

The annual LeasePlan CarCost Index provides an overview of the total cost elements of a car in the C-segment (20,000km per year, on the basis of three years). This analysis is based on factors such as purchase price, depreciation, insurance, repair costs and maintenance, taxes and fuel costs. Fixed costs, such as maintenance and taxes, represent 70% of the total cost ─ indicating that motorists have minimal influence on the overall cost. Depreciation is the largest of these fixed costs, representing 36%. Within the 11 countries surveyed in Europe, the average fuel costs are highest in Italy. This is mainly due to the high VAT rate, a result of the economic crisis. Switzerland deviates the most when it comes to diesel cars. The Swiss government has been taxing this fuel type heavily for years because of its higher levels of NOx and particulate emissions. On the contrary in the Netherlands, the price of a litre of diesel is significantly lower than the price of a litre of petrol.

Sven-Torsten Huster, chief operating officer of LeasePlan: “Statements are often made that certain European countries are more expensive for motorists compared to others. Yet there was insufficient research to confirm these suspicions until now. In order to compare European markets you must thoroughly understand them and have insight into regulatory differences. There is much more to take in to consideration than just purchase price or taxes.”

The original article can be found at

Stuffed fox and parrot included in list of minicab lost property

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A list of the top nine strangest items left behind by London passengers in the backseat of the Kabbee fleet minicabs has been revealed, with some unusual items included.

Along with mobile phones, keys, wallets, umbrellas, shoes, the quick poll of Kabbee’s 60 licensed minicab fleets revealed the top nine most unusual items are:

  1. Taxidermy fox
  2. Whip with latex underwear
  3. Diamond ring
  4. £5,000 cash
  5. Parrot
  6. Mini cheese grater
  7. Adult’s gold tooth
  8. Inflatable Zimmer frame
  9. Helium tank

Justin Peters, Kabbee CEO and founder, said: “The moment a passenger gets into a minicab, they put a great amount of trust in that driver. At Kabbee, we are encouraging our minicab fleets to reduce the amount of lost property found by drivers, by reminding passengers to check the back seat before they leave the vehicle, in the hope that no items are left behind.

“We put all licensed minicab firms through a tough 30-point check before they can provide quotes via the Kabbee app – and one of them is to ensure they have a full and accurate lost property folder, so that in the event that an item is left behind, it can be quickly returned to its owner.”

The original article can be found at

UK rated fourth most expensive country in Europe for motorists

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Motoring costs in the UK are the fourth highest in Europe, new research from LeasePlan has found.

The leasing giant’s CarCost Index studied the costs of car ownership and usage in 11 European countries – said to be the first time that all the cost elements of an automobile have been mapped out in such detail at an international level using this index methodology – and found that the Netherlands is the most expensive country in Europe to drive a car.

On average, Dutch motorists spend between €600 (£463) and €800 (£617) on their cars each month, depending on their fuel choice. This was followed by Italy, Spain and then the UK, where driving a petrol car costs €600 (£463) per month on average and €630 (£486) for diesels.

In Germany and the Czech Republic however, monthly costs are significantly lower, particularly for diesel cars.

LeasePlan added that the cost of driving a diesel car can vary as much as €350 (£270) a month across Europe

The annual LeasePlan CarCost Index provides an overview of the total cost elements of a car in the C-segment (20,000km per year, on the basis of three years). This analysis is based on factors such as purchase price, depreciation, insurance, repair costs and maintenance, taxes and fuel costs. Fixed costs, such as maintenance and taxes, represent 70% of the total cost ─ indicating that motorists have minimal influence on the overall cost. Depreciation is the largest of these fixed costs, representing 36%. Within the 11 countries surveyed in Europe, the average fuel costs are highest in Italy but the UK has the highest diesel price and the second highest petrol price.

The research also found that the UK has most expensive list prices for petrol cars and second most for diesels after Switzerland.

Sven-Torsten Huster, chief operating officer of LeasePlan: “Statements are often made that certain European countries are more expensive for motorists compared to others. Yet there was insufficient research to confirm these suspicions until now. In order to compare European markets you must thoroughly understand them and have insight into regulatory differences. There is much more to take in to consideration than just purchase price or taxes.”

The original article can be found at

Company car to remain king but fleets must focus on value

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Company cars will remain one of the most sought after benefits by employees despite rising levels of benefit-in-kind taxation – but employers and drivers must increasingly focus on value rather than cost.

So said tax expert David Rawlings n a keynote address to the Fleet Industry Advisory Group’s (FIAG) Winter Workshop on ‘Will Tax Kill the Company Car – What’s in Store for 2016’.

Rawlings, director of business vehicle and taxation advisers BCF Wessex, highlighted how employee demand for company cars had proved remarkably resilient despite increases in Benefit-in-Kind taxation over many years.

The Government has already announced annual rises in company car Benefit-in-Kind taxation to the end of the 2019/2020 financial year, but Rawlings said: “The percentage increases in tax look horrible, but in pound note terms company cars still deliver great value.”

Addressing the Workshop, held at the home of Northampton Saints, the premiership rugby union side sponsored by Travis Perkins, whose group fleet director Graham Bellman is a FIAG founder, Rawlings reflected on recent history to look to the future.

He told delegates to the workshop: “When emissions-based company car Benefit-in-Kind tax was introduced in 2002 many pundits forecast the death of the company car.”

Yet, while there had been a decline in company car popularity since then, latest HM Revenue and Customs’ data shows that the number of recipients has plateaued in recent years at 940,000 yielding £1.29bn in Benefit-in-Kind tax and a further £530m in employer Class 1A National Insurance in 2013/14.

Rawlings said that despite the switch to a CO2-based company car Benefit-in-Kind tax regime and regular increases in tax thresholds, the value of company cars remain undiminished.

For example, he cited that prior to the new regime the amount of tax due for a high mileage, higher rate taxpayer per £1,000 of list price on a 2002 Ford Mondeo was £60, which was a similar amount paid by an employee at the wheel of a low emission derivative in 2016.

Rawlings said: “Company car tax rates have increased, but we are where we were 14 years ago. I don’t buy the arguments that tax has killed the company car, although what we don’t know is where company car tax levels will end up.”

The Government is currently reviewing company car Benefit-in-Kind tax from 2020/21 and an announcement is expected by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in the Budget on 16 March.

Rawlings predicted that over the coming years taxes would have to increase with revenue raised used to support the development of alternative fuel technology while the government also looked to tackle air quality issues.

Nevertheless, he concluded: “Smart employers and company car drivers should focus on value rather than cost. The company car is, and will remain, one of the most sought after benefits over the next 15 or 16 years.”

The original article can be found at

Analysing whole-life costs on vehicle defleet is ‘vital’, finds FIAG Winter Workshop

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Whole-life costs should be analysed at the end of a vehicle’s lifetime on the fleet as well as at the start.

So said delegates at the recent FIAG Winter Workshop entitled ‘Will Tax Kill the Company Car – What’s in Store for 2016’.

Attendees outlined that ascertaining the true value of a company car is virtually impossible because there is no correlation in the cost of a vehicle to an employer and that of an employee.

Kevin Basnett, managing partner at Wiltshire-based Goughs Solicitors, said: “The motivation for an employer to provide company cars may be to enable staff to move from one location to another or to recruit and retain employees, while for employees there is a financial cost and an emotional element.”

Although whole-life cost figures are widely acknowledged as best practice in terms of being the starting point for compiling company car choice lists, it was suggested they were only part of the decision-making process.

Basnett added: “It is important to take note of employees’ views in deciding which vehicles to put on the fleet, particularly if a job-need car. Vehicles must be fit for purpose and drivers have practical experience of what they require to do their job.

“When introducing a policy it is important to be aware of the impact it will have on drivers so consultation with staff is key. In too many companies there is a lack of joined up thinking across finance, HR, procurement and transport departments. The board of directors needs to lead because otherwise there can be conflicts.”

And it was also suggested that it was vital to analyse whole life cost figures on vehicle defleet and not just when deciding which company cars to introduce to a fleet.

Graham Bellman, director of fleet services, Travis Perkins and a founder of FIAG, said: “Whole-life costs are an indicator of likely expense, but fleet managers should also reflect back on what the data is telling them. History can be an important indicator of the future and actual service, maintenance and repair costs, remarketing and end-of-lease costs are big influencers in calculating the true cost of a company car.”

Delegates also suggested that it was important to regularly review company car choice lists with some fleet decision-makers undertaking quarterly checks to ensure policies reflected the very latest manufacturer model changes as well as legislation amendments.

The original article can be found at

New TMC solution ties payment of mileage expenses to compliance with fleet policy

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A new product that can suspend mileage expense payments from drivers who don’t comply with fleet policy rules has been launched by The Miles Consultancy (TMC).

Dubbed Visa To Drive, the solution is aimed at all business drivers – including the ‘grey fleet’ – and is being offered by the fleet mileage and fuel audit specialist as an optional extension of its online mileage capture, audit and control system.

The new product offers a comprehensive suite of Duty of Care-related features. These include DVLA driver licence verification and checks for valid insurance policies, MOT certificates and vehicle service histories.

Because Visa To Drive is integrated into the TMC mileage recording system, customers can use it to prevent automatic payment of expenses to drivers who do not record that they are complying with company policy around vehicle use and at-work road safety.

Paul Hollick, managing director of TMC, said: “When you look at it, mileage reporting and Duty of Care are a perfect fit. Virtually every business journey results in a mileage expense claim, especially for grey fleet drivers. Visa To Drive injects Duty of Care tools into the one mechanism that every driver is virtually guaranteed to use regularly: logging their mileage so they can recoup the cost of business trips.

“The option to suspend payment of expenses to drivers who fail to provide documents or declarations is a unique capability of TMC’s system architecture. Another benefit of linking to mileage reporting is that it automatically flags up high-mileage – and therefore higher-risk – drivers.”

Fleet managers log in to their Visa To Drive control panel, which gives them access to a comprehensive suite of real-time reports on drivers’ status. Drivers are automatically prompted to provide mandates, declarations or documents as needed, when they log in to report their business mileage.

Visa To Drive can be tailored into policies with levels of intervention aligned to different groups of drivers.

“If you run a company vehicle fleet then Visa To Drive can be pared down to include just driving licence checks and confirmation of agreeing to fleet policy. Additionally, you can specify driver confirmation of vehicle safety checks. Or, if you run a grey fleet, you can use the full suite of checks to ensure that all vehicles are roadworthy and all your drivers are legally allowed to drive, including scanning MOT certificates and personal motorhome insurance policies,” added Paul Hollick.

The original article can be found at

Fleet managers urged to set example in implementing alternatives to company car

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Fleet managers are important influencers in the adoption by companies of alternatives such as telephone and video conferencing, car clubs and car sharing, according to participants at the recent FIAG Winter Workshop.

Entitled ‘Will Tax Kill the Company Car – What’s in Store for 2016’, the event was held at the home of Northampton Saints, the premiership rugby union side sponsored by Travis Perkins, whose group fleet director Graham Bellman is a FIAG founder.

As fleet managers increasingly became mobility managers, Graham Bellman said: “Fleet managers have powerful information at their fingertips and it is about acting a catalyst for the business to help influence behaviour.”

Corporate social responsibility is a major focus for many employers with emission reduction and occupational road risk management to the fore.

However, it was suggested that in some organisations a two-tier policy may have emerged where tight controls were implemented in respect of company car policies – vehicle age limits, CO2 caps and other measures including driver profiling and assessment – but similar controls in respect of managing employees who drove their own cars on business, the so-called ‘grey fleet’, were missing.

Bellman said: “Businesses must identify their ‘grey fleet’ and then establish a policy that is proportionate to the risk.”

Kevin Basnett, managing partner at Wiltshire-based Goughs Solicitors and a round table ‘champion’ at the event, added: “Performance management is vital for organisations. If issues such as emissions and road safety are not managed that reflects in their performance.”

However, despite the emergence of alternatives and the growing importance of communication, as witnessed by many employees being ‘wedded’ to their smartphones, it was agreed that the company car will remain.

Graham Bellman said: “Communication is key for today’s young people as witnessed by smartphone technology, but face-to-face meetings are important. Company cars will survive.”

Kevin Basnett commented: “The popularity of the company car will remain and not shrink. Telephone and video conferencing do work at a level, but face to face is often better; and other options including public transport are not always viable. The car is still king.”

However, Marcus Bray, a FIAG founder and head of sales at Fleet Service Great Britain, said it was important for fleet decision-makers to keep an open mind as to the viability of car clubs, car share and other alternatives.

He said: “The flexibility of such options should be investigated. As a nation we like our own space and that is provided by the company car plus we have an inherent fear of change. However, the number of car clubs and car share schemes is growing, but for their use to become widespread there must be buy-in by senior management in businesses to drive change.”

The original article can be found at

Benchmarking company car policies ‘absolutely critical’ to recruiting and retaining staff

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Today’s competitive employee market means benchmarking of company car policies is “absolutely critical” in recruiting and retaining staff.

So said Marcus Bray, a founder of the Fleet Industry Advisory Group (FIAG) and head of sales at Fleet Service Great Britain, at the recent FIAG Winter Workshop entitled ‘Will Tax Kill the Company Car – What’s in Store for 2016’.

Bray, a round able ‘champion’ at the event, said: “Having gathered information employers must then decide whether they want to be above the market, mid-market or below the market.

“Some employers view cars as a tool of the job and others as a perk. Either way, if struggling to recruit or retain staff it is important to understand where the car policy sits versus competitors.”

Kevin Basnett, managing partner at Wiltshire-based Goughs Solicitors, added: “Benchmarking can be difficult because of the wide choice of vehicles available. Some employers in shaping their company car policies are conscious of the brand image presented of their business.”

However, it was acknowledged that it could be difficult to collect benchmarking information from other companies within the same sectors of business so ‘casual discussions’ with fleet decision-makers at networking events could be crucial.

Many companies offered not only company cars but also salary sacrifice and cash allowance schemes and Graham Bellman, director of fleet services, Travis Perkins and also a founder of FIAG, said: “Employees want the choice and flexibility at a moment’s notice if their lifestyle changes.”

The original article can be found at

Norscot Truck & Van Dundee appointed to DAF Trucks’ ATF network

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Norscot Truck & Van Dundee has become the latest DVSA-appointed Authorised Testing Facility (ATF) in the DAF dealer network, bringing the total number to 55.

Norscot, which also has locations in Aberdeen, Inverness and Perth, has invested £300,000 in its new ATF lane and associated equipment. The move comes in response to an increasing number of customers, including local non-DAF operators, demanding more flexibility for their vehicles’ MOT time slots.

Ian McGregor, general manager at Norscot Truck & Van Dundee, said: “This is about providing a better service to the whole operating community, not just our DAF customers. It’s about maximising uptime, and it’s about driving up standards of safety and efficiency.

“Our modern facility here in Dundee offers truck operators significant operational benefits over their existing test facility arrangements, extended testing hours, greater flexibility on booking test ‘slots’ and reduced travelling time – all the time increasing productivity for operators.”

Norscot’s fully equipped facility in Dundee comprises: five bays including 27-metre service pit, individual wheel lifts, individual bay ramps for truck and van, and a recovery truck.

Based on the DVSA’s own ‘Preparer ID’ figures, the whole of DAF’s dealer network had a 97.5% MOT First-Time-Pass-Rate (including PRS – Passes with Rectification at Station) in 2015.

DAF now has more than 1,500 technicians independently accredited and certified under the IRTEC scheme. 

More DAF locations have been identified for upgrade in 2016.

The original article can be found at

Estate agents are UK’s best drivers, research suggests

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Estate agents top the league table for the UK’s best drivers by profession. That’s according to a survey of over 2,000 people by finance specialist, Zuto.

Zuto’s findings show that a massive 80% of estate agents have never received a speeding fine and a further 92% have never even run a red light.

Police officers and farmers come in at second and third, followed by chefs and artists.

In contrast, over half (54%) of accountants admitted to receiving a speeding fine, more so than any other occupation listed. And 10% of those guilty of speeding were repeat offenders, with an average of five fines compared to the national average of 1 (48%). And a quarter (26%) of those admitting to speeding said it was to get home sooner.

The survey also found that high-stress careers, such as those in the healthcare profession, struggle most with obeying road rules. Trickier manoeuvres, like the parallel park, test the patience of those in marketing and recruitment.   

  • Worst at parallel parking – recruitment professionals
  • Worst at three-point turns – marketers
  • Worst at stopping at Zebra crossings – doctors
  • Worst at indicating – artists
  • Worst at obeying traffic lights – nurses

James Wilkinson, CEO of Zuto, said: “It’s interesting to see that our driving habits could be influenced by our jobs and it’s reassuring that occupations where people tend to drive others around such as estate agents and police officers, see driving habits and overall safety improve as a result.”

Zuto is also running a competition on its research, with an advanced driving course up for grabs. For more details, click here.

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Fiat Professional offers contract hire from £146 per month

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Fiat Professional has launched a range of business contract hire promotions with prices starting at £146 per month, plus an initial rental of £876 (excluding VAT).

All contract hire customers also receive free ply-lining in their vehicle load bays, a GAP waiver insurance policy, pan-European breakdown assistance and inclusive road fund licence for the duration of the contract.

Those opting to include maintenance won’t have to budget for any routine servicing, as specified in the vehicle handbook, while replacement batteries, exhaust systems and tyres, subject to normal wear and tear, are also covered.

The most compact van in the Fiat Professional range, the Fiat Fiorino Van 1.3 Multijet SX with standard near-side sliding side door, is available with monthly fixed rental payments of £146 or £173 including maintenance, while the Fiat Doblò Cargo 1.3 MultiJet II 90hp has a monthly rental of £159 (£184 including maintenance).

The Fiorino has an initial rental payment of £876 while the Doblò Cargo has an initial rental of £954 (£1,038 and £1,104 respectively including maintenance).

For an additional £17 per month, customers can upgrade their Doblò to the Tecnico version which includes air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a TomTom satellite navigation unit, front fog lights, rear parking sensors and heated electric mirrors, all as standard.

For those in need of more carrying capacity, the standard wheelbase Fiat Ducato 2.3 MultiJet II 110hp is available from £189 per month with an initial rental of £1,134 (£226 and £1,356 respectively, including maintenance) with the medium-wheelbase, 3.5-tonne Ducato 2.3 MultiJet II 130hp available from £229 per month and an initial rental of £1,374 (£245 and £1,470 initial payment, including maintenance).

All rental costs exclude VAT and do not include options. Payments are based on an advance payment of six rentals, followed by 47 monthly rentals, with annual vehicle mileage allowance of 10,000 miles.

At the end of the contract, typically between 24 and 60 months, the vehicle is returned to the supplying dealership.

Fiat Professional dealers also have the flexibility to arrange contract hire agreements tailored to each customer’s requirements at competitive rates.

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BVRLA Annual Dinner to welcome over 950 leading figures from automotive sector

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The countdown is on for this year’s BVRLA Annual Dinner, which will welcome more than 950 leading figures from the automotive sector.

The 2016 Annual Dinner, which takes place on Thursday 3 March at the London Hilton on Park Lane, comes after a year in which the association grew its membership in every category and saw its combined member fleet rise to a record high of nearly 4.5 million vehicles.

To celebrate the industry’s achievements, the BVRLA has lined-up broadcaster Jeremy Paxman as the keynote speaker for the evening, while comedy will be supplied by acclaimed stand-up Jimmy McGhie.

This year’s Annual Dinner will be supported by CCAS, Ebbon-Dacs, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Lombard, MS Automotive (London) Ltd, Paragon, Volkswagen Passenger Cars and VRS. 

The Annual Dinner will also celebrate the achievements of the sector’s most deserving staff, with awards on the night for the industry’s unsung heroes and the top performers in the BVRLA’s training courses.

The original article can be found at

Total Motion teams up with Leicester City Football Club to raise £50,000

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Total Motion has teamed up with Leicester City Football Club to offer the chance to win a brand new car for a whole year.

The move is intended to help raise £50,000 by the end of this year’s football season in aid of two local charities: Warning Zone and LCFC’s Foxes Foundation. Warning Zone aims to provide an interactive education in Leicester, which encourages young people to explore issues around risk, peer pressure, anti-social behaviour and personal responsibility.

LCFC Foxes Foundation work alongside their chosen charities to enrich lives of children and young adults in the surrounding Leicestershire area.

Richard Grudgings, operations manager at Warning Zone commented: “Total Motion’s support of Warning Zone has been invaluable, a prize draw to win a car, is an inspired idea and is already proving very popular. The main thing about Total Motion is that they actually understand what we are doing at Warning Zone and the important messages we are sending out. A huge thanks to Simon and his team for allowing Warning Zone to benefit as a charity from this exciting giveaway.”

The original article can be found at

Fraikin to supply 10 car and van transporters to GEFCO UK

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International transport and logistics company GEFCO UK has signed a six-year contract hire deal with commercial vehicle fleet services provider Fraikin for the supply and maintenance of 10 new car and van transporters.

The new contract is a further extension of the long-term relationship between the two companies, which sees Fraikin providing fleet services to GEFCO in France, Poland, Switzerland and now the UK.

Each of the 44-tonne DAF CF trucks and Rolfo tri-axle trailers has been supplied by Fraikin on full service contract which includes all servicing, maintenance and repairs, road fund licencing, six-weekly safety inspections, annual MOT testing, tyre management and 24/7 roadside assistance.

John Stocker, finished vehicles logistics director at GEFCO UK, says: “We are thrilled with the extension of the existing GEFCO/Fraikin European relationship and their continued support throughout this process.”

GEFCO UK is able to access real-time information on the fleet through Fraikin View – a web portal for Fraikin customers which provides management information about the availability and compliance of their vehicles.

The system allows customers to report vehicle defects online, access a vehicle’s full service history and monitor the up-to-the-minute progress of vehicle breakdowns.

It also lists planned maintenance work, helping customers to optimise fleet scheduling, and hosts vehicle documentation and fleet information to aid compliance.

The original article can be found at

Motorway service signs to show Ecotricity charging points

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Ecotricity signs will now appear on motorway service signs to show electric car drivers at which services they can charge up.

Ecotricity, whose 260 ‘Ecotricity Pumps’ cover almost the entire motorway network, will appear on Roadchef signs alongside household names as WH Smith, McDonald’s and Costa.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity and the Electric Highway, said: “We launched the Electric Highway in 2011 to kickstart the electric car revolution in Britain, and we can see that’s well and truly underway now.

“There are now over 50,000 electric cars in Britain; that’s more than a tenfold increase in two years, and this exponential growth is reflected in the use of the Electric Highway, which powered 15 million miles of emission free driving last year – all powered from the wind and the sun.”

The original article can be found at

The Tyre Recovery Association publishes new guidelines to improve part worn tyre safety

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New guidelines have been issued by the Tyre Recovery Association to improve standards, share good practice and improve road safety across the UK.

With 98% of part worn tyres being sold failing to meet basic regulations, the new protocol is intended to demonstrate to drivers that the part worn tyres they are purchasing have been through a rigorous safety check to ensure they are roadworthy and fit for purpose.

Participating TRA members will work to a detailed list of examination standards by qualified operatives who will be subject to regular technical audit.

Peter Taylor, secretary general of the Tyre Recovery Association (TRA), said: “Tyres are a vehicle’s primary safety feature. Alarmingly only 2% of part worn tyres are sold legally.

“The sale of part worn tyres that do not meet legal requirements is not only a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection Act, but also a serious safety risk to drivers, their passengers and other road users. This new protocol will ensure retailers selling second hand tyres follow industry best practice, which will in turn draw attention to those who do not.”

“It will give consumers the confidence that the retailer is putting tyre safety first.”

The original article can be found at

Ford to target high-profit sectors such as crossovers and SUVs in Europe

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Ford of Europe is to realign its product strategy to focus on high-profit/growth segments such as crossovers and SUVs and premium Vignale lines and to axe less profitable models over time.

It added that it would launch five new vehicles to compete in the SUV and crossover space in the next three years, starting with new Edge in the second quarter. SUVs remain Europe’s fastest-growing market segment, and Ford expects to surpass 200,000 SUV sales in Europe for the first time in 2016 – a growth of more than 30% compared with 2015

Ford also said it would expand its premium Vignale line and customer experience from one model today – Mondeo Vignale – to at least five Vignale models by 2017.

It also confirmed that it will introduce new plug-in hybrid, hybrid-electric and full electric vehicles in Europe by 2020 – part of its $4.5bn investment in electrified vehicle solutions.

Other model plans include the launch this year of eight vehicle lines in Europe with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive technologies, compared to three models in 2012. And it will also continue to invest in and strengthen its line-up of commercial vehicles, including new powertrain and technologies for Transit Custom and Transit 2-tonne, and a freshened Ranger for 2015

The carmaker said its plans follow the closure of three manufacturing plants in Western Europe and its return to profit in 2015, and see will the launch of seven new or freshened vehicles in 2016 including Focus RS and new Kuga and Edge SUVs.

In addition, a drive to cut costs by $200m annually will also see jobs slashed while Ford of Europe said it would continue to drive improvements in its manufacturing operations, targeting efficiencies of greater than 7% year-over-year going forward

“We are creating a far more lean and efficient business that can deliver healthy returns and earn future investment,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Our job is to make our vehicles as efficiently as possible, spending every dollar in a way that serves customers’ needs and desires, and creating a truly sustainable, customer-focused business.”

The original article can be found at

European Parliament criticised for backing diesel emissions deal

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MEPs have come under fire after deciding not to veto plans to allow car emissions to exceed limits by more than 100%.

The move means that the forthcoming Real Driving Emissions (RDE) tests, which will replace laboratory tests, will now allow the limits for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from new diesel cars to be set at 168mg of NOx per km for Euro 6 cars until 2020 and 120mg/km thereafter.

The move to veto the plan was rejected by MEPs on Wednesday, after the EU Commission promised a review clause and tabled a long-term legislative proposal to revamp the EU car approval regime.

Announcing the European Parliament decision, Environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT), said: “We now have clear commitments from the European Commission for a review clause with a precise timeframe, in order to bring down the maximum emission values to the levels which were agreed upon by co-legislators. A proposal for a long-term reform of the EU approval regime for cars is also on the table, as requested by Parliament.”

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) welcomed the new.

“This regulation will be a major challenge for the industry, with new and more stringent testing standards that will be extremely difficult to reach in a short space of time,” stated Erik Jonnaert, ACEA secretary general. “However automobile manufacturers welcome the much-needed clarity, and are eager to move forward by implementing the new testing conditions as soon the regulation is adopted.”

However, environmental campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) said it is disappointed with the decision, which “will undermine efforts to clean up Europe’s air and improve public health”.

Greg Archer, clean vehicles director of T&E, said: “It’s disgraceful that the most powerful countries in Europe think that keeping dirty diesel is good for their car industry while citizens are poisoned. The European Commission and progressive members of the European Parliament have fought tooth and nail to prevent a bad outcome but this wasn’t sufficient to counter the pressure from EU national governments.”

T&E also said that the Commission and member states’ decision exceeds the powers of implementing legislation and is therefore illegal.

It added: “Implementing legislation can only take uncertainty in the testing procedure into account when revising limits. The Commission, following analysis by its Joint Research Centre, stated the testing uncertainty was 20%. The political decision to raise the limit to 50%, and more in the short term, therefore goes beyond the powers provided in the Euro 6 regulations.”

Greg Archer added: “There’s only one way out of this scandal and that is to have an early review of the flexibility in the new test (conformity factors) in 2017 and ensure all diesels meet the Euro 6 rules on the road by 2021 at the latest. Until that happens, no one will consider diesel cars clean and cities may be forced to ban them to comply with EU air quality.”

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Driving for Better Business to launch fleet safety benchmarking online tool

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A new online benchmarking tool is being launched to help fleets improve their at-work road safety, cut operating costs and boost business efficiency.

The tool is being launched by the Driving for Better Business (DfBB) campaign to aid the work of the Occupational Road Safety Alliance (ORSA) with backing from the Department for Transport and in collaboration with a range of fleet-related organisations.

The free-to-use benchmarking tool will officially launch at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ (RoSPA) Road Safety Conference, which takes place on Wednesday 2 March 2016 at the Holiday Inn, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Adrian Walsh, director of RoadSafe which leads the government-backed DfBB, said: “There is no doubt that by benchmarking, employers can develop sound business cases to identify where to invest to improve road safety.

“Participating organisations will be able to identify areas of concern and draw on the knowledge and expertise of other employers that are excelling in that particular aspect of safe fleet operation, thus helping to drive continuous improvement, innovation and promote a shared responsibility across work-related road safety.

“In developing the online tool, we have heard from numerous organisations that there is little understanding of where to start collecting road safety data, what information to collect and how best to analyse and interpret the information once they have it. This benchmarking solution is designed to assist these processes by proving standardised methods through a secure online platform.”

The new tool is a significant enhancement of Interactive Driving Systems’ Fleet Safety Gap Analysis, an online 10-question solution that allows fleets to benchmark their own responses against those of currently almost 1,400 participants providing an insight into the safety of an organisation’s vehicles and drivers and how they rank against others.

A wide range of organisations have collaborated in the DfBB’s Fleet Safety Benchmarking Project including the Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence programme, Interactive Driving Systems, RoSPA and the Transport Research Laboratory as well as Fleet Forum, an international interagency association whose focus includes sharing concerns about road safety and fleet efficiency. Support has also come from the Australian National Road Safety Partnership Programme.

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Drink-drive accident figures remain ‘stubbornly high’

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The number of reported drink-drive accidents and casualties in Great Britain remains at a high level, according to new figures for 2014.

The Department for Transport data for the last five years shows that between 210 and 270 people were killed in accidents in Britain where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit, with a central estimate of 240 deaths; unchanged since 2010.

The number of seriously injured casualties in drink-drive accidents fell by 2% from 1,100 in 2013 to 1,080. The government says that if this figure is confirmed in the final estimates published late this year, it will be the lowest number of seriously injured casualties on record.

The total number of casualties of all types in drink drive accidents is 8,220, down 1% on the 2013 figure, and the total number of drink drive accidents of all severities fell by 1% to 5,620.

In response, Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the IAM, said: “The latest drink-drive statistics show that Britain is flat lining on drink-drive deaths. Total numbers of drink-drive accidents have gone down slightly but 20 people still die every month in an alcohol related crash – this is simply unacceptable.

“The Government has increased the powers of the police to make it more difficult to avoid detection but they continue to avoid the one simple measure that could deliver fewer deaths immediately. That is of course a lower drink drive limit in line with Scotland.  A recent IAM survey showed 70% of drivers support this measure.

“We need to break the deadlock on drink-drive deaths and a lower limit would send the strongest possible message that taking alcohol and driving is totally socially unacceptable in 2016.”

The RAC also commented on the figures, with chief engineer David Bizley saying: “The numbers of people killed as a result of drink-drive accidents has now remained stubbornly high for the past five years. Despite drink-driving being seen as socially-unacceptable by the vast majority of motorists, this suggests there is a ‘hard core’ of people that continue to flout the law, putting both their lives and the lives of others at serious risk.

“The British Road Safety Statement, published in December, stated that the UK Government is ‘targeting high risk drink-drive offenders using a range of tools, including technological and educational solutions.’ We hope this commitment, combined with the fatality figures published today, act as a catalyst for action targeted at challenging the dangerous actions of this minority of drivers.”

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New car market rises but fleet registrations decline in January

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The UK new car market recorded its best January in 11 years, boosted by private and business registrations.

Newly released figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that overall registrations climbed 2.9% compared to January 2015, reaching a total of 169,678 units.

Private registrations rose 8.2% to 73,061 units – the highest level since 2004 – while the sub-25 ‘Business’ sector was up 5.0% to 6,716 units. In contrast

However the fleet sector declined slightly by 1.1% to 89,901.

Diesel registrations remained stable, up 0.6%, while petrol registrations grew by 3.7%. 

Registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles continued to grow in popularity – and market share – with registrations up by 32.1% on January 2015, to account for a record 3.6% of registrations.

Petrol hybrids showed the largest growth – up 44.1% to 3,783 cars, while plug-in hybrid demand grew 32.3% to 1,592 vehicles and pure electric cars enjoyed an uplift of 14.1% to 584 units. Demand for diesel, which just retained the majority market share, remained stable, up 0.6%, while petrol registrations grew 3.7%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “January’s solid performance puts the new car sector in a good position to start the year. Providing consumer confidence remains strong, we expect a more stable 12 months ahead, broadly similar to 2015 which was, of course, a record year.”

Commenting on the figures, Steve Jackson, chief car editor at Glass’s, added: “New car registrations hit an 11-year high for January 2016, as earlier forecast by Glass’s. Consumer demand has broadly driven the increase with a number of new models available. This, combined with low interest rates and creative finance campaigns with PCP, have helped drive this record number. Fleet however has slipped slightly by 1.1% on the same period last year.

“Overall, there is no doubt that manufacturers have hit 2016 running and intend to make it yet another success on the registration front. 

“Glass’s continue to watch the market closely, forecasting a 3% growth, and have also witnessed larger numbers of used vehicles in the wholesale market from dealers and captive finance companies as well as fleet vendors compared to the same period 2015.”

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Vauxhall reveals new-look Mokka ahead of Geneva debut

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Vauxhall’s Mokka is to gain a new design, engine and the Vauxhall OnStar connectivity system for its facelifted version.

Now dubbed the Mokka X, the new model will debut at the Geneva Motor Show and arrives in UK showrooms in late 2016.

The front end gains the Vauxhall family face, including a wing-shaped horizontal front grille and the signature double-wing LED daytime running lights. It also features LED Adaptive Forward Lighting headlamps as well as a new “X” segment identifier that will be used for future Vauxhall SUV and crossover vehicles.

Inside, the Mokka X has a completely new dashboard inspired by the new Astra, with fewer buttons than the old Mokka and many functions that are accessible via the touchscreen.

The new Mokka will also be available with Vauxhall’s OnStar personal connectivity and service assistant while two versions of the new generation IntelliLink infotainment system will also make their debut.

Engine line-up includes the 1.6-litre ‘Whisper Diesel’ engine introduced last year as well as a new 150bhp 1.4-litre Direct Injection Turbo petrol unit first seen in the Astra. With a six-speed automatic transmission, adaptive four-wheel drive and start/stop, the model achieves an official 42.8mpg combined and CO2 emissions of 154g/km.

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Hyundai reveals pricing for i20 Active

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Hyundai has announced pricing and specifications for its refreshed i20 range, including the beefed-up Active version.

Priced from £15,225 OTR, the Active model targets buyers looking for crossover styling and adds in bespoke bumpers, roof rails, a rear spoiler and a 20mm-increased ride height.

Standard equipment also includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, DAB radio and rear parking sensors.

Only one engine is offered for the Active: Hyundai’s new three-cylinder 99bhp 1.0-litre T-GDi engine, which offers official combined fuel economy of up to 58.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 110g/km.

The new 1.0-litre T-GDi engine is also added to the standard i20 line-up, bringing increased performance and fuel economy of up to 65.7mpg and 99g/km compared to the previous 99bhp 1.4-litre petrol manual and costing £400 extra. Available in SE models and above, the 1.0-litre T-GDi models cost from £14,025 OTR.

Hyundai has also introduced a new range-topping 118bhp 1.0 T-GDi model to i20 Premium and Coupe Sport versions, which offers official fuel economy up to 58.9mpg combined. Prices start from £15,525 OTR.

The MY16 i20 also gains additional equipment, including DAB radio on SE and above, new 15-inch alloys on SE and TomTom Live services on Nav models.

Premium Nav, Premium SE Nav and Coupe Sport Nav models now come with TomTom Live traffic services as standard, and cars specified in Iced Coffee, Passion Red and Stardust Grey now come with a black interior, rather than the brown and beige interiors.

The starting price of the i20 range remains unchanged, with the S 1.2-litre 75PS kicking off at £10,995 OTR. The new range will be available in showrooms from 3 March 2016.

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Clouds on the Horizon: a look at forecasts for 2016 new car sales in the UK

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Rupert Pontin, head of valuations at Glass’s, on the outlook for UK new car sales in 2016.

No sooner had the festive period passed and the celebration of record breaking registration levels in 2015 subsided, when the frantic new and used car trading antics of January got under way. Unfortunately almost immediately thereafter reports on the state of the global economy started to show a potential cloud or two on the horizon. Whilst it is clear that the automotive industry in the UK has performed ahead of expectations in recent years and our economy holds greater strength than anticipated, events in other parts of the world may yet have an impact on the Eurozone and that will affect how businesses in the UK and Europe seek to achieve their growth aspirations and sales targets over the course of 2016.

From a motor trade perspective the European new car market recorded an overall increase of 9.3% in 2015, taking the number of sales to 13,713,526 units including the UK figures. It is worth noting that this represents a market that, as a whole, has shown improvement for 28 consecutive months albeit at times, on a country by country basis, this performance has been erratic to say the least. The chart below shows the percentage increase by region.

The chart picture runs left to right in overall market volume size and one must consider that, whilst the percentage increases look most impressive for a few countries, this comes on the backdrop of some heavily depressed markets as a result of the recession in 2008.

Interestingly, it is the economic performance of the likes of China, Japan and the USA that is exacerbating concerns of a lower level of economic performance in the Eurozone. The volatility in the Chinese stock market in recent weeks, including significant support from the government for selected stocks, seems to have contributed to greater speculation of impending Chinese recession, although thus far this has not materialised. However, investors worldwide acknowledge that when China sneezes the rest of the world tends to catch a cold. This is probably part of the reason that the Eurozone Sentix indicator, which reports on European-wide market opinion on current economic expectations, has started to fall with a drop of 9.6 points in January and now sits at the lowest level it has done for a year. Whilst this is contrary to some other surveys, it is representative of current sentiment and should not be ignored.

In the USA, the recent decision to increase interest rates and look to end quantitative easing has caused a slowdown in recovery for many sectors. Indeed it was hoped that consumer spending over the festive period and New Year would help support the weakening industrial sector but it would seem the retail buyer was uncomfortable about spending their hard earned money despite the low unemployment figures and supposed job security. Russia and Brazil also look set to face at least another year of recession too.

Looking closer to home, there have been some further rumblings around emissions, with focus drifting slightly from Volkswagen to the PSA group and Renault. At the time of writing, PSA seemed to have been cleared of any wrongdoing but Renault appear to be hanging in limbo for the moment. It would be disappointing if irregularities with any of their diesel powered vehicles were found, as Renault were one of the very first manufacturers to claim they were absolutely in line with legal requirements following VWgate in September 2015. It may also raise cause for concern for those manufacturers that share engines with Renault.

Another changing factor is the world price of a barrel of oil which, as predicted by Glass’s some time ago, has continued to drop and not rallied to the $75 per barrel level many had expected by now. Whilst this causes specific issues for certain countries as revenue and profits are now so low, it has also meant that the price of fuel at the pumps round the world has been dropping. In the UK, an aggressive price war triggered by the major supermarkets has accelerated the drop in price, pleasing consumers nationwide and helping improve disposable income levels.

This downward shift in oil prices may, in part, explain the marginally lower than expected demand for alternative fuel vehicles, as some retail buyers have been drawn back to traditional fuels. Indeed, there are reports from the UK trade that larger-engined and less economical cars are becoming marginally easier to sell at the moment which, whilst welcomed by some, is probably not the direction required to support a cleaner environment. Equally, the investment the manufacturers have put into more environmentally friendly technology is looking less rewarding than it should be.

In conclusion, it is clear that 2016 may not be as straightforward as many had anticipated and certainly raises the importance of being able to review all market conditions in a clear and simple manner. Whilst the outlook for the year’s trading as whole is unlikely to be adversely impacted in the UK, there is little doubt that some of the tensions of the greater world stage will begin to gnaw at parts of the European and UK economy. Therefore it is likely that the new and used car markets will not only change shape but perhaps some of the key drivers will also alter, although Glass’s will continue to provide impartial and valuable data to guide customers to a successful year end.

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New TyreSafe website includes bespoke fleet operator section

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TyreSafe has relaunched its website with a number of new features and enhanced functionality and responsiveness. includes tyre safety advice for all vehicles as well as specific information for targeted groups, including car fleet operators.

The relaunch of the website is one of a number of activities taking place to mark the organisation’s 10th year of campaigning to increase awareness of the dangers of defective and illegal tyres.

“ has become the essential resource on tyre safety for the UK’s motorists and road safety stakeholders,” said Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman. “However, the online world has moved on since we first launched the site and to meet today’s needs a complete redesign was needed and perfectly timed to coincide with TyreSafe’s 10th anniversary year.

“Drivers can now find the guidance they need on how to properly maintain their tyres more easily on mobile devices and in a format which better suits their needs. Equally, those seeking TyreSafe’s extensive library of resources will find everything they need to support their campaigns.”

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Phased reintroduction of HGV traffic to Forth Road Bridge

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Phased reintroduction of HGV crossings over the Forth Road Bridge will begin tonight (Thursday).

The bridge was closed from December 4, 2015, to all traffic after a structural fault was discovered. Due to re-open on January 4, works were completed ahead of time and the bridge re-opened to all traffic, apart from HGVs, from December 22.

Now, structural monitoring installed at the truss end links of the structure show the bridge can now allow a limited number of HGVs to cross – up to around 600 northbound between 11 pm and 4 am nightly, if weather allows.

Traffic signals will release HGVs on to the bridge at a rate of one every 30 seconds. The release rate has been calculated by engineers as the optimum rate to maximise the number of vehicles able to cross whilst minimising the impact on the structure.  

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said:  “This is a phased reintroduction of HGVs to the Forth Road Bridge which aims to provide access to the bridge at the earliest available opportunity. Allowing limited access to the bridge when traffic is lighter will hopefully provide some relief to local hauliers while repair work continues. 

“90 per cent of traffic returned to the Forth Road Bridge in December and while we recognise that around 600 HGVs crossing the bridge each night does not get us to 100 per cent, it is a step in the right direction – with full reopening expected in mid-March. We will of course continue to explore every option to see if we can increase access as the trial develops.

“The information from the monitoring equipment is providing a detailed picture of how the bridge is behaving to inform our decision making and modelling. We will not take any decision which could risk damaging the bridge or compromising safety, so we have taken the decision to push back the reopening of the bridge to HGVs to allow time for phase two of the repair work to be complete, with additional time added as contingency due to the effects of the weather. 

The RHA welcomed the news, but chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Since the closure of this vital crossing on 4 December 2015, the financial impact on the thousands of hauliers who are either based in, or making regular journeys to Scotland has been massive.

“The Scottish government must find the funds to compensate those operators who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves out of pocket for several months.”

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Motiva to launch salary sacrifice scheme as part of new growth drive

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Motiva Group is targeting increased expansion this year helped by the launch of its salary sacrifice scheme and a new ‘dashboard’ reporting facility.

The company reported growth of more than 28% in 2015 and has now revealed a raft of initiatives designed to maintain momentum including a move to expand its customer base that will create a string of new jobs.

Motiva will appoint two new business development managers before the end of Q1 along with several extra staff to boost the customer support team.

Work to build new headquarters at the company’s base in Stoke-on-Trent, due to begin in April, will provide the platform from which to launch the Motiva Dashboard.

The system will provide reporting functions across all areas of the business – creating a user-friendly facility that will enable clients to control every aspect of their account with the company from a single screen.

A salary sacrifice programme, due to be launched in Q2, will further extend the range of services offered to corporate customers, while the Motrak telematics package will be integrated with Motiva’s fleet management programme.

Motiva has also launched a dedicated used vehicle retail department – providing private customers with the chance to purchase the best of its end-of-contract vehicles.

Peter Wright, sales and marketing director at Motiva Group, said: “We’ve set very ambitious targets for all areas of the company but they’re entirely realistic. We think this can be the biggest year in our history so far and are confident we can deliver.

“Part of our strategy is to ramp up an existing initiative to bring in new business, but we also want to expand the scope of services we provide.

“We’re looking to strengthen relationships with existing clients and extend both the number and depth of fleet solutions we provide for their business.

“We have received more than 250 contract hire orders in January and that’s a great start to what could be an incredible 2016.”

Wright added: “Our long-term vision for continued expansion includes plans to open centres elsewhere in the UK and that’s likely to be fuelled by acquisitions and partnerships, both locally and further afield.”

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Global LeasePlan survey shows Brits more comfortable with driverless cars

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Brits would be comparatively more comfortable with using a driverless car than the global average.

The research was carried out by LeasePlan and found that those questioned in the UK were the fourth most comfortable with being a passenger in a driverless car (78%) after Denmark (83%), the Netherlands (83%) and Germany (81%).

The data, collected between 22 June and 27 July 2015, was gleaned from 3,859 respondents across Europe, Australia, the USA and India. Overall, 57% of those surveyed would try being a passenger in a driverless vehicle, despite feeling slightly nervous. A further 14%, predominantly male, would have absolutely no problem at all.

A total of 16% of UK respondents were completely fine with being a passenger and 62% said they would feel nervous but still try it.

Greece saw the lowest amount of respondents willing to try, with just 51% saying they would feel comfortable.

Lesley Slater, business development director, LeasePlan UK, commented: “It’s encouraging to see that in comparison to the global average, we (UK) are more likely to embrace this technology. With plans in place to test bed in Greenwich, London and other projects being given the green light in Coventry and Bristol this new technology, which was once seen as futuristic, is now looking a little nearer reality.”

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On the road: a beast of burden

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The winter nights mean the danger of accidents with wildlife are greater. But be thankful we’re not in Sweden or Africa, says Anthony Ffrench-Constant.

Not so much the elephant in the room as the Nellie on the bonnet, one of the less trumpeted pitfalls of increasingly stringent pedestrian impact legislation is that all car componentry forward of the front wheels is now made from materials sufficiently flimsy to make My Little Pony accessories seem Irn Bru-robust.

Now, whilst this may prove somewhat less of a headache to those prone to looking the wrong way when crossing the road, it doesn’t always seem such a kindness in the context of a wildlife encounter.

RSPCA research suggests that, of the two million or so deer bumbling around our countryside, some 75,000 are involved in vehicle collisions every year, of which 10,000 are killed instantly. These statistics simultaneously account for between 10 and 20 human fatalities per annum, and vehicle repair bills totalling a staggering £17m.

But what of the 65,000 wounded survivors? Given the gruesome dilemma confronting drivers on such occasions (in the absence of a bolt-gun from the boot’s repair kit, a distraught friend recently spent an hour hunting down a shotgun owner), I can’t help feeling the steel cliff that is the front of my old Land Rover would automatically take a slightly more humane approach to such encounters.

Still, with today’s flimsy radiator grille flinching at so much as a glimpse of a suicidal stoat, and even a stoutly struck pheasant leaving a modern car looking as if it’s been assaulted by a howitzer shell, it’s a good job that – the occasional errant dobbin or somnambulant Jersey aside – deer are the largest species we have to contend with on UK roads. Pity, then, the plight of the Swedes…

There are some 600,000 moose on the loose in Sweden and, in some districts, they account for up to a quarter of all road traffic accidents. A full grown bull moose weighs in at well over 1,000lbs, and is more than likely to have left his insurance documents at home.

Resembling a somewhat hastily constructed horse with the nose bag permanently sewn into position and joke antlers, a moose has excessively long legs with the structural integrity of a Twiglet. And when you assault one with a rapidly moving car, the legs offer no resistance to the front bumper whatsoever. The body, meanwhile, passes quickly through the involuntary bonnet mascot stage and immediately thereafter attempts, via the windscreen, to acquire passenger status.

Eric Carlsson, rally supremo of the early sixties and Saab’s self-confessed crash-test dummy (RIP x two), once had just such a spot of bother: “Late one evening in 1957, I was driving some friends home; doing about 70mph,” he told me. And I saw something in mid-air, coming from the bank beside the road. It turned out to be a big bull moose of about 1,700lbs, and that’s more or less the last I could see because it tipped over into the windscreen…”

“Both front tyres exploded, the valves shot out and the windscreen smashed. The moose split open and the, um, contents went straight through the car and ended up in the rear window. None of us were hurt,” Eric recalled, “but we had a whole car full of pooh… Trouble is; you can repair the damage, but you can’t clean the upholstery and you never, ever get rid of the smell.”

Never mind the simple moose swerve testing that proved the downfall of Mercedes’ A-Class, then; recognising the inevitability of impact, Saab’s crash-test engineers regularly wrapped 850lbs of assorted insulated steel cable around a 4×2 timber ‘spine’ with an old blanket, propped it up at moose body height, and charged it down with one of their latest models.

Their convertibles, too, passed this test. Though, after learning of Eric Carlsson’s experiences, I’d hate to be sitting in the back of one; particularly mid yawn.

However, even the Swedes should count themselves lucky, because the most lethal coming together of vehicle and wildlife of all still regularly takes place in East Africa, on the main road between Nairobi and Mombasa, which neatly bisects Tsavo National Park, unfenced home to some 11,000 elephants.

When I was a toddler, this major artery lacked tarmac. Entirely daubed in deep-red murram dust to perfectly match the unmade road surface, and bereft of running lights, the resident pachyderm population proved almost impossible to pick out in the dim glow of ancient headlights. Barrel headlong into a bull elephant and no one walks away.

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Removing white lines on UK roads is ‘counter-intuitive’ to advent of driverless cars, says RAC

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Plans to remove road markings from UK roads to slow down drivers have come under fire from road safety experts who have pointed out that white lines are essential for today’s ‘lane assist’ technology and tomorrow’s driverless cars.

According to The Times, pilot schemes could be carried out in north Norfolk, following trials in London, Wiltshire and Derby.

Meanwhile a trial on centre line removal by Transport for London found a substantial reduction in vehicle speeds after the white lines weren’t replaced following road resurfacing.

In response, RAC public affairs manager Nicholas Lyes said: “There may be some areas where there’s a benefit but a lot where the disadvantages outweigh any potential benefits. And their removal would also likely lead to an increased ‘fear factor’ of driving and accidents for the majority of motorists who take confidence from clear road markings.

“We are also seeing the incorporation of ‘lane assist’ technology in modern vehicles reliant on the white lines to trigger an alert warning the driver that they are straying out of lane. The same technology is also being used in prototype driverless cars so it seems counter-intuitive to remove white lines from major main roads and motorways.

“It could be seen as a cynical attempt at road safety on the cheap and there will be some that are keen to suggest it is a cost saving, albeit a small one in the overall cost of road maintenance.

“It feels instinctive that white line road markings an essential feature keeping our roads safe and lanes clearly defined in both daylight and the hours of darkness. And we must not forget the development of cat’s eyes in the 1930s has been universally heralded as one of the greatest road safety improvements of all time used all over the world. The reflective glass spheres are a familiar and valuable sight for drivers reassuring them that they are travelling safely in their own lane in the hours of darkness.”

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Henry Williams appointed as new Skoda fleet chief

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Skoda has named Henry Williams as its new head of fleet, following Patrick McGillycuddy’s appointment as VW’s head of group fleet services.

Williams was previously Skoda’s head of planning and supply and brings with him a wealth of fleet expertise, having previously served as the brand’s national fleet sales manager between 2013 and 2015.

He commented: “It’s an exciting time to be heading up the Skoda fleet operation. Our model line-up is stronger than ever before, with recent additions such as the all-new Superb giving company car drivers and fleet managers a brilliant blend of practicality, affordability and style. I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Duncan Movassaghi, brand director for Skoda UK, added: “Henry has been a crucial part of Skoda’s success in the UK over the past three years. His experience in the fleet market – combined with his passion, enthusiasm and drive – will ensure our sales continue to go from strength to strength.”

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Volvo to drive fleet sales with help of new models and services

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Volvo has announced plans to further increase its business and fleet sales, backed up by new products and services.

The brand is looking to reach a UK sales target of 60,000 units by 2020 as part of its global ambition of selling 800,000 cars annually by 2020 and doubling its European market share. And it says fleet and business sales are set to play a big part in reaching that number.

Volvo’s UK business and fleet sales grew from 22,065 in 2013 to 28,563 in 2015 and the brand is looking to drive this further following the launch of the new S90 in December, further growth in XC90 sales, the introduction of T8 Twin Engines and healthy residual values.

“The Volvo brand is in a good place in the UK. The strength of our product range with its low emissions and tax efficiency is winning friends with fleets, SMEs and user-choosers alike,” explained Selwyn Cooper, head of business sales, Volvo Car UK.  

“Volvo’s business offering provides fleets with the bespoke service they require. We are continually trying to improve this area of business and have introduced a Fleet Hub to our main Volvo Car UK website, developed from our award-winning Co-Pilot programme, and by communicating with our existing fleet customers through our dedicated fleet magazine, VQ,” added Cooper.  

“We are also making more of our Swedish heritage which differentiates us from our premium rivals which customers like. This approach is supported by cutting edge technology and class leading safety features that are synonymous with the Volvo brand,” he added. 

The S90 has already made a big impact with its recent official reveal at the Detroit Motor Show with more product to come later in 2016 including the XC90 T8 Twin Engine. 

“Both these engines form the basis of our dynamic new global electrification strategy where plug-in hybrids will be introduced across our entire. These will be key new models for the corporate sector and will help us achieve our growth targets,” said Cooper. 

Volvo’s push into the fleet market is being backed by additional resources for its dealer development programmes and its Business Centre network, with a team of regional business sales managers in place, supported by the VCUK Business Centre in Harrogate.

It added that recent initiatives like the Volvo Retail Experience (VRE) are also benefiting the brand’s relationship with business drivers when they take their car in for service.

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Cheap fuel market may have bottomed out, says RAC

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The recent fall in fuel prices could be over soon as oil prices show signs of recovery.

That’s the warning from the RAC following rises in the wholesale cost of both petrol and diesel.

Although motorists are currently benefiting from fuel prices below £1 a litre after oil reached a 12-year low of $26 on Wednesday 20 January, the barrel price has rebounded, finishing the month at $33.12, only $3 below where it started at $36.54.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Motorists have seen petrol and diesel prices reach their lowest points since 2009. January saw the oil price go into free fall with talk of a barrel dropping to $20 and possibly even to $10, but since the low of $26 a barrel the market has started to creep back up. If this continues for a sustained period, wholesale costs will rise further which will in turn lead to pump price increases.

“However, the oil market is notoriously volatile, even in more stable economic times, so it’s still possible that the price could drop back again. And, even if there is a rise in the oil price, it seems unlikely that it will be drastic as OPEC seems set to continue producing more oil than is demanded to retain its market share. While there has been talk of a production cut, the market has yet to see evidence of this.

“The other factor which is not helping the situation from a motorist’s perspective is the fact that the pound has weakened significantly against the dollar from $1.47 at the beginning of January to $1.42 by the end. This has undermined some of the benefit of the falling oil price and, with oil traded in dollars, this could prove to be even more harmful if the pound continues to lose value against the dollar while the oil price goes up.”

Latest HMRC data for December 2015 shows combined sales of petrol and diesel were 1.8% down on November at 3.938bn litres but 0.4% up on December 2014.

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Mitchells & Butlers signs outsourcing deal with Fleet Operations

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Mitchells & Butlers, one of the leading UK restaurant, pub and bar operators, has outsourced the management of its 550-strong car fleet to Fleet Operations.

The deal sees Fleet Operations take over full day-to-day responsibility for Mitchells & Butlers’ company car operations, managing a multi-bid panel of leasing providers to ensure contract hire rates remain consistently competitive.

“The company car continues to play a key role in the recruitment and retention of high quality staff,” said Ross Jackson, Fleet Operations’ chief executive. “By focusing on cost control and best practice fleet management we will help ensure the business retains an important competitive advantage.”

Fleet Operations has also negotiated, and will oversee the performance of, a separate ‘pay as you go’ maintenance contract to provide a fully disclosed cost and net price on every item of spend.

“We went out to a wide range of potential suppliers and selected Fleet Operations because of their transparent and ethical business model, which removes a lot of the traditional ‘smoke and mirrors’ associated with the provision of fleet services,” said Darrell Wilson, director of procurement & supply chain at Mitchells & Butlers.

“Their solution provides us with a full understanding of all costs, without ‘hidden’ margins in the supply chain, which was particularly important to us given the total value of our fleet spend. With the corporate fleet sector set to face a number of challenges and opportunities during the life of this contract, we will also benefit from Fleet Operations’ proven ability to provide professional and genuinely impartial fleet consultancy.”

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Michelin launches Pilot Sport 4 tyres for high-end company vehicles

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Michelin has launched a new range of tyres targeted at high-end company vehicles.

The Pilot Sport 4 tyres are inspired by the company’s motorsport pedigree and are aimed at executive fleet drivers.

Andy Fern, Michelin’s head of fleet, said: “Pilot Sport 4 tyres are ideally suited to the larger, more powerful diesel and hybrid passenger vehicles increasingly operated by fleets around the country. With high levels of engine torque, larger rim diameters – often over 17 inches – advanced automatic gearboxes and complex electronics, these modern fleet cars need tyres that balance handling and performance, while still delivering exceptional fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

“That’s where Pilot Sport 4 tyres come in: the tyres leverage Michelin’s racing pedigree and experience to deliver total performance and precise control on the road, as well as a driving sensation that’s second to none.”

Featuring a highly responsive rubber compound combined with deep, wide circumferential directional grooves, the tyres are said to provide exceptional grip, braking and water dispersal, even in the wettest of driving conditions.

“Fleet drivers spend a significant proportion of their working life at the wheel, and fitting the right tyre is an important element in ensuring driver satisfaction. Of course, fitting Pilot Sport 4 tyres also offers fleets the durability, longevity, safety and reliability inherent to every Michelin tyre, as well as a low total cost of ownership,” Fern added.

Pilot Sport 4 tyres are available in sizes ranging from 17 to 18 inches, plus one additional 19-inch size – 255/35 R 19. The company expects to release further sizes in 2016 and into 2017, including additional 19-inch fitments. Approvals from major vehicle manufacturers are expected to follow throughout 2016.

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Manheim sees 80% conversion rate on commercial vehicles

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Manheim is reporting many commercial vehicle sales recording conversion rates in excess of 80% in the first month of 2016.

Manheim had a record year in 2015, both in terms of units sold and the proportion – one in three – of vehicles sold online, which was 8% higher than 2014. The commercial vehicle buyer base seen in lane and online at was also up on the prior year, by 15%, and many of these new buyers contributed to Manheim’s online sales success.

Matthew Davock, Manheim’s head of LCV, said: “The package that we offer buyers, from upgraded imagery to a great customer experience, has not only seen our buyer base grow significantly year-on-year, but has seen buyers stay with Manheim. Our buyers are incredibly loyal and are helping us to achieve fantastic sales performance for our vendors.

“Manheim has the right stock, in the right sales, at the right price, and buyers are recognising it. Our expert team of commercial vehicle specialists and auctioneers are ensuring that challenges presented by the market are being turned into opportunities to deliver strong results.”

On January 11, Manheim held its inaugural sale at its new Shepshed Commercials auction centre, which benefited from a seven-figure investment prior to re-opening. The Shepshed launch sale produced an 82% conversion rate with 269 buyers in attendance. More than 150 vans were sold, with a combined sale value of almost £1m.

Across Manheim’s nationwide network of commercial vehicle auction centres, conversion rates have thus far exceeded the prior year by up to 20%, with some sales selling 90+% of their total entries.

Following a very successful year in 2015, Manheim’s Gloucester Commercials site now has two sales per week. The new sale will take place on Tuesday afternoons at 2pm. Manheim Gloucester’s two weekly sales will each feature more than 250 vans.

Davock added: “The market place has been extremely strong from the start of the year, with Manheim auction halls being packed with buyers and online flashing away. There have been very healthy attendances at all our seven CV auction centres, with buyers out in force to purchase after a December that was relatively starved of stock.

“Throughout this year, the diversity of the buyer base and its activity will be critical. Manheim’s loyal and growing buyer base means that the UK’s number one commercial vehicle auction company is well-placed to deal with any challenges that the market may present.”

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MOT exemptions questioned after crane death

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MOT exemptions have been called into question after a crane hire company was fined £700,000 following the death of a driver.

In what was the first corporate manslaughter conviction involving a commercial driver, Baldwins Crane Hire was sentenced at Preston Crown Court in December, 2015.

In addition to being fined, the court also ordered the business to pay £200,000 in costs.

Lindsay Easton, 49, from West Yorkshire, was driving a 130-tonne mobile crane on a road from Scout Moor quarry in Edenfield, near Ramsbottom, when the brake system failed.

The vehicle, travelling on a steep access road, lost control and crashed into an earth bank. The front of the vehicle was crushed, with Easton dying from multiple injuries.

Following the incident on August 15, 2011, an investigation was launched by Lancashire Police, working alongside the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

It found that several of the wheel brakes were inoperable, worn or contaminated. The engine retarding (braking) systems were also found to be non-functional, disabled or damaged providing only limited braking force.

Mobile cranes are exempt from MOT testing, operator licensing, driver’s hours and tachograph regulations and a whole raft of other legislation, said Edward Handley, a former Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) consultant and owner of Work Related Road Safety Solutions (WRRS).

He told Commercial Fleet: “It is worrying that a large and previously reputable company allowed a crane on the road in such a dangerous condition.

“It makes one wonder whether other MOT exempt machines are used in a similar state.

“The Government seem very keen to lengthen the period between MOT tests, and to allow even more exemptions in the pursuit of de-regulation, but cases like this suggest that it would not be in the interests of road safety to do so.

“I am increasingly of the view that if a vehicle is used on the road, there is a very strong argument for it being examined independently every year.”

As part of the joint police and HSE investigation, brakes were also inspected across the Baldwins fleet, with several other cranes found to have significant issues which required immediate work.

Significant failings were also found within the company structure including a lack of supervision and recording taking place of organised maintenance work by senior management.

The trial also heard the crane was not Easton’s usual vehicle, having replaced another operator when he took over the site operation.

Det Sgt John McNamara, of Lancashire Police, said: “The brakes on the crane driven by Mr Easton that day were in  a shockingly bad state and this was a disaster waiting  to happen.

“The safety of employees is of utmost importance in the workplace and Baldwins Crane Hire clearly neglected its responsibilities and sadly Mr Easton paid the price.

“Mr Easton’s death was wholly avoidable.

“Tragically the gross failings of the company management have led to the death of an experienced crane driver who was simply doing his job, causing enduring heartache for  his family.

“I hope the sentence brings some closure for his family during what has been a traumatic and difficult time.”

Baldwins Crane Hire was also ordered by the court to publicise the incident on its website for six months and  put a notice in trade magazine Construction News within three months.

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Lagan Operations & Maintenance adds six Mercedes-Benz Sprinters to fleet

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Traffic management specialist Lagan Operations & Maintenance has added six Mercedes-Benz Sprinters to its traffic solutions division.

The Sprinter 313 CDI Long chassis cabs are based at the company’s depot in East Kilbride, from where they are now working on road maintenance projects across Scotland.

They were supplied by the fleet department at the Glasgow branch of Central Belt Dealer Western Commercial.

They have dropside bodies by Dean Plant Hire, of Bathgate, to Lagan Operations & Maintenance’s own design – the specification includes steps to access the rear of the platform, and systems to protect staff who are working at height.

Each vehicle also has cameras to both sides, and the rear, with full colour screens on the dashboards.

George Miller, area manager for Lagan Operations & Maintenance, said: “Although this operation only began around 18 months ago, my own experience of traffic management work goes back over 15 years.

“These vehicles are out in all weathers with the lights and beacons on, often for 12 hours at a time, so safety and comfort for our hard-working operatives are key considerations.”

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SUVs take over as best-selling cars in Europe

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SUVs are now the best-selling models in Europe, new data has found.

The research by JATO Dynamics shows that SUVs outsold the traditional subcompact and compact segments, posting an increase of 24% at 3.2 million units.

SUV registrations grew in all of the 29 countries analysed, with the UK posting the highest volume increase from 501,200 units in 2014 to 630,400 in 2015. Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Croatia and Greece all posted more than 40% growth.

Overall SUV market share grew from 19.8% in 2014 to 22.5% in 2015, leaving the subcompacts in second position with 22.0% share, and the compacts segment third with 20.6%. These vehicles along with the mid-size sedans/SW and sports cars were the only segments to gain market share in 2015.

JATO added that SUV growth was partly driven by small SUVs, which contributed almost 38% of total SUV segment registrations in 2015. Their volume increased by 38% over 2014, exceeding, for the first time, the one million-unit mark at 1.2 million.

However, despite their strong growth, they were still behind the compact SUVs, which accounted for 40% of the total at 1.28 million units. Small SUVs growth rate was also outperformed by the 42% increase posted by the mid-size SUVs, which totalled 470,400 units. The large SUVs came last with 243,000 units, up by 27% on 2014’s results.

JATO’s research also showed the segments that declined in 2015, with large sedans/station wagons down 1%, MPVs down 2% and luxury sedans down 6%.

2015 performance by segment:


Ch. vol 2014-15



Sporty cars


Mid-size sedan/SW


City cars






Large sedan/SW




Luxury sedans




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