Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…

Audi Rs6

Prince Harry’s Audi RS6 up for sale

Ordinarily, a low mileage 2017 Audi RS6 Avant wouldn’t create much of a stir, but one advertised recently on Auto Trader did, because it was previously owned by the Duke of Sussex, better known as Prince Harry.

While it might not be in the class of the electric Jaguar E-Type Zero chosen for his wedding to Meghan Markle, the 4-litre Audi still packs a punch, with a twin-turbo V8 generating 552bhp, and the Dynamics Package taking the top speed to a mighty 174mph.

Despite lacking the prestigious Quattro badge (a sign that the Prince was intent on being as inconspicuous as possible?), £71,900 seems a fair price for a model with just 4,464 miles on the clock and some £11,000 of optional extras.


Used car buyers expect second-to-none dealer service

Used buyers now demand the same level of service they’d get if they were buying a brand new car, according to automotive video specialist, CitNOW.

However, its research also found that around a quarter of consumers had had a negative experience when buying used.

With three-year PCP finance deals pushing newer, more desirable models into the used marketplace, Alistair Horsburgh, CEO of CitNOW, says: “In a fiercely competitive used market, retailers must consider these types of customer touchpoints, or risk falling behind.

“Our research shows that the service and product expectations of the modern used car buyer are growing increasingly similar to those buying brand new. The customer experience must be second-to-none.”

New survey shows drivers in the North East take most pride in their cars

Drivers in the North East are more likely to change their car regularly, and care most about how their car looks, according to new research by Opinium.

The survey of 2,000 UK motorists, commissioned by InsuretheGap.com, found that 41% of car owners in the North East bought a new car every two to four years, compared to a national average of just 28%.

24% of respondents in the North East said they’d rather buy new than second-hand, even if it cost a lot more, compared to a national average of 19%.

Further still, only 14% of North East drivers said they’d make do with a hand-me-down car, compared to a national average of 21%.

Ben Wooltorton, chief operating officer at InsuretheGap, commented: “Throughout our survey, the North East consistently came out as the region where people take most pride in their cars.

“Interestingly, it was also the region least likely to be prepared to move away from traditional petrol and diesel cars. The region appears to be every car salesperson’s dream.”

Learn from the trade: use rightsizing to find the best van

To identify the LCV which best fits their needs, used van buyers can follow an approach being adopted by ever more commercial operators: rightsizing.

Research by vehicle leasing firm Arval shows that 17% of fleets changed the size of vans they operated last year.

8% of companies surveyed said they had chosen bigger vans, while 9% had acquired smaller vehicles.

“Rightsizing works both ways – it is inefficient to use a smaller vehicle for a job that really needs a bigger van, and vice versa,” said Shaun Sadlier, head of Arval’s corporate vehicle observatory in the UK.

“This is because of factors such as optimising the payload and maximising fuel consumption.”

Interestingly, the trend was different for big and small fleets. Companies with fewer than 10 vehicles lead the switch to larger vans, while fleets with more than 50 vehicles tended to go smaller.

Be wary buying cars for cash… even if you can’t remember your signature!

Over half of UK adults rarely use a written signature, according to new research by Online Spy Shop, which can be problematic when it comes to buying big ticket items like cars.

The cyber security consultancy found that 15% of under 24s can’t even remember the last time they signed their name, due to the rise of first chip and pin, and now contactless bank cards.

In contrast, most over-55s say they still have a consistent signature, but even among this demographic 7% can’t remember the last time they used it.

Former head of the Financial Ombudsman Service, Natalie Ceeney, commented: “Many people pay for most things digitally but, at the same time, there are between two and three million people across the UK who are entirely reliant on cash.”

Mycarcheck has long advised against making cash payments for vehicles, especially in the private marketplace.

Too many unsuspecting consumers have handed over envelopes of hard-earned £20 notes in a pub or supermarket car park, only to find out later that they’ve been scammed.

Volvo V40 wins Safest Used Car Award for 2018

Volvo’s V40 hatchback has won top prize at the Co-op Insurance Safest Used Car Awards, for the third year in a row.

Run in partnership with automotive research centre, Thatcham, the event celebrates family cars with the highest safety ratings.

Having won first place in both 2016 and 2017, the V40 with the Driver Support Pack made it a hat-trick for the Swedish manufacturer.

2018’s winner was selected from a wide range of models which had all achieved a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, had CO2 emissions of no more than 120g/km, and are available used for less than £15,000.

Cars that met these minimum criteria were then further evaluated for crash worthiness, including ratings for adult, child and pedestrian protection.

Not only does the V40 come with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard, it was also the first car to be fitted with a pedestrian airbag.

The Driver Support Pack adds extra aids, including pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane assist and blind spot assist.

“We wanted to enable families to make informed decisions when it comes to buying a used car,” said Nick Ansley, head of motor at Co-op Insurance.

Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…

car finance


4.7m UK drivers still paying off finance on their car

More than 4.7 million UK drivers are currently paying off finance on their car, at an average £226.12 per month, according to a new study by repair group Kwik-Fit.

By region, London drivers pay the most, an average £269.01 per month, which is 43% more than motorists in Scotland, who have the lowest average car finance payment of £188.36 per month.

Interestingly, motorists who bought their current car outright paid an average £10,511, while those using finance spent nearly half as much again, an average £15,438.

In a recent survey of 100 callers to our mycarcheck call centre, 65% said that outstanding finance was “always a deal breaker”, which is why it is one of our most popular checks.

Luscombe Motors wins Customer Choice and Retailer of the Year awards

Leeds-based Mitsubishi dealership, Luscombe Motors, has scooped a coveted double, winning both the Customer Choice and Retailer of the Year prizes at the 2018 Auto Trader Retailer Awards.

Now in its 11th year, the event celebrates the very best in automotive retailing, including digital excellence and a commitment to exceptional customer service.

The winners were determined by a prestigious panel of judges, including executives from Google, Compare the Market, uSwitch and The Specialist Works, as well as the opinions of thousands of car buyers and in-depth analysis of millions of data points.

In the Customer Choice category, Luscombe was praised for its ability to build trust and confidence, turning four-star reviews into fives.

In the Retailer of the Year category, it excelled in both reviews and mystery shopping exercises.

Managing director of Luscombe Motors, Robin Luscombe, said: “Winning the Customer Choice Award was a brilliant reward, but then winning the Retailer of the Year was simply amazing. To be the best out of 13,000 was very emotional.

“These two awards are the absolute highlight of my eight years in business, and are recognition for all the staff here at Luscombe Motors, as it is a real team effort.”

New car, van and motorbike sales fell in July

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has released its UK new vehicle sales data for July 2018, showing sizeable drops compared to June across cars, light commercial vehicles (LCVs) and motorcycles.

New car registrations dropped from 234,945 in June to 163, 898 in July. LCV registrations were down 5.9% on June, with 23,309 vans (up to 3.5 tonnes) registered in July, while the motorcycle market dipped only 2.5%.

Noting that, for the year-to-date, new car sales figures are broadly in line with expectations, SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “The feel-good factor from a sun and sport-packed July, combined with some fantastic deals on a raft of exciting new models, clearly helped keep showrooms relatively busy last month.”

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said the results reflected uncertainty in the economy and concerns over slow progress in Brexit negotiations.

Car rental firms look to used market due to new stock shortages

The Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) reports that daily rental companies are buying nearly-new cars due to a shortage of brand new stock, typically small and medium sized models less than six months old.

VRA chair, Glenn Sturley, said: “We have seen a number of manufacturers pull back quite significantly from the rental sector, especially those who have supplied superminis in larger volumes.

“Also, those who continue to push larger numbers of cars into the sector are often suffering from supply issues.

“This means that some rental companies are having to look beyond traditional sources and have been entering the nearly-new sector.

“This is something that happens periodically, but it does seem to be at quite a high level at the moment.

“This appears to be helping to maintain values, especially when it comes to superminis and city cars.”

The VRA has also warned of an unpredictable used car market towards the end of 2018 as the sector feels the effects of the switch to WLTP fuel economy and RDE emissions test legislation.

It predicts that fewer company cars will be defleeted at three or four years old until there is greater certainty about which tax bands they’ll be in.

Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…


Building site sandstorm wrecks hundreds of brand new BMWs

Around 450 brand new BMWs heading for the UK have had to be scrapped after being caught in a freak sandstorm at a port in Germany.

They were parked next to a building site awaiting export when severe weather blew construction materials all over them.

A BMW spokesman confirmed: “A number of BMW vehicle orders were affected due to a major storm in Cuxhaven, one of the key ports through which many UK-bound vehicles travel.

“Roughly 4,000 cars needed to be checked. Of those, there are about 450 where we deemed it necessary to either build a new car for the customer or offer them an alternative vehicle.

“As a precaution, we thoroughly checked and cleaned every vehicle, many of which were completely unaffected.”

Several £120,000 i8 hybrid sports cars were reportedly among those hit, with the total value of the scrapped cars estimated to be £11million.

Auctions report that car and van prices fell slightly in June

The National Association of Motor Auctions (NAMA) has published its data for June 2018, showing that the average selling price dipped £292 on the previous month, to £5,365.

James Tomlinson, chair of NAMA, said: “Conversion rates have been extremely strong this year – month-on-month 2018 has consistently outperformed the last two years in this key selling metric.
“This cements the strength of the UK auction market, despite the challenges posed by recent sporting events and the hot summer.”
As to the light commercial vehicle (LCV) market, auction group BCA saw a 0.5% reduction on May to £7,463.

This figure is still the fourth highest on record at BCA though, up 15.5% on last year, equivalent to over £1,000, with both average van mileage and age slightly lower too.

Stuart Pearson, BCA’s chief operation officer for UK remarketing, said: “We continued to see very healthy levels of demand from professional LCV buyers in June.

“This was despite the excellent weather, the start of the FIFA World Cup and the fast approaching summer holiday period, distractions that have typically heralded a significant softening of demand.”

Getting rid of the MOT would be a backward and dangerous step

A report by The Adam Smith Institute recommending the abolishment of the annual MOT roadworthiness test has been strongly criticised by motoring groups.

The free market think tank suggested it was “outdated and unnecessary”, with the report’s author, Alex Hoagland, saying: “When these safety inspections were done away with in some US states, accident rates did not change.

“There’s no evidence that vehicle safety inspections improve vehicle safety.”

However, consumer motoring groups and trade bodies moved quickly to pan the idea.

AA president Edmund King said: “The MOT is appreciated by the vast majority of drivers and means that at least once a year, for cars over three years of age, there is an independent check on safety and vehicle emissions.

“It would be a backward and dangerous step to scrap it.”

Stuart James, director of the Independent Garage Association, said: “The fact that the UK has one of the best road safety records in the developed world is testament to the quality of the MOT.”

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, noted: “Without an MOT, customers would likely incur additional expenses due to the damage caused by unresolved basic wear and tear issues.

“Abolishing the MOT could have potentially devastating road safety implications.”

Taking the car on holiday? Here’s some top tips on perfect packing

With 8.5m UK drivers taking their cars on holiday this summer (according to Kwik Fit), SEAT has joined forces with tidiness expert Marie Kondo to offer advice on packing.

The typical carful apparently consists of three suitcases, two lilos, a pushchair, an umbrella and toys.

The top five tips are:

1. Less is more
2. Sort by categories
3. Clothing, rolled up and placed vertically
4. Make the most of the interior of the car
5. In the boot, last in – first out

London-based KonMari consultant, Aline Lau, said: “Only pack the things that are really going to be useful.

“Sort groups of items into categories such as clothing, accessories, children’s toys or first-aid.

“Roll up each article of clothing and place them vertically, as they take up less space and you can easily see everything.”

SEAT passive safety engineer, Javier Delgado, says the heaviest suitcases should always go at the bottom.

“If we don’t place things securely, a slam on the brakes or a sudden manoeuvre could cause them to shift or fly forward,” he said.

“When driving at 100 km/h, if we brake suddenly, a package weighing 30kg turns into a 90kg projectile.”

Motorist uses on-car signage to highlight grievance against dealership

A disgruntled Birmingham motorist has gone to unusual lengths to highlight their frustration with a local dealership, by plastering slogans on their car and parking it outside the business for all to see.

The black 2016 Range Rover Vogue featuring sentences including “Range Rover do not care” and “Do not use this dealership” was left on the central reservation by Lancaster Land Rover on Tyburn Road in Erdington.

The driver, who asked to remain anonymous, explained: “I was on hold on the phone for five and a half hours when I first complained a week and a half ago.

“Nothing was being done so I went to a specialist graphic designer to mark the car with the words I wanted. Then I decided to park it outside the dealership. All I want is for them to fix the car.”

The action certainly got some attention, with many pictures being shared on social media.

The dealership said it was seeking to agree a way forward, but would not discuss individual customer cases.

Thieves grab cars, keys and logbooks in midnight raid on Motorcity

Independent used car dealership Motorcity, in Walsall, suffered a break-in on 16 July, with thieves making off with seven vehicles and the keys and logbooks for 50 others.

Motorcity director, Martin Brady, told the local Express and Star newspaper that the business was still open as usual.

“We were extremely fortunate for the good work of police in getting the keys back – we could have been left bankrupt without them,” he said.

The police are looking for a blue Ford Transit, registration BL15 TYS, a blue Mini Cooper, plate FV13 2ZG, and a black Astra GTC, reg FV62 DHY.

Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…

Ev car charging

Affordable, stylish EVs, with a decent range, will sell themselves, says AA president

A poll of over 10,000 UK drivers by AA Populus has shown that 35% expect to own an electric vehicle (EV) within the next ten years.

Addressing the LowCVP conference on 12 July, AA president Edmund King said: “Ultimately, outstanding, affordable, stylish EVs, with a decent range, will sell themselves. Massive savings can already be made on running and service costs, as well as the tax benefits.

“In order to meet the Government’s Road to Zero targets, a concerted effort is required to demonstrate the benefits of EVs, and dispel some of the myths. The range, charging speed and charging point infrastructure are all on the increase.

“There are now some exciting EVs on the market, and many new and exhilarating models on the horizon. The younger generation in particular are ready to embrace the electric revolution.”

Government minister, Jesse Norman, added: “Our mission is for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero-emission by 2040. That’s why we are ensuring that the UK is the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle.”

More than 28,000 new pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were registered to UK drivers in the first half of 2018.

Motor group Lookers awarded Mumsnet Rated Retailer badge

Dealership group Lookers has received the coveted Rated Retailer badge from parenting website Mumsnet, to add to its Family Friendly Employer badge.

The latest stamp of approval was awarded in recognition of recent initiatives aimed at attracting more families, including play areas for children, a selection of refreshments and modern changing facilities.

The multi-franchised retailer scored an impressive 71% overall satisfaction rating, with 83% saying they would visit one of its sites again. 70% praised the range of new and used cars offered.

Andrew Stephenson, group people director at Lookers, said: “We are absolutely delighted and immensely proud to be the only motor retailer to be awarded both Mumsnet badges.

“So many of our vehicles are targeted towards families, it makes absolute sense that our dealerships should reflect this.”

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet co-founder and CEO, said: “Lookers have pulled off this rare double accolade by embracing families, both as a retail business and as an employer.

“We’re very happy to award them Mumsnet Rated for their customer service and Family Friendly for their employment practices.”

Volvo’s XC40 small SUV gets five-star safety rating

The new Volvo XC40 small sports utility vehicle (SUV) – already named 2018 European Car of the Year – has received five stars and top ratings in the important Euro NCAP safety tests.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham, which carried out the assessment, said: “This is yet another benchmark car from Volvo. The XC40 is built on Volvo’s new small vehicle platform, but there are no signs of compromise on safety, despite the challenges this segment presents to delivering optimal crash protection.

“Not only has the Volvo XC40 registered one of the highest adult occupant protection scores of the past three years, but it has done so in Euro NCAP’s toughest tests to date and all in a small package.”

Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, added: “The new XC40 is one of the safest cars on the market. It comes as standard with the largest offering of safety technology of any small SUV, helping drivers detect and avoid collisions, remain safely in their lane, and reduce the impact of accidentally running off the road.”

Which? warns that many family cars are too long for UK parking spaces

New research by consumer magazine Which? has revealed that 129 cars currently on sale exceed the size of a standard UK parking space.

A standard bay is 16ft x 8ft (4.8m x 2.4m), but many popular family cars are now considerably longer.

Which? highlighted three models which are problematic in this regard:

  1. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid is 44.6cm too long, so you’ll be overhanging by around half a metre.
  2.  The Jaguar XJ is 32.2cm too long, so you’ll be overhanging by more than a foot.
  3.  The Land Rover Range Rover is 19.9cm too long, so you’ll be overhanging by around a brick’s length.

Other modern cars are so wide that squeezing in and out can be tricky. For example, the Land Rover Discovery Sport can leave little more than a biro’s length.

The British Parking Association (BPA) noted that multi-storey car parks provide particular challenges, as they’re not easily adaptable and re-building is too costly.

Fortunately, a mycarcheck report includes the vehicle dimensions, so you can confirm whether your dream car will fit comfortably into your garage.

Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…

hyundai Ford Fiesta still the UK’s most popular used car

Ford’s Fiesta remains the UK’s most popular used car, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Focus, according to research by AA Cars.

Fiesta accounted for 4.27% of all sales in Q1 2018, with Corsa on 3.56% and Focus on 3.39%. The top 10 were:

  1.  Ford Fiesta
  2. Vauxhall Corsa
  3.  Ford Focus
  4. Vauxhall Astra
  5.  Nissan Qashqai
  6. Mercedes C Class
  7. Nissan Juke
  8. Fiat 500
  9. Vauxhall Mokka
  10. Mercedes A Class

The biggest mover was the Honda HR-V, which has seen a 748% increase in sales since the second generation model was introduced in 2015. Vauxhall’s Viva and Hyundai’s Tucson also saw notable leaps.

Another key finding was that black is back in vogue, overtaking white as the favourite car colour, with silver in third.

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, said: “The rise of car finance products ensures that customers are more regularly upgrading to new cars, meaning the flow of nearly new vehicles into second-hand dealerships has boosted the value and quality of stock on sale.

“This comprehensive temperature test of the second-hand car market shows that old favourites from Ford, Vauxhall and Nissan continue to dominate market share.”

Clark’s Aston Martin sells for £10m at Festival of Speed auction

A vintage Aston Martin driven by legendary British F1 champion Jim Clark has been sold for more than £10m at an auction at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Scotsman Clark won the F1 World Championship in 1963 and 1965, but also competed in sports cars, touring cars and the Indianapolis 500, which he won in 1965. He was killed in a racing accident at Hockenheim in 1968.

According to auctioneer Bonhams, Clark drove the 1961 Aston Martin MP209 DB4GT Zagato, registration 2 VEV, in the RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, and in the Paris 1,000 Kilometres.

The final sale price was £10,081,500, nearly double the previous record of £5.4m for a 1929 Bentley Blower, which had been driven by “Bentley Boy” Sir Henry Ralph Stanley “Tim” Birkin.

Another notable sale at this year’s Festival of Speed was a 1957 BMW 507 Roadster, which fetched £3,809,500. It was previously owned by another British racing icon, John Surtees, who won the 1964 F1 championship and four motorcycle world titles.

James Knight, Bonhams’ motoring chairman, said: “The world records we set today are indicative of the continued market desire for historically significant motor cars with impeccable provenance.”

Hyundai wins on reliability as high tech issues blight premium cars

Hyundai gained top marks for reliability in JD Power’s 2018 UK Vehicle Dependability Study for one-to-three-year-old cars, followed by Suzuki and Kia.

Fourth-placed Škoda also shone, with two models, Octavia and Yeti, receiving segment awards.

Incredibly, volume brands took the top 13 positions, as issues with new technology, particularly Bluetooth pairing and voice recognition, hampered the premium manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz emerged as the highest-ranking premium brand, in 14th. Its traditional rivals, BMW and Audi, languished near the bottom of the list, along with Fiat.

“Automotive systems are more complex than they’ve ever been and premium brands especially are incorporating autonomous driving building blocks—adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic braking—into their models,” said Josh Halliburton, head of European Operations at JD Power.

“It’s imperative for manufacturers to address this issue in order to improve the level of consumer trust in the technology.”

The study was based on responses from 13,536 owners of new vehicles registered from February 2015 to February 2017.

Ford Transits dominate list of most in-demand vans

UK light commercial vehicle (LCVs) registrations for the first half of 2018 were down 2.3% on the same period last year, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).

However, the SMMT also pointed out that demand is still at an historically high level, with registrations up 35.7% on the same period five years ago.

Three of the top five most in-demand vans so far in 2018 were Ford Transits:

1. Ford Transit Custom (27,734 registrations)
2. Ford Transit (16,710 registrations)
3. Volkswagen Transporter (11,822 registrations)
4. Ford Transit Connect (9,666 registrations)
5. Peugeot Partner (9,208 registrations)

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “UK van registrations have fluctuated throughout the first half of this year, reflecting variable buying cycles which are a natural feature of the market.

“Despite this, the overall trend is downwards, with Brexit uncertainty and its negative effect on business confidence threatening long-term growth.”

Used car prices dip sharply for consumers but not for dealers

The average selling price for used cars dipped 10% on the consumer-facing Motors.co.uk website in June 2018, Cox Automotive has revealed – down from £13,373 in May to £11,970.

At the same time, dealers faced a real squeeze on their margins, with prices increasing 3% at Manheim auction houses and 11% on the Dealer Trade online platform.

The average value of a used car offered for sale at Manheim rose from £6,649 in May to £6,816 in June.

Philip Nothard, Cox’s head of external relations, said: “The new market is underperforming, and we expect this struggle to continue into the foreseeable future. However, in stark contrast, the used market has been consistently healthy.

“The industry is facing many known unknowns – the impact of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) is still uncertain, there is a risk of increased pre-registration activity and there will be the usual availability struggles as September approaches.

“Despite this, we expect demand to pick up in July and we’ve seen many dealers stocking up in expectation of a rush.”

Petrol Retailers Association says forecourts need “incentive to invest” in EV charge points

While welcoming many of the initiatives in the Department for Transport’s new Road to Zero strategy to reduce vehicle emissions, the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) has raised concerns about measures in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill.

In a telling move for the future of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles, the PRA accepted that up to 70% of new cars, and up to 40% of new vans, should be ultra-low emission by 2030.

However, it criticised the idea of mandating that electric vehicle (EV) charge points should be made available at motorway service areas (MSAs).

“It is wrong for the Secretary of State for Transport to try to second guess the market; it represents totally unfair interference in the business of the MSAs,” said Brian Madderson, Chairman of the PRA.

“It is unclear whether the £400m investment fund included in the Road to Zero will be accessible for forecourt operators wanting to include these facilities at their sites,” he added. “With demand so low, they need an incentive to invest.”

Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…

Ford Fiesta

 Used car enquiries surge as new car market dips

Used car enquiries were up 25.2% in the first half of 2018, compared to the same period last year, according to sales software company, Dealerweb.

This is in stark contrast to the new car market, where, it says, both telephone and walk-in enquiries are down.

Martin Hill, managing director at Dealerweb, said: “With volatility in demand for new cars, the growth in consumer interest for used vehicles and used-car finance is welcome news for many retailers.

“With increasing numbers of customers starting their purchases online, dealers must optimise their digital presence and processes.

“That means responding to online enquiries in a professional and timely manner, providing accurate information on stock availability, and selling finance and insurance products in a proactive yet fully compliant way.”

Research carried out by Dealerweb in 2016 suggested that 49% of UK car buyers expect a response from a dealer within an hour of making an enquiry.

Written-off E-type Jag goes to auction after freak garage fire

The charred shell of a vintage E-type Jaguar could fetch over £30k at auction despite being recorded as a category B insurance loss.

Owned by the same enthusiast for years, the car was deemed a write-off following a freak accident at a garage.

A mechanic accidentally cut through the fuel line sending a trail of petrol towards a welding machine. Sparks ignited the fuel and the £130,000 classic was soon engulfed in flames.

Dominic Lake, of auctioneer Historics of Buckinghamshire, said: “It was an absolute one-in-a-million accident and the vendor was devastated.

“But there is a big market for E-types Jaguars, and even ones in this condition can do well at auction. We have given it a pre-sale estimate of £27,000 to £32,000.”

Nearly new prestige cars in demand due to long lead times on brand new

Demand from UK car dealers for nearly new stock is increasing due to the long waiting times on many brand new models, according to vehicle rental firm Meridian.

The company’s managing director, Phil Jerome, has a strong insight into this sector as it moves on large numbers of 6-12-month old prestige and semi-prestige cars.

“The retail buyer used to have a good chance of finding the car they wanted in a dealer’s pipeline stock, but that is often no longer the case,” he said.

“Instead, if a dealer can’t get that buyer a new car, they now often want to be able to offer a quality, nearly new option. We have seen trade values rise by 3-4% and more over the last year, notably prestige plug-in hybrids.

“There are not too many sources of this kind of stock available, but we are one. The cars we offer effectively fall into the same kind of age, price and equipment category as demonstrators, so dealers know how to sell them.”

Ford Fiesta tops new car sales chart for first half of 2018

UK new car sales were down 3.5% in June 2018, compared to the same month last year, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).

With the end of June marking the halfway point in the year, the SMMT also noted that year-to-date (YTD) sales were down 6.3% on the same period in 2017, with diesel sales down almost a third.

234,945 new cars joined British roads in June, with smaller cars (the Supermini and Lower Medium sectors) taking a 57.4% market share.

The five best-selling models so far in 2018 were: 1) Ford Fiesta, 2) VW Golf, 3) Ford Focus, 4) Nissan Qashqai, 5) Vauxhall Corsa.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, commented: “Despite a rocky first six months for the new car market, it’s great to see demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles continue to rise.

“Given these cars still represent only one in 20 registrations, however, they cannot yet have the impact in driving down overall emissions that conventional vehicles, including diesels, continue to deliver.

“Recent government statements acknowledging the importance of petrol and diesel are encouraging. However, we now need a strategy that supports industry investment into next generation technologies – whatever its fuel type.”

Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…


Average UK used car price still at near-record high

UK used car prices remained at near-record levels in May, according to auction group BCA.

The average value of vehicles sold by BCA in May was £9,568, down slightly on the previous month, but still up by a substantial £707 on May last year.

Stuart Pearson, BCA’s chief operating officer for UK remarketing, said: “Professional buyers have continued to compete strongly for good quality used car stock, a pattern that reflects the high levels of retail demand.

“The seasonal dip that is often felt at this time of year hasn’t been so significant and the strong demand has driven conversion rates, meaning stock is churning quickly, which is good for buyers and sellers alike.”

This picture is largely confirmed by the National Association of Motor Auctions (NAMA).

Its latest data shows the average selling value dipping slightly to £5,657, compared to £5,677 in April.

Average mileage was 65,190, up 1.3% on the same month last year.

Louise Wallis, head of NAMA, commented: “Whilst auction activity has been buoyant in 2018 so far, performance was more mixed this month.

“That said, around 2.5% more cars were sold at auction than in May 2017 and the outlook continues to look positive.”

Audi plans to be leading EV premium manufacturer by 2025

Audi has set out a strategy to become the leading premium manufacturer of alternative fuel cars by the middle of the next decade.

Its new Audi Vorsprung 2025 plan promises an electrified variant of every model, with most fully electric and some plug-in hybrids.

Rupert Stadler, chairman of Audi AG, said: “In electric mobility, we want to become the number one among the premium manufacturers, with full suitability for everyday use, no compromises, top quality and driving pleasure for the customer.”

The production version of the well-received E-tron SUV prototype is expected to lead the way, with a range of 250 miles and the ability to fast-charge its lithium-ion battery.

Police smash huge crash for cash ring in South Wales

A garage in Newport, South Wales – St David’s Crash Repair and Easifix – has been found to be at the centre of what’s being called “Britain’s biggest crash for cash scam”.

158 people were prosecuted following an operation by Gwent Police and the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

Those involved helped stage fake car crashes in order to make bogus compensation claims, conning the insurance industry out of £2million.

The fraud ring was finally exposed by CCTV, which showed a Land Rover being driven into the back of a forklift to make it look like it had been involved in an accident.

Ben Fletcher, director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau, said: “The outcome of this case goes to show that if you commit insurance fraud you will pay the price.”

One in seven UK car owners have a dash cam

14% of UK car owners already have a dashboard camera, according to a new survey by Opinium.

A quarter (26%) of the 2,000 respondents said say they would feel safer if it was the law for all vehicles to have dash cams.

35% thought that having a dash cam in their car should lower their insurance.

33% said they’d submit dash cam footage of dangerous driving to the police.

Surprisingly, only 7% thought the technology was an invasion of privacy.

Ben Wooltorton, of InsuretheGap, which commissioned the study, said: “A dashcam is the equivalent of an independent witness. As well as helping to prove non-fault in an accident situation, its footage can also protect against possible fraudulent claims.

“More and more car insurance companies are offering a discount to vehicles with dash cams and dash cam evidence can also speed up insurance claims.”

Government plan to unfreeze fuel duty slammed as petrol and diesel prices soar

In June, the RAC reported the longest sustained UK fuel price increase since 2015. Average petrol prices hit 129.4p a litre and average diesel prices 132.3p a litre.

Key factors included the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran (the world’s fifth largest oil producer) and sterling weakening by 2%, making oil imports more expensive.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams described May as “a hellish month for motorists”.

“For many, there is little alternative to the car for the majority of journeys, so it is therefore very difficult to avoid feeling the pinch of rising pump prices,” he said.

Against this background, motoring groups have slammed a government proposal to lift the fuel duty freeze.

Fuel duty has been 57.95p per litre for both petrol and diesel since 2011.

AA spokesperson, Luke Bosdet, warned that increasing fuel duty has “become a huge red line that politicians cross at their peril”.

Conservative MP and former minister, Robert Halfon, said the fuel plan would go down “like a bucket of cold sick”, with hard-working families and businesses likely to be hardest hit.

Jato highlights best selling cars by segment as SUVs lead the way

The European car market was up 0.5% in May 2018, compared to the same month last year, with the sports utility vehicle sector growing as others decline, according to market analyst Jato.

Particularly popular models include the VW Tiguan, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Renault Captur and second generation Dacia Duster.

VW’s T-Roc and Citroën’s C3 Aircross also continue to gain traction.

Felipe Munoz, Jato’s global analyst, commented: “The increasing significance of the SUV segment is evident in the performance of the market’s latest launches; almost two thirds of the cars launched currently are SUVs.

“This, combined with the continued decline of the diesel fueltype, is altering the make-up of the automotive market, meaning that we may no longer see the huge increases of previous years as the market continues to stabilise.”

Other best sellers by segment in May were: Fiat 500 (City-car), Renault Clio (subcompact), Volkswagen Golf (compact), Volkswagen Passat (midsize), Mercedes E-Class (executive), Mercedes S-Class (luxury), Renault Scenic (MPV) and Porsche 911 (sport).

Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…

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Police to stop and check Land Rover Defenders in West Midlands

Staffordshire Police has launched a special operation to clamp down on Land Rover Defender thefts.

Mycarcheck has been warning for years that the iconic 4×4 is one of the UK’s most-stolen vehicles.

Last month, insurer NFU Mutual highlighted that it has paid out claims for almost 500 stolen Defenders since 2016.

A police spokesman said: “Officers are stopping and checking Land Rover Defenders across the force area and we will continue to do so.

“It is part of an operation to tackle thieves who steal these vehicles, sell them on or strip them for parts to be sold on the internet.”

Despite the inconvenience, the initiative is likely to be welcomed by locals who rely on their “Landys” for work.

Kwik Fit provides new stats on the cost of car ownership

UK car owners spent an average £191.53 on maintenance and servicing, and an additional £159.09 on unexpected repairs or breakdowns, over the last 12 months, according to new research by Kwik Fit.

However, 8% admitted to having spent nothing at all on routine maintenance, which Kwik Fit described as a false economy.

Fuel was the largest individual running cost, at an average £67.63 per month (£812.56 per year) – a figure set to rise with this month’s price increases.

Almost six million drivers made their most recent new or used car purchase using finance, with an average monthly payment of £226.12.

Rather shockingly, around 26,000 drivers said they’d paid out more than £1,000 in parking fines or penalty charge notices in the last year alone.

Nissan Micra was fastest selling used car on Auto Trader in May

The Nissan Micra, or, more specifically, the 2017 petrol automatic Nissan Micra, was the UK’s fastest selling used car in May 2018, according to Auto Trader.

That version of the popular Japanese hatchback took, on average, just 17 days to sell, taking it to first place for the first time.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLA Class (diesel manual) came second, and the 2016 Ford EcoSport (petrol automatic) third.

Interestingly, while diesels accounted for just two of the national top 10 fastest sellers, they took top spot in 11 of the 13 regions tracked.

The 2015/16 Ford Kuga (diesel manual) and 2015 Nissan Qashqai (diesel manual) remain very much in demand.

Karolina Edwards-Smajda, consumer products director at Auto Trader, said: “While there are undeniable wider market challenges, this is the third consecutive month used diesels have dominated our fastest selling cars tracker, which is testament to its remarkable resilience.

“Clearly there remains a strong appetite among consumers for the greater efficiency diesel offers, and, contrary to the negative tone surrounding the fuel debate, they offer a great opportunity for retailers.”

New scheme to offer ex-management Peugeot, Citroen and DS cars

PSA Group has announced a new used car scheme, PSA Direct, to sell ex-management Peugeot, Citroen and DS vehicles via Auto Trader.

The cars will come with a two-year warranty and roadside assistance, and customers can ask for them to be delivered to their local dealer within five days.

Paul Jackson, manager for used vehicle retail sales at PSA, said: “The Direct used car programme – which proved highly successful at pilot stage – brings new levels of choice and convenience for our customers, combining the efficiency of online retail with the personal touch of a face-to-face appointment with our dealers.

“Direct removes the stress of buying a used car, catering for a generation of increasingly digitally native customers.”

Volvo wins Which? Car Brand of the Year award

Consumer magazine Which? has named Volvo its Car Brand of the Year for 2018, citing the manufacturer’s exceptional achievements in safety, the comprehensive appeal of its model range, and its development of cleaner engine technologies.

Which? reported: “Volvo impressed us with its high praise from customers, but it’s the company’s solid safety record that put it ahead of other shortlisted candidates.”

One satisfied customer was quoted as saying: “I’m on my fifth Volvo and it’s the best one. It fulfils all my family needs, looks fantastic and drives superbly. It is future-proofed technologically. It can cope with all road conditions and is totally reliable. A pleasure to get into, as a driver or passenger.”

Jon Wakefield, Managing Director of Volvo Car UK, said: “We always put people and safety first: our vision is that nobody should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car from 2020.

“Our latest models employ a range of increasingly advanced driver-assistance and collision-mitigation systems aimed at protecting the car’s occupants, as well as pedestrians, cyclists and even large animals.”

Volvo’s consistent five-star ratings from crash test organization, Euro NCAP, include a safest-in-class ranking for the new XC60 premium SUV.


What’s the WLTP? Car buyers advised of important new fuel economy standard

UK car buyers are advised to familiarise themselves with the EU’s Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), due to come into effect in September 2018.

Designed to provide more ‘real-world’ fuel economy and emissions figures, it will replace the current New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) tests.

However, motoring trade title AM Online has highlighted a lack of awareness among consumers and the headaches it is causing both manufacturers and dealers.

Stuart Foulds, chairman and chief executive of TrustFord, said: “There’s not been enough publicity about WLTP to inform the public of the changes and it could come as another shock to the market.”

Volkswagen Group has suggested that production of up to 250,000 cars could be delayed.

In the fleet sector, WLTP-related shifts in BIK tax bands are likely to affect vehicle choices. For example, CO2 emissions of Volvo’s D2-engined V40 hatchback will reportedly rise from 94g/km under NEDC to 122g/km under WLTP.

Mike Hawes, chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “The cars will be the same, but the consumer will see a negative effect on the headline performance figures and that is something we will have to continue to work hard to educate them on.”

Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…


Birmingham is UK’s top local authority for ultra-low emission vehicles

Analysis of Department for Transport (DfT) statistics by private number plate seller, Click4reg, has revealed that Birmingham is the local authority with the highest number of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) in the UK.

Birmingham had 12,247 ULEVs at the end of 2017, well ahead of Peterborough, in second place, with 8,910.

The rest of the top 10 were: Slough (4,460), Milton Keynes (4,409), Leeds (3,557), Swindon (3,402), Bedford (1,628), Gloucester (1,552), Solihull (1,492) and Portsmouth (1,416).

The local authority with the lowest number of ULEVs was West Somerset, with only 40, followed by Barrow-in-Furness (44), and Middlesbrough and Eden (both 46).

At the end of 2017, 64% of licensed ULEV cars in the UK were petrol hybrid and 35% were pure electric.

The most popular models included the Mitsubishi Outlander, the BMW 3 Series and the Nissan Leaf.

£15k tipping point for online car sales

In a survey of 1,200 UK motorists by enquiry management specialist, Dealerweb, 93% said they wouldn’t buy a car worth more than £30,000 online.

77% said they’d be reluctant to spend over £15,000 on a car online.

52% said they’d never purchase a new vehicle online.

Martin Hill, managing director of Dealerweb, said: “Our research indicates a crucial caveat to the willingness of motorists in buying a car entirely online.

“Whilst just under half of those surveyed said they would possibly consider an online purchase, there is a steep drop-off in consumer interest in buying a car worth more than £15,000.”

Hyundai says a third of UK consumers buy the first car they see

A survey of 2,000 UK drivers by Hyundai found that a third of buyers opt for the first car they go to see. Add in those that only go to see one other car, and the figure rises to more than half.

Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai Motor UK president and chief executive, said: “Clearly today’s car buyers are better informed than ever, and they’re making very concrete decisions on which car they want before even going to see it.”

Other key findings included: over 71% said price was the most important factor; 4 in 10 said they’d bought a car and regretted it; the average price paid for a vehicle was £11,313; and the average time owners kept their car was five years and eight months.

Among the biggest gripes were slow acceleration, the cost of fuel, and dents and scratches, but over half said that nothing annoys them about their car.

The top features they’d like on their next car are: air conditioning, parking sensors and electric windows, followed by sat-nav, a spacious boot and a digital radio.


Mazda CX-5 wins Best Car for Dogs award

UK consumer motoring brand What Car? has named the Mazda CX-5 its “Best Car for Dogs”.

Considering a range of dog-friendly attributes, including the size and accessibility of the boot, interior airflow, and the durability of upholstery, the six cars that made the shortlist were:

• In the less than £16,000 category, the Suzuki Vitara 1.6 SZ4.

• In the £16,000-£19,999 category, the Skoda Octavia Estate 1.4 TSI SE Technology.

• In the £20,000 – £24,999 category, the Mazda CX-5 2.2d SE-L Nav.

• In the £25,000-£29,999 category, the Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI SE L Executive DSG.

• In the £30,000-£40,000 category, the Mercedes E-Class Estate E220d SE.

• In the more than £40,000 category, the Land Rover Discovery 3.0 TD6 HSE Auto.

The judging panel came to their final decision with the help of pet experts from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.


30% of UK drivers would consider buying an electric vehicle

The proportion of UK drivers considering buying an electric vehicle (EV) has doubled in the past year, to 30%, according to new research by motor finance provider, Close Brothers.

A further 40% said they would consider buying an EV in the future, just not as their next vehicle.

“2017 was an important year for electric vehicles, with record growth in sales and the government’s announcement that the majority of new cars should be electric by 2030,” said Close Brothers’ director of sales, Sean Kemple.

“Despite the record year, there are still major perception barriers to overcome. Consumers and dealers alike are still hesitant about making the switch.

“Without improvements to the infrastructure to support the charge and the range, uptake is likely to remain low in the short term.”

The research also found: 55% think an EV will be cheaper to run, but 28% wouldn’t consider making the switch, mostly due to range anxiety and the high initial outlay.

Another concern was a lack of local charging points. By region, Scotland has the highest number of publicly-funded points (745), followed by the North East of England (668) and London (504).

Wales has the lowest number (33), followed by Yorkshire and the Humber.


Significant reduction in serious crashes involving white vans

IAM RoadSmart, formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists, has highlighted that serious and fatal crashes involving white vans are falling in the UK, despite there being many more of them.

Vans and light goods vehicles travelled 49 billion miles on our roads in 2016, 10 billion more than a decade ago, according to figures from the Department for Transport (DfT).

However, crashes involving vans are down 16%, from 15,593 in 2006 to 13,125 in 2016, with fatalities reduced from 274 to 186.

A key factor is active and passive safety features, with 37% of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) on Britain’s roads being less than five years old, compared to just 5% of cars, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).

“It is heartening to see that van operators are more than ever taking their responsibilities to their drivers and the public seriously, and this is being reflected in a reduction in serious and fatal crashes,” said Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research.

IAM RoadSmart also noted that more than half of all UK vans are white, with silver in second place (11.4%) and blue in third (9.0%).

Our pick of recent motoring stories highlighting important issues for used car buyers and sellers…

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Auto Trader sees used car prices dip slightly in May

According to Auto Trader, used car prices declined by 0.7% in May 2018. The average price was £12,676, a £93 decrease on April.

However, average prices remain 7% up on a year-on-year basis.
Notably, the percentage of online searches for diesel-fuelled cars dipped below 50% in May for the first time.

Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s retailer and consumer product director, said: “Month-on-month used car prices have come off the boil slightly, but this follows the plate change in March, which tends to result in an influx of good quality and higher value stock.

“In general, used car prices remain near record highs and have stayed robust over the last year despite a choppier new car market.”

Demand for diesel vehicles appears to be declining, with the average price of a diesel on Auto Trader standing at £14,448 in May, a £107 decrease on April.
The average price of a petrol vehicle dropped by £57, to £10,733.

Seeming to buck the notion that electric vehicle (EV) demand is on the rise, the proportion of searches specifying EV dropped from 5% in March to 3% in May.
“We urgently need more clarity from government on the strategy and timeline for shifting to lower-emission vehicles,” said Edwards-Smajda.

Honest John says 98% of hybrid cars fail to match advertised MPG

Research by motoring news site, Honest John, found that 98% of hybrid cars on sale in the UK fail to match their advertised miles per gallon (MPG) fuel consumption.

148,000 fuel reports were analysed as part of its Real MPG initiative, launched in 2011 to investigate the disparity between claimed fuel economy figures and real-world experience.

Honest John named the Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350e the UK’s worst hybrid for Real MPG, achieving just 36.9% of its official fuel economy.

The Lexus GS 450h was named best UK hybrid for Real MPG, achieving 84.2% of the claimed figure.

The five worst were:

1) Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350e
2) BMW 3 Series 330e
3) Volkswagen Golf GTE
4) Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
5) BMW 2 Series Active Tourer 225xe

The five best were:

1) Lexus GS 450h
2) Toyota RAV4 Hybrid 2WD
3) Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVT-I Hybrid
4) Kia Niro 1.6 GDI Hybrid
5) Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid

Honest John’s managing editor, Daniel Powell, said: “This is the most comprehensive study into hybrid fuel economy ever carried out.

“While these models are advertised with lofty MPG figures that appeal to cost-conscious drivers, our research shows that on-the-road economy is somewhat different.

“Given that car buyers are being urged to replace their petrol and diesel cars with new low emission hybrids, we think more needs to be done to ensure drivers get a fair deal.”

Land Rover and Mini top JD Power customer satisfaction study

Automotive research specialist, JD Power, has announced the results of its latest Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.

Land Rover ranked highest among premium brands for the second consecutive year, followed by Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.

Mini ranked highest among volume brands, followed by Honda and Kia.

Josh Halliburton, vice-president and head of European operations at JD Power, said: “These results illustrate the importance of developing passionate advocates, not only for the product but also for the dealership, when trying to attract younger people as new customers.

“Recommendations among customers in this group are far more important than dealership advertising, promotional materials or coupons.”

The 2018 UK Customer Service Index Study is based on data collected from 7,899 respondents who registered their new vehicle between February 2015 and April 2017.

Overall scores, based on a 1,000-point scale, were up 12 points on the previous study.

Land Rover Defenders targeted by organised criminal gangs

NFU Mutual says Land Rover Defenders are being targeted by organised criminal gangs as part of a countryside crime wave.

The firm, which underwrites more than £1bn in annual insurance premiums for UK rural communities, has paid out claims for almost 500 stolen Defenders since 2016.

The off-road vehicles, reportedly a favourite of the Queen, have become increasingly sought after since production ceased two years ago.

Farmers are frequently finding them with the bonnets, doors and wheels removed, or gone altogether.

Luxury 4x4s, like Range Rovers, are also being targeted, with criminals often attempting to hack their keyless entry systems.

NFU Mutual, working with the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, has traced stolen Range Rovers as far afield as Africa and the Middle East.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 89,000 vehicles were stolen in England and Wales in 2017, a 56% increase on the previous 12 months.

Clive Harris, agricultural vehicle specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Thieves are deploying a range of tactics to feed demand for classic and modern 4x4s from criminal gangs operating around the world.

“People in rural areas are feeling increasingly vulnerable and farms, which rely on 4x4s for mobility as part of their business, are left particularly hard hit.”