Monday, 3 January 2011

Automotive Predictions 2011

You don't need to be a genius to recognise that the cost of motoring will rise in 2011 but what else does this New Year hold for motorists and the motor industry? Well here are some of my thoughts:

Factory lead times will get longer - last year saw many popular vehicles delivery from order times stretch in weeks and months. Those ordering anything other than "Special editions" will see the issue worsening in 2011. This is due to a combination of vehicle availability as manufacturers divert production and dealers looking to commit to only those vehicles being tactically supported by the manufacturers

Many cars will become Greener by Adding Blue - Vehicle manufacturers will continue to work on ways to reduce emissions. One solution being offered in 2011 for cars will be AdBlue. Adblue is an additive that is mixed into the exhaust chamber to reduce the level of Nox gasses emitted. It has been widely used in Lorries but in 2011 I expect to see it available in many popular models. The process and technology is proven but as with all new initiatives may see a few teething issues. I expect some motorists to struggle to find stockists of Adblue in order to top their systems up, an issue because like fuel if you run out the car won't start. I also foresee some "odour" issues, in the event that we get a summer that is.

Extended Car Warranty prices will rise in second half of the year - We all know that VAT is rising but many of us have missed the rise in IPT (Insurance Premium Tax) This is a tax that all insurance premiums have levied on them. This is moving in line with the VAT rise to 20% on most insurance based products. Warranty firms are unlikely to be able to cover this increase long term as they come under additional pressure from rising garage labour rates.

The 2011 Formula One season will be even more close than last years - A new tyre provider, different track layouts, team and driver changes. I am, as ever, very excited by the prospects of the new season. I expect a British Champion.

Bling and "car jewelry" will be a key design feature for 2011 new car models - whilst many of us switch off the silly Driving lights fitted as standard on our cars, more seem to be swayed by the "bright lights" and bling of LED. It seems only a few years ago when we all scoffed at boy racers driving on a cloud of blue neon light with matching washer jets yet now even the most mundane family transport is a blinding mix of chrome and lights. Sadly I predict more of this.

I have more thoughts and will share these over the coming days. If you have your own thoughts please share.

Oh yes...Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

5 Things You Can Do That Will Void Your Car Warranty

With Christmas still sitting heavily om my stomach I fired the laptop up to see what wise (?) words were being uttered across the Internet about Car Warranties. I use Google to monitor this and other automotive topics and much of what I find is drivel, nonsense or irrelevant as it is not UK centric. Therefore USA postings I almost always discount. Fortunately I didn't discount this AOL Autos article by Tom Torbjorsen (Maintenance Editor for AOL Autos)

Entitled 5 Dumb Things That Can Void Your Car Warranty this blog highlights some very relevant ownership issues that would indeed potentially impact your car warranty be it an aftermarket warranty, like ours, or the original manufacturers cover.

The key pieces of advice are:
  1. Fluids - Use the proper recommended fluids as specified by the car manufacturer
  2. Receipts - keep all receipts relating to servicing, parts and repairs
  3. Tyres and Wheels - keep to the recommended tyres/ wheel sizes for your vehicle and do not modify the suspension
  4. Performance and modifications - do not "chip" or modify your car
  5. Towing - don't tow more than the vehicle is designed to manage

The article is littered with reference to American legislation but is full of great advice and comment around warranties in general including consequential and non consequential damage.

The full article is available here and is worth a read as it is sound advice on car warranties for the New Year Ahead

Saturday, 25 September 2010

How Could It Have Gone So Wrong?

We are regulated by the Financial Services Authority FSA. Our FSA number is 501301 and you can check this out on the FSA Register.
It means that we adhere to a code of practice that is basically designed to ensure good governance of our company to protect the interests of our customers.

All very sensible and as we go through our annual assessments, training and compliance documentation I have been reminded of the FSA's 11 "Principle for Business" which I have listed below.

I have tested our company against these principles and I hold them up as sound business practice. Which leaves me with the original question. If these are the principles that the FSA have set for all of the financial industry - "How Could It Have Gone So Wrong?"
  1. A Firm must conduct its business with integrity
  2. A Firm must conduct its business with due skill, care and diligence
  3. A Firm must take reasonable care to organise and control its affairs responsibly and effectively, with adequate risk management systems
  4. A Firm must maintain adequate financial resources
  5. A Firm must observe proper standards of market conduct
  6. A Firm must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly
  7. A Firm must pay due regard to the information needs of its clients, and communicate information to them in a way which is clear, fair and not misleading
  8. A Firm must manage conflicts of interest fairly, between both itself and its customers and between customers and another client
  9. A Firm must take reasonable care to ensure the suitability of its advice and discretionary decisions for any customer who is entitled to rely upon its judgement
  10. A Firm must arrange adequate protection for Clients' assets when it is responsible for them
  11. A Firm must deal with its regulators in an open cooperative way, and must disclose to the FSA appropriately

Friday, 23 July 2010

Going on holiday in a company car? You need a VE103

So the roads will be clearer from next week thanks to the schools breaking up for the summer holidays.

This will mean many of us heading to foreign shores and lots of us in our cars or perhaps company cars.

If you have a company car that is on contract hire with a leasing company you MUST get permission from the leasing company to take the car abroad. This is known as a Travel Authority or a VE103

Some leasing companies may charge you for the form (it does actually cost them money to use the form template plus the issue of posting it out etc) but DO NOT be tempted to travel without one.

Failure to be able to produce a valid VE103 (they last 12 months) will lead to a hefty fine and your vehicle being impounded until you can produce a valid form , which I suggest just might take the edge off your holiday.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Top 10, Roof Down Stereo Up, Driving Songs

Last night the weather man on the BBC spoke these words: "Summer is here" So what with that, the arrival on Friday of my wife's new car (Great Timing me) and the official (?) arrival of summer via the summer solstice, I am now in need of compiling the ultimate mix of "roof down, volume up" tunes. All suggestions welcome but here are my starter for 10 (groan)

All Right Now - Free
Born to be Wild - Steppnwolf
Layla - Derek and the Dominos
Are you gonna go my way - Lenny Kravitz
Cars - Gary Numan
Boys of Summer - Don Henley
Summer of 69 - Bryan Adams
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Insomnia - Faithless (great at night)
Summertime - DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince


Saturday, 5 June 2010

JD Power Customer Satisfaction Index 2010

The JD Power results, in association with What Car, were announced last week with Lexus coming out top for the 10th consecutive year. My congratulations go out to them and Toyota (5th) particularly in light of all the media noise around recent recalls.

However there is a part of me that feels this congratulatory note accompanying the overall results is a little over the top? The industry average for customer satisfaction by manufacturer was 78.9%. The Lexus winning score was around 2% higher than the closest rival Honda, but even then their winning total was 84.6%.

Post scrappage I can't help but think that, especially when you consider the cost of buying and owning a new car, dealers and manufacturers really do need to try to make owning a car more of a satisfying experience.

Our Car Breakdown Cover Is Even Better Than Before

From the 1st June our new Breakdown Cover will come under the banner of "AutoAssist".

This new car breakdown policy will add even more peace of mind thanks to improved service levels, increased national coverage and better utilisation of recovery vehicles. All this will ensure you and your passengers get on your way again as quickly as possible and not passed from one provider to another like some kind of relay baton. Even better news is we've made it cheaper

Just £75 per annum for: Roadside, Recovery and At Home cover