DfT pushes ahead with setting out policies on autonomous vehicles

The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed it will use public sector fleets as a test bed to lead future policy to address insurance liability concerns surrounding autonomous vehicles.

The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill 2016-17 proposes that where an accident is caused by an automated vehicle when driving itself and the vehicle is insured at the time of the accident, the insurer will be liable for that damage.

However, the insurer would have the right to make a subsequent claim against the manufacturer of the car if it is thought to be the cause of the accident (clause 5).

At the bill’s second reading, transport minister Chris Grayling said: “Under the provisions in the bill, it will be possible to have an insurance policy that covers both eventualities of something going wrong: when the driver is in control and when the vehicle is in autonomous mode.

“That is one of the key changes necessary to create an environment in which such vehicles can operate freely on the roads.”

However, the bill states that if the vehicle has not been properly insured, the driver will be liable, even if the vehicle was driving itself. The driver will also be at fault if they have unofficially altered or failed to install software updates to the car’s operating system.

Grayling said: “There are enormous possibilities ahead with these technologies. In a few years, we will all increasingly have the opportunity to use semi-automated and automated vehicles.

“However, to make these technologies a reality, we need to act now. We need to create the regimes that will help developers to bring their products to market in a safe way that protects consumers.”

Grayling expects it to be at least another 10 years before fully automated vehicles will be on the roads in private use in the UK.

The DfT is waiting on international feedback from the United Nations on the Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations and this will help inform how it proceeds on this complex issue in the future

The bill also references the Government stepping in to improve clarity around the UK’s EV charging infrastructure.

The DfT is looking to introduce new regulations to clarify locations, operating hours, costs, methods of payment and access, means of connection and information on whether a charge point is actually working. It has also suggested it may introduce legislation to require mandatory installation of public charge points across the UK’s ‘large fuel retailers’.

Grayling said: “This bill provides for much greater transparency of charge point data, making it much easier to identify the locations of the best charging points.

“In particular, it enables common technical standards and better interoperability. We will also be able to accelerate the roll-out of electric vehicle infrastructure at key locations, such as motorway service areas and large fuel retailers, and make charge points ready for the needs of the marketplace.”

Your Comments

HELLA and Hengst tie the knot

March 2017 heralds an exciting new chapter for HELLA here in the UK, as it becomes the first country within the HELLA group to introduce filtration through a powerful alliance with original equipment (OE) manufacturer, Hengst Filtration.

The agreement is a union between two longstanding – HELLA established in 1899 and Hengst in 1958 – and like-minded businesses, for both are OE manufacturers and system suppliers to the global automotive industry, both are acknowledged as award winning technological innovators, while they are also both renowned for their commitment to deliver the very best in terms of quality, availability and support to the independent aftermarket.

Commenting on the development, Andreas Habeck, responsible for the Aftermarket business at HELLA said: “This alliance with Hengst opens the doors for substantial business growth for both our companies and provides us with the perfect product to add to our portfolio, as it encompasses all that we value as an organisation. Hengst manufactures products of the highest quality, which means that we can continue to provide our customers with the reassurance that comes with a globally recognised OE brand and with a depth of range to satisfy their requirements.”

From April 2017, HELLA Hengst branded oil, air, fuel and cabin filters for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles will be only available via the HELLA UK warehouse and direct from Germany for volume customers. Commercial vehicle filters will still be available under the Hengst brand.

For Hengst Filtration, Christopher Heine, member of the Hengst board and responsible for the Aftermarket, Industrial Air Filtration and Finance, added: “We have entered into this alliance because it combines the best of two traditional companies: HELLA Group has significant OE heritage and an outstanding service expertise dating back over 100 years and with almost 60 years’ presence in the UK market, we will now benefit from this local expertise. On the other hand, we incorporate an established product range and our filtration competence into the partnership.

“Hengst is an internationally established development partner and supplier in the array of filtration and produces complete fluid management solutions for the OE market. Filter elements for the Independent Aftermarket – meeting identical and high quality standards covering all models of cars. Filters that have been developed for use as OE are transferred to the Aftermarket program and constructed in the same way. We both have the same goal and we are sure this partnership will lead to mutual success.”

The HELLA UK and Ireland team are no strangers to the filtration market, with key personnel boasting a collective 40 years of filtration experience. In addition, six business development managers, specialist product managers and the usual central resources, such as online cataloguing, technical data and installation advice, ensure customers will receive the usual high standard of support.

Your Comments

VW e-load up! to make UK debut at CV Show

One of the smallest electric vans ever created will be making its UK debut at this year’s CV Show, which takes place next month at the NEC, Birmingham.

The VW e-load up! is based on VW’s smallest passenger car, yet despite its diminutive proportions it has a load capacity of almost 1,000 litres and a 360kg payload, making it the ideal vehicle for urban deliveries in areas where both space and emissions are restricted.

Aimed at service technicians, food delivery companies and couriers, the e-load up! has a turning circle of just 9.8m (smaller than a London Taxi) and is only 3.6m long.

The front seats of the van are separated from the cargo area by a mesh partition, with loading through the tailgate and two rear side doors, derived from those of the passenger car.

Power comes from an AC electric motor developing (the equivalent of 82hp) and 210Nm of torque, with drive to the front wheels through a single speed gearbox. The van has a range of up to 99 miles on a single charge from its lithium-ion battery pack.

The e-load up! will be sharing stand space with a much bigger electric van – the VW eCrafter, which was first shown at the Hanover IAA Commercial Vehicle show last September.

The company has said it has no immediate plans to market the smaller van in the UK, but is interested to gauge public reaction to it at the CV Show as a potential future addition to its portfolio. The eCrafter, meanwhile, is set to appear in multiple markets across Europe.

Your Comments

Midwest Motor Factors launches crash repair site

Midwest Motor Factors, a crash repair specialist, has launched a brand new website offering local bodyshops a one-stop shop for replacement vehicle parts.

The site – www.midwestcrashrepair.com – allows users to log in and explore Midwest’s wide range of replacement body parts using a Vehicle Registration Marque lookup that displays the supplier and OE number, and descriptions. This ensures all customer requirements are met and the appropriate part is identified.

New customers can apply for a personalised login by simply filling out a short form on the site. A backdated service also enables customers to revisit saved quotes and previous searches.

New-to-range products are promoted throughout the website, ensuring customers keep up to date with the latest arrivals.

All parts are shown alongside product images and useful notes while Original Equipment (OE) numbers and retail prices enable customers to calculate the exact saving in comparison to the main dealer. Midwest guarantees that parts will always be 15 percent cheaper than the Original Equipment price.

Paul Yardley, Midwest Area Factor Manager, said: “Our crash repair website offers customers thousands of exclusive, high quality products at affordable prices while on the go. Our online catalogue is mobile and tablet friendly and can be accessed from the palm of your hand.”

The wide range of replacement parts available covers many car, vans and light commercial vehicle makes and models such as Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Citroën, Daewoo, Ferrari, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, MG, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot and Renault.

Free delivery is available as standard and no minimum order is required. Customers can order up until 8pm for next day delivery or, in some cases, benefit from same day delivery.

Midwest Motor Factors started in 1980. Today, the company employs 80 staff and has more than 45 vans operating out of five branches across the West Midlands alongside the award-winning Monmore Auto Parts branch, which is based in Wolverhampton.

Your Comments

£23 million boost for hydrogen-powered vehicles and infrastructure

A new £23 million fund to accelerate the take up of hydrogen vehicles and roll out more cutting-edge infrastructure was announced by the government on 18 March 2017.

Hydrogen fuel providers will be able to bid for funding in partnership with organisations that produce hydrogen vehicles to help build high-tech infrastructure, including fuel stations. The funding will boost the creation of hydrogen fuel infrastructure and uptake of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

A competition will be launched this summer, and will invite proposals from public organisations, businesses and hydrogen operators. The government will provide match funding for successful bidders as part of its plans to cut carbon emissions, improve air quality and deliver economic opportunities for the UK.

Transport Minister John Hayes said:

The transition to zero emission road transport is both inevitable and desirable as it will improve air quality in many of our towns and cities. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can play a vital role alongside battery electric vehicles to help us cut harmful emissions.

We know availability of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure can be a potential obstacle to the take up of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. That’s why we’re providing support to give interested parties the confidence to continue to invest in this new emerging technology to help us achieve our ambition for almost all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040.

Hydrogen vehicles can be quickly refuelled using a pump like a conventional petrol or diesel car, but instead use gas. They produce only water as a by-product and have a range of around 300 miles per tank, like conventional vehicles.

The government is working closely with industry on the future direction of the UK automotive sector and has allocated over £600 million for low emission vehicles over the course of this Parliament with an additional £390 million announced at last year’s Autumn Statement for ultra low emission vehicles and driverless cars.

Paul Van der Burgh, President and Managing Director of Toyota (GB), said:

Toyota believes hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can play an important role in the transition to a low carbon, low emissions society. We chose the UK as one of the first international markets for our Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car and are pleased that the government is investing in this programme to encourage the further development of refuelling infrastructure and the wider uptake of fuel cell vehicles.

We will continue to work with the government, organisations and industry partners to help the UK realise the significant potential of hydrogen as a clean and sustainable source of power.

This announcement builds on the launch of the Industrial Strategy green paper published in January which outlined plans to fund new high-value economic infrastructure and reaffirmed government commitment to investing in energy innovation and to tackling the causes of climate change.

Your Comments

New role puts focus on customer support at Ring

Ring, the leading supplier of vehicle lighting, auto electric and car accessories supplier to the automotive aftermarket, has appointed Paul Gorton as the company’s first Technical Sales Engineer, to further enhance the customer experience and provide a more in-depth after sales support service.

Paul Gorton, Ring’s first Technical Sales Engineer

A fully qualified Auto-Electrician, Paul has more than 40 years’ experience in the automotive sector, having previously worked as Lead Auto Electrician in vehicle conversion and installation.

Building on his knowledge and expertise, Paul is responsible for providing Ring’s van conversion clients with dedicated support, from initial purchase through to after sales and beyond.

Gorton comments: “I am extremely pleased to be a part of the Ring team, it’s great to work for an organisation that offers its customers such an extensive range of products and services. My new role is certainly challenging, but also extremely rewarding.

“Everyone at Ring has made me feel very welcome, I’m really enjoying working closely with clients, meeting new people and being a part of this exciting and promising extension to the business.”

Ian Hay, Specialist Divisions Manager for Ring, comments: “We are pleased to welcome Paul to Ring, he is already proving to be an asset to the team and is building a great rapport with our customers.

“Paul’s role has allowed us to offer our van conversion clients technical support with their projects from start to finish, which is proving to be very popular. We are hoping to extend this service to include a wider range of vehicles soon.”

Ring has supported the automotive aftermarket for more than 40 years. Recognised for innovation and delivering ranges that are known for performance and quality, the company continues to produce world-class products that have become firm favourites amongst professional technicians.

Your Comments

‘Cartels are both harmful and illegal’ says CMA

Whistleblowers are being offered up to £100,000, as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launches its first-ever advertising campaign to crack down on cartels.

The CMA is targeting illegal cartels – businesses which cheat their customers by agreeing not to compete with each other in order to keep their prices high. The practice stops ordinary people and other businesses from getting a fair deal as well as stifling competition.

The CMA’s campaign, ‘Cracking down on Cartels’ will encourage people who have witnessed illegal activity to report it by offering a reward of up to £100,000 as well as promising them anonymity.

Meanwhile, under the CMA’s leniency scheme, firms can avoid penalties of up to 10% of their total turnover and prison sentences of up to five years for staff if they are the first to confess their cartel.

Andrea Coscelli, acting chief executive, said, ‘Cartels are a form of stealing that cheat ordinary people as well as other businesses by undermining competition, and we are committed to tackling them wherever we find them. Cartels are carried out in secret to make you think you are getting a fair deal, even when you are being conspired against to keep prices high.

‘Cartels are both harmful and illegal, and the consequences of breaking the law are extremely serious. That is why we are launching this campaign – to help people understand what cartel activity looks like and how to report it so we can take action.’

CMA research found that, while most businesses have a shared ethical sense that conduct such as price-fixing is unfair or wrong, less than a quarter said they knew competition law well. Further, only 16% knew that informants could get a reward for reporting a suspected cartel, and only 15% knew that the CMA operates a leniency programme for businesses and individuals that confess their involvement in a cartel and cooperate with the CMA.

Cartels have been uncovered in a range of industries and the campaign builds on recent CMA cartel cases. These have included fining two furniture parts-makers £2.8m for agreeing not to compete on price and who would supply which customers, following a tip-off from an informant, fining four estate agents a total of £370,000 for price-fixing, and disqualifying the managing director of an online poster supplier for five years after his company was found to have been part of an online price-fixing cartel.

Your Comments

Ben news hub latest – Financial Health

Ben have issued their latest blog on financial health which advises people on how to get the most out of their pensions.

More and more people in the UK are saving into a pensions scheme than ever before, in line with government advice. In 2015, the Office of National Statistics recorded its highest levels of pension scheme membership since surveys began in 1953.

However, one in ten pensioners admitted to spending a year planning holidays, but only an hour on pension plans according to a survey by Legal and General.

Pensions can seem complex, but there are some simple ways to make sure you get the most out of your savings.

Why save for a pension?

Although will many people qualify for a state pension, this will only cover basic needs (find out about eligibility on the Government’s website). To have the standard of living desired in retirement it’s a good idea to start saving into a pension scheme. Plus, pension schemes will also come with some tax relief, so you’ll put more away for a rainy day than if relying on savings alone.

Start saving early

Even if for someone in their 50s, a good pension pot can still be created, but it’s going to be larger if started at 30 or 40 (or before!).

With a pension pot of £25-30k life expectancy is likely to be one and a half years longer than somebody with £10-15k. The link, which largely reflects the connection between wealth and life expectancy, has been quantified through data held by Equiniti, the UK’s largest pension scheme administrator.

Do the maths

People should consider how much money they will need to have when retiring. What expenses will be needed to cover each week? Are there any hobbies the person would like to take up or carry on with? Ben has a handy budgeting tool that can help with this.

It’s also a good idea to try and pay off debts before entering retirement. More about this can be found on Ben’s ‘dealing with debt‘ blog post.

Then, work out how much of these will be covered by the State Pension. But be aware that this has changed in recent years. More information can be found on MoneySavingExpert’s State Pension pages.

Consider how much is paid in each month into the pension, plus any pots from previous jobs. Also include any savings accounts, ISAs or investments that will contribute towards future income. It is possible to work out likely retirement income on the Money Advice Service’s Pension Calculator and see if you’re on track to achieve your goal.

Put more away

If you get a pay rise or a bonus, consider adding some to your pension pot. There is tax relief on contributions and – on some workplace schemes – the employer may increase their contribution too.

Treasure your final salary pensions

If you are lucky enough to have a final salary pension or defined benefits scheme – one that pays out a set amount each month depending on how long you worked for an organisation – then it’s generally a good idea to keep them. They will offer a guaranteed income and do not come with the financial risk of other schemes.

Avoid the temptation to dip in early

Pensions could be a lifeline in later life, so try to avoid drawing out early, even if while still young. What is taken out could take years to build up again. Anyone struggling financially, is advised to turn to Ben – whose free confidential helpline (08081 311 333) and online chat are open Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm.

If self-employed

Although the number of self-employed people in the UK is rising, fewer and fewer are saving into pensions. Some plan to sell their business to pay for retirement, but if this doesn’t work out as planned, they can be left without financial security in later life. Others may put it off because of the expense. However, there are schemes in place to help self-employed people save:

As a self-employed person or single person director, you can use the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest). This is a low-cost government pension plan set up to help employers without a workplace scheme
If you are saving for a pension you can claim back some tax relief via your self-assessment tax return. If you’ve forgotten to do this, you can still claim tax relief from the previous three years.  There is plenty of advice on different types of schemes through the Money Advice Service.

If you’re near retirement

For those thinking of retiring soon, it’s a good idea to take the time to think about the options available. The Money Advice Service has information on the different ways you can take your pension. Ben also has a brochure on life after work that gives helpful tips on making the most of your finances.

Your Comments

Four government select committees launch a joint inquiry on air quality

MPs from four select committees have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots.

The Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Audit Committee, Health, and Transport Committees will hold four evidence sessions to consider mounting scientific evidence on the health and environmental impacts of outdoor air pollution.

Clean air plan
The Government has lost two UK court cases about its plans to tackle the key pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The High Court has ordered the Government to publish a draft new clean air plan to tackle NO2 by 24 April, with a final plan by 31 July.

Poor air quality is contributing to the early deaths of some 40,000 people in the UK each year. The European Commission has also threatened enforcement which could see the UK pay millions of pounds in fines if the Government does not within two months take steps to bring 16 UK zones within legal pollution limits.

Chairs’ comments
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Health Committee said, “Poor air quality is affecting on the health of millions of people across the U.K. because of the impact of invisible particulates and other pollutants. Our joint inquiry will include an examination of the scale of the harm caused and the action necessary to tackle it.”

MPs will examine whether revised Government plans required by the courts to be published by 24 April will go far enough to cut pollution, not only to meet legal limits but also to deliver maximum health and environmental benefits.

The Committees will be considering the following questions:

  • How effectively do Government policies take account of the health and environmental impacts of poor air quality?
  • Are the Government’s revised plans for tackling nitrogen dioxide levels sufficient to meet the High Court and European Commission requirements for urgent action?
  • Does the revised plan set out effective and proportionate measures for reducing emissions from transport?
  • Is there sufficient cross-government collaboration to ensure the right fiscal and policy incentives are adopted to ensure air quality targets are achieved?

In order to inform the Committees’ hearing with Ministers, any written submissions which stakeholders may wish to make should be made no later than 5 pm on Friday, 12 May 2017. Written evidence can be submitted through the improving air quality inquiry page.

Your Comments

First IAAF Industry Briefing is a success

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has successfully hosted its first Industry Briefing of the year at Sales–i in Solihull on Thursday 16th March. Sales-i were extremely supportive of the event, offering excellent facilities to all those who attended.

Headed up by Mike Smallbone, membership development manager, the event welcomed a diverse mix of IAAF members who were able to benefit from an informative update on IAAF’s latest activity and the threats affecting the independent aftermarket.

Quentin le Hetet speaking at the first Industry Briefing

Smallbone kicked off the proceedings by discussing the dangers surrounding the recent MOT consultation, with plans to move it from 3-1-1 to 4-1-1, meaning a new vehicle would not be required to undergo its first MOT until it was four years old. The IAAF gave a clear stance, highlighting the key threats faced by the aftermarket as a result, while also emphasising its position to fight against the changes.

A brief summary of the Ricardo Report was also discussed and its role in the Type Approval legislation amendments. Smallbone was on hand to demonstrate the pros and cons of the recently proposed changes, as well as emphasising IAAF’s active role in highlighting the importance of access to vehicle data on the same grounds as vehicle manufacturers.

Guest speaker, Quentin Le Hetet (GIPA UK), was in attendance to further examine the impact of extending the MOT period to four years on the industry, while also looking at the future of parts distribution in the UK and the global consolidation taking place across the automotive aftermarket.

Smallbone said: “We’re delighted by the number of members in attendance, all of whom provided excellent feedback. These sessions are an essential and useful way to engage with members and ensure they are up to date on the most recent issues affecting the aftermarket. We strongly encourage members to attend our other briefings as the year continues.”

The regional sessions begin at 10.00 am offering the chance to network over a coffee, before finishing at 1.00 pm with lunch.

Further meetings will be held and announced throughout the year with the following meeting taking place at VGroup International in Milton Keynes on Thursday 25th May.

Places are limited and therefore IAAF is advising members to book early to avoid disappointment by emailing Ann Silvester at the IAAF.

Your Comments