Bosch plans to acquire Unipart’s Autoparts Garage Programmes

Bosch has announced its intention to acquire Unipart Group’s (UG) Automotive Aftermarket workshop programmes in the UK. These programmes include the Unipart Car Care Centres (UCCC), a network of independently run garages, the KiS online garage management software, which helps to organise all daily workshop activities, and the Unipartner Consumer App. It is planned for all existing customer contracts to be transferred to Bosch.

“This acquisition perfectly fits with our growth strategy for the United Kingdom and Ireland”, Steffen Hoffmann, President Bosch UK and Ireland, said. “It is a significant step that increases our network of partner garages creating new sales channels for our automotive parts, diagnostics, and workshop services with these customers.”

Established in 1995, Uniparts’ Car Care Centres are one of the most recognised workshop programmes in the UK and are committed to high standards of work, quality and customer care. Bosch will take over the marketing support and training services for the garages plus ensure access to Bosch’s full range of automotive parts, diagnostics and workshop services.

The KiS online platform, one of the leading garage management systems in the industry, has been enhanced consistently since it was launched in 1992.

The Unipartner Consumer App enables car owners to manage key aspects of vehicle ownership such as MOT, Road Tax, Insurance and Servicing due dates to ensure they stay legal and safe. It also directly connects the consumer with the UCCC’s and Bosch Car Service networks at the touch of a button for all their service and repair needs.

“Robert Bosch has been at the forefront in offering servicing, repair and diagnostics services to car drivers via its global network of premium independent workshops, Bosch Car Service, for almost 100 years”, said Robert Hilbert, Head for the Bosch Automotive Aftermarket division in the UK. “We are very excited to increase our UK footprint in the Independent Aftermarket with these new garage partners and are very much looking forward in welcoming our new colleagues from Unipart to Bosch”.

Following a detailed strategic review, the Unipart Group board recently decided to identify a partner that could take their Programmes business to the next level and Bosch was deemed the right strategic partner. Mike Ferris, Unipart International Managing Director said: “We’ve been working in close partnership with Bosch for many years on a number of joint initiatives and they share many of Unipart’s core values and principles. I am delighted that the Unipart Autoparts Garage Programmes will be transferring to a trusted business in Bosch who will further develop the programmes, whilst maintaining the needs of the garage and consumer at the forefront of their plans”

It has been agreed that the purchase price will not be disclosed.

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£94m lost following discontinuation of car tax discs

The abolition of tax discs has led to soaring numbers of unlicensed vehicles and an unpaid tax bill of £94 million, as reported in the DfT’s 2019 survey on Vehicle Excise Duty evasion.

Ministers had hoped to be able to save £10 million a year by clamping down on tax evasion and cutting costs when it replaced paper discs with an online system in 2014.

However, the move has backfired as figures have revealed that a large number of motorists are either deliberately dodging tax or are forgetting to pay it, although a proportion of the estimated £94m revenue shortfall will have been recovered by DVLA enforcement activity and the payment of arrears by vehicle owners.

Around 1.6 percent of vehicles on Britain’s roads are currently evading Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), according to the Dept. for Transport. This represents an estimated 634,000 vehicles, almost treble the number in 2013/14, and equates to a loss of around £94 million in unpaid tax bills.

This is far more than the £35 million lost under the old system five years ago. While the number of vehicles avoiding tax is down from 1.9 percent since 2017, it still remains higher than the 0.6 percent rate before paper discs were abolished.

Previously, any remaining tax on a vehicle was transferred to the new owner when it was sold. Under the new system, any existing tax ends when a vehicle changes hands and the previous keeper is automatically refunded the remaining tax. The new owner must tax the vehicle immediately and is reminded by email to do so. But government figures suggest many motorists are failing to do this.

The vehicles most commonly dodging VED are motorcycles with an evasion rate of 3.8 percent. More than half of vehicles showing as not having tax have been unlicensed for more than a year, but of this proportion more than a quarter were motorcycles.

No comments have been made by the Dft due to the period of “purdah” prior to the General Election.

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TfL will not grant Uber another private hire licence – but 21 days to appeal

Transport for London (TfL) has decided not to grant Uber a new private hire operator’s licence, in response to its latest application.

Last year, Uber received a 15-month licence from the chief magistrate when it appealed TfL’s decision not to grant a new licence, which said it was not a “fit and proper” firm, citing concerns including passenger safety.

The on-demand taxi firm has made a number of positive changes and improvements to its culture, leadership and systems in the period since the chief magistrate granted it a licence in June 2018. This includes interacting with TfL in a transparent and productive manner. However, TfL has identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk.

Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL said it does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.

In September, Uber was granted a two-month licence as further information was required on these issues, some of which emerged late in the process of its reapplication.

A key issue identified was that a change to Uber’s systems allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips – putting passenger safety and security at risk.

This means all the journeys were uninsured and some passenger journeys took place with unlicensed drivers, one of whom had previously had their licence revoked by TfL.

Another failure allowed dismissed or suspended drivers to create an Uber account and carry passengers, again compromising passenger safety and security.

Other serious breaches have also occurred, including several insurance-related issues. Some of these led TfL to prosecute Uber earlier this year for causing and permitting the use of vehicles without the correct hire or reward insurance in place.

This pattern of regulatory breaches led TfL to commission an independent assessment of Uber’s ability to prevent incidents of this nature happening again. TfL concluded that it currently does not have confidence that Uber has a robust system for protecting passenger safety, while managing changes to its app.

Legislation means that Uber now has 21 days to appeal, during which it can continue to operate pending any appeal and throughout any potential appeals process. Uber may seek to implement changes to demonstrate to a magistrate that it is fit and proper by the time of any appeal.

Throughout this period, TfL will continue to closely scrutinise the private hire operator, which includes the need for Uber to meet the 20 conditions set by the London authority in September 2019. Particular attention will be paid to ensuring that the management have robust controls in place to manage changes to the Uber app so that passenger safety is not put at risk.

Helen Chapman, director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging at TfL, said: “As the regulator of private hire services in London we are required to make a decision today on whether Uber is fit and proper to hold a licence. Safety is our absolute top priority. While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.

“It is clearly concerning that these issues arose, but it is also concerning that we cannot be confident that similar issues won’t happen again in future. If they choose to appeal, Uber will have the opportunity to publicly demonstrate to a magistrate whether it has put in place sufficient measures to ensure potential safety risks to passengers are eliminated. If they do appeal, Uber can continue to operate and we will closely scrutinise the company to ensure the management has robust controls in place to ensure safety is not compromised during any changes to the app.”

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EAG names latest sales recruit

Excel Automotive Group (EAG) has appointed Tom Waites to the role of internal sales following his move from Universal Components.

Tom began his working life as a warehouse operative after leaving school, where he combined work with education, as he enrolled in a motor vehicle panel beating and paint spraying course at college.

After impressing in a part-time role over two years, Tom was offered a full-time contract at Universal, which he duly accepted. Tom continued his progression with notable style, as his maturity and skillset earned him the position of assistant supervisor just 12 months later.

Fast forward another year, Tom’s product knowledge and MAM Autopart software capability earned him the position of internal sales at Universal Components. It was his previous experience and three years in the current role that impressed EAG bosses, all of whom were keen to bring him on-board, and on the 4th November, they got their wish, as Tom began a new chapter.

Tom said: “There is a lot of work to do behind the scenes; however, early impressions suggest the people and products behind the brand can deliver.

“I am keen to develop into a stronger sales person, and with the change from commercial vehicle to passenger car, there is ample room for me to broaden my knowledge. I am delighted to be here, and I am looking forward to the new challenges and meeting a wide variety of customers.”

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Workshops see rise in catalytic replacement business

Workshops are seeing more business due to growing theft of catalytic converters.

AA Insurance Services reports that that in January it had claims for just eight thefts but this had risen to 79 in October.

It said although catalytic converter thefts represent a very small proportion of all insurance claims made, the number of claims has steadily increased since January 2018.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as palladium, rhodium and platinum and can either be sent for scrap or sold privately via online auction sites.

As the converter is either unscrewed or sawn off the car, other damage can occur with bills up to £3,000.

Janet Connor, managing director for AA insurance services said the tenfold increase in claims for catalytic converters was “shocking”.

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GS Yuasa power homeless group’s charitable work with battery donation

GS Yuasa, the world’s leading battery manufacturer, have donated two of their industry-leading Yuasa YBX5625 Super Heavy Duty (SHD) batteries to the South Wales homeless group, Helping Open People’s Eyes (H.O.P.E). The batteries will be used to power a bus which provides shelter for homeless people in and around Newport.

Led by Ian Smith and his wife Tammy, H.O.P.E aim to help rough sleepers in the Newport area by offering them somewhere safe to stay. The team consists exclusively of volunteers and relied on donations from their local community to repurpose a former London bus. With 12 beds, showering facilities and a fully kitted-out kitchen, the bus offers temporary refuge as well as space to socialise.

Ian and Tammy, along with other representatives from the group, visited GS Yuasa’s factory in Ebbw Vale earlier this month. GS Yuasa Battery Sales UK Ltd Technical Services Manager for Automotive and Motorcycle products, Peter Whittaker, was on hand to offer advice and to help fit the two SHD commercial vehicle (CV) batteries.

The battery manufacturer also donated one of their Yuasa smart chargers to maintain the batteries industry-leading performance. This reduces the need for reconditioning via the bus’s alternator-driven charging system – allowing the bus to remain in the places it’s needed most.

Ian, founder of the group, said: “GS Yuasa have been established in the area for years and we approached them in the hope they might be able to help – to say we are overwhelmed by their support would be an understatement! Their donation will allow us to continue to provide somewhere safe to stay for those who need it most.”

The Yuasa YBX5625 SHD is specifically designed for use in heavy duty applications such as commercial vehicles. Its low self-discharge rate and maintenance free design make it the perfect solution for H.O.P.E. It’s part of the four-tiered Yuasa YBX SHD range which provides one of the most comprehensive and highest specification offers on the market.

Peter Whittaker added: “We’re delighted to be able to support H.O.P.E – it’s such a worthwhile cause and one we’re proud to get on board with. Yuasa batteries have long been the go-to choice in unique and super heavy duty applications making the them perfect choice to power H.O.P.E’s incredible work.”

Since establishing a production facility in Ebbw Vale, GS Yuasa have produced over 80 million batteries at the Welsh facility, employing close to 400 skilled workers.

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Success for MP Motorsport team

For the final round of the 2019 season, MP Motorsport started the rally in second place for both the ANEMMC and EMAMC championships but knew that with a strong, committed and calculated drive they could finish first overall.

The day started reasonably well, with the team lying in fourth place overall, but experiencing a lack of grip in the wet conditions. During Stage 2 the team softened the suspension settings and came back, still in fourth position but still not happy as they were not generating any heat in the tyres and, as a result were still experiencing understeer.

They softened the suspension further but unfortunately still couldn’t generate the heat needed to get the tyres working correctly. In service the MP Motorsport team disconnected the front anti-roll bar and moved the front suspension settings to compensate and started to feel the tyres switch on in stage. They could now drive the car harder and claw back time on the championship leader.

The team started to claw back the 10 second deficit, pulling 8 seconds back. During Stage 8 they continued their push and took a further 11 seconds, meaning they were now clear by 9 seconds, with just two stages to go. However this was now into darkness and the MP Motorsport service crew fitted the LED light bars to provide the extra illumination needed to continue the fight for the championships. Another two seconds meant they were now 11 seconds clear with just one stage to go. The team decided to back off the pace and ensure they brought the car home safely to win both the ANEMMC and EMAMC championships.

MP Motorsport finished the day fifth overall, only one second behind fourth place and just five seconds behind third overall after ten stages.

All the MP Motorsport team would like to say a massive thank-you for all the support they have received, which has enabled them to achieve the double this year. They hope everyone has enjoyed following their success this season and also enjoyed the passenger rides day at Blyton Park earlier in the year.

Various photographs have been uploaded to the Facebook page, along with in car footage etc throughout the year. They have always tried to take time to speak to spectators on events and engage with their enthusiasm for the car and feel truly blessed to have had such fantastic support. They are now the ANEMMC and EMAMC 2019 champions!!

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Advisory Fuel Rates from 1 December 2019

HMRC has just released the Advisory Fuel Rates which will become effective on 1 December 2019. These rates only apply to employees using a company car. The previous rates can be used for up to one month from the date when the new rates apply.

Advisory Fuel Rates from 1 December 2019

Engine size Petrol: amount per mile  LPG: amount per mile
1400cc or less 12 pence 8 pence
1401cc to 2000cc 14 pence 9 pence
Over 2000cc 21 pence 14 pence
Engine size  Diesel – amount per mile
1600cc or less 9 pence
1601cc to 2000cc 11 pence
Over 2000cc 14 pence

Hybrid cars are treated as either petrol or diesel cars for this purpose.

Advisory Electricity Rate
The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 4 pence per mile.

Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

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Hydraulics: It’s been in our DNA for 100 years

100 years ago, in November 1919, KYB’s journey began. Shiro Kayaba was a gifted student who had earned a place at the prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo, entering the faculty of Engineering and Science. However, within a year he found himself disillusioned, instead choosing to spend considerably more time on his own research. Claiming his course to be “tedious lessons based on an unbending version of the past”, Kayaba declared “I want to work freely based on the spirit, inspiration and curiosity that I was born with”. With that, Kayaba left university, immersing himself completely in his own research.

Already holding patents for his independent research, Kayaba secured vital funding from a prominent businessman who frequently assisted promising Waseda University students. On November 19th 1919, a 21-year old Shiro Kayaba opened the Kayaba Research Centre with 30 researchers. KYB’s predecessor was born, and our journey had begun.

The Research Centre and Kayaba himself quickly caught the attention of the Japanese Navy. He rejected their advances, preferring to stay at his Centre until the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 struck. Tragically killing over 140,000 people, the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck at lunchtime while people were cooking and, as a result, fires broke out across the area. The Kayaba Research Centre was burnt to the ground. Kayaba found himself with no choice but to work for the Japanese Navy, where his expertise in hydraulics would lead him to develop remote controlled hydraulic landing and take-off equipment on aircraft carriers, as well as hydraulics for the aircraft landing gear to lessen the blow of landing.

In March 1930, Kayaba was visited by a British engineer who had come to settle a dispute he had with the Japanese patent office about hydraulic landing gear he had designed. After seeing Kayaba’s superior design, the British engineer abandoned his own planned landing gear, and word spread about Kayaba’s. Orders flooded in from around the globe. This, coupled with another Kayaba invention allowing planes to take off from short runways across Japan’s mountainous terrain, gave Kayaba enough funding to break away from the Navy and establish Kayaba Manufacturing Co. in 1935, the company we know today as KYB.

Shiro Kayaba’s spirit and philosophy, alongside his pioneering research and inventions, lives on in KYB’s development and manufacturing process today, 100 years later. KYB is OE supplier to around 1 in 5 cars worldwide, manufacturing over 1 million shocks per week.

“Nothing is ever complete. The unique ability of humankind to make progress lies in constantly seeking a higher level of perfection, which serves as the basis for the development of both the company and human society” – Shiro Kayaba.

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Textar powers Newell & Wright to third place in truck racing finale

Textar sponsored Newell & Wright Motorsport has achieved third place in the British Truck Racing Championship Division one.

In thrilling end to the season at Brands Hatch, driver John Newell battled all weathers to finish ahead of his rival and consolidate third place.

With more trucks competing in the final race weekend of the season, the Newell & Wright Motorsport truck – fitted with Textar’s market leading brake pads and discs – was put through its paces in treacherous conditions during the first race on Saturday, with Newell coming home in sixth position.

The next day saw a complete turnaround in conditions with blue skies, a still damp track and 40,000 spectators greeting the drivers for the final three races of the season. Newell managed to stay ahead of his nearest rival in the first two races meaning that third place in the championship was secured ahead of the final race of the day.

Newell said: “I’m delighted to have finished third in the championship and a big thank you to all our supporters and sponsors Textar for their support.”

With trucks coming off Clark Curve and hitting speeds of up to 100mph on the Brabham Straight, before braking at Paddock Hill Bend, drivers have to be confident in their brakes. As Newell explained: “Brands Hatch is such an exciting circuit for truck racing. While it’s not as demanding on the brakes as other tracks, we have to have complete confidence going into the braking zones. With Textar brake pads and discs, we are able to brake later and stop quicker than other drivers, giving us a competitive edge.”

John Newell started using Textar brake pads and discs in motorsport in 1999 and has never looked back. Thanks to their durability and performance, Textar brake pads perform solidly over the entire race weekend and even afterwards, as Newell & Wright use the brake pads on their haulage fleet.

Immediately following the truck racing action, Brands Hatch hosted its annual fireworks display, alongside a twilight convoy of 100+ HGVs on the race circuit.

Sue McKay, Global Category Manager CV, TMD Friction UK Ltd, said: “We’re delighted with the role Textar has played in helping Newell & Wright Motorsport secure third place in the championship. Working with the team this year, we have gathered a vast amount of information and proven the exceptional performance of Textar brake pads and discs in such a demanding environment as truck racing.”

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