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No respite expected from record fuel prices

07 March 2012

Fleets should forget about any respite from record pump prices after Chancellor George Osborne appeared to reject a further cut in fuel duty.
 
The average price of diesel in the UK has overtaken the record set in May 2011, hitting 143.35 pence per litre (ppl) – the previous record high was 143.04ppl.  However, Osborne has said that fuel duty is six pence lower today than it would have been due to the action he had taken in November’s autumn statement and in his Budget last year.
 
“I have taken action this year to tackle fuel duty rises, which were planned by the last Labour government,” he said. “That involved committing several billion pounds of resources, it has involved putting a tax on oil companies instead of families and motorists and businesses, precisely to ameliorate the impact of these high world oil prices on the British public.”
 
The bleak message from the chancellor comes as FairFuel UK launches National FairFuel day by presenting a copy of a report to Number 10 Downing Street today (Wednesday, March 7).  The report claims that the Government could cut fuel duty on petrol and diesel without losing any taxation revenue.  The report was undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). It concludes that even a modest cut in fuel duty of 2.5 pence per litre would create 180,000 new jobs and would on its own boost GDP by 0.33%.
 
Jakes de Kock, marketing director at The Fuelcard Company, said: “Government must commit to a long-term strategy to benefit both us in the transport sector as well as the general public – it must not renege on its promises again and must implement a fair fuel policy as a matter of urgency.”
 
In May, 2011, the Arab Spring was blamed for causing pump prices to rise, before they began falling back to 137.59ppl last summer.  However, once they started to climb again the chancellor came under increasing pressure to address planned fuel duty increases in January and August of this year.  His announcement in November surprised many when he deferred the scheduled 3ppl rise in fuel duty due in January until August 2012, and cancelled the inflation increase that was planned for August, which was expected to be worth an additional 1.92ppl.
 
But pressure on pump prices continues to grow. Oil rose to a 10-month high of more than $125 a barrel in dollar terms in the past fortnight, though oil prices remain some $20 a barrel short of their 2008 record of $147. But in euro terms, Brent Crude rose to an all-time high of €93.60 last week, topping its 2008 record.  So far this year, Brent prices have rallied by more than 15%, pushed up by fears over Iran and a loss of production from small and mid-sized producers Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.
 
Tensions in the Middle-East also continue to pile on the pressure while a diesel price of 150ppl was reported at one motorway garage on the M6 near Coventry in recent days.  Whatever the chancellor decides to announce in the Budget on March 21, fleet managers are being urged to not take their eye off rising fuel costs.
 
“Regardless of what the Government does, high fuel prices are here to stay and fleet managers cannot afford to ignore this fact because they will continue to eat into business profit margins and slow economic recovery,” said Jon Tandy, business development manager at Mycompanyfleet.  Instead, fleet managers need to make use of the tools at their disposal to analyse fuel costs and identify areas where management action can be taken.

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Cutting fuel duty would be a win-win for business

06 March 2012

.......... and Government, says FTA

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Jaguar unveils XF Sportbrake

06 March 2012

Jaguar has unveiled its second only estate car, the XF Sportbrake, based on its acclaimed sporting saloon the XF.
 
And on first appearances, the design gurus at Whitley Engineering Centre, just outside Coventry, have definitely managed to balance style and practicality in creating this new addition to family.  The XF Sportbrake builds on the extensive refresh received by the XF saloon for the 2012 model year, which also saw it launch the fleet friendly 2.2-litre diesel version.
 
A full five-seater with an additional 48mm of rear headroom, remote-fold levers situated just inside the tailgate allow the rear seats to be folded down with just one touch to provide an uninterrupted load surface that is 1,970mm in length.  The central portion of the load-space floor can be lifted to reveal an extra, hidden storage compartment, which without the spare wheel helps create an overall load space of 1,675 litres.  That’s five litres less than the Audi A6 Avant at 1,680 and five litres more than in BMW 5 Series Touring, which boasts a load capacity of 1,670.  However, the XF Sportbrake can’t match the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, with its massive 1,950-litre load bay.
 
Jaguar hopes that the XF Sportbrake will help boost sales further after selling more than 10,000 units in 2011, but they refused to be drawn on specific sales targets, simply saying that it expects the XF Sportbrake to account for around 20% of XF sales.  It will be fitted with Jaguar’s range of four-cyclinder 2.2-litre and V6 3.0-litre diesel engines, with the 2.2 variant expecting to take the lion’s share of orders.  It is offered in combination with an eight-speed gearbox and Jaguar’s intelligent stop-start system, which in the XF saloon offers emissions of 149g/km and a combined mpg of 52.3.
 
No pricing details have yet been released, but the entry level XF has a P11D price in the region of £30,000, so expect a premium of around £2,000 considering the premiums paid for 5 Series Touring and A6 Avant compared to their saloon siblings.

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All drivers in France must carry a breathalyzer

28 February 2012

The IAM is warning that from 1 July this year all drivers visiting France will need to carry a breathalyser kit in their cars, as French drivers will have to. From November there will be an €11 fine for not complying with this.
 
With a start date for the new measure of 1 July 2012, the rules will apply for anyone travelling to or through France by car in the summer holiday season, even just for a day trip.  Single-use breathalyser kits will satisfy the requirement. The legal limit in France is 50 mg per 100 ml of blood, lower than in the UK (the UK limit is 80mg). They cost between £1 and £2 and they will be available at ferry and tunnel terminals for crossings to France. It is intended that people will be able to test themselves to check whether or not they are over the French limit.
 
The IAM is advising motorists in France to have at least two breathalysers at all times, so that if one is used you still have one to produce for the police if you are stopped.  Anyone driving in France is already required to carry a warning triangle and a fluorescent safety vest to use in an emergency. Additionally UK motorists must display a GB plate and have their headlights adjusted to the right.
 
IAM director of policy and research Neil Greig said: “The new French rule is a genuine attempt to reduce the number of alcohol related-accidents. France’s lower limit means it’s very easy to be over the limit the morning after as well. As always, the best advice for motorists is not to drink and drive at all.”

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Government names plug-in vans eligible for grant

28 February 2012

Government has named seven ultra-low carbon vans that will qualify for a discount of up to £8,000 as part of the ‘Plug-In Van Grant’ incentive. The incentive aims to stimulate the market for ultra-low carbon commercial vehicles as it establishes itself in the UK.
 
“The Plug-In Van Grant and today’s detail on the seven models eligible is excellent news for van drivers, operators, businesses and the industry. The savings on the initial purchase price, coupled with the tax advantages and very low running costs make a plug-in van an attractive proposition – particularly for those running local and back-to-base services,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “Home to a high level of low carbon R&D and manufacturing activity, the UK is well placed to take full advantage of the ultra-low carbon vehicle sector. Incentives that support the development of a flourishing market will add to our competitive advantage.”
 
Already on sale, or arriving this year, each van is eligible for a 20% price reduction up to £8,000 with VAT businesses able to reclaim the full list price VAT on top of the reduction. Vans qualifying for the Grant must emit less than 75g/km CO2, be capable of travelling at least 60 miles between charges (10 miles in electric mode for hybrid vans), reaching speeds of more than 50mph and meet European safety standards.
 
In lobbying for the new Plug-In Van Grant, SMMT stressed the value of low carbon R&D and testing in the UK and the significance of the ultra-low carbon vehicle market for the country’s economy. The early development of a low carbon market in the UK brings with it vehicle trials, engineering and development functions – crucial elements that will help the UK to remain at the forefront of this emerging market.
 
Plug-In Van Grant eligible vehicles:

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