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Renault announces model and dealer cull

21 December 2011

Renault is to restructure its business in the UK, dropping a number of models and reducing its dealer network by around one third over the next 12 months.
 
It also aims to reduce its reliance on less profitable elements of the fleet market such as daily rental and Motability.  The move is aimed at returning the French carmaker's UK operations to profitability without the need to be propped up by headquarters, and strengthening the brand in the country.  From the beginning of February next year Renault will discontinue the Kangoo car, Modus, Wind Roadster, Laguna and Espace while the network will be reduced by the end of 2012 from 190 to around 135.
 
Managing director Thierry Sybord said that dealers were given the news at the end of last week and while reaction has been mixed, it is mostly positive.  "There is a general feeling that something needed to be done," he said.
 
Renault UK is also taking a number of measures to improve brand perception and residual values.  Sybord revealed 2012 will be a "transition" year with the gradual introduction of its zero emissions models, culminating in the Zoe at the end of the year. Also arriving at around the same time will be the fourth generation Clio, historically a successful car for Renault in the UK, and the launch of the Dacia brand.
 
All dealers will sell the Dacia Duster and new generation Sandero models when they arrive around November.  Sybord said: "During 2012 we plan to move the Renault brand up in terms of customer perception and bring in Dacia below it. Our electric vehicles, or Z.E. brand, will form a halo above."
 
Z.E. models will be the Kangoo Van, Twizy, Fluence and Zoe. Asked if the large models, Laguna and Espace, will eventually be reintroduced, Sybord said: "We will have to wait and see.  It is difficult to compete in the D-segment against Ford and Vauxhall so a Laguna in the future will have to offer something very different. I think that we can expect something very different with the next generation Espace and that will be worth looking at."

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The half billion cost of going backwards

21 December 2011

Travelling in reverse gear causes £409 million each year in vehicle damage, according to new research by Accident Exchange.
 
Almost 200,000 reversing accidents occur annually, report the accident management specialists, equivalent to more than 500 each day, with an average repair cost of £2,123.  As the busiest shopping days of the year arrive, drivers are being advised to take care in congested car parks, the location of most reverse-related damage.  In the majority of incidents, the ‘at fault’ driver collided with the innocent party’s stationary vehicle – usually in a car park – or was reversing from a driveway or narrow side road.
 
The Accident Exchange study suggests that reversing cars cause almost 8% of total vehicle accidents in the UK, which results in nearly half a billion pounds of damage, excluding the wider costs associated with the involvement of emergency services or lost labour hours.  There were an estimated 2.5 million accidents in 2010 on UK roads and Department for Transport figures show that failing to check for another vehicle is the most frequently reported contributory factor (38%) to accidents. 

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Beware bogus car hire deals, says BVRLA

20 December 2011

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association is warning customers to take extra care when confronted with cheap deals for Christmas car hire on the Internet or in the press.
 
Festive season travellers were caught out by bogus car hire companies this time last year, handing over deposits of hundreds of pounds for cars that never materialised. The BVRLA believes that similar scams are being planned this year and has already made contact with Police and Trading Standards over one potential threat.
 
“These companies offer unbeatable prices and free delivery – but they really are too good to be true,” says BVRLA chief executive, John Lewis.  “Unfortunately it is very easy for fraudsters to build a simple website and set up a call centre to pass themselves off as legitimate businesses.  These sham operators are damaging the reputation of car rental. We are working with the authorities to help stamp them out.”
 
In the meantime, the BVRLA is offering five simple tips for customers looking for safe and hassle-free car or van rental.
 1.Only use a BVRLA member. Seeing our logo on the front desk or website is a sign that you are dealing with a reputable company that has been vetted and operates to a professional code of conduct. You will also be able to use our conciliation service in the event of any dispute.
2.Never hand over cash. Most reputable rental companies will only want to accept credit/debit card payment
3.Make sure the company is operating from a bona fide commercial premises, not a PO Box or virtual office, no matter how prestigious the location sounds
4.Make sure the company actually owns and operates the cars it is offering - all BVRLA members operate their own rental fleet
5.Remember, if the price or service being offered seems too good to be true, it probably is and you may well end up out of pocket and disappointed!

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Continental develops tyres for electric vehicles

20 December 2011

Continental has developed a tyre specifically for electric vehicles which will make its first appearance on the Renault Twizy next year.
 
Although the new Conti.eContact tyre will initially be a niche product Continental is anticipating a big increase in global demand with electric vehicle registrations predicted to increase to 1.5 million in 2016 and 2.8 million in 2020.  Peter Robb, passenger brand manager at Continental, said that Continental has a number of implementation projects with original equipment manufacturers and he “expects to see more coming on board next year”.
 
Continental is also producing a winter tyres version of the Conti eContact tyre which will be introduced in 2013.
 
Differences from a standard tyre
 
• The tyre has new dimensions to reduce rolling resistance. It is narrower than a standard tyre but has a larger outer diameter, which means it can carry the same load.
• There is less material in the sidewall which enables more flexibility and ensures that less energy is lost, again helping with rolling resistance.
• Tyre noise has been reduced by having a high number of lateral sipes and no lateral grooves.
• Continental has also created a ‘BLUECO’ label which will be used to identify its electric vehicles tyres.

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ACFO forecasts increased demand for ...........

20 December 2011

......... company cars as employees turn their backs on cash allowance schemes

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