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Friday, 11 August 2017

Volkswagen offers free telematics service to new and current company car drivers

Fleet News reports this development from VW. The service (which seems to be based on a mobile phone app) is aimed at fleet operators. It enables drivers (and presumably their employers) to monitor fuel consumption and driving style, and (here's the legally interesting thing) offers the possibility of linking to authorised repairers. Provided it's optional, the latter should be OK: it will be handy for operators, no doubt, and they are likely to be locked in to service contracts anyway. It's when such links tie consumers to the network that it gets worrying, both from the competition angle and as a data protection issue.

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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

VW offers trade-ins up to 10,000 euros in diesel clean-up

Reuters reports that VW is offering up to €10,000 off the price of a new car to encourage owners to trade in older diesel cars. Manufacturers had promised German government officials last week that they would modify software in more than 5 million diesel-powered cars, hoping to avoid a ban on diesel vehicles - several major German cities are talking about banning diesels, and with federal elections due next month the issue is urgent.

The discounts offered by VW vary (as you might expect) across the range, and cover several brands within the group. For the core VW brand, the rebate will be between €2,000 and €10,000: for Audi, €3,000 to €10,000, and for Porsche, €5,000, according to Reuters. BMW, Daimler and Ford have also announced incentives.

The VW offer will run to the end of the year, and additional incentives to go for hybrid, electric or natural gas models are also available.

BMW is also extending to the UK a similar scheme it launched recently in Germany. Details from BMW here.

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The proposed joint acquisition of the financial activities of Opel and Vauxhall by Groupe PSA and BNP Paribas is approved by the European antitrust authorities | Media Groupe PSA

From the PSA press release:

Today, the European Commission approved the proposed acquisition by Groupe PSA and BNP Paribas of the captive companies of Opel/Vauxhall.
This proposed deal to jointly acquire the captive financing companies of Opel/Vauxhall and to build a strategic long-term partnership around the Opel and Vauxhall brands was announced on 6 March 2017, as part of the acquisition of Opel/Vauxhall by Groupe PSA. .
 These activities will benefit from the combined expertise of Banque PSA Finance and BNP Paribas Personal Finance in automotive financing, to better serve dealers and Opel and Vauxhall customers and support the development of the two brands.
 This operation is also subject to the approval of the European banking authorities, whose decision is expected in the second half of the year.
 "An important milestone was reached today for the teams already mobilized on this project for several months”, explains Laurent David, Chief Executive Officer of BNP Paribas Personal Finance. “Teams are now concentrating on fulfilling the remaining conditions necessary to close this deal, which is expected to be achieved before the end of the year", indicated, Rémy Bayle, Chief Executive Officer of Banque PSA Finance."
The Commission has also released the story, in its daily news bulletin and in French, here. You'll have to scroll down to find it. More information from the Commission's register of competition cases under number M.8460.

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Monday, 31 July 2017

FCA on motor finance market

The Financial Conduct Authority tells us: 'We are looking at the motor finance market to ensure that it works well and to assess whether consumers are at risk of harm.' It goes on:
'Consumers’ use of motor finance has grown rapidly in recent years, with many credit products now available.
'As we set out in our Business Plan 2017–18, we are looking at this market to develop our understanding of these products and how they are sold, and to assess whether the products cause harm to consumers and if the market is functioning as well as it could.'
Details of the Authority's work, which naturally focuses on PCPs, are on its webiste (link in the first line above). It promises to publish an update in Q1 2018.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Automobile industry calls for balanced outcome in EU-Japan FTA

As the EU and Japan get closer to entering into a comprehensive free trade agreement, though it seems that it is being presented as a finished project despite there being a lot of loose ends to tie up, ACEA has drawn attention to some particular aspects important to the motor industry, according to this press release. The removal of tariffs on imports into the EU from Japan (currently 10 per cent on cars, and up to 22 per cent on commercial vehicles) must be balanced by a reduction in non-tariff barriers in the opposite direction, says ACEA. While opening the Japanese market to EU dairy products promises benefits to European producers, in the automotive sector - the other area in which the free trade agreement will be important - the benefits are likely to flow the other way. By drawing attention to the fact that under a free trade agreement with South Korea that has been in operation for nearly six years there are still outstanding problems with non-tariff barriers, the organisation emphasises the importance of having procedures to deal with disputes as well as encouraging collaboration in regulatory matters.

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Friday, 30 June 2017

Germany: new emissions testing body mooted

According to Reuters, the German government is considering setting up a new body to test for vehicle emissions. There has been something of a loss of faith in the existing system, and replacing the old body will help to restore consumer confidence, the government hopes.

US: Congress argues about legislation on autonomous cars

Members of Congress have differed over legislation on autonomous cars - but, this being the US, the arguments go beyond the rules themselves: it's a matter of who should be doing the legislating, states or the Federal authorities. Democrats argue that it's NHTSA that should be making the rules, while Republicans have a different take. The prospect of cars that stop working at state borders is not one that will help the prospects for the industry.

Read more, if you want to, from Reuters here.