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Friday, 22 May 2015

Transport minister rules out garage licencing - Auto Retail Bulletin

Auto Retail Bulletin reports that the new transport minister, Robert Goodwill, has ruled out garage licensing for the time being. Is that any surprise? It has hardly been a popular idea with any government, as far back as I can remember, and a Conservative government might be expected to be less inclined to regulate than any other. But as the report makes clear, the landscape is changing: as autonomous cars get closer, the argument for regulating the repair industry in the same way as gas and electricity gets stronger. The issue is not going away, and we will be returning to it with increasing frequency in the future!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

TrueCar sued by California New Car Dealers Association

It  has been a controversial matter for some time now, and yesterday the California New Car Dealers Association has started legal action against TrueCar alleging that the company is operating as an unlicensed dealer: the Wall Street Journal has the story, along with many others but one link should be enough for you. Elsewhere, PRNewswire has reported TrueCar's response to the suit.

'via Blog this'

Friday, 15 May 2015

eCall on the way

Safety in the automotive sector - European Commission: "eCall is an automatic emergency call system for motor vehicles. It dramatically shortens the time it takes for emergency services to arrive. Carmakers will have to install the technology in all new car and van models from 31 March 2018 onwards. The system could help save hundreds of lives every year and thus improve road safety in Europe. The eCall system is covered by two legislative acts:

Regulation concerning type-approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall in-vehicle system based on the 112 service and amending Directive 2007/46/EC (making the vehicle fit for eCall) (29 April 2015)

Decision on the deployment of the interoperable EU-wide eCall service (making the public infrastructure fit for eCall) (15 May 2015)

The final eCall report (2014) documents structure and assess the available information which may offer support in developing vehicle approval requirements and test procedures with respect to the eCall in-vehicle systems."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, 14 May 2015

AW: Direct sales approach gaining momentum in US

Automotive World (subscription required) reports that direct sales, cutting out the franchised dealers, are becoming more popular. Perhaps some would argue that the level of legal protection enjoyed by dealers in the US is encouraging manufacturers to find other ways to engage with customers?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Be careful with free offers

The BBC News website reported last week (before I became diverted by the election) that a dealer had found itself being taken advantage of: 'Free meal' garage customer's £700 bill at top London restaurant. A customer offered a meal out for two in apology for damage caused to her car on the premises managed to run up a bill of £714, including a surprising amount of alcohol ("four glasses of champagne, two bottles of wine costing £69 each, six cocktails totalling £86 and a sloe gin": is that humanly possible?). The dealer is offering to split it with the customer, which (knowing only what is in the BBC report) seems to me to be highly optimistic: even if there is no legal obligation (and this could be no more than a gift, with no consideration to make it a binding contract, as the actual damage was fixed and a courtesy car provided) it plays very badly in the media.

Of course, the solution is quite simple, and the dealer is no doubt kicking its corporate self for missing the obvious: put a cap on the amount you'll spend. And there is nothing to stop someone in the same position designating the restaurant too, providing an opportunity to give a customer a little business at the same time as making a disgruntled customer a little more gruntled.

On another point, as I have frequently observed the motor trade is in the odd position of manufacturers' goodwill being in the hands of its dealers, a matter which the manufacturers have in fact exacerbated over the past decade by increasing the prominence of their own identity over that of the actual dealer. The result is that the wronged party in this story, which now might be seen to be squirming to try to claw back a sum of money that the public will probably consider paltry by its standards, is not the dealer but Audi. (That makes it even more paltry, of course.) It is sad to see anyone trying to do the right thing being so badly taken advantage of, but it's worse perhaps when that person is wrongly identified.