Auto Evolution

Auto Evolution

Dacia growth plans, aftersales in spotlight and Nissan Ariya

Tributes to Queen Elizabeth II for her lifelong support of, and interest in, the UK’s automotive sector feature in the September 2022 issue of AM magazine, available to read here free in digital format.

Shortly before The Queen’s death the appointment of Prime Minister Liz Truss prompted dealers to tell AM of their hopes for business support from the new Cabinet, such as lower VAT.

An exclusive survey in AM magazine shows a trend in increased wage bills to support staff who are feeling the squeeze, although some businesses are concerned they may not have enough in their “war-chest” to cope with a harsh winter of rising costs.

Luke Broad, brand director at Dacia UK, reveals his plan to double the value brand’s new car sales by 2025 and discusses its lead part in digital developments for Renault Group.

Our Spotlight section focuses on aftersales in this issue, with retailers and industry experts haring views on how workshops must help customers to keep their cars maintained through a period when they are concerned about their own rising costs of living

And in our Showroom section, we report on the launch of the Nissan Ariya electric car and Nissan GB managing director Andrew Humberstone’s hopes for it to reposition the Nissan brand, plus our long term test of the Cupra Born continues to stir up emotions.

Editor’s Letter

When the news broke of the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II the team here at AM, alongside many people across the country, felt a real sense of sadness and loss.

As with the majority of AM readers, I have only known life with The Queen, and the end of her 70-year reign is truly the end of an era.

I grew up in West Norfolk, a region with a close connection through

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Auto Evolution

Solicitor exploits legal loophole to gain full refund on two

A luxury and premium car retailer suffered an estimated £30,000 loss after a London solicitor allegedly exploited distance selling regulations to gain full refunds on two Tesla EVs he had owned for over a year.

The managing director of Sutton-in-Ashfield-based Auto100, Christopher Smith, warned other retailers to double-check their sales process and contracts after being caught-out by the car buying legal professional who he alleges exploited flaws in their processes in a deliberate and premeditated scam.

“It was sickening,” said Smith, whose business was forced to take back the two Tesla’s – worth around £75,000 and £100,000 at the point of sale – after one year and 12 days in the customer’s possession, during which time thousands of miles were added to their odometers.

The transaction happened just two days inside the one year and 14-day cancellation rule stipulated by The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 in the event that a seller fails to provide the correct paperwork.

Smith said: “I want people to know about it because there will still be retailers out there who are in a position that might see them caught out. It can’t be allowed to happen.”

‘Premeditated’

Smith told AM that the London solicitor had transferred the money to buy the two Teslas in full before he collected them in a process that transformed the transaction from a standard sale into one which was completed under distance selling regulations.

He conceded that, in failing to identify the knock-on effects at the time, Auto100 failed to give the customer a copy of his of his terms and conditions.

“As a result of that, one year and 12 days later you can come back to us and have all his money back, and that’s exactly what he did”, Smith said.

Smith said

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Auto Evolution

Can European automakers take the lead in the EV revolution?

European automotive companies can set benchmarks in the EV revolution by adopting an ecosystem approach and reinforcing digital capabilities to build resilient supply chains, writes Ruchir Budhwar

Nations at the COP26 summit pledged to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change. Automobile majors are scaling up e-mobility programmes to meet decarbonisation mandates by 2050. This pivotal shift is already reverberating around the world. In 2020, automotive sales plummeted in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sales of electric vehicles (EVs) registered a 40% growth, according to the Global Electric Vehicle Outlook 2021 report by the International Energy Agency.

As the world transitions to e-mobility and the global demand for EVs gathers momentum, automakers need to rewire and digitise the manufacturing ecosystem. The local auto industry must realign the product lifecycle management (PLM) construct with the dynamics of EVs, and incorporate digitisation into each stage of the production cycle to sustain market leadership.

Generative design for optimisation

Computer-aided design, engineering and manufacturing (CAx) models of the 1980s fired the imagination of product designers and effected a shift in automobile design and development. CAx platforms integrated functional areas and manufacturing activities to streamline PLM processes and drive engineering excellence. Generative design transforms CAD software with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and virtual simulation. It replaces linear design and engineering processes with parallel runs of design, evaluation, validation and optimisation. This accelerates research and development, product engineering services, homologation, and time-to-market for EVs.

As the world transitions to e-mobility and the global demand for EVs gathers momentum, automakers need to rewire and digitise the manufacturing ecosystem

EVs need advanced design and engineering frameworks to overhaul legacy manufacturing and leverage emerging practices. Generative design algorithms abstract textual and visual data from input files and apply deep learning to align core

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Auto Evolution

Cost-of-living crisis pushing car buyers into finance,

The cost-of-living crisis is pushing new and used car buyers to opt for finance rather than cash purchases, research by What Car? has found.

As part of its weekly industry research, What Car? surveyed 1,060 in-market buyers. Of those buying via finance, a quarter (25.8%) said the cost-of-living crisis had influenced their decision to borrow – helping spread out the cost of purchase – while 74.2% were always expecting to buy via finance.

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) and Hire Purchase (HP) plans are most popular among finance buyers, accounting for nearly two-thirds (63.4%) of those buying via finance, while a quarter were undecided. PCP and bank loans accounted for 9.5% of planned purchases.

Of all the in-market buyers taking part in the study, 34.7% were looking to purchase in the next four weeks, while 24.3% had plans to buy within one to three months. Nearly a fifth (19.8%) of all buyers were looking to buy a fully electric vehicle (EV).

Steve Huntingford, editor at What Car?, said: “The cost of living crisis is clearly influencing  buying decisions, and is already impacting whether people buy via cash or finance.

“Finance helps spread out the purchase cost over several months and, depending on the deal, buyers can simply hand the car back at the end of the contract and swap for a different model, adding flexibility and reducing commitments.”

The used car sector delivered double-digit growth in the value of new consumer finance business generated in July 2022 as supply issues continued to subdue new car registrations.

Motor finance providers are likely to tighten the criteria on which they base their lending, in order to minimise their risks during the cost-of-living crisis.

AM is hosting a webinar for law firm Freeths tomorrow to give UK motor retailers insights into how they must

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Auto Evolution

Lookers chief people officer fears cost-of-living challenge

Lookers chief people officer Chris Whittaker has voiced fears the cost-of-living crisis affecting the car retail sector’s workforce is “not going to be a short-lived”.

Whittaker expressed his concern for the duration of the challenge facing the sector and its employees as he spoke to AM about a overhaul of the AM100 car retail group’s terms of employment to deliver a Lookers Living Wage across its network of dealerships.

He said that the shift, part of a drive to make Lookers an “employer of choice”, had been completed in August.

Backdated to July, the scheme ensures all but the PLC’s apprentices now earn above the National Living Wage, with apprentices paid around 55% more than the recommended level in year one of their training.

But Whittaker conceded that it was “extremely tough at the moment” as he considered the double-digit inflation impacting Lookers’ workforce.

“We really went hard at our pay structure and we’re happy with the outcome.

“With inflation at the levels that we are seeing it is hard to know what you can do as an employer beyond a certain point.

“I think we’re very much aware that this is a challenge that is not going to be a short-lived, but we have made considerable changes to our pay structure and we’re working hard to help staff make their wage go further with our range of company benefits.

“The biggest commitment we can make is that of maintaining a sustainable business.”

Retention and recruitment

Whittaker said that Lookers’ rebalanced wage structure at Lookers had also seen a shift towards a better basic wage for sales executives, with on-target earnings (OTE) now accounted for “approaching 50%” of their salaries.

As well as boosting retention, Whittaker hopes the group’s efforts will also boost recruitment at a time when staff are

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