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Brexit means more people are delaying buying a new car

Buying a new car

While Brexit leaves the country shrouded in uncertainty, Britain’s new car buyers are dealing a blow to the nation’s car dealers.

According to research conducted by BuyaCar, almost half of Britain’s new car buyers are delaying the purchase of their next vehicle for two years or more, with Brexit cited as the primary reason for the delay by more motorists than at any time since the 2016 referendum.

In the aftermath of the historic EU referendum, one in five motorists said they expected to change their car within the next three months, with just 27.7 percent saying they would wait two years or more.

Today, just 4.8 percent said they expected to buy a new car in the next three months, with 47.5 percent claiming they’re planning to hold on to their existing car for at least the next two years.

Earlier this year, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), warned: “With fewer than 60 days before we leave the EU and the risk of crashing out without a deal looking increasingly real, UK Automotive is on red alert.

“Brexit uncertainty has already done enormous damage to output, investment and jobs.”

Erring on the side of caution

New Jaguars for sale

Austin Collins, managing director of BuyaCar.co.uk, said: “Even as we announce these figures it’s against the backdrop of another series of Parliamentary votes that seem to take us no further forward in understanding how Brexit will affect everybody.

“We believe it is this continued uncertainty rather than the idea of Brexit itself that has finally made consumers err on the side of caution about their immediate plans to change cars.

“When we first began measuring consumer sentiment in relation to Brexit it was clear that the vast majority of car buyers weren’t worried and that was reflected in the large number who were intending to start shopping for a car in the next few months.

“The way that figure has plummeted from 20 percent to less than five per cent, as people wait to understand what Brexit looks like, comes as little surprise.

“Against a wider backdrop of industry concern over future tariffs, supply chains and other issues affecting car manufacture and retail, the news that consumers are suddenly wary about committing to their next car purchase can only add to those headaches.”

Brexit deal or no-deal, drivers need their papers

Channel Tunnel France

From 29 March, regardless of whether there’s a Brexit deal or no-deal, British motorists will probably require a Green Card to drive in the EU. That’s according to fleet management specialist Venson Automotive Solutions.

The company is urging businesses to ensure that employees have the right paperwork in place to take their company car abroad, as simply having a UK driving licence won’t cover the legal requirements once the UK has left the EU. If the country leaves without a deal, the situation gets more complicated.

In the event of a no-deal, it is highly likely that drivers will be refused access to the EU (except the Republic of Ireland) if their passport expires within six months. Drivers are advised to check their passport’s expiry date using this government tool.

The government is pushing for UK driving licences to be recognised for trips to Europe, but in the worst case scenario, drivers will require an International Driving Permit (IDP) for all EEA countries (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) except Ireland.

The Green Card

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, drivers will require a Green Card from their insurance provider as proof that their car is covered. 

The Green Card will replace the current European Certificate of Insurance, which allows UK citizens to travel under one simple certificate. Drivers of leased and rented vehicles require a VE103 certificate from their hire or leasing company before taking a vehicle overseas.

Simon Staton, director of client management at Venson Automotive Solutions said: “Under the Brexit deal drafted at the end of 2018, visa-free travel should continue as it currently stands, until the end of the transition period.

“But in the event of a no-deal, businesses need to make sure they are fully aware of what arrangements need to be made before their drivers get on the road in European countries.”

Venson’s European motoring checklist

Venson Automotive Solutions has issued an eight-point checklist for company car users driving in Europe. This can be summarised as follows:

  • If you’re taking your company car to Europe contact your fleet manager or fleet management company to check whether you need an authority to travel form, a VE103. Processing of the form typically takes two weeks.
  • Check your passport to ensure it is not within six months of the expiry date. If it is, it will need to be renewed.
  • Check if you need a Green Card. This replaces the current European Certificate of Insurance.
  • Even if you regularly drive abroad always check the local rules of the road before you go, as requirements can change.
  • Check your service schedule, and if one is due, make sure it’s carried out in advance of your visit to reduce the chance of expensive breakdowns while you’re abroad.
  • Check all tyres for condition, pressure and tread depth before you go. Most countries have the same requirement as the UK – a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm over the central three-quarters of the tread and around the whole circumference.
  • Before setting off on your journey make sure you have valid breakdown cover for Europe.
  • Many countries require visiting motorists to carry a safety bag. Check the AA website for country advice before you go.

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Garages predict Brexit price rises and parts shortages

garages post-brexit

As many as 45 percent of garages have taken steps to get ready for Brexit (and possibility of ‘no deal’) by switching to UK-based suppliers. 

A study by WhoCanFixMyCar surveyed a network of independent garages across the UK. It found that one in six garages have been stockpiling parts ahead of the projected EU exit date of Friday 29 March.

More than half (52 percent) of garages anticipate an increase in labour costs after Britain has left the EU. And almost two thirds believe drivers will be hesitant to get repairs done for fear of cost increases.

More than half of garages also predict that parts will be more expensive, with 42 percent saying the availability of parts in the UK post-Brexit was in doubt.

garages post-brexit

“Since the referendum resulted in the UK government triggering article 50, Brexit has been arguably the biggest talking point for people across the UK and much of Europe,” said Al Preston, co-founder of WhoCanFixMyCar.com

“However with so much uncertainty on what happens when we leave, business owners have been left wondering how to prepare.

“The garage and repair industry is truly global, and many OEM parts are only manufactured outside of the UK.

“With the news that companies such as Honda and Nissan have closed factories to move production elsewhere, it only fuels worry for garage owners. However, it’s good to see so many taking precautions pre-Brexit, as I’m sure this can’t be said for all industries.”

We’ll see how it all pans out in less than a month…

PSA Group on a roll: Vauxhall in profit, Peugeot going to the USA

PSA Peugeot Citroen Vauxhall Profit

In the summer of last year it was reported, to the surprise of many, that Vauxhall/Opel was returning to profit under new PSA Peugeot/Citroen ownership.

This was a quick turnaround following PSA’s acquisition of the two marques from General Motors not two years previously. Final numbers indicate that Vauxhall/Opel’s profit margin was 4.7 percent in 2018.

Brexit confidence 

Peugeot, Citroen and DS, meanwhile, have doubled profits in the UK since the Brexit vote two years ago. Indeed, chairman Carlos Tavares isn’t worried about Brexit, saying “Vauxhall is warm to the hearts of UK consumers. Maybe we are the ones who have the best opportunity out of it”.

That doesn’t necessarily secure the safety of the Ellesmere Port plant, though. Tavares is no stranger to making difficult choices in the pursuit of progress: “If we have to make tough decisions, we will”. 

Going global

PSA Peugeot Citroen Vauxhall Profit

With revenue up 18.9 percent compared with 2017 (at more than £63 million), PSA Group is now looking to go global. Just two years after Opel was withdrawn from Russia, there are plans to return. This is part of a strategy to increase sales outside Europe by 50 percent, which also includes Citroen heading to India.

By far the most interesting facet of PSA’s future expansion, however, is the plan to reintroduce Peugeot to North America. We never thought we’d see the day where a Peugeot 508 vs.Toyota Camry twin-test was a possibility in Automobile magazine.

Overall, the group aims to launch 116 new models by 2021. A Core Energy Strategy will also see 50 percent of the Group’s offerings electrified by 2021, with 100 percent targeted for 2025.

Baby steps have already been made with the new 208, available with a 50kwh electric powerplant from launch. So too with the new Vauxhall Corsa later this year, which will be available with electric power.

Tavares’ success

PSA Peugeot Citroen Vauxhall Profit

This will be the fifth year in a row that Carlos Tavares has delivered impressive results for the Peugeot Citroen Group. What’s the secret to his success?

Agility is a word that keeps popping up, as a descriptor for the Group’s ability to adapt to new challenges. Tavares claims that “we will be continuing our Darwinian transformation and approaching each challenge as an opportunity to stand out against our competitors”.

Brexit tax: new car prices could leap by 22 percent

Brexit EU tax new cars

Independent car buying website Carwow has developed a tool to predict Brexit price rises for individual car manufacturers.

On average, it says, new car prices will rise by £8,000 if no deal is reached between Britain and the EU.

That doesn’t mean that middling Ford Fiesta is going to leap from £16,000 to £24,000, of course. The £8,000 figure mostly refers to premium models, which will be the most affected by the EU exit

Premium jumps

Brexit EU tax new cars

After March 29th, cars from marques such as Volvo, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Volkswagen, Fiat and Audi could be around 22 percent more expensive. 

For a Maserati that costs £67,000 at present, a £14,000 increase is on the cards. And the Alpine A110 is expected to jump by £10,000.

The news follows many marques from the Volkswagen Group announcing potential 10 percent rises post-Brexit.

Budget brands ‘safe’

As for more affordable cars, there’s better news. While there are rises predicted, cars from Nissan, Ford, Mini and Vauxhall will likely only increase by about three percent.

A typical new Ford is due to set you back an extra £727, according to the prediction tool. A new Mini is predicted to cost an extra £644, while a new Vauxhall will be £631 more.

Good Housekeeping Ford ecosport

The tool is a response to Carwow research that revealed only seven percent of Brits are prepared to pay more for a new car post-Brexit. On the plus side, there could be some superb deals over the next five weeks.

One thing is certain. If you’re in the market for a new car, your best bet is to buy now and make sure your delivery date is before 29 March. If not, buy straight off a forecourt. Uncertain times are ahead…

Why you might need new number plates after Brexit

GB number plates no deal Brexit

UK motorists may need to splash out on a new set of number plates in the event of a no-deal Brexit

The news comes as the government issues guidance notes on preparing to drive in the EU after Brexit, with a warning that number plates displaying both the EU flag and a GB sign will no longer be valid from 29 March 2019.

Instead, drivers will have to replace the Euro-plate with a number plate displaying the GB plate without the EU flag. Alternatively, Remainers can hold on to their plastic slice of EU history, providing they display a GB sticker without any reference to the EU.

Under the current rules, a separate GB sticker isn’t required when travelling within the European Union if the Euro symbol and GB national identifier are displayed on the number plates. The Euro symbol must be a minimum height of 98mm, have a width between 40 and 50mm, have a reflective blue background with 12 reflecting yellow stars, and must show GB in reflecting white or yellow.

GB sticker on Triumph Stag

Alternatively, motorists can display the Union Flag, Cross of St George, Cross of St Andrew or Red Dragon, but they must be accompanied by letters denoting the country of origin. For example, in the case of Wales, the options are CYMRU, Cymru, CYM, Cym, Wales or WALES.

In all cases, the plates must be accompanied by a GB sticker.

And you thought it was simply a case of sticking a pair of plastic plates on your car. 

One thing’s clear: if you’re travelling in the EU from 29 March 2019, you may need a GB sticker if your car is currently wearing a set of EU number plates. It’s either that or splashing out on the non-EU variety. Let’s hope Halfords has stocked up on blank plates…

No-deal Brexit: VW, Porsche, Skoda and Seat may raise prices by 10 percent

Brexit Volkswagen price increases

Volkswagen has announced its response to a hard Brexit and, unfortunately, customers will feel it first. For anyone who ordered for a new Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda or Porsche after 1 February, a 10 percent price increase could be on the cards.

Customers do, however, have the opportunity to terminate their order free of charge in response to the potential price hike.

No-deal car import tax

Brexit Volkswagen price increases

It’s all to do with delivery windows, the possibility (probability, now?) of a no-deal Brexit and tariffs on imported goods thereafter.

Volkswagen has therefore warned its customers that a 10 percent price increase could be levied on cars entering the UK after the split with the EU goes through.

This follows leaked news several days ago that Porsche would pass similar costs on to customers. We can now confirm the same also goes for fellow VW Group brands, Seat and Skoda.

As for Audi, a spokesperson has said that “Audi UK will price-protect all orders until further notice.”

“We strive to keep customers as informed as possible during the buying process,” said a Volkswagen UK representative.

Brexit Volkswagen price increases

“This includes being clear on any potential changes outside of our control that may affect the price of the car they’re interested in purchasing. So customers will be given the opportunity, free of charge, to cancel their order should prices increase as a result of import duty changes.

“It is important to remember in all this that transaction price, and indeed the sale (in a retail environment), are agreed between the dealer and customer. However, we have reminded our networks of the importance of being transparent with their customers on any of our price protection policies which may have an impact on their sale.”

Brexit sends car finance costs soaring nearly 50 percent

Brexit car finance PCP

New research by Parkers has revealed that car finance costs have increased by as much as 48 percent since Britain voted for Brexit and to leave the European Union. All of sudden used cars look a lot more appealing…

This is thanks, in part at least, to the drop in the value of the pound against other currencies, particularly the Euro. In May 2016, the Euro was 1.30 to the pound, while in February 2019, it sits strong at 1.10. Given a large number of cars are imports from the EU, costs to buy and lease have, at best, risen commensurately and are, at worst, significantly more.

The scary thing is that these figures aren’t with reference to big-ticket cars – quite the opposite, in fact. Take the BMW 1 Series, a car at the end of its life cycle that ought to be a value proposition right now. If you signed a £200 per-month contract for a 1er in January 2017, the same car would cost you £298 per month now.

In total, you’d end up paying £4,606 more over the course of the contract. That is an astonishing increase, giving credence to that 48 percent increase figure.

Brexit car finance PCP

The BMW seems a somewhat lofty proposition, so for comparison purposes, consider the humble and appallingly unsafe Fiat Panda. January 2017 cost: £119 per month. February 2019 cost: £153 per month. That’s an increase of £34 per month, adding up to a total of £1,580 extra over the course of a contract.

Given we’re approaching the three-year mark since the Brexit vote was passed, many PCP contracts taken out around the time will be coming to an end. PCP buyers will invariably be facing marked increases if they want to replace their car like-for-like on a new contract.

Revealed: almost every car-making region voted LEAVE in Brexit referendum

Honda car factory in SwindonThe shock news that Honda is to close its Swindon car manufacturing plant has inevitably focused attention on the region’s decision to vote leave in the 2016 European Union Referendum. 

Local Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson insisted Brexit was not a factor in Honda’s decision, but other industry commentators argue it will not have helped. 

But it’s not just Honda. Nissan and Sunderland are intrinsically linked, yet Sunderland is another region that voted leave. The company employs almost 7,000 people at the factory itself, with thousands more across the North East tied to the supply chain that feeds it.

Leave voting automotive areas

In an area affected by the decline of traditional industries, Nissan is not just part of the economy. For many, it is central to the financial lifeblood of the region. In the aftershock of Nissan’s recent decision to cancel building the next X-Trail SUV in the UK, attention also focused strongly on the region.

Counting the consequences

Leave voting automotive areasThe Sunderland area has itself become closely associated with the fallout from the 2016 European Union membership referendum.

Sunderland City Council has a determination to count election votes the quickest, meaning it often makes the headlines on polling day. In 2016, this meant that, for many, the first results from Wearside are intrinsically linked to memories of the referendum.

The connection between Nissan and Sunderland had led many to wonder how an area so dependent on frictionless trade with Europe could have voted to leave the EU.

Sunderland and Swindon: two of many

Leave voting automotive areasOther commentators have gone even further, revelling in schadenfreude, and suggesting that the people of Sunderland and Swindon deserve outcomes like the loss of the X-Trail and Civic for how they voted in 2016.

However, as much as the two regions’ decision to vote leave in 2016 may have baffled some, our research shows they were not alone.

Data from the EU referendum reveals districts linked to no fewer than 20 other car factories and sites across the UK also voted to leave. Just two voted remain.

Marginal leave-voting areas

Leave voting automotive areasEight voting districts, covering eight separate car production facilities, voted with a marginal swing towards leave.

The various companies accounted for a combined total of more than 12,000 employees at the time of the vote, with Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port facility alone producing more than 118,000 cars in 2016.

Factory Manufacturer Voting District 2016 Vote Result
Longbridge MG Motor SAIC Birmingham 50.4% Leave
Castle Bromwich Jaguar Land Rover Birmingham 50.4% Leave
Ellesmere Port Vauxhall Cheshire West & Chester 50.7% Leave
Goodwood Rolls-Royce Chichester 50.9% Leave
Crewe Bentley Cheshire East 51.2% Leave
Gaydon Aston Martin Stratford-on-Avon 51.6% Leave
Halewood Jaguar Land Rover Knowsley 51.6% Leave
Hethel Lotus South Norfolk 51.7% Leave
Malvern Morgan Malvern Hills 52.2% Leave

Stronger leave-voting areas

Ford BridgendAccounting for a staggering 22,000 automotive jobs, this group of districts includes a mixture of manufacturing and technical facilities.

Vauxhall’s Luton plant has existed in various guises since 1905, while Toyota UK’s Deeside facility only opened in 1992.

Factory Manufacturer Voting District 2016 Vote Result
Bridgend Ford Bridgend 54.6% Leave
Honda of the UK Honda Swindon 54.7% Leave
Plant Swindon BMW (Mini) Swindon 54.7% Leave
Whitley Jaguar Land Rover Coventry 55.6% Leave
Solihull Jaguar Land Rover Solihull 56.2% Leave
Deeside Toyota  Flintshire 56.4% Leave
Luton Vauxhall Luton 56.5% Leave

Strongest leave-voting areas

Leave voting automotive areasThe final set of five factories are spread across a wide geographic area, with more than 15,000 employees split between them.

Intriguingly, Dagenham, Hams Hall and Wolverhampton all exist as facilities to produce engines only.

Jaguar Land Rover’s Wolverhampton-based Engine Manufacturing Centre was only opened in 2014. Plant Hams Hall has seen recent investment from BMW to produce engines for the i8 hybrid sports car.

Factory Manufacturer Voting District 2016 Vote Result
Burnaston Toyota UK South Derbyshire 60.4% Leave
Sunderland Nissan UK Sunderland 61.3% Leave
Dagenham Ford Barking & Dagenham 62.4% Leave
Wolverhampton Jaguar Land Rover South Staffordshire 64.8% Leave
Plant Hams Hall BMW North Warwickshire 66.9% Leave

Remain-voting areas

Leave voting automotive areasNot every area linked to car production voted leave in 2016. Our research found two districts that voted in favour of remain.

Factory Manufacturer Voting District 2016 Vote Result
Woking McLaren Woking 56.2% Remain
Plant Oxford BMW (Mini) Oxford 70.3% Remain

Leave it out

Leave voting automotive areasThe 2016 EU referendum is a deeply polarising topic, with the reasons for how individuals voted often complex and multifaceted.

What our research does show is that despite local economies often being deeply linked to the local automotive sector, for most areas this did not affect how they voted.

It also serves as a key reminder of the scale of the UK automotive sector, and that those taking satisfaction from the latest Nissan announcement may be overlooking a far wider trend.

EU car industry to stagnate in 2019 – Brexit, emissions and the U.S. to blame

EU car industry to stagnate

The EU car market is predicted to stagnate in 2019 at 2018 levels, with a growth rate of less than one percent. Brexit, tightening emissions regulations, and the demonisation of diesel are being blamed, as potential U.S. import tariffs are breeding a feeling of uncertainty.

The past five years have seen a continuous trend of growth in the car industry, but things are likely to change. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is expecting level figures, at best, for 2019.

EU car industry to stagnate

ACEA president Carlos Tavares outlined some of “the major challenges ahead” at a conference in Paris on Wednesday. “Meeting stringent car and van CO2 targets – both for 2020 and the recently-agreed post-2020 targets – the looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit, and the ever-present threat of tariffs on US car imports” top the list of worries the European car industry.

“The prospect of a no-deal Brexit still has not been ruled out. On the contrary, this scenario looks more likely than ever before,” Tavares continued. Manufacturers are facing market uncertainty not seen since the recession and prior economic dips of that scale. That carmakers with UK-based manufacturing along with large-scale importers are throttling back shouldn’t come as a surprise.

EU car industry to stagnate

Gloomy sales projections aren’t the only bad news, either. Figures are suggesting that 2018 is the second year in a row that CO2 figures have risen, with a 6.5 percent increase last year. This is down in part to the drop in diesel sales and a commensurate rise in petrol sales. Diesel was touted many years ago as the wonder fuel in terms of reducing CO2 output. Now it’s taken such a sharp downturn, the figures are back on the up.

All this combined with threats of import tariffs in the US for manufacturers that don’t build their cars over there makes a gloomy 2019 result all but unavoidable.