The UK economy grew by 6.6% in July, according to official figures, but output remains far below pre-pandemic levels. It is the third month in a row that the economy has expanded. But the Office for National Statistics (ONS), said that the UK "has still only recovered just over half of the lost output caused by the coronavirus". Hairdressers, pubs and restaurants contributed to growth after companies were allowed to reopen in July.
However, the UK's economy is still 11.7% smaller than it was in February and growth in July was smaller than the 8.7% expansion seen in June. Thomas Pugh, UK economist at Capital Economics, said the reopening of restaurants and pubs meant the accommodation and food services sector "rose by a whopping 140.8%" between June and July. And while he expects the Eat Out to Help Out scheme to provide a further boost in August, "now that most sectors in the economy are open again there is little scope for further large rises in monthly GDP".
Former Endeavour Automotive managing director Adrian Wallington has re-joined former employer Marshall Motor Holdings as commercial development director as one-of-four new appointments for the AM100 PLC. Alongside Wallington, Vertu Motors Group’s commercial vehicle director Simon Elliott becomes director of commercial vehicles, while Caroline Illing joins as HR employment lawyer and Matt Willmott assumes the post of head of group legal.
Wallington worked for Marshall as finance director for seven years after fulfilling roles at Jardine Motor Group and Wayside, before moving to Endeavour in 2018, where he was the subject of a face-to-face group profile with AM. A statement issued by the group this week said that Wallington’s focus will be to support the management team unlock further growth opportunities and lead a number of strategic projects to support the group.
Pendragon revealed today (Sep 7) that it is looking to sell its Los Angeles-based Jaguar Land Rover dealership to Triunity Automotive Group for some £15.8m. In an announcement to the London Stock Exchange, Pendragon said an agreement with the privately owned dealership group was reached on Friday to offload the trade and assets of the Hornburg showroom, which is in West Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood.
The figure agreed is subject to completion adjustments and will be a cash payment. Automotive retailer Pendragon announced in 2017 that it was getting rid of its US arm as part of a restructuring operation. However, current chief executive Bill Berman told Car Dealer in May this year that he would never have sold the businesses if he’d been in charge back then. It sold its Puente Hills Chevrolet showroom to JBR Automotive Inc at a £700,000 loss in February this year. The group also sold two Jaguar Land Rover dealerships in California for £60m in May 2019, and offloaded its sole US-based Aston Martin dealership to US Auto Trust in July 2018 for £3.1m. Hornburg’s gross assets as of December 31, 2019 were reckoned to be £274.m, with profit at £300,000.
The consumer new car finance market grew 20% by value and 9% by volume in July 2020 compared with the same month in 2019. Year to date new business volumes in this market were 36% lower than in the same period a year earlier, according to the latest data from the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA). The percentage of private new car sales financed by FLA members in the twelve months to July 2020 was 93.5%, up from 91.6% in the same period last year.
The consumer used car finance market reported growth in new business of 18% by value and 9% by volume in July 2020 compared with the same month in 2019. In the first seven months of 2020, new business volumes in this market fell by 26% compared with the same period in 2019. Geraldine Kilkelly, head of research and chief economist at the FLA, said: “July saw the consumer new car finance market report growth for the first time this year. Both consumer new and used car finance markets saw new business volumes return to normal levels in July after the record-lows reported in April. The pick-up in the economy since June has been encouraging, but the sustainability of the recovery remains in doubt. Our latest research suggests that new business in the consumer car finance market is likely to fall by 20% in 2020”.
In a new move to spark the uptake of electric vehicles, parking spaces could be painted green the transport secretary has said. Grant Shapps announced local authorities could be advised on methods to highlight EV-only parking spaces, which could include painting them in green. Other potential measures to get people buying electric cars include more charging points at places like supermarkets, and developing batteries that can recharge in as little as six minutes. The green parking spaces announcement follows the news that electric vehicles will receive a green stripe on their number plates. Last week, Nissan dealers showed off what the plates will look like as they’re rolled out this autumn
Speaking of the new proposals, Shapps said: ‘Whether you’re taking a trip with the family or commuting to work, with the wide range of models at competitive prices it is now more cost-effective and convenient than ever to drive and charge an electric vehicle. ‘This, together with our continued support for R&D (research and development), will see talented UK-based SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) flourish, as well as more than 6,000 skilled jobs created up and down the country. This is why, on the world’s first ever day dedicated to celebrating electric vehicles, I’m delighted to announce our unwavering support for a cleaner, greener transport future.’
An AA poll recently found half of all drivers are considering buying an electric model when they next come to purchase a car. The survey of more than 17,000 AA members also showed, however, that drivers’ biggest problems with electric cars were still around price and the UK’s charging infrastructure.
The average UK car retailer recovered more than half of the losses suffered during a Q2 trading period devastated by the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown, according to ASE Global. In his monthly Retailer Profitability report, ASE Global chairman Mike Jones said that the average UK car dealer made a profit of £52,000 during July. Jones said that, while some of this “may be a result of a submission catch-up”, it showed the “strength of the bounce-back” which retailers have seen since reopening the showrooms in June.
More than 1,200 car derivatives are currently identified as Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs) and are eligible for tax breaks, according to Cap HPI. The data company has reclassified mild-hybrid cars as AFVs, following an announcement by the DVLA and HMRC that these vehicles qualify for the same tax discounts as hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars. Initially, it was ruled that because these vehicles would never be propelled by electric power alone they would continue to be taxed for both their VED and BiK as a conventional petrol or diesel engine.
Due to the rule change, there are now several ranges where the mild hybrid variants are being taxed at the lower rate for alternative fuel vehicles, including non-RDE2 (Real Driving Emissions) compliant Diesel models. Mild hybrids use a starter/generator to capture electricity during coasting and braking and provide a small power boost during acceleration. Some vehicles combine mild-hybrid technology with a 48v electric system, which enables the car engine to be switched off but all the comfort and convenience systems to continue working, such is in stop start traffic or when costing at higher speeds.
Cap HPI has added a new flag in its New Vehicle Data (NVD) technical data under alternative fuel qualifying, which includes all qualifying vehicles, including pure electric, plug-in, and mild hybrids. More tax-efficient types of diesel vehicle can also be identified through RDE2 certified models. RDE2 diesel cars, which are exempt from the standard 4% BIK diesel surcharge, now account for more than 35% of all diesel vehicles on Cap HPI’s database.