Auto Retail Agenda: 2 March 2020

  01 March 2020





Vantage sells four dealerships

Vantage Motor Group is believed to be selling four of its 22 dealerships to Vertu and Steven Eagell, according to Auto Retail Agenda sources.

Vertu Motors is understood to have bought the neighbouring Kia and Honda dealerships in Bradford, while Steven Eagell is buying the Birmingham Toyota and Lexus showrooms located to the north of the city.

The Bradford deal, which was understood to have completed on Friday 28 February, gives Vertu its second Kia showroom, a month after it bought its first in Edinburgh from the collapsed Leven Car Company. Vertu is already the UK’s largest Honda retailer.

Vantage, which was sold by founder Mark Robinson at the end of 2019 to its management team lead by Phil White, had seen a drop in profits in its latest results. The 2018 accounts issued last month showed a fall in return on sales to 0.8% from 0.9% in 2017.

Profit before tax was down 14.3% to £1.25 million on a turnover of £284.7m.



Vauxhall retailers first with used EV battery certificate

Vauxhall is believed to be the first manufacturer to have introduced an electric car battery capacity certificate for used EVs and PHEVs.

The check service will confirm the health of used electric car batteries. Retailers will run a series of tests on EV batteries and issue electronic Battery Capacity Certification via the MyVauxhall app, proving to used car buyers the battery is in a good state.

The battery diagnostics checks will be carried out during routine vehicle servicing and Vauxhall claimed the e-service will help retain values of secondhand electrified vehicles.

Vauxhall’s move follows a call from experts at the 2019 VRA conference for retailers to display a battery condition certificate when selling used EVs. “The information about a battery’s life will have an impact on the residual value,” said CAP HPI consultant Matt Freeman. “It needs to be available to the buyer and if this isn’t done freely and openly… then it will probably be legislated for.”


Flood-hit retailers receive industry support

Several Welsh retailers have been badly affected by recent flooding. Auto Retail Agenda understands Griffin Mill (Renault, Dacia and Nissan) and Hutchings of Pontypridd (Vauxhall and Hyundai) have been completely wiped out. Other retailers are believed to have been hit.

In a positive move to help those affected, ASE founder Trevor Jones has stepped in to offer support. Sources told Auto Retail Agenda he has arranged to buy 100 cars from trade to help restock Hutchings; it is hoped to fund and deliver 30 cars over the coming week.


Specialist Cars of Malton ceases trading

Well-know independent Porsche expert Specialist Cars of Malton has gone into administration. The North Yorkshire firm was established 25 years ago and has failed due to cashflow problems. Administrator Adrian Graham of Graywoods was unable to find a buyer so the company’s assets are to be sold at auction. Eight jobs have been lost.






Ford seeks $1m damages for flipped GT

Ford is suing a group of people including a Canadian auto dealer over an alleged civil conspiracy to ‘flip’ a 2018 Ford GT. The complex plan was to “improperly” acquire the car, sell it for a profit and then resell it again for an additional profit, doubling the original $690k price. Ford places a 24-month prohibition against selling the vehicle on all GT owners. It is demanding $1 million in damages, plus legal fees, from the group.


Colorado clears revised direct EV sales bill

Colorado senators have passed a bill allowing purely electric car makers to sell directly to consumers. However, they have struck out a provision that would have allowed all car makers, including those with franchised retailer networks, to do the same. The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association withdrew its opposition to the bill ahead of the Friday vote.


Coronavirus ‘triples’ global new car sales decline

Ratings agency Moody’s has raised its predicted global new car sales decline from 0.9% to 2.5% due to coronavirus and disrupted automotive supply chains. It warns that cautious customers will avoid crowded areas, including car dealers.

Its prediction is based on coronavirus being contained by the first quarter with normal economic activity resuming by Q2. Last week, it was revealed Chinese auto sales plunged 92% in the first 16 days of February.





Closing prices on 28 February 2020 and weekly change

Most auto retail stocks suffered falls due to growing concerns around coronavirus

Auto Trader Group 519.6p (-50.2p)

Cambria 66.0p (-4.0p)

Caffyns 400.0p (n/c)

Halfords 150.0p (-7.4p)

Inchcape 577.0p (-55.5p)

Lookers 45.25p (-6.05p)

Marshall Motor Holdings 157.0p (n/c)

Motorpoint 304.0p (-7.0p)

Pendragon 12.00p (-0.78p)Vertu 31.7p (-4.4p)




Skoda SE Drive, added-value versions of Fabia, Karoq and Kodiaq, higher prices but extra equipment means up to £490 in OTR savings, ordering open now for mid-March delivery

Land Rover Defender 90, prices confirmed from £40,290 with deliveries beginning in the summer; Defender 110 deliveries begin in the spring

Nissan Leaf e+ N-Tec, cheaper version of bigger-battery Leaf e+ (with a 239-mile range) costs £32,795 (£3,100 less than e+ Tekna), offered on 4.9% APR PCP with £500 deposit contribution





Monday, consumer credit update

Tuesday, 2020 Geneva Motor Show CANCELLED so OEMs expected to debut cars online

Thursday, February new car registrations

Friday, Halifax house price index

20 March, Auto Retail Live Profit Briefing: optimising opportunities in a turbulent climate

2 April, The Future of F&I in Auto Retail





FCA reminder for further SM&CR training

Additional requirements to remain compliant with the Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SM&CR) must be implemented by 9 December 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority has reminded auto dealers. Solo-regulated firms must train all relevant staff on the 5 Conduct Rules, ensure all staff in certified roles are issued with a certificate, and submit all necessary data to the FCA. “Firms still have work to do during 2020 to be ready for the next steps,” said the FCA.

Auto Retail Network will be running a session on SM&CR at its 2 April conference, The Future of F&I. Places are limited and can be booked now.


£150m car delivery legal claim launched

Legal action against five shipping companies has been filed in the UK over claims that millions of UK motorists have been overcharged £150m for new car deliveries. Owners and companies who bought or leased cars between October 2006 and September 2015 are automatically included in the claim, which seeks up to £60 per new car. There is no cost to take part in the legal action and a car delivery charges website has been set up for people to register interest.

BLOG: Finance and the FCA clampdown


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