Fuel Prices Hitting New Car Sales
In June new car registrations have fallen...
Soaring fuel bills combined with fears that interest rates could rise later this year are keeping carbuyers out of the showrooms.
New car registrations, a key indicator of economic confidence, fell again in June, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed yesterday. Volumes slipped 3.6%, or 8,126 units, to 219,497 last month.
But the overall strength of the UK car market was underlined by the fact that even though sales have now fallen for nine successive quarters, June's performance was still ahead of the 1999-2005 average for the month, the SMMT said.
Despite signs of an economic rebound, the car market "remains lacklustre", especially in the private buyer sector, it added. "Buyers are facing mounting domestic pressures especially with increasing energy bills. There are also concerns over possible interest rate rises before the end of the year."
The June market, however, held a couple of bright spots for manufacturers. Registrations of super-minis rose by 2.1 per cent, the second monthly increase in a row, and diesel-powered cars took 38.9 per cent share of the market, a record for the month.
"In a market that has wobbled on the back of weaker consumer confidence and higher fuel costs, it's not surprising that supermini cars and diesel models are picking up," SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said.
Among local manufacturers, both Jaguar and Land Rover saw their recently improved sales performances go sharply into reverse.
Number Plate Sold For Record £331,500
M1 sold for record price...
The numberplate M1 has sold at auction for £331,500, setting a new world record for the highest price paid for a car registration.
The plate was bought by a mystery bidder from the North West of England, who bought it as a birthday present for his six-year-old son. The price paid is £46,500 more than the £285,000 paid for VIP1, the number plate made for Pope John Paul. The number plate was made for the Popemobile during a tour of Ireland in 1979. Last year the number plate F1 sold for £144,500.
Bonhams auctioned M1 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale in Chichester. Bidding started at £50,000 and there were at least five interested parties. The new owner made his successful bid over the telephone.
Anti-Theft Number Plates Launched
New "thief-proof" car Number Plates are being launched by the government...
They are designed to deter thieves who steal plates and use them to pass their car off as someone else's - a growing trend known as car-cloning. The plates, which break into pieces and become unusable when prised off a car, will be launched by roads minister Stephen Ladyman. They will cost about £20 - double the normal price - and be available from the autumn but will not be compulsory. Criminals can resell "cloned" cars, or use them to avoid paying for petrol, fines and London's Congestion Charge.
The Department for Transport said strict standards had been set for the plates, such as ensuring it takes at least three minutes to prise them from a car. Mr Ladyman said the new plates would help to reduce the number of innocent drivers receiving fines.
Car Sales Up in May
Car sales have unexpectedly rose in May of this year...
New car registrations rose for the first time this year in May, with a 1.1% rise, beating expectations by 5000 units. Despite this, volumes were still down by 46,438 units, 4.3%, over the first five months of the year compared with 2005.
Diesels and superminis saw an increase in registrations: 6955 more superminis registered than last May, up 13.4%, while the diesel market share hit a record high for the month at 37.9%.
Once again, the Focus is the UK's top-selling car, with 14,000 registrations for May and 64,791 for 2006 so far. The Focus is followed by the Astra with 9248 registrations and the Fiesta with 8168. Fourth is the Golf and fifth is the Corsa. Rounding off the top ten are the Megane, the Mondeo, the Vectra, the Zafira and the Clio.
Fiat once again posted strong growth, thanks to the new Grande Punto lifting their year-to-date performance. Other manufacturers showing growth include Jeep, Lexus and Ssangyong, which has seen a 90% increase in registrations this year, although its figures are smaller in comparison with other car makers. Alfa Romeo had another bad month, dropping more than 23% in May and more than 33% this year.
Commenting on the May 2006 new car registration data, SMMT chief executive, Christopher Macgowan said: "In what is proving to be a competitive market, the rise in May figures reflects a small upturn in consumer confidence. We hope that easing fuel prices, a burst of better weather and a strong England performance in Germany will be reflected in new car sales in the coming weeks.
"It has been a tough year so far but the industry is proving to be resilient. More manufacturers have announced world debut's for this summer's British International Motor Show at ExCeL London, so car buyers will be able to see for themselves, just how many options there are."
|DVLA nets £6m from sale of motorist details
Vehicle ownership data sold to private sector at £2.50 a pop...
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has revealed that it made more than £6m last year selling access to the names and addresses of motorists to private sector companies such as wheel clamper, bailiffs and debt collection agencies.
That represents a 27 per cent increase on the £5m the DVLA earned from selling vehicle ownership details to the private sector the previous year.
The DVLA currently charges an administration fee of £2.50 to anyone who can demonstrate "reasonable cause" to receive the information from the vehicle database. Once the request is approved a company can submit a car registration number to find out the name and address of the vehicle's owner. The practice sparked controversy earlier this year when it was revealed convicted criminals and companies that didn't even exist had been granted access to names and addresses from the vehicle database. This forced the government to announce a review of the regulations covering the release of information because of concern about the breadth of organisations that now have access to the register.
One of the issues is that "reasonable cause" is not defined in the law but a DVLA spokesman said it takes its duty under the Data Protection Act to protect the privacy of motorists "very seriously" and said each request is considered on merit. He said: "Applicants must provide as much detail as possible to support their request. Insufficient information or use of data outside the 'reasonable cause' provisions will mean refusal of the application. Members of the public are subject to more stringent checks and must provide supporting evidence such as police reports and their insurance details."
Thousands of rude car reg numbers outlawed...
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has drawn up a blacklist which includes registration numbers such as AA55HOL (asshole) and D055ERR (dosser).
Thousands of people - like TV DIY star Tommy Walsh - pay for personalised plates, which are legal. But some form rude words such as M1 BUM (my bum) and HO03 KER. The banned list was released under the Freedom of Information Act. The ban covers plates with religious connotations like JE55USS, references to terrorism such as HA06MAS (Palestinian group Hamas) and regs which could be traded by far right groups like AU55WTZ (Nazi death camp Auschwitz) and GO05TEP (goosestep).
It comes after H8 GAY was withdrawn last month because it can be read as "hate gay". Even shorter Number Plates from the 1930s such as AR53 are being withdrawn. The DVLA said: "We'll withhold any plate that causes offence or embarrassment."
|DVLA plates smash auction records
Special Number Plates on sale via auction...
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) 100th auction of personalised registrations, which ended on Saturday evening, smashed the UK records for the most money paid for a vehicle registration plate and the total sum raised from a registration auction.
The registration ’51 NGH’ was bought for a total of £254,000, beating the previous record of £231,000 paid for the registration ‘K1 NGS’, which had stood for 15 years. In total, three numbers sold at the auction entered DVLA’s all time top ten table of best selling registrations including ‘1 OO’ which sold for £197,000 and ‘MR51 NGH’ which went for £101,000.
Another plate attracting a lot of attention was ‘RU55 ELL’, which was bought by Oxfordshire property developer, Russell Harrison of Russell Harrison plc, for £78,500.
Commenting on his successful bid, Russell Harrison said: "I’d been waiting for five years for ‘RU55 ELL’ to come up. A friend told me about the auction and I made up my mind straight away that I was going to get it. I want to use the number to promote my business and I think I might put it on my new Rolls Royce."
The DVLA auction raised a total of £6.5 million from the sale of 1200 distinctive registrations, beating the previous auction record of £5.4million, set earlier this year.
Damian Lawson, DVLA Auctions Manager, commented: "We thought that some of the marks would attract a lot of interest but this level of response is exceptional. This record result is even more incredible when you consider that we reduced the number of lots offered for sale by 250 for this auction."
The DVLA’s 100th auction isn’t just a story of big numbers however. Two cousins, Robert and Gerard Calise, from Sheffield and London respectively, who had never met and were not even sure of each other’s existence, were both drawn to the auction by the number plate, CAL 15E. Gerard prevailed with a bid of £1100 but then approached his only competitor for the number and discovered the family link.
"I thought I might be the last Calise in Britain and wanted the plate to keep the name in the family. I was amazed when this man sat right in front of me and started bidding! His father was my hero when I was a boy and I’m absolutely delighted to discover that he is still alive and living in Sheffield," said Gerard Calise.
His cousin Robert added: "I lost the plate but gained a cousin! We’ll definitely be getting together after the auction. There’s so much to talk about."
Another successful bidder, Carl Elsby from Northampton, who is a Liverpool supporter, showed a lot of confidence in his team when he purchased ‘F4 CUP’ for £11,200 the day before his team played their semi final against the competition favourites, Chelsea. "I’m hoping to turn up to the FA Cup final with this number on my car," Carl stated.
The youngest winner at the auction was six month old baby Devon Lalani, whose parents, Phil and Katrina bid £10,000 for the number ‘D3 VON’. "Well we’ve got his 18th birthday present sorted. We’ve just got the other 17 to worry about now," said father, Phil.
The 101st DVLA auction of personalised registrations will be held at Tankersley Manor, Barnsley, South Yorkshire on 27th, 28th and 29th June.
|UK Car Registrations Fall
In April car registrations took a dive...
After an impressive showing in March, UK car registrations in April have turned out to be disappointing. 163,216 new cars were registered, a 9.1% fall from the figure for the same month last year.
"March was a better than expected new car market, which has not followed through into April," says Christopher Macgowan, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. "Consumer confidence has suffered across all sectors of the economy in recent months, and new car buyers may well have been affected by increasing household costs, and the breaching of petrol's £1 per litre barrier in some areas. Perhaps it is not surprising that eight out of the top 10 best sellers fall into the supermini and lower medium segments."
The April figures mean that total rolling-year registrations (in other words the figure over the twelve months up to whenever you're looking at the figures) have fallen below 2.4 million for the first time since September 2001. Similarly, the SMMT has revised its forecast for the whole of 2006 down to 2.35 million units.
The share of the overall market occupied by diesel cars continues to rise. In April 2005 it stood at 36.1%, but last month it reached 37.1%. The SMMT predicts a 38% share for diesels for the whole of 2006, rising to 40% in 2007.
|Police Storing Number Plate Data
Police can store number plate details for at least two years, the government has revealed...
The government announced plans last year to develop a national network of thousands of cameras that will automatically scan car Number Plates and check them against police databases. Police forces will keep that data in a "live, searchable system" for two years, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).
The Acpo guidance states: "This period of retention is to facilitate the searching of that data on a case-by-case basis, should a crime committed during the deployment come to light during that two-year period. In exceptional circumstances there may be operational grounds to justify retention of ANPR data beyond the two-year period."
Home Office minister Paul Goggins said the Acpo guidance complies with all the relevant data-protection legislation.
He told MPs this week: "This document covers the European Convention for Human Rights. Data Protection, the Regulatory Investigative Powers Act 2000 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 relating to the police use of ANPR (excluding speed enforcement devices) and is applicable to all police forces in England and Wales."
A £15m pilot of the technology is currently underway although the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has been criticised in the past for providing the police with large numbers of incorrect records and data. The new strategy lays out plans for a national network of ANPR-enabled cameras and a national centre to analyse the intelligence collected, and police claim it will help them drive criminals off the roads.
|The Police have had enough
Police are going to crack down on "fancy" number plates...
You have probably seen them: the curly letters, the strange colours and the creative use of screws to make plates look better. Now, the Police has had enough, and are launching a campaign against drivers who use customised plates.
In the UK, Number Plates have strict rules as to the shape, colour and spacing of letters on the registration plates on cars. There are dozens of companies who will supply you with plates that use a different typeface. These plates, known as "show plates" are often augmented by adding black screws or yellow stickers, in order to "help" the look of the custom Number Plates , so the plates will read something in particular.
The police have recently started using OCR - Optical Character Recognition - systems, connected to a database. These systems can spot drivers who do not have insurance on their car, if the vehicle is insured or not, and a handful of other offences. The OCR system is heralded as the next big step in automotive crime fighting, but the problem is that the cameras can't read Number Plates that use non-standard lettering.
"This may mean that the days of the fancy or dirty plate are numbered", noted an AA motoring trust spokesman.