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UK’s most popular new car colour? Grey of course

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Grey retained its position as the UK’s favourite new car colour in 2020, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

While it was a tough year for new car registrations overall, 397,197 grey units were sold over the course of 2020, which means that just shy of a quarter (24.3%) of all new cars sold were painted in the shade.

Black and white took second and third place overall, completing a monochrome podium, with more than six in ten (61.6%) of all new cars entering British roads in 2020 painted in these three colours. The rest of the top 10 remained unchanged, apart from yellow and bronze which reversed places as yellow increased its market share by 50% but equivalent to only 6,816 sales. Red saw its registrations drop below 200,000 for the first time in a decade to 147,222, recording its worst tally since 1997.

While the top colour for both petrol and diesel cars was grey, with 248,182 and 84,489 registered in the colours respectively, white was the most in-demand tint for zero emission battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with 25,689 painted in it whilst black was the most popular shade for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) with 17,989 registered. It was a record year for these electrified vehicles, which together accounted for more than one in 10 registrations – up from around one in 30 in 2019.

Unlike 2019, which saw Scotland and the Channel Islands bucking the national trend, in 2020 grey was the unanimous colour of choice across the UK. Indeed, the only counties to not opt for grey cars as their number one choice were the Isle of White and Borders, where blue was the most popular tint, and Strathclyde which saw white take the top spot. Leicestershire, meanwhile, was the most popular location for pink cars, with 23.7% of the UK’s total registered in the region, while buyers in the West Midlands snapped up the most orange cars.

While white was the most popular shade for the mini segment, luxury saloons and executive cars were most likely to be black. Overall, there were 106 different distinct colours registered throughout the year with the least popular colour nationwide being maroon.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “2020 was a pretty dark year for the automotive industry and having grey as the top new car colour probably reflects the atmosphere. The sector, however, continues to provide valuable mobility, from vans delivering essential goods to private cars helping key workers do their jobs, and click and collect offers a lifeline for the industry, helping to keep manufacturing going. It cannot, however, replace the showroom experience and the sector has taken great steps to ensure dealers are Covid-secure with the flexibility to manage customer appointments so car buyers can choose a new car and colour in a safe environment.”

New whitepaper from Webfleet Solutions: ‘How automation, digitisation and new technology is changing construction’

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The UK government is relying on the construction sector to help drive our economic recovery in the wake of Covid-19. “Build, build, build” has been Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s rallying cry, and the signs look promising. This new eBook from Webfleet Solutions looks at the increased prevalence of digitisation and automation in construction.

It takes a look at some of the main technologies that are changing how construction companies work and how those who have adopted them are benefiting.

To download your FREE copy please click here.

Contract hire expected to ‘leap’ for company vehicles

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A leap may be about to occur in the use of operational leasing as a means of acquiring company cars and vans, according to new research from Arval Mobility Observatory.
 
When asked whether they intended to introduce or increase use of operational leasing, also known as contract hire, in the next three years, more than a quarter (26%) of fleets said yes, compared to just over one in 10 (12%) when the same question was posed in 2019*.
 
Shaun Sadlier, head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “These responses indicate more than a doubling of the overall tendency, year-on-year, to increase the use of operational leasing, or contract hire as it’s also known.
 
“This method of acquisition has been gradually increasing across the market for a long time but it’s been a gradual change over decades. Here, we see signs of a potential leap forwards rather than further incremental steps. The movements are large enough to suggest a genuine shift in attitude.”
 
The move was marked across organisations of all sizes except for the very smallest, he added, with the trend clear across all businesses with more than 10 employees.
 
“At the largest scale, 38% of businesses with more than 1,000 employees now say they would implement or increase the use of operational leasing compared to 17% when asked the same question in 2019.
 
“However, for those with 10-99 employees, the change is even more marked, with a rise from 8% to 31% year-on-year, which is just under a fourfold improvement. It’s pretty dramatic.”
 
Sadlier explained that operational leasing had very clear advantages – predictable costs, the avoidance of residual value risk, easy packaging with other key vehicle services and more – and one or all of these factors appeared to be gaining favour. 
 
“What is also interesting is that this research was carried out before the coronavirus crisis. In a business future where there will undoubtedly be increased and perhaps substantial pressure on company budgets in the short and medium terms at the very least, there is every chance that operational leasing will look even more appealing to fleet and mobility decision makers.” 
 
For the 2020 edition of its Fleet Barometer, the Arval Mobility Observatory this year questioned 5,600 businesses in 20 European countries, posing a wide range of questions covering current fleet and mobility trends.
 
More information on the research project can be downloaded from arval.co.uk/amo-insight

Clean Air Zones to impact 40% of businesses, research shows

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More than four out of 10 businesses (43%) believe they will be affected by the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) across the UK and the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London, 

The findings stem from the 2020 Arval Mobility Observatory, which gains insights into fleet and mobility trends across the UK and Europe through a wide ranging set of questions.

It also asked respondents how they will react to the introduction of CAZs and the ULEZ. In total, 76% said they will replace vehicles to meet the new standards, 27% will find other types of transportation to allow them to continue doing business within the zones, and 27% will make no changes, accepting the impact and cost.

Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “These results indicate the ways in which fleets are planning to manage the introduction of the new zones across the country although, of course, many have now been delayed by the coronavirus crisis.

“Overall, more than four out of 10 believe they will be affected and, of these, around three out of four plan to meet the challenge by operating vehicles that meet whatever new regulations are being introduced.

“To us, this is unsurprising. In most places, the introduction of CAZs are really designed to remove vehicles that use older, less clean emissions technology from cities. The truth is that because the regulations are relatively straightforward, many fleets are already compliant. Over the next couple of years, just through normal, planned replacement of vehicles, most should meet the regulations.

“It’s also thought-provoking to see that around a quarter are planning to use alternative modes of transport. It would be fascinating to know what these are, especially whether some fleets are going to be able to make a switch into public transport or other mobility options.”

68% think In-car technology is a dangerous distraction

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68% of motorists say they’ve noticed an increase in other drivers being distracted by dashboard controls or using their mobile phones, but just 13% admit to being side-tracked themselves when driving.

The somewhat paradoxical findings are from a survey carried out by Venson Automotive Solutions that also shows that while 38% of drivers use hands-free/Bluetooth in-car technology for making phone calls whilst driving, nearly a fifth admitted to balancing the ‘phone somewhere to keep an eye on it, such as a cup holder, when using it as a satnav.

The survey results come as the Department of Transport (DfT) has announced a review of roads policing that will look at ways of reducing road casualties and deaths, and is asking for evidence on in-car technology and how this could be increasing accident risks as well as reducing it.

Businesses and fleet managers are recommended by Venson to impress on drivers the dangers of being distracted by their in-car tech and ensure robust processes are in place to meet their duty of care obligations. 

Drivers currently risk six penalty points on their licence and a £200 fine if they use a hand-held phone or satnav when driving. For motorists who passed their driving test within 2 years of being caught, the consequences are even more severe – they will automatically lose their licence and have to reapply and pay for a new provisional licence – passing both theory and practical parts of the driving test again to get a full licence.

However, the Venson survey shows that people’s appetite for more advanced in-car tech is growing – even if it isn’t in their current vehicle; 67% saying they would use a dashboard satnav if it were available in their car and nearly 50% of people surveyed said that they would like to have an emergency call button in their car in case of being involved in a road accident.

An app which informs the driver about the health of their vehicle’s tyres would also be welcomed by 48% of people, while 43% would make use of driver assistance technology such as cruise control, lane departure detection and speed limit exceeded notifications. 

In contrast, only 26% of people surveyed said they would like to see entertainment or lifestyle dashboard technology, such as apps that play music or offer concierge services.

Simon Staton, Client Management Director at Venson, said: “We may have some of the safest roads in the world, but anything that can be done to reduce the number of casualties on our roads is to be welcomed. The advances made in in-car technology have moved on very quickly, and as they become standard in new vehicles, the scope for driver distraction also grows. We look forward to the results and recommendations from the DfT review and would encourage businesses and fleetmanagers to get involved in the consultation process.”

The review is open for input until 5th October 2020.   More information can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/roads-policing-review-future-methods-to-improve-safety-and-reduce-causalities

Fleets ‘key to unlocking an electric vehicle revolution’

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UK fleets have the potential to accelerate an electric vehicle (EV) revolution, with a shift to zero tailgate emissions generating fuel cost savings of around 63% across a fleet and significantly boosting the second hand car market.

That’s according to a new report from Cornwall Insight and PwC – “Leading the charge! Fleet charging – a catalyst for the EV revolution”, which says that with 5.3 million vehicles on the UK’s roads, fleets – a group of vehicles owned or leased by businesses – are a vital part of the transport sector. 

As the UK moves towards net zero, fleets could be a major component in this journey by leading the charge in the electric vehicle roll-out – a move that would represent half of the number of EVs expected by 2030.

The decarbonisation of the light vehicle fleet will also have a positive impact on air quality. Research in the report states that if all 5.3 million fleet vehicles were to generate zero emissions as much as 30 million tonnes of CO2 would be eliminated – around 25% of all UK transport emissions.

In evaluating the electrification of the fleet market, the report identifies which segments of the sector will be crucial to leading the EV revolution and outlining a road map that fleets may follow as they electrify.

Key findings of the report:

  • Fleet electrification is a critical catalyst that will enable the EV revolution in the UK.
  • Field services, depot-based logistics and leased corporate car fleets are likely to electrify first.
  • Government policy has a critical role to play in enabling the EV fleet transition.
  • The business models of charge point operators need to incorporate some key principles to be successful.
  • Fleet electrification providers will be an attractive opportunity for institutional investors.
  • If fleets are to maximise the opportunity of electrification, they need to take some critical and preparatory steps in designing their road map.

Not only do fleets constitute a sizeable proportion of the UK’s transport sector, but they are also responsible for more than half of new car registrations (56%) in 2019. So it is easy to see how the electrification of fleets has transformative implications for EVs.

And with a life cycle of between two to four years, fleet electrification has the potential to accelerate growth in the private, second-hand market. As fleets renew their stock, this will not only deliver greater choice and affordability for consumers but will, in turn, act as a catalyst for increased consumer adoption of EVs. Choice and affordability are still one of several barriers to EV update.

However, as the fleet electrifies, this will reinforce the need and underpin the economics of EV charging infrastructure throughout the UK. This will ensure ‘range anxiety’ does not stall the electrification of this vital segment.

On the findings of the report, Daniel Atzori, Research Partner at Cornwall Insight, said” “The electrification of fleets is set to gain momentum, driven both by sustainability commitments and by compelling economic drivers. 

“Fleets are likely to play a crucial role in the upcoming electrification of mobility and therefore in the decarbonisation of transport.

“Since fleets can ensure a high rate of utilisation of charging assets, fleet charging offers a range of interesting investment propositions. Having a clear and well-defined strategy will be crucial for fleet managers, charge point operators and investors looking to achieve leadership in this emerging market.”

Steve Jennings, PwC’s Energy and Utilities leader, said: “As well as demonstrating the appeal for investors, our report also illustrates  how utilities and charge point operators (CPOs) may play a key role in supporting EV fleet adoption, with business models evolving around advisory support to promote charging infrastructure and fine-tune electrification.

“It’s clear that field services, depot-based logistics and leased corporate car fleets have the right characteristics (such as predictable driving and charging patterns) to spearhead EV adoption.

“However pent up demand and rising levels of awareness amongst fleets is not enough to accelerate adoption.Government policy has a critical role to play. As we emerge from the current Covid-19 pandemic, alongside a strong focus on stimulating economic growth, we may see a growing emphasis on sustainability, including regulatory and strategic support for EV charging, to help address emission levels and improve air quality.

“Without policy certainty for all stakeholders across fleets, EV charging providers and investors, there is a risk that the full potential of this burgeoning EV revolution will not be realised.”

5.3% of fleet vehicles are Euro 4 or older – Research

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5.3% of company cars and vans being operated by customers of FleetCheck only meet the Euro 4 emissions standard or older.

That’s according to new analysis by FleetCheck, which says further 18.2% of vehicles from the total sample of 85,792 also fall behind the latest Euro 6 legislation by only achieving Euro 5.

Peter Golding, Managing Director at FleetCheck, said: “We compiled these figures to illustrate the disparity that currently exists across fleets when it comes to emissions. While at one extreme, some are actively working to achieve zero emissions, at the other, we can see that almost a quarter of all the vehicles our customers operate are Euro 5 or older.

“Because there is a strong SME bias in our customer base and these businesses tend to hang on to cars and vans for longer than corporates, they are probably worse than the fleet parc as a whole. However, they remain an indication of how far the industry will have to travel to achieve the kind of low or zero emissions performance we’d all like to see.”

Golding added that most of the oldest and most polluting vehicles in the analysis appeared to be diesel vans, many of which were operated on a spare or pool vehicle basis.

“It is not uncommon for smaller businesses to continue to operate vans until they become uneconomic to repair or too unreliable for everyday use. Even some of the latter will be kept in the yard as a spare van and used occasionally. However, there is a strong argument that these vehicles shouldn’t be on the road at all, given their poor emissions.”

Over the next few years, he added, there was a strong possibility that the introduction of Clean Air Zones would start to see more of these vehicles disappear from fleets.

“While CAZs have arguably got off to a slow start, it seems likely that at least some will ultimately move to the ULEZ model and operate a Euro 6 minimum for diesel vehicles,” said Golding. “This is one of the factors that will start to see some of these older vans start to disappear.

“However, well ahead of that point, more could be done to persuade fleets to stop operating these vehicles. That might mean disincentives using measures such as Vehicle Excise Duty or it could mean incentives such as wider use of scrappage schemes.

“On a simpler level, the economics behind the ongoing operation of these older vans are often highly questionable, and getting this message across to businesses is also something that we perhaps should be communicating more widely as an industry.”

Alternative fuel cars hit record sales, but overall market falls

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The UK new car market fell -1.3% in November, with 156,621 models registered, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This maintains the downward trend for new car registrations throughout 2019, as multiple factors, including weak business and consumer confidence, economic uncertainty and confusion over diesel and clean air zones, combined to affect demand.

In November, the decline was driven primarily by weak private demand, registrations down -6.1%, while the business market also fell, down -3.2%, but fleet registrations fared better, up 2.8%. For the second consecutive month, total alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) registrations reached a record market share, with more than one in 10 cars joining UK roads either hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric – equivalent to 16,052 cars. 

Demand for the latest battery electric cars surged by 228.8%, with 4,652 registered, while the markets for plug-in hybrids and hybrids also rose by 34.8% and 15.0% respectively. Elsewhere, petrol grew 2.0%, taking the lion’s share of all registrations (62.2%), as diesel fell -27.2%. Year-to-date, the overall UK new car market is down -2.7%, with 2.2 million cars registered, in line with current industry forecasts.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “These are challenging times for the UK new car market, with another fall in November reflecting the current climate of uncertainty. It’s good news, however, to see registrations of electrified cars surging again, and 2020 will see manufacturers introduce plenty of new, exciting models to give buyers even more choice. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go for these vehicles to become mainstream and, to grow uptake further, we need fiscal incentives, investment in charging infrastructure and a more confident consumer.”

The key data in charts:

Air Taxis to reach 430,000 globally by 2040

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The influx of established aerospace, automotive and technology companies into the urban air mobility (UAM) market, backed by technological advancements and government initiatives, is expected to drive the air taxi market.

According to research from Frost & Sullivan, Air taxi operations are forecast to commence in 2022 in the Middle East and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.9% to reach 430,000 units in operation globally by 2040.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE), New Zealand, and Singapore are expected to be the first adopters of air taxis, while Brazil and Mexico, too, will be early adopters by leveraging their helicopter taxi expertise,” said Joe Praveen Vijayakumar, Mobility Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Globally, almost 50 cities are considering the feasibility of UAM, and most of the applications are focused on cargo drones, which will eventually open up the market for passenger UAM vehicles.”

Frost & Sullivan’s report, Analysis of Urban Air Mobility and the Evolving Air Taxi Landscape, 2019, studies the current trends in the UAM market and how they are likely to evolve. It assesses the need for these vehicles, vehicle models, application areas, key players for inter- and intra-city taxi services, and presents strategic recommendations.

“Safety, noise levels from propulsion, infrastructure for landing and take-off in urban areas, and favorable regulations will be key focus areas for the commercialization of air taxis,” said Vijayakumar. “Original equipment manufacturers will be looking to especially invest in hybrid fuel systems, lightweight high-strength composite materials, and alternative energy sources such as solar and lightweight high-capacity batteries to achieve fuel efficiency and longer range.”

With the increase in the number of UAM vehicles, there will be a range of growth opportunities for support services such as pilot training, servicing, repairing, and maintenance. Frost & Sullivan says UAM companies can optimally tap the market by:

  • Incorporating multiple fail-safe mechanisms in their vehicles to instill confidence in potential passengers.
  • Collaborating with companies developing innovative next-generation rotors and propellers that can muzzle sound.
  • Establishing the support infrastructure, including landing and take-off stations, passenger waiting lounges, and landing pads, in residential buildings.
  • Developing internal cybersecurity capabilities or acquiring cybersecurity start-ups to safeguard their vehicles.

Analysis of Urban Air Mobility and the Evolving Air Taxi Landscape, 2019 is part of Frost & Sullivan’s global Automotive & Transportation Growth Partnership Service program.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Brits want electric cars to sound like… cars

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A new survey has revealed that British road users want electric cars to sound like cars to ensure safety for pedestrians and other road users.

The survey, conducted by Venson Automotive Solutions, found that 43 percent of drivers would prefer a noise that mimics the sound of a conventional petrol or diesel engine on an electric vehicle, particularly when driven at low speed, while 23 percent would prefer a continuous low decibel sound. 

The findings come as manufacturers work to meet new legal requirements for all new hybrid and EVs to incorporate an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) – From July 1, 2019, all new electric cars sold in the EU have to be fitted with AVAS and all existing models by July 2021.

70 percent of those polled also preferred a horn sound similar to that made by a conventional petrol or diesel engine, along with 72 percent admitting they felt that all electric vehicle sounds should be standardised.

Under EU law, from 2021, EV drivers will be able to manually trigger a warning sound, as in a horn but less urgent, to alert pedestrians and road users of their presence. 70 percent surveyed said they would like to hear a horn sound similar to that made by a petrol or diesel engine vehicle. 

Just 13 percent wanted to hear a phrase such as ‘EV approaching’, however, 6 percent would prefer an animal sound like a roar, bark or quack instead of a traditional vehicle horn.

Alison Bell, Marketing Director for Venson Automotive Solutions, said: “The integration of AVAS into hybrid and electric vehicles is a very positive move.  Almost silent electric and hybrid cars put vulnerable road users at risk, especially children, the partially sighted and blind. As more fleet drivers opt for emission-free electric models, with the introduction of zero BIK tax from April 2020, they will be relieved to know that with the introduction of AVAS their choice will no longer put road users at risk.

“With over 100 years of petrol and diesel engine sounding vehicles on our roads, people naturally react to the sound of an approaching vehicle or a horn being sounded. Keeping sounds we are used to hearing on UK roads makes the most sense when it comes to road safety and saving lives.”