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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Half of MOT faults could be avoided with routine maintenance

Fleet News reports that half of MOT faults could be avoided with routine maintenance.  Official DVSA data reveal that 30 per cent of all faults recorded in MoT tests in 2014/15 related to lighting
and signalling, 10 to tyres and 8.5 per cent to ‘Driver’s
view of the road’.

Tighter type approval rules for cars - European Commission

Tighter rules for cars were on the agenda at the weekly meeting of the Commission last Wednesday (27 January). The revisions to type approval legislation would make testing more independent and increase surveillance of cars already in circulation. Automotive News Europe carries a more detailed report.

The proposal for a Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles adopted by the Commission maintains the principle of mutual recognition, which is central to the EU Single Market and under which approval for VW products is granted exclusively by the German authorities, but seeks to correct the flaws in the system. It will introduce greater EU-level control over the national authorities which at certify vehicles' compliance. This will not only strengthen the system but will also complement efforts
to introduce more robust emissions testing, known as Real Driving Emissions testing.

To enhance the independence of the testing process, the Commission has made concrete proposals designed to avoid financial links between technical services and manufacturers. It is feared that these links could lead to conflicts of interest and compromise the independence of testing. Member States and the Commission will also carry out spot-checks on vehicles already on the market, so non-compliance will be detected earlier and remedial action can be taken against non-compliant vehicles.

The Commission will take powers to suspend, restrict or withdraw approval from test facilities that are underperforming or fail properly to apply the rules.

Automotive News Europe carries a report from Bloomberg that Matthias Mueller, VW's new CEO, called on 25 January for new emissions tests to close the gap between laboratory and real-world results, an issue which VW brought to general attention. Mr Mueller is quoted as saying "The industrywide discrepancies between official test results and actual usage is no longer tolerable," according to a statement from VW. "We, the industry, need to take a new path."

In another report, ANE tells us that VW has obtained approval from

How GM ignition-switch plaintiffs' lawyer botched his big case

How GM ignition-switch plaintiffs' lawyer botched his big case

Friday, 29 January 2016

GM, Lithia, Koons settle advertising allegations by FTC

GM, Lithia, Koons settle advertising allegations by FTC

DfT launches public consultation on stricter penalties for hand-held mobile phone use

Fleet News reports that the Department for Transport has launched a public consultation on increasing penalties for using mobile electronic devices while driving. The consultation seeks feedback on proposals to increase the fixed penalty notice level from £100 to £150 for all drivers. It also invites views on increasing the penalty points from three to four points for non-HGV drivers, and three to six points for drivers who hold an HGV licence and commit the offence whilst driving an HGV.

Antitrust: Commission fines car parts producers € 137 789 000 in cartel settlement

On 27 January 2016, the European Commission has imposed fines of € 137
789 000 on Melco (Mitsubishi Electric) and Hitachi for participating in
a cartel for alternators and starters with another firm, Denso, in
breach of EU antitrust rules.

Denso was not fined as it revealed the existence of the
cartel to the Commission. All companies acknowledged their involvement
and agreed to settle the case.

For more than
five years, the three Japanese car parts manufacturers coordinated
prices and allocated customers or projects with regards to alternators
and starters, two important components of car engines. Although contacts
associated with forming and running the cartel took place outside the
European Economic Area (EEA), the cartel affected European customers as
alternators and starters were also sold directly to car manufacturers in
the EEA.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: "Breaking
cartels remains a top priority for the Commission, in particular when
they affect important consumer goods, such as cars. Today's decision
sanctions three car part producers whose collusion
component costs for a number of car manufacturers selling cars in
Europe, and ultimately European consumers buying them.
European consumers are affected by a cartel, the Commission will
investigate it even if the cartel meetings took place outside Europe."

Commission's investigation revealed that between September 2004 and
February 2010 the companies met at each other's offices and in
restaurants and were in contact over the phone on a regular basis, in
order to limit competition between them. In particular the three

  • coordinated their responses to certain calls for
    tenders issued by car manufacturers, in particular with respect to
    determining the price at which they would tender and who should win the
    specific business;
  • shared out certain vehicle manufacturers and
    projects between themselves in terms of which of the three would supply
    alternators and starters;
  • exchanged commercially sensitive information such as price elements and market strategies.
There is more in the Press release.

'Cash for crash': 81 sentenced in fake car accidents scam | UK news | The Guardian

'Cash for crash': 81 sentenced in fake car accidents scam | UK news | The Guardian

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Legal action halts new dealership

Pendragon has taken legal action to stop an ex-employee opening a new JLR dealership in Wolverhampton, according to a report in Motor Trader for 25 January. James Brearley was the MD of the group's Stratstone luxury car division until August last year - which sounds recent enough to be covered by a restrictive covenant, commonly lasting for six months though the law requires only that it not be in unreasonable restraint of trade.
Pendragon's high court action has brought the development of the site to a halt. Motor Trader reports that the group closed its Land Rover dealership in 2012 with the loss of 45 jobs.
Mr Brearley lives near Wolverhampton and has reportedly incorporated a new company, JRB Automotive, to take on the franchise. JLR are said to be working hard to reach a resolution.

France: Manufacturers to be quizzed over emissions

Executives from Opel and Mercedes-Benz face a grilling from the panel set up by the French energy minister too enquire into the emissions issue. Renault appeared before them on 18 January and the next two car makers will do so on 28th.
A hundred different models are being tested, to compare on-the-road emissions with the results of the laboratory tests that are mandated by type approval laws. Preliminary test results are said to show that many vehicles perform much worse on the road than in the lab, although as we know there are many reasons why this should be the case.
Renault are recalling 15800 Captur SUVs too resolve problems with pollution controls, and. Offering updates for a further 700,000 vehicles. Opel deny that they are recalling 1.6 litre diesel-powered Zafiras,but Reuters reports that the vehicles are receiving a service update.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Renault shares plunge on factory raids by police - BBC News

BBC News  reports that French police have raided several Renault factories, and it seems that they are looking for evidence of emissions-test rigging, as their enquiries appear to focus on engine control units.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Brussels seeks new powers to oversee carmakers -

The Financial Times reports (5 January) that the European Commission is seeking new powers to police compliance with emissions rules. It recognises that regulatory problems failed to pick up the issues detected by the authorities in the U.S. The Commission wants to be able to review the national regulators who are responsible for assessing the safety and environmental performance of cars, extending possibly to the power to demand extra test and to apply sanctions.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against VW in early January, but nothing similar has yet happened in Europe. Instead, national governments are still investigating whether VW has done anything illegal. The enforcement of EU emissions legislation at national level is a significant weakness in the system.
The former environment commissioner, Janez Potocnik, had called for the Commission to be given powers across the board like those of the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. The latest proposals are limited to the automotive sector.
The Commission is also considering reinforcing the existing ban on defeat devices, through the imposition of a disclosure obligation like that in the U.S. Clean Air Act so that manufacturers would have to declare all emissions control devices installed in their cars. The Commission's spokeswoman said that this would widen the base for legal action, creating new possibilities for imposing sanctions when breaches occured.
Another suggested change would make it easuer for regulators in countries other than the one in which a car was first approved to require recalls. The commission is also looking at the conflict of interest that may arise when testing centres are paid by the carmakers whose products they are testing, and to introduce spot checks to evaluate on-the-road performance.
The paper quotes Monique Goyens, director-general of BEUC, a consumers’ lobby group, saying: “The financial relationship between carmakers, national authorities and private testing services needs to be broken up to ensure greater independence. Random conformity testing such as in the US is also needed to put a further check on the system.”
The Commission is also calling on VW to offer a compensation package to customers in the EU similar to that it has given U.S. customers, who have had two $500gift cards and three years' free servicing. So far, VW has declined to make such a gesture in Europe.