The Business Motoring Week January 12 2018
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Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
Car sales – not really stuck in the mud, but leasing can help pull them out of a hole

Is it time for leasing to step forward?

LAST week we had the SMMT registration figures, which initially made for some dark reading. But in retrospect most commentators in the past week have pulled back on the gloom merchant message.

Sales are down and consumer confidence is difficult to read – just look at the range of high street figures we’ve seen: over Christmas the likes of M&S and Debenhams missed out on the festive sparkle, while BooHoo.com, John Lewis and Next did very well.

My feeling is that while consumers and businesses may not feel inclined to shelling out large amounts for a new car, the lower initial rental and good value monthly rentals provided by leasing will win many more drivers over to the benefits of car leasing.

Matt DyerIt’s not just me. I was talking to LeasePlan’s boss Matt Dyer (left), who had this to say on the issue.

“It would be a mistake for the industry to fixate on the dip, because 2017 sales were still amongst the highest on record.

“Having said that, ownership trends are changing due to the gig economy and a host of other factors, most significantly the fact that peoples’ attitudes towards ownership are shifting. Personal leasing is growing strongly, with the BVRLA reporting that personal contract hire has risen 36% year-on-year. There’s a huge move toward drivers wanting a more flexible approach, which ownership does not provide.

“Leasing enables people to change their vehicle when it suits them, so as circumstances shift, it’s possible to change vehicles without incurring the costs involved with trading in an owned car.

“Plus, they’re not hindered by uncertainty, meaning economic or political pressures have less sway on their choice as they are safe in the knowledge they can switch as their package allows.”

If you’re still unsure about car leasing, why not read 5 things to know before you contract hire:

5 things to know before you contract hire

VW T-Roc dynamic
VW T-Roc – just one of the many new capable SUVs coming onto the market

March of the SUVs continues with VW T-Roc and Skoda Karoq

SUVs: there’s a tidal wave of them coming. And so far they’ve all been very good. Why have a standard family hatchback when you could have an SUV with greater practicality, yet still very much usable for business?

We’ve driven two of the newest on the market. So if you’re thinking of one, read our VW T-Roc review and our Skoda Karoq review.

High spec, small petrol engine is the way to go

Apparently so. My co-driver on the Skoda Karoq launch was automotive expert from CAP Martin Ward.

Luke Ayres Skoda SUV product managerI was talking to Martin about the trends in the industry, what was happening to diesel and the rise of petrol.

He reckons that the market wants high specification cars but not with the biggest engine – actually with the smallest, or at least a smaller engine in the range.

I spoke to Luke Ayres (right), Skoda’s SUV product manager while I was on the Karoq launch. He predicts that Skoda will sell more petrol models than diesel: “Our small petrol engine will bridge the gap between our hybrid electric cars to come. Petrol will really take off.”

Find out more in my interview with Luke Ayres here.

MINI rear LED lights incorporating Union Jack
MINI rear LED lights incorporating Union Jack

MINI Union Jack tail lights: quirky or pastiche?

I have a lot of time for MINI, but on this latest MINI 2018 update has MINI gone too far? What do you think of the new rear lights. Brilliant ingenuity – or pastiche tourist tat?

Have a look in more detail in our latest MINI story.

Vauxhall officially becomes a PSA brand

Stephen Norman Vauxhall managing directorBritish marque Vauxhall has been fighting hard to stay relevant under new owners Groupe PSA. It’s been fairly bloody. Just this week a further 250 jobs were lost from Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory to add to the 400 lost in October (report from the BBC).

And Ellesmere Port will be competing for next Astra against tough opposition from European PSA factories.

And now former Vauxhall MD Rory Harvey has made way for a new boss of Vauxhall – a PSA man, Stephen Norman (above left). It probably does herald the real start of Vauxhall as a PSA brand.

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