15 September 2021

Cazoo acquires logistics company SMH Fleet Solutions

Online car retailer Cazoo has acquired SMH Fleet Solutions, a vehicle preparation, logistics and storage business, for approximately £70m in cash from LDC and other minority shareholders.

This deal will provide Cazoo with more vehicle preparation sites and production capabilities within the UK. The combination of Cazoo’s retail with SMH’s infrastructure will double Cazoo’s overall vehicle reconditioning, logistics and storage capabilities in the UK.

Cazoo’s founder Alex Chesterman said: “Given strong consumer demand, the only real constraint to our future growth is ensuring that we have adequate capability to recondition, store and deliver enough cars to keep up. By acquiring SMH, this helps solve that and de-risks our future growth by immediately doubling our number of vehicle preparation sites and significantly enhancing our team of vehicle preparation and logistics staff. I look forward to welcoming the SMH team to Cazoo.”

Tim Hudson, chief executive at SMH Fleet Solutions, said: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with Alex and the team at Cazoo and see this as a perfect fit for SMH. We have built one of the leading teams in vehicle preparation and logistics in the UK and are very well placed to support the remarkable pace of growth at Cazoo and help it deliver on its mission of providing the best car buying and selling experience in the UK.”

14 September 2021

Go Car Credit to launch lower-interest 29% APR product

Go Car Credit has launched a lower interest 29% APR product that will be available from September 2021.

The company will introduce the new product to sit alongside the current 39% and 49% hire purchase products.

The launch follows a post-pandemic review of the market conducted by the company, which found that lenders had tightened their criteria in the face of an uncertain market.

By expanding its product range, Go Car Credit is hoping to reach customers who would otherwise not be eligible for its services. The company will review the current term and loan amounts with a view to expanding these further in future.

Mark Giles, chief executive of Go Car Credit, said: “We are thrilled to now announce the launch of our new product as well as enhancements to existing products at this critical time. We know the pandemic has been a huge challenge for many of our dealers and customers, it is therefore more important than ever to provide access to finance for cars to as much of the population as possible.”

14 September 2021

Renault Group and RCI Bank and Services invest in heycar

The heycar Group, which owns online car marketplace heycar, has gained two new investment backers – Renault Group and its subsidiary RCI Bank and Services. Heycar has not disclosed the size of the investment.

“We are very much looking forward to working together with heycar. In the space of just a few years, this platform has become a major player in online vehicle sales,” said Luca de Meo, chief executive of the Renault Group.

Heycar is currently active across the UK, Germany and Spain, and the extra capital will allow it to expand across the European market as well as stay active in its existing markets. In addition to the strategic and capital contribution, the transaction will also include French car brokerage platform Carizy, which will allow heycar to capture a new customer base in the French used car market.

7 September 2021

Volvo subscription service accounts for 15% of sales in first year

Volvo’s subscription service has delivered more than 2,500 car sales to the company in its first year of business, accounting for approximately 15% of Volvo’s total retail sales – exceeding the projected target of 5%.

The figures also showed a strong uptake of electric vehicles. One-third (33%) of subscriptions were for Volvo Recharge plug-in hybrid electric models, while over half (53%) of the subscriptions for the XC40 compact SUV were for plug-in hybrid electric or full battery electric versions. The service is also effective at reaching new customers, with 91% of its customers being new to the Volvo brand.

Conor Horne, UK head of online sales, said: “Our service is proving perfectly in tune with the changing preferences of customers who want a quick, secure and simple process to access a new car. And it’s clear they are also drivers keen to make the switch to the new generation of electrified cars we’re bringing to the market. The results confirm that the Care by Volvo subscription service represents the future of our retail business and is helping bring new customers to our brand.”

2 September 2021

Cox Automotive acquires EV battery provider Spiers New Technologies

Cox Automotive Mobility has acquired electric vehicle (EV) battery provider Spiers New Technologies (SNT), as part of the company’s investment in its new Global EV Battery Service Network.

The acquisition will allow Cox Automotive to have greater control over the lifecycle of its EV vehicles and their individual parts.

Martin Forbes, president of Cox Automotive International said the acquisition was a strategically important one, and that it would be an “integral part of our plans to significantly extend our capabilities in the mobility space… as well as reinforcing our long-term commitment to invest in sustainable technology.”

As EVs continue to gain popularity in the market, battery production, health and life cycle management will become more important to dealers. This is largely because EVs have different needs when it comes to valuation, servicing and sourcing spare parts. An EV battery pack makes up about 30-40% of the vehicle’s total cost.

8 September 2021

IVendi rolls out finance eligibility tool for car dealers

iVendi has launched a finance eligibility tool for car dealers, providing advice on why a potential buyer’s finance application could be refused and adjust it accordingly.

The Eligibility Summary tool will test a customer’s eligibility for finance options, then send a report outlining any rejections to the dealer. The report consists of two parts – the applicant’s credit score and applicant score based on the vehicle and a final percentage figure that represents the strength of the applicant. According to iVendi’s recent research, the quality of motor finance applicants appeared to have improved post-lockdown.

The second part highlights where the applicant stands based on each member of the dealer’s lending panel. James Tew, chief executive at iVendi, said: “The report will enable dealers to gain a much deeper insight into the reasons why an application may fail a lender’s underwriting criteria, something that is currently simply unavailable to them, and provide specific guidance to the customer on how to improve their chances of success.”

6 September 2021

Stellantis to establish US captive with First Investors Group acquisition

Stellantis has agreed to acquire US-based car finance company F1 Holdings Corp, the parent company to First Investors Financial Services Group, for approximately $285m. The acquisition follows a profitable second quarter of 2020 for the company, with sales figures starting to bounce back post-pandemic. The transaction is expected to be completed the end of 2021, subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Carlos Tavares, the company’s chief executive, said: “This transaction marks a significant milestone in Stellantis’ sales finance strategy in the critical US market. First Investors has an outstanding financial and operational platform, underpinned by a strong management team, with vast experience in the auto finance space.

“Direct ownership of a finance company in the US is a white-space opportunity which will allow Stellantis to provide our customers and dealers a complete range of financing options, including retail loans, leases, and floorplan financing in the near-to-medium term.”

6 September 2021

New car sales slump to weakest monthly performance since 2013

UK new car registrations fell 22% in August, marking the weakest monthly performance since August 2013, according to the latest SMMT figures.

So far this year, UK new car registrations remain up 20.3%, to 1,101,302 registrations, an increase of 185,687 units with BEVs and PHEVs at 8.4% and 6.6% market share respectively. However, this performance is measured against the Covid-hit 2020 market, when showrooms were closed for much of the year. Total registrations in 2021 are -25.3% below the 10-year average for the period January – August.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “While August is normally one of the quietest months for UK new car registrations these figures are still disappointing, albeit not wholly surprising. The global shortage of semiconductors has affected UK, and indeed global, car production volumes so new car registrations will inevitably be undermined. Government can help by continuing the supportive Covid measures in place currently, especially the furlough scheme which has proven invaluable to so many businesses.”

2 September 2021

Oodle Car Finance signs remarketing agreement with G3

Oxford-based car finance company Oodle Car Finance has announced a ‘green’ launch sale event to commence a new remarketing contract with G3 Vehicle Auctions.

G3 Vehicle Auctions now has the full responsibility of collecting and remarketing Oodle vehicles through its £12m auction centre.

Philip Williams, managing director at Oodle Car Finance, said: “We have built a great relationship with G3 over the last 18-months and we have been impressed with not only their performance, but also their service-levels during what has been a highly-unusual period for everyone.

“G3’s move to their new auction centre this year has seen their business escalate at a rate similar to ours and we are delighted to put an agreement in place to cement the partnership further. G3 have a unique focus on maximising the return on our stock via physical sales, whilst their national collection network has decreased our days to sell, both of which are key performance metrics for Oodle.”

1 September 2021

Alphera celebrates 15-year milestone with website revamp

Car finance provider Alphera Financial Services has launched a new website, featuring new brand imagery as part of the company’s new identity. The brand refresh comes as Alphera celebrates the milestone of 15 years in the UK car finance market.

The website redesign consists of a new content management system, reporting tools and improved search engine optimisation. Alphera will also continue to offer online services and information to its partners through its ‘Partner portal’ as well as its ‘Content’ and ‘Training’ hubs.

Preston Rogers, director at Alphera, said: “The last 18 months has shown that people are very comfortable with the accelerated move to digital platforms. Most of our website users last year were, in fact, private customers rather than dealer partners, so we felt our 15th year was the perfect opportunity to invest in a re-design and make our online presence as customer friendly as possible.”