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28 February | Sustainability

European automakers embrace the inevitable: 2035 fossil-fuel vehicle ban

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European automakers, including the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), have agreed to uphold the European Union’s 2035 deadline for phasing out fossil-fuel vehicles, irrespective of the results of upcoming parliamentary elections.  

This marks a significant policy shift in alignment with Ursula von der Leyen’s sustainable vision. Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, has positioned herself as a frontrunner in the forthcoming European elections, indicating a potential extended leadership term.  

Luca de Meo, President of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) and Renault CEO, stressed the industry's commitment to aligning with regulations, refraining from contesting them. De Meo said: “There is no way the industry can go back to square one. It’s bad for the environment.” 

This collective stance, articulated during a Geneva Auto Show press conference, underscores the industry's acknowledgment of the imperative for a sustainable future. While de Meo recognised the feasibility of the 2035 fossil-fuel car ban, he emphasised the need for conditions to facilitate the industry's investments in electrification. 

23 February | Technology

Aston Uni researchers pave the way for safer lithium-ion batteries 

Aston University researchers in Birmingham are embarking on a pioneering study funded by a £443,058 grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.  

The project aims to revolutionize lithium-ion batteries, prevalent in electric vehicles and electronic devices, by exploring gel electrolyte materials for improved safety and environmental sustainability.  

Dr Matt Derry, leading the team, highlighted the critical need for scalable methods in sustainable energy storage. The research focuses on developing recyclable gel electrolytes, replacing hazardous components with renewable ionogels.  

These materials, conducting electrically charged ions, are anticipated to enhance battery safety, prevent leaks, and contribute to a more environmentally friendly manufacturing process. The study, commencing on March 1, 2024, is scheduled to conclude by February 2027, emphasizing the commitment to advancing battery technology for a safer and greener energy future.  

Derry said: “We will create recyclable gel electrolytes using non-harmful, non-flammable and renewably sourced materials for next-generation battery technologies.” 

23 February | ESG

Tandem Motor Finance wins FLA’s ESG award for green funding 

Tandem Motor Finance, based in Wales, has been honoured with the FLA ESG Awards 2024 for Exemplary Commitment in B2C Funding.  

Presented at the Finance & Leasing Association dinner in London, the award acknowledges Tandem's commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly driving since its inception in July 2022.  

The company's lending strategy, tied to vehicle emissions and featuring customer support tools and a CO₂ key performance indicator, played a crucial role in earning this recognition.  

The judging panel, including figures like emeritus professor Iwan Davies and Lauren Pamma from the Green Finance Institute, praised Tandem's mission.  

Managing Director Dave Briggs expressed gratitude for the award, highlighting the company's dedication to facilitating the transition to lower-emission vehicles. This accolade reinforces Tandem's position as a catalyst for positive, greener car buying choices and aligns with its overarching focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles within the vehicle loan industry. 

20 February | Prices

Used vehicle prices retreat from 2021 peaks, expected to stabilise in 2024 

The surge in used vehicle prices, which peaked with a 29% increase in the first half of 2021, is showing signs of moderation, though still elevated above pre-pandemic levels, according to Fitch Ratings analysts.  

Anticipating a gradual decline in the coming months, Fitch predicts sustained recoveries and residual values for auto asset-backed securities (ABS). Despite a 10.9% year-on-year decline reported by the Black Book Used Vehicle Retention Index in December 2023, prices remain 33.3% higher than those in 2019.  

In contrast, new vehicle prices soared by nearly 22%, with monthly payments reaching a record high of $739 in Q4 2023. The initial surge in used prices in 2021, attributed to low new vehicle inventory, led to a gradual decline in 2022 and 2023.  

Factors such as a tight labour market, excess consumer savings, and the desire for affordability are expected to sustain the demand for used vehicles in 2024 despite improvements in production and inventory levels rebounding.

15 February | New Business

Consumer car finance new business volumes drop by 8% in December 2023: FLA 

Data from the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) reveals an 8% drop in consumer car finance new business volumes and values for December 2023 compared to the same month in 2022.  

Throughout 2023, new business values and volumes experienced a 5% and 6% reduction, respectively, compared to 2022 figures. The consumer new car finance market witnessed a 12% decline in new business value and a 13% decrease in volume in December 2023 versus the same month in 2022, with 2023 new business volumes 6% lower than 2022.  

The consumer used car finance market reported a 5% decline in both value and volume for December 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. FLA's Director of Research and Chief Economist, Geraldine Kilkelly, highlighted a modest fall in the consumer car finance market in 2023, with new business values reaching the second-highest record at almost £39 billion. While consumer confidence has improved, restrained spending is expected in the coming year.