17 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

All change for the market?

While more companies look to support the growing EV segment, and users look to formalise the etiquette around charging, VMs are making hard decisions about their offering, with beloved long-lived vehicles set for the chop.
    
Funeral party for Ford Fiesta?
The Ford Fiesta, the biggest selling car in the UK between 2009 and 2020 and a common sight in garages for decades, could soon be discontinued as its manufacturer continues its move towards EVs.
    
The Sun first reported that Ford is looking to scrap the Fiesta, which has been in production since 1976, as it has no plans for an all-electric version to allow the model to travel past the 2030 ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles. Ford already has a number of electric vehicles on sale in the UK, including the Puma EV and Mustang mach-e, among others.
    
The decision will be keenly felt, as AA Cars CEO James Fairclough observed: “News that production will end for the enduringly-popular Ford Fiesta is a watershed moment in car manufacturing. The Fiesta has been one of the UK’s favourite vehicles since its introduction, and has consistently been among the most popular and searched-for cars on the AA Cars site. The transition to electric vehicles, and changing consumer preferences, means that manufacturers are making tough decisions about the cars they produce. Many British drivers, however, will be disappointed to hear that Ford is calling time on this iconic model.”
    
James added: “Thankfully for Fiesta devotees, the car will have a strong presence on the second-hand market for many years to come. And when the very last Fiestas roll off the production line they are likely to be much sought-after.”

Murder, she wrote? Driver Charge Rage on the rise
Amid all the discussion over the need for EV infrastructure, do we also need to consider establishing what the etiquette should be at chargepoints? According to LeaseElectricCar.co.uk, a code of conduct is needed to prevent arguments from breaking out between EV drivers.  bickering at charging points.
     
The company has cited the experience of new EV driver Jessica Fletcher, who used Facebook to express her unhappiness over a recent experience at a charging point in a supermarket car park: “I’ve had the car a week, never had to queue for a charger but tonight I think, if the shouting bloke is to be believed, I inadvertently jumped the queue. There seems to be so many unwritten rules and so much anger toward those who get it wrong.
     
“I pulled in the car park and saw a bloke in a little smart car waiting for the chargers. I thought I’d done the right thing by parking up in a bay out of the way so when the smart car had a space I moved into his space.
     
“Only then I ended up with some bloke in a huge Audi jumping out of his car jabbing his finger and shouting at me that I’d jumped the queue – he’d been waiting and I’d just pulled up. I soon realised that there was no point in trying to explain that I’d been parked in a bay and just begged him to leave me alone. Is this what it’s like? Did my first charge lull me into a false sense of friendliness because the guys using the chargers were lovely. How do you know what order to wait in? Or is it best not to bother waiting and not seek out supermarkets, gyms or restaurants with charging? I’m wishing I’d stuck with petrol right now if I’m honest.”
    
Tim Alcock from LeaseElectricCar.co.uk commented: “Sadly the story Jessica shared on Facebook is just one of dozens of similar incidents our customers have shared with us. We’ve even heard of drivers coming to blows over whose turn it is to plug their car in. These problems are likely to get worse in the short term as the number of EVs on our roads continues to rise and the number of charging points continues to lag behind.
     
“We need better infrastructure to keep up with demand but we also need a clear code of conduct around the use of public charging points and what is and isn’t acceptable. Clearly it is never acceptable to become aggressive and intimidating and what happened to Jessica sounds very frightening.”
    
Tim added: “Until the number of charging points significantly increases and a code of conduct is adopted and integrated into the Highway Code, we fear incidents of Charge Rage will only increase.”

London ULEZ expansion to boost EV take-up?
Electric vehicles may be set to get a boost in the capital from late summer 2023, as they become among the small group of vehicles not required to pay £12.50 a day to travel within London’s soon-to-be-expanding Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ). It is now confirmed that London’s ULEZ will expand to cover all London from 29 August 2023, and motorists will be required to pay the charge to drive inside the boundary, unless their vehicle is exempt.
    
Apart from battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, (PHEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) these are set to include Euro 4-compliant petrol cars, generally produced after January 2006, as well as Euro 6 diesels from after September 2015.
    
Commenting on the move, Andy Marchant, Traffic Expert at TomTom, said: “The London Mayor’s plans for keeping London at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution is a sure step towards his ambition for the UK’s capital to be a net zero-carbon city by 2030. The wider adoption of EVs is central to reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation industry, yet it is still a decision tinged with anxiety – most often linked to a lack of charging infrastructure.”
    
More infrastructure is key though he believes: “If London is truly to become an EV hub, it needs to think about how to build an on-street charging network that really matches the capital’s urban layout. As fewer people have access to a driveway or garage than in smaller cities, an infrastructure of on-street charging capabilities is needed to meet the needs of a rapidly growing EV fleet.”
    
In terms of the impact on Londoners, according to NFDA Chief Executive Sue Robinson, while air quality will improve, there will be a price to pay: “Whilst NFDA understands the importance of tackling air pollution in the capital and to combat climate issues, we still believe that this ULEZ expansion proposal is flawed. This £12.50 daily charge will hit businesses, key workers and less affluent families the hardest and the additional cost to some of London’s poorest communities will push some families over the brink and force a reduction in their access to private mobility.”
    
She added: “This move is during one of Britain’s worst cost of living crises, rising inflation and steep energy prices. We do not believe that this has been fully considered by Transport for London and looks more and more to be a money-generating scheme for TfL.”

EV brochure launched by Arnold Clark Autoparts
Arnold Clark Autoparts has launched a new EV  Consumables brochure, that covers a wide range of products, categories and brands. Items included range from EV safety equipment, clothing and signage, to testing tools and accessories.
    
Craig McCracken, Group Factor Manager at Arnold Clark Autoparts, observed: “As we see sales of electric cars increase exponentially year on year, there is more demand for EV maintenance products. Whilst these are readily available from vehicle manufacturers, we’re one of the only aftermarket suppliers currently offering such a broad range of EV essentials.”
    
Hard copies of the Arnold Clark Autoparts EV Consumables brochure is available on request from Autoparts branches. The brochure is also available online: https://ourproducts.co.uk/autoparts/ev-b rochure/