The DVLA told Fleet News it remains committed to developing an online portal for fleets to check if employees are eligible to drive.
However, with the removal of the paper counterpart from January 1, 2015, drawing ever closer, the DVLA’s ability to deliver a secure system for up to three million businesses is being questioned.
Malcolm Maycock, managing director of licence checking company Licence Bureau, believes the Government agency lacks the necessary experience or expertise to give businesses what they want. “It’s not what the DVLA was created for,” said Maycock.
“It was created for dealing with the individual, the end-user, to buy a tax disc, to get their driving licence and to register their car, something which it does brilliantly.
“But it’s going to have to deal with anywhere between 1.5 million and three million businesses; the data security risk and the potential for abuse are huge.”
The Government announced in 2012 that, as part of its ‘red tape challenge’ to cut bureaucracy, the regulation requiring drivers with a credit card-sized photo driving licence to hold a paper counterpart would be removed.
However, that poses a problem for fleets and the vehicle rental industry.
The paper counterpart is used by the majority of companies (52%) to check employee’s driver category exemptions and endorsements, according to a Fleet News poll.
The rental industry would no longer be able to give licences a quick check before agreeing to rent a car to corporate or retail customers.
With more than 10 million hire transactions every year, the BVRLA says a cost-effective, viable licence-checking alternative is vital.
No timescale agreed by DVLA over licence checking system
However, when fleets and vehicle rental companies will be given access to the new licence checking system remains unclear.
The DVLA has not agreed a timescale to deliver fleets the promised online portal, but it told Fleet News it is still “committed to abolishing the paper counterpart by 2015”.
A DVLA spokesman added: “We will have electronic enquiry facilities in place so those with a right to see the information that is contained on the paper counterpart will still be able to see it when we get rid of the paper document.”
The DVLA is close to launching phase one of its Integrated Enquiries Platform (IEP), which has been driven by a desire to lower insurance premiums.
Motor insurers will be able to access DVLA data to check insurance applications, while drivers will be able to check their personal data through a portal.
The free-to-use View My Driving Licence service is currently available to test on the Government website – www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence.
It anticipates up to half-a-billion hits from the insurance industry and six million enquiries from drivers per year. It is expected to go live in June.
Short-term licence checking role
It is looking increasingly likely that this service, which is accessible only by the driver, will have to fulfil a licence-checking role in the short-term.
That is despite DVLA assurances to the BVRLA that the paper counterpart wouldn’t be removed until a suitable alternative is in place and concerns that a printout provided by the driver could easily be manipulated.
Nora Leggett, BVRLA head of member services, said: “The BVRLA is liaising with the [DVLA] project team to ensure the vehicle rental industry gets appropriate access to data with adequate data protection.”
But she added: “Full data and system implications are not yet known.”
Phase two of IEP, which is expected to give the rental industry and fleets online access, is “only in the early stages”, according to the DVLA. There is also a watered-down commitment on the Government website, with the DVLA project team talking only about “possible” access to data for car hire companies, police and other European governments in phase two. No mention is made of fleets.
Maycock believes the Electronic Driver Entitlement Checking Service (EDECS) user group – the licence checking industry body of which he is chairman – is best placed to work with the DVLA to provide the service.
Companies that provide licence checking services such as Jaama and the Licence Bureau charge fleets to check an employee’s entitlement to drive.
But Maycock doesn’t believe the introduction of an online portal for fleets direct from the DVLA would impact demand for their services.
Licence Bureau already has 12,000 customers, with more than 400,000 drivers on its database and has carried out more than a million checks since creating the industry 10 years ago. It is expected to hit 1.5m checks by the middle of next year.
EDECS users as a whole currently deal with the records of two million employees – 25% of all business drivers, according to Maycock.
He has ambitions to grow its market share further. Licence Bureau has just launched an integrated compliance tool for licence checking and risk management.
The EDECS user group will meet again with the DVLA in July after its latest meeting at the beginning of May showed little progress to an industry accessible online portal.
DVLA debate to offer fleets clarity over planned changes
Fleet News and ACFO, the national body for fleet decision-makers, will be hosting a debate to provide much-needed clarity around changes planned by DVLA.
The special seminar will take place at the Fleet News Company Car in Action event from 2pm on Tuesday, June 10.
Representatives from the DVLA will give attendees an overview of how its services are changing and how they will be delivered.
There will also be a question and answer session giving fleet professionals the opportunity to find out for themselves how the changes will affect their own particular business.
ACFO chairman Damian James said: “Whether it’s the abolition of the tax disc or the removal of the paper counterpart, it’s imperative that fleet operators understand how the changes planned to DVLA services will affect them and their drivers, and how they need to prepare.
“This debate provides an excellent opportunity for any organisation that manages a fleet of vehicles to hear direct from the DVLA what’s being planned and what they need to do to ensure they’re compliant and they continue to meet their duty-of-care obligations.”
For further information and to register for a free place, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01733 468146.
Armed with a simple bit of equipment, available to buy online, criminals can programme their own key fob, circumventing a car’s security system and allowing them to simply drive it away.
A stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) unit can significantly increase the chances of a stolen car being returned to its rightful owner, helping to combat this rising threat to car owners, says Tracker.
A criminal simply needs to smash the window to gain access to a car.
Once inside they plug in a small device, which should only be available to car dealers or locksmiths, into the car’s diagnostic port which is present on all modern cars. This then connects to the car’s computer and provides the thieves with the access codes needed to program a blank key fob which is held closely to the device.
As soon as this is done all the car’s security systems have been negated and the thieves are then in control of the car.
Security experts and police sources also tell of alarming increases in thefts of vehicles with keyless entry systems.
Simon Ashton, industry liaison officer at the Metropolitan police stolen vehicles unit, said: “New, in-car technology offer drivers a huge range of benefits, but it’s easy to be blind to the potential risks that come with it.
“Criminals are finding new ways to get around the security added to a car and exploit any weaknesses. The message is clear; protect your vehicle with everything you can, rather than simply relying on the features that come with the vehicle.”
“At Tracker, we know all too well from experience that thieves will always keep pace with state-of-the-art technology, which is why it is so important to take extra measures wherever possible,” says Adrian Davenport, police liaison officer for Tracker.
“We advise car owners to install a tracking unit, which will significantly increase the likelihood that a stolen vehicle will be recovered, lead the police to the car and hopefully make an arrest.
“In addition, Tracker devices come with a motion sensor that’s triggered even if the engine isn’t started, for added peace of mind.”
Tracker stolen vehicle recovery systems work like an electronic homing device. A covert transmitter is hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle.
The Seat Leon ST has been awarded a five-star safety rating by car safety assessment body Euro NCAP.
The estate car, which goes on sale in the UK in October for January 2014 first deliveries, joins the Leon five-door hatchback as a five-star car.
The rating is the result of combined scores in the industry-standard Euro NCAP test, but particularly the adult occupant safety and child occupant safety sections, for which the Leon ST scored 94% and 92% respectively.
Features such as front passenger airbag deactivation, to facilitate installation of a rear-facing child seat, helped achieve the child occupant score, while extensive use of high strength and ultra-high strength steels in key areas of the chassis ensure that the Leon ST remains as stable as possible during a collision.
Alongside the five-star safety rating, the Leon ST has received two Euro NCAP Advanced awards, for its lane-keeping assistant and multi-collision brake systems; Euro NCAP Advanced was established in 2010 by Euro NCAP to reward ground-breaking emerging safety innovations.
“Seat is committed to the highest levels of active and passive safety in all its models,” says Dr. Matthias Rabe, executive vice-president for research and development at Seat.
“The thorough development work developed at our Technical Centre is now rewarded with the excellent classification achieved by both variants of the new Leon in the demanding Euro NCAP tests.
Seat’s lane-keeping assistant (known as Lane Assist in the UK and available as part of the Leon’s optional Driver Assist Pack) uses a camera mounted behind the rear view mirror, which detects lane markings and helps the driver stay in lane. Working at speeds above 40 mph and linked to the power steering system, it applies a small amount of torque to the steering wheel intended to prompt the driver into taking corrective action should he or she begin to drift out of lane.
The multi-collision braking system (called Automatic Post-Collision Braking System in the UK, and standard fit) detects when the car has been involved in an accident – for example when the airbag has been fired – and automatically applies the brakes to prevent or mitigate a subsequent impact. It triggers both the hazard warning lights and the brake lights.
The new strategy signals a major change in the way vehicles will be powered in the future and reaffirms the Government’s commitment to provide new opportunities for the motor industry to help grow the UK economy.
The Minister launched Driving the Future Today – A strategy for ultra low emission vehicles in the UK during his visit to the annual Low Carbon Vehicle exhibition in Bedfordshire.
Baker said: “These are exciting times for the motoring industry as ultra low emission vehicles are the future for road travel. Our vision is that by 2050 almost every car and van will be an ultra low emission vehicle with the UK at the forefront of their design, development and manufacture. This strategy moves us up a gear in pursuing that vision.
“As well as huge opportunities for the automotive sector, this will bring life-changing benefits to our towns and cities improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions and it will provide energy security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil imports.
“We recently announced in our Action for Roads paper over £500 million of new capital investment between 2015 and 2020 to continue to support the development and adoption of ULEVs in the UK. We look forward to working with industry on how best to use this money to make the Government’s vision a reality as quickly as possible.”
The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) is inviting industry to have a say through a call for evidence on how best to invest £500m of funding to drive the revolution and establish the UK as a premier market for ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs). The call for evidence will be launched shortly.
Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “The automotive industry provides thousands of high-quality jobs across the country and we are determined to keep it that way. By setting out the level of our financial support up to 2020 we are demonstrating our long-term commitment and giving business the confidence to invest.
“We will keep working in partnership with industry on where our investment can best drive growth as we support the transition to ultra low emission vehicles.”
The Government’s long term strategic approach will deliver:
•a growing fleet of, and private markets for, Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs);
•a network of charging points and other infrastructure making ULEVs an attractive proposition;
•the development of world class skills and facilities for the development of ULEV technologies leading to global export; and
•a smarter electricity grid to benefit vehicle owners and the electricity system.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “The UK must be a lead producer and market for low and ultra-low carbon vehicles. We’re pleased to see the Strategy set out a longer term approach to the incentives, policies and initiatives which are needed to create confidence for vehicle buyers and manufacturers. We strongly support the collaborative approach with our industry which will help to secure the UK’s position as a leader in the development, production and use of ultra-low emission technologies.”
Jim Wright, managing director of Nissan Motor GB said: “As the driving force behind the UK’s electric vehicle market, Nissan has played a key role in shaping today’s Strategy and we are proud to be working alongside government and other vehicle manufacturers to ensure that the zero emission market is accessible to all.
“Nissan continues to take the lion’s share of EV sales worldwide, and earlier this year we launched the second generation LEAF with more than 100 enhancements designed to make all-electric driving more viable than ever before. We are pleased to see that the Government’s Strategy sets out clear intentions that will help incentivise zero emission mobility in the UK and open up the EV market to thousands more motorists.”
The 208 Hybrid FE is a full petrol hybrid without a Plug-in energy source, aimed at a performance market. The Research and Development teams of the two partners rose to the challenge by establishing a remarkable level of performance, based on a production PEUGEOT 208 hatchback: 0 to 62mph in 8.0 seconds and CO2 of just 49g/km over the official NEDC European Drive Cycle (Combined Cycle figures).
The objective of the 208 HYbrid FE was to combine driving pleasure with low CO2 emissions. The firm’s intention is to halve the CO2 emissions of the PEUGEOT 208, equipped with the 1.0-litre VTi 68bhp and to provide it with acceleration comparable to a performance hatchback.
“The goal of 49g and acceleration from rest in 8.0 seconds is as difficult to achieve as victory on the other side of the world. The small team consisting of the best experts in each of the areas brought all of its creativity and enthusiasm into play, and we did it!”, said Bruno Famin, director at PeugeotSport.
The vehicle is a technical demonstrator project from the two firms, and no details on if it will be put on sale have been announced.
It has new design headlamps and rear light elements, as well as a re-scuplted bonnet, while engines are more powerful while offering better efficiency.
There is a choice of seven petrol and diesel engines, the majority of which have been revised to improve performance and efficiency. The supercharged 3.0 TFSI petrol engine is boosted from 290hp to 310hp, the V8 twin-turbo 4.0 TFSI moves from 420hp to 435hp, the 3.0 TDI clean diesel increases from 250hp to 258hp and the 4.2 TDI clean diesel gains 35hp, taking it to 385hp. Its already mighty torque output is also increased by 37lb-ft to 627 lb-ft.
Paired with Quattro all-wheel drive, the 4.0 TFSI now powers the A8 from 0 to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, but under partial load the Audi cylinder on demand (COD) system deactivates four of its eight cylinders to give priority to fuel economy.
The most efficient diesel engine is the 3.0 TDI, which returns up to 47.9 mpg, corresponding to 155/km of CO2 – 3g/km lower than the current version. All engines satisfy the Euro 6 standard, helped by friction-reducing measures which reduce fuel consumption by as much as 10%.
Improvements have also been made to the optional assistance systems. Audi active lane assist, which makes slight steering adjustments when necessary, is new to the A8, as is the park assist system with 360° display, which handles steering when parking, and the head-up display, which projects important data in the driver’s field of vision on the windscreen. The night vision assistant can now also recognise larger animals in addition to pedestrians.
The revised Audi A8 is expected to reach its first UK customers in January 2014. Full pricing and UK specification information will be announced in due course.
Mazda has announced that it will be the official vehicle sponsor of Donington Park circuit for a fifth year running, providing the famous race circuit with a fleet of 10 Mazda cars.
Spectators and competitors at the Leicestershire circuit will be introduced to the all-new Mazda6 2.2-litre 175ps Tourer Sport Nav, the all-new Mazda6 2.2-litre 175ps Saloon Sport Nav and the Mazda CX-5 2.2-litre 175ps Sport Nav Automatic as they perform a variety of roles at Britain’s oldest race track.
Mazda’s ground-breaking SkyActiv technology will help maximise the efficiency, performance, responsiveness and reliability of the vehicles as they provide medical, safety and pace support on-track and transport VIP guests and senior managers off-track.
“This is now the fifth year of a successful relationship with Mazda and we are delighted to welcome the all-new Mazda6 and Mazda CX-5 onto the support fleet for 2013,” explained Christopher Tate, managing director at Donington Park Racing.
“Both models are well prepared for the task ahead, thanks to Mazda’s ability to combine responsive, economical and spacious vehicles with sporty styling.”
Mazda’s continued relationship with Donington Park provides the Japanese brand with exclusive track time for testing its 2013 MX-5 production race cars contesting in races such as the Britcar Production Sportscar Series this year.
It will also gain exclusive use of Donington facilities for Mazda events, tickets to all the races including the British Superbike Championship in September and the British GT Championship in October, and use of a hospitality suite overlooking the circuit’s first corner at Redgate.