• 10 reasons why your business is losing money

    There’s no doubt that getting up and running with a new business can be very exciting. You are your own boss and that can give you a lot of freedom. However, if you are inexperienced with the corporate world, your enthusiasm could soon fade as the costs start stacking up. Many of those costs, you might not even have foreseen. Perhaps what had started as just a trickle of expenses has, unexpectedly quickly, ballooned into something much more serious. How you use vehicles for business purposes could be to blame – so, let’s look more closely at how you can control these costs better.

    Inefficient use of fuel

    Your vehicles are incapable of running without fuel, making it seem very necessary to spend some of your precious revenue on. However, you might not be maximising the efficiency of that fuel. Alec Lee, operations manager at small-tours firm Rabbie’s, made a major admission to The Guardian.

    He said that training in more energy-efficient driving helped his firm to save money on fuel.Workers were “also decreasing the general wear and tear on the vehicle” – which, in the longer term, could help Rabbie’s reduce its necessity of paying for costly repairs.

    Failure to regularly audit your vehicles

    Spending time carrying out this kind of audit can help you see where cash might be being haemorrhaged, advises Grant Boardman, Fleet Alliance’s regional sales director.

    Boardman, whose firm keeps SMEs supplied with fleet management services, explains: “It’s about understanding the whole-life costs of a vehicle”. That means, he adds: “Not just looking at the purchase or hire price, but other consequential factors over the next three or four years.”

    Leasing commercial vehicles from a single provider

    Does your company routinely hire commercial vehicles, like vans, from the same provider? Then you are making what Boardman has branded a “classic mistake”.

    What you should instead do, he says, is look for a combination of providers capable of offering what you need – and all at what adds up to the lowest possible overall price. He also notes that, in doing so, you should especially strongly consider lease costs and fuel consumption.

    Not paying attention to company cars’ CO2 emissions

    You might often use cars in running your business; cars put to this purpose can be succinctly referred to as company cars. If you indeed utilise cars in this manner, then check, before you decide to buy any such vehicle, how much it will produce in CO2 emissions on the road.

    This is crucial as, for discerning how much tax should be payable on different cars, the government puts these cars into different “emission bands”. The less CO2 emissions a car is responsible for, the better its CO2 rating can be and so the less tax you could need to pay on this vehicle.

    Improper management of your fleet

    If you have an entire fleet of vehicles at your company’s disposal, how is that fleet being managed? If the company is directly handling those affairs, you might want to rethink that strategy.

    John Hargreaves, Kia’s head of fleet and remarketing, has noted that a vehicle fleet poses a “significant overhead” for many businesses. That fleet “should be managed professionally, whether by a dedicated person within the company or by outsourcing to a specialist vehicle management company,” headded.

    Not taking advantage of telematics for cost-cutting

    You might have seen or heard the word “telematics” occasionally popping up in discussions about how money can be saved on corporate vehicles. However, what does it actually mean?

    It is commonly used as shorthand for “vehicle tracking systems”, as they are more formally called. Jenny Powley, who has worked at the RAC as a sales director for corporate partnerships, has recommended such systems that “collect data on the vehicle and give business owners a much better picture of wear and tear, enabling them to take cost-effective preventative measures.”

    Not using fuel cards

    These payment cards are available from various firms, the RAC included, and can help you lower your fuel bills. Furthermore, as Powley points out, when a business owner uses them, they receive “regular reports and can see exactly what is spent, rather than having drivers submit receipts”.

    Taking out vehicle insurance for longer than is necessary

    Your company’s vehicle needs might actually be very low. For instance, they could be limited to requiring simply a van for use in transporting items to a new office or an even more modest car for occasional times that you want to attend a trade show or team bonding event.

    That’s fine, but it doesn’t take away from the need to check that you have insurance for a vehicle before you use it. In the UK, driving without insurance can lead to you incurring a massive fine and other penalties. However, a standard insurance policy lasting a year or more can be much costlier than short term car insurance which you could source through UK broker Call Wiser.

    Trying to meet vehicle costs by pricing products too highly

    You might reason that you need to price your company’s products at a particular – probably relatively high – level because you have hefty costs to pay in keeping vehicles running.

    However, advice posted by Forbes insists on the need to strike a middle ground when pricing products. Set prices excessively high and too many people could be put off. Nonetheless, on the other hand, keeping prices overly low could see you struggling to achieve a profit.

    Whatever prices you settle on, consider that trimming those vehicle costs – by, for instance, using remedies listed in this article –could be a better strategy than keeping your prices high.

    Reluctance to invest in vehicles necessary for growth

    One reason why we are eager to provide advice on how to cut costs of running vehicles is that paying those costs could, ultimately, be necessary for cultivating your company’s growth.

    Therefore, if you have so far resisted drawing extensively on automotive assistance for your own company, this could help explain why it is financially struggling. Avoid the false economy!

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  • SW Motech Kit Out the BMW R nineT Racer

    SM Motech has released a range of accessories to protect your BMW R nineT Racer from damage, or to add some stylish luggage. The German firm has added to the Legend Gear range for vintage-style bags, and sturdy guards and crash bars for Boxer engine. Check out the SW Motech products for the BMW R nineT Racer below.

    SW Motech products for the BMW R nineT Racer

    SW Motech Legend Gear Luggage for the BMW R nineT Racer:

    Whether you plan on a motorcycle holiday, commuting, or just have too much to carry in your pockets, bike luggage comes in rather useful. And the SW Motech range suits the retro look of the R nineT Racer. The bags are constructed from waxed canvas and Napalon synthetic leather to look like classic motorcycle kit. But they also have a polyurethane coating on the inside, waterproof inner bags and rain covers for modern protection from rain and damp.

    The two pannier style bags are the SW Motech LC1, which carry 9.8 litres per side and cost £139.99 per bag, or the larger SW Motech LC2 which carry 13.5 litres and cost £149.99 each. Either size will be attached using SLC Side Carriers which are designed for the R nineT Racer with touch steel tubing fitted to original mounting points. That gives you the flexibility to carry one or a pair of bags, and there’s a quick-lock system to get them on and off quickly. You can attach other Legend Gear bags onto each pannier using the army-style webbing loops and alloy hooks. The side carriers cost £59.99 each.

    SW Motech BMW R nineT Racer Legend Gear Side Bags

    Alternatively, there’s also an SW Motech Legend Gear Tank Bag LT2 available for £125.99. That’ll carry 5.5 litres, and attaches with a classic strap mounting. The strap has two clip buckles, to let you get to the fuel tank filler when you need it.

    You get the same mix of vintage look construction and waterproofing as the panniers. But for the handy stuff you need when riding there’s a clear PVC window for smartphones and satnavs. Plus a hole for your charging cables. And you can also add accessory bags or smart phone bags for more storage by using the same additional fastening system.

    SW Motech BMW R nineT Racer Legend Gear Tank Bag Strap

    SW Motech Crash Protection for the BMW R nineT Racer:

    So that’s all your kit carried. But what about saving your retro BMW from damage? There are three options to save your engine in particular from potential problems.

    The SW Motech Engine Guard will protect the block and sump from debris being thrown up off the road, particularly by the front wheel. It’s made from 4mm brushed aluminium, and has a rubber mounting to reduce vibration. It attaches to your bike via existing mounting points, using steel brackets. And it features air intake holes so your engine still benefits from the cooling airflow. It costs £178.00.

    SW Motech BMW R nineT Racer Engine Guard

    For the sides of the engine, you can also invest in SW Motech Cylinder Guards. You can probably guess they cover the valve and spark plug covers. So they’ll help if the side of your Boxer engine comes into contract with the road. Laser-cut, brushed aluminium is used, with an anodised aluminium pad, and a rubber lining to cushion the engine in a fall. You can choose from Black and Gold or Black and Silver finished for £158.99 per pair.

    SW Motech BMW R nineT Racer Crash Bars and Cylinder Guards

    And for even more protection, why not whack on a paid of SW-Motech Crash Bars. The heavy-duty steel protectors come in a choice of plain powder coasted black for a stealthy look at £177.99. Or shiny stainless steel to give you even more to polish at £226.99.

    As always, it’s a fair investment for all the crash protection listed. But having seen a brand new Japanese middleweight written off when a low-speed fall cracked the engine casing, it’s a lot cheaper to add crash bars in advance. Especially when your insurance excess will often be a couple of hundred pounds anyway. And they’ll save the engine from scuffs and marks when you might consider selling it in a year or two. Which means you’ll be able to get more cash.

    So those are the current SW Motech products for the BMW R nineT Racer. If you’ve already bought and fitted any, let us know what you make of them in the comments. Or your thoughts on the R nineT Racer itself…

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  • Subaru BRZ review

    Subaru BRZ review

    The Subaru BRZ is one of the best kept secrets of the auotmotive world.

    Developed alongisde the near-identical Toyota GT86, it’s an affordable back-to-basics front
    engined, rear-wheel drive 2+2 sports coupe.

    For 2017, Subaru has given the evergreen BRZ a mid-life facelift, equipment upgrade and distilled the trim options down to just one – SE Lux.

    Subaru BRZ review

    The exterior design tweaks are subtle, apart from the old school aerodynamic wing at the rear. Elsewhere, there’s a new front bumper, LED headlights and 10-spoke 17-inch alloys.

    You can choose from five colours, though Subaru’s iconic WR (World Rally) Blue Pearl is surely the one to go for.

    Inside, a 4.2-inch LCD colour display is added to the instrument display, featuring such sporting essentials as a G-Force meter and braking gauge.

    Subaru BRZ review

    The leather steering wheel is now smaller and boasts audio controls, while plastics generally have been upgraded or replaced by leather, giving the cabin a more upmarket feel.

    The Alcantra and leather seats are more comfortable than ever (the driver’s seat has a six-way adjustment), while a 6.2-inch touchscreen has been added to the centre console, though sat nav is a £1,250 option.

    The infotainment system is not as hi-tech as the best of them, but it does the job and, of course, offers full connectivity.

    Subaru BRZ review

    Traditionalists will be pleased to note that the cockpit is still adorned with plenty of retro-feel knobs and toggle switches.

    The rear passenger seats are fitted with ISOFIX anchor points, but as with most 2+2s, they are
    almost totally useless. Better news in the boot where there’s 243 litres of space available – 1,270 with the rear seats folded flat.

    The 2017 Subaru BRZ is more driver focused than ever. Sadly, there’s no extra power for the 2.0-
    litre 200PS ‘Boxer’ petrol engine, but it is more responsive, it still sounds suitably throaty and CO2 emissions are slightly lower.

    Subaru BRZ review

    Elsewhere, Subaru’s engineers have made various changes (to the steering, suspension, dampers and
    brakes) to tweak the driving dynamics and make the BRZ even sharper than before.

    Priced from £26,050, the BRZ is one of the most entertaining cars you’ll find for that money.

    The chassis is better than ever and it’s enormous fun on flowing country roads. Agile and engaging, it’s helped by a slick six-speed short-throw manual gearbox and it feels totally
    planted.

    Subaru BRZ review

    For the record, the BRZ is capable of 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds (but feels faster) and it tops out at 140mph. Fuel economy is a claimed 36.2mpg (and it not far off that in the real world), while CO2 emissions are a very average 180g/km.

    But here’s the thing. The BRZ is also now available with automatic transmission – and it’s a bit of a revelation.

    Subaru BRZ review

    It may sounds like sacrilege in a sports car package like this, but the auto box slams through the gears pretty well – even producing the odd pop on down-changes, allowing you to concentrate on the driving. The engine even sounds more sporty.

    Verdict: The new, improved Subaru BRZ is better than ever. With a mild makeover inside and out, plus enhanced driving dynamics, it has to be one of the best-value, most entertaining sports cars
    on the market – and it still looks just as cool.

    Review by Gareth Herincx

    Subaru BRZ review

    The post Subaru BRZ review appeared first on Automotive Blog.

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  • PLYMOUTH SUPERBIRD: THE RICHARD PETTY CONNECTION!

    Our man on the track, Stephen Cox, talks with Richard Petty about his connection to the winged Superbird.

    It has been claimed that Plymouth’s legendary winged ‘70 Superbird was the brainchild of NASCAR champion Richard Petty. The rumor has been around for decades but I’ve never found anyone with first-hand knowledge who could absolutely confirm or deny that the car’s origins truly began with The King of Stock Car Racing.

    But opportunity knocked a couple of weeks ago when Petty was in attendance at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee, FL, which I co-host for NBCSN. I found him relaxing backstage late in the show and hollered, “Hey, King!” Although I don’t know him well, he looked up with his trademark smile and immediately held out his hand.

    I asked him point blank whether he was responsible for the development of the Plymouth Superbird. Petty paused and laid the back of his hand across his brow. “Well, let me get the dates right.”

    “We knew in 1968 that Dodge was building a wing car. So I went to Plymouth and asked if they were gonna build one and they said, ‘No.’ I told them that I’d like them to work on one and they said, ‘No, you’re winning all the races anyway.’”

    True, Petty had been dominant, winning 27 of 49 Grand National races en route to the championship in 1968. Rather than cough up the additional funds to stay current in NASCAR’s burgeoning aero wars, Plymouth was content to let Petty struggle against increasing odds.

    Undeterred, Petty tried another angle. He asked if he could stay within the Chrysler family and simply move over to Dodge and drive the new Charger Daytona winged car for the 1969 season. Plymouth flatly refused.

    “So I said, ‘Either build me a wing car or I’m walking across the street,’” Petty continued. “They said, ‘Sure, go ahead.’ So I did.”

    That same afternoon Richard Petty personally walked into Ford Motor Company’s front office. Ford executives took no risks, signing Petty to a one-year contract on the spot. Petty finished second in the points chase while winning ten races for Ford in 1969. It was enough. He didn’t have to return to Detroit to beg Plymouth for a winged car. This time, they came to him.

    “The head man from Plymouth came walking into my shop,” Petty continued. “He said, ‘What do we need to do to get you back? I said, ‘Give me what I’ve been asking for.’”

    Plymouth pledged to have a new winged car completed for Petty in time for the 1970 NASCAR season. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, they chose to use a modified version of the wildly successful Dodge Charger Daytona platform. Under NASCAR’s homologation rules, a limited number of Superbird street cars were built and sold through Plymouth’s dealership network.

    Behind the wheel of the car built specifically for him, Richard Petty and his Plymouth Superbird won 18 of the 40 races in which they competed in 1970, led nearly half of all laps and won nine pole positions. Despite being produced for only one model year, the road-going version of the Superbird became a legend in the annals of musclecar history.

    Today, a concours-ready Plymouth Superbird will routinely draw bids from $100,000 to $300,000 at auction. They remain among the most collectible musclecars ever built.

    “So there you go,” Petty told me with a smile. “That’s how it happened.”

     

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  • Electric car charging rip-off?

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    Ministers are preparing to tackle overpriced electric car charging over fears that it can cost as much to run a green vehicle as a diesel car.

    Reforms set to be introduced next year will make roadside pricing for electricity – which can reach £7.50 for a half-hour charge – more consistent, so motorists are not put off buying environmentally friendly cars.

    The new rules will give drivers easier access to public charge points and set common standards for pricing.

    Ministers are preparing to tackle overpriced electric car charging over fears that it can cost as much to run a green vehicle as a diesel car

    The environmental audit committee said that ministers would fall short of a target of ensuring that 9 per cent of new cars and vans were classed as ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020.

    Its report predicted that without reform, green vehicles would at most account for only 7 per cent of the car and van market by 2020.

    Motoring journalist and spokesman for the FairFuelUK campaign, Quentin Willson, told The Times: ‘We have seen some rapid chargers cost almost £7.50 for a half-hour charge. That strikes me as far too expensive and can almost bring costs up to a comparable level of running a diesel car.

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