In Brief: Insurance refunds; More staff on furlough; Land Rover launched plug-in hybrid models

Time 1 year ago

  • Here’s the latest motoring and business news headlines for Wednesday, April 22

Admiral to refund customers £25 for each vehicle amid lockdown

Motor insurer Admiral has pledged to hand back £110m to car and van policyholders as claims plunge amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The Cardiff-based group said it will pay out £25 for each of the 4.4m vehicles covered at April 20, with refunds being made by the end of May.

It said it is able to give customers the cash thanks to falling claims as fewer drivers are on the road due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The group also pledged another £80m towards lowering prices for cover to reflect the drop in claims, as well as for further initiatives to support NHS staff and local communities.

More businesses placing staff on furlough

The number of businesses furloughing staff has increased in the past week with more than half saying they would run out of cash within three months.


The British Chamber of Commerce’s (BCC) weekly coronavirus tracker found 71 per cent of respondents have placed workers on the scheme, up from 66 per cent a week ago.

A further 28% of businesses said they had furloughed no staff. Companies have until Wednesday to access the job retention scheme to receive funds in time for April pay day.

Kia UK executives on Car Dealer Live midday today

Two of Kia UK’s senior executive team will be joining Car Dealer Live at midday today.

Aftersales director Chris Lear and sales director Steve Hicks will join the live broadcast to talk about how the manufacturer has coped with the coronavirus crisis and how they have supported dealers during the crisis. Watch it here.

Elon Musk claims the Cybertruck will be able to ‘float’

Elon Musk took to Twitter to claim the Tesla Cybertruck will be able to cross streams and ‘even float for a while’.

The American firm’s CEO is famous for making wild claims on Twitter, with his latest tweet coming in response to a Twitter user who asked if the upcoming electric SUV will be able to drive through water.

Wading depth is important, with the likes of the new Land Rover Defender and Ford Ranger capable of tackling depths of 900mm and 800mm respectively. Floating is often considered undesirable because it means the wheels no longer dictate the direction of travel, leaving the vehicle at the mercy of the current.

Restaurant chain bosses call for nine-month rent break

Bosses at Burger King, Nando’s and other leading restaurant chains have called on the Chancellor to postpone rent payment for the next nine months

The chains Caffe Nero, Pret a Manger, Franco Manca, Gordon Ramsay Group, Dishoom, Wahaca and Tortilla have all backed the plea.

In a letter to the Chancellor, restaurant bosses said: ‘Fear of the virus and the long-term need for physical distancing will mean that most hospitality businesses will remain shut after lockdown. Almost all have no immediate prospect of being profitable again and many will fail in the next few weeks and months.’

Brent oil collapses after rout in US oil markets

A rout in global oil markets continued yesterday as traders in Europe caught up with extraordinary events in the US on Monday.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil dropped more than 29 per cent to 19.82 US dollars per barrel, its lowest level since 1999.

It came the day after oil prices in the US briefly dipped into negative territory, meaning that buyers were being paid up to 40.32 dollars to take delivery of oil. Demand for oil has dried up as international economies shut down.

[30 second explainer video below]

Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque get plug-in hybrid tech

A new plug-in hybrid powertrain has been launched for the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque, promising an electric range of 41 miles.

The petrol-electric unit, which is the same in both models, uses a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor that sits on the rear axle. They produce a combined 305bhp and 540Nm of torque. Badged P300e, they promise impressive economy and low running costs. 

John Lewis sales plunge as online growth fails to offset shop closures

John Lewis sales have plunged after it was forced to shut stores despite a surge in online orders by 84 per cent.

The group said that despite many people turning to its online stores, the purchases were less profitable and despite the rise annual sales will still be down overall by around 35 per cent. This is despite its supermarket arm Waitrose seeing sales rise too.

The news comes as the group hands a near £1m pay-out to its former managing director Paula Nickolds, who was ousted from the department store business in January.

Cath Kidston permanently shuts all 60 stores

Cath Kidston is to shut its 60 UK stores with the loss of more than 900 jobs. The fashion retailer confirmed stores will not reopen once the lockdown is over after the company’s owners secured a deal to buy back its brand and online operations following its fall into administration.

Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA), which has held a stake in the retailer since 2014, said it will buy the online business, brand and wholesale arm from administrators Alvarez & Marsal.

The company confirmed that only 32 of its 940 staff will see their jobs secured as part of the deal.

Amazon gives staff £2-an-hour pay rise 

Amazon warehouse staff and delivery drivers will get a £2-an-hour pay rise in recognition for their work during the lockdown.

UK boss Doug Gurr wrote to customers on Tuesday explaining that the online retail giant has also upgraded its warehouses to government standards on social distancing.

It comes as Amazon faces battles at its French operations, which are currently closed after a court ruled the company must only sell essential products, while staff have staged protests over virus safety fears in warehouses.

Barclays’s £750 interest-free overdraft buffer

Barclays is introducing temporary interest-free buffers of £750 on pre-agreed overdrafts from the start of May.

This is more generous than the £500 interest-free overdraft buffer that many providers are offering to help borrowers cope with the impact of the pandemic.

Measures put in place from March 27 mean Barclays is currently waiving all interest automatically until the end of April, meaning no charges for customers on their personal arranged overdraft. The new £750 interest-free buffer will be in place from May 1 and will run until the end of July 9.

How can car dealer start selling and delivering cars again?

Following a weekend of debate as to the rights and wrongs of delivering cars during the lockdown, Car Dealer Magazine has investigated how it can be done safely.

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When restrictions are lifted there is a good chance that dealers will only be allowed to restart with an online sales solution. We look at what sorts of changes may have to be made. Read the full investigation here.

More: Yesterday’s briefing including oil price turns negative; Ducati in Lego; New Aston boss strolls in; Furlough scheme swamped

Catch up on Car Dealer Live with heycar, Honest John and dealer group Corkills from yesterday below

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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