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Borrowing fuels higjer car sales.

HARD-PRESSED motorists are finding new ways to combat the effects of soaring car ownership costs.

A record number are borrowing money to finance their new car purchases and manufacturers are devising new ways to prevent escalating fuel thefts from vehicles.

New car finance sales were up by a third in March, according to the latest figures from the Finance & Leasing Association, which is the trade body for the motor finance industry.

This growth meant that finance sold in dealer showrooms accounted for almost two thirds of all private new car sales during the last 12 months, compared with just over half of sales in the previous 12 months.

There was growth in most finance products for new cars in March compared with the same month in the previous year, with leasing up by half, hire purchase by 37% and personal contract purchase by 30%.

And there was growth in the used car finance market of 6%, with almost 75,000 second-hand cars sold on finance in March.

Paul Harrison, head of motor finance at the Finance & Leasing Association, said: "Borrowing money to fund new and used car purchases meant that sales have soared by 22% so far this year.

Personal contract purchase (PCP) remains the most popular with new car buyers, and used car finance has also performed well, with the number of financed cars sold up by 9% in the first quarter of this year."

Meanwhile, the soaring value of fuel has led to thefts from vehicles increasing by 25% in the past year to a reported 4,500 cases, although the overwhelming majority of thefts will go undetected or unreported.

Manufacturers are responding with the use of systems to make such thefts either impossible or extremely complicated, with a single tank of fuel now worth more than pounds 60 and sometimes in excess of pounds 120.

A spring-loaded flap is held closed by two latches that can only be released by a standardsize fuel nozzle. When the proper nozzle is inserted into the filler neck of the system, the latches release and the nozzle pushes the spring-loaded flap to the open position. When the nozzle is removed, the flap is automatically and firmly closed by the spring.

The system also has an inhibitor designed to prevent improper fuelling and syphoning.

The inhibitor consists of a fuel nozzle detector that guides the nozzle to the opening. If a nozzle or tube of a different size - a diesel nozzle or plastic hose, for example - is placed in the filler neck of a petrol-powered vehicle, the latches will not release.

For a diesel-powered vehicle, the inhibitor will keep out the smaller nozzles.

CAPTION(S):

EXPENSIVE New devices will protect a tank of fuel worth between pounds 60 and pounds 120
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 25, 2012
Words:459
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