THIS WEEK

Whenever I start to write this newsletter, I always dial into the Financial Times for inspiration. They generally carry the most up-to-date news and articles about the automotive industry. None more so than this week.
To begin with, everybody is talking about the fall in sales in China. October is down 12% year on year. And while we have suffered similar drops in past years in the UK, one month of China’s sales equals approximately one year of UK sales. So it’s effect on the global market is massive. Last year they sold 28.8 million units. A pathetic sales penetration in the face of 1.5 billion inhabitants I will admit, but still very significant, and one that worries many European manufacturers, especially the Germans, who have up until now done extremely well over there.
Their second headline “Brexit isn’t the UK car industry’s biggest problem” is very appropriate. And in fact it ties in well with the launch of a new service called Turo which was announced in AM-online today. Because the gist of the FT article is that young urban dwellers are just not into car ownership any more, and consequently car sales are going to fall off a cliff over the next few years. Well Turo claims to have launched the “Airbnb of cars”. They claim that the average car spends just 9 hours a week being driven, sitting idle for the remaining 159. And if we could only rent the thing out for a fair proportion of those we could earn, on average, £6000 a year. And I am guessing, we could take another seven or eight cars off the road. They claim to have sorted out insurance issues and the technology platform, which is good news for car owners, consumers and the green lobby, but not great for car manufacturers. I suspect that many of us looked sceptically at Uber, Airbnb and even Amazon when they launched. Who knows how Turo will do, because we take the others very seriously now.
Their final headline highlights the new chairman of Tesla. The person who will finally rein  in their headstrong chief executive, Elon Musk. It has to be said that many are sceptical that Robyn Denholm will have the necessary toughness and authority to control her charge. Others, however, say that she has managed it successfully elsewhere, especially in the telecoms industry from where she originates. You have to say that the company needs it, and in fact the appointment of the chairman was at the insistence of the US authorities after recent controversies over their share price and production figures. But whatever the outcome, Tesla is here to stay, like many of the other new big players on the world stage.
Have a great weekend, at least you won’t be woken by fireworks this week.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
Doug Larson
Anybody can win unless there happens to be a second entry.
George Ade (1866 – 1944)
The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath.
Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart
You know that children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers.
John J. Plomp
THIS WEEK

One of the biggest challenges facing dealers today is WLTP. But if you read AM-online this week, that will pale into insignificance compared to Brexit. Some, like Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu, are quite sanguine about the problems – “The sun will still come up the next morning” and liken it to the hysteria surrounding the millennium bug. Others, on the other hand, are fearful of a no deal scenario, they reckon it will add 10-15% to the cost of a car and put thousands of suppliers out of business. The bad news is that the government only has a few months to sort it out, the good news is that we only have a few months to find out what’s going to happen.
And we only have a couple of months left in 2018. Which I am certain will come as a relief to a few people, not least Pendragon. Their report on Q3 was as downbeat as anything else this year, as revenues slipped a further 7.2%. Blaming most of it on WLTP, Trevor Finn nevertheless predicts that the rest of the year is going to remain challenging. He was encouraged, however, by used-car performance. And talking around the industry, it is clear that the lack of new car supply has forced a spike in demand for used, especially in fashionable franchises. However, this still makes used-car trading difficult, as you rarely outperform the market in terms of margin, unless you have the guts foresight to buy forward and stockpile used cars. And anyone in this business will tell you that is a very risky strategy. Predicting full-year 2018 profits of around £50 million, 2019 looks like it will be a crunch year for the group. Their move away from premium franchises means that a reliance on used cars will exaggerate any miscalculations in that sector.
If a continuing decline in the UK retail market was predictable, I bet many of you wished you had bought Tesla shares at the beginning of the week. Reporting their first quarterly profit in car manufacturing since they began, a healthy $377 million, meant their shares shot up by 11%. So I predict that Elon Musk, now chairman and no longer CEO, is not missing that extra bit of salary too much. And he is hopefully looking forward to continued growth for the rest of this year and into next. No WLTP considerations for electric vehicles.
Have a great weekend, winter is coming.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.
Arthur Koestler (1905 – 1983)
An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
Jef Mallett, Frazz, 04-04-07
No one has ever had an idea in a dress suit.
Sir Frederick G. Banting (1891 – 1941)
Making duplicate copies and computer printouts of things no one wanted even one of in the first place is giving America a new sense of purpose.
Andy Rooney (1919 – )
THIS WEEK

There are all sorts of indicators that reflect the rise or fall in demand for vehicles. But as Michelin suffered its worst drop in its share price for seven years today, it might be time to reflect whether the car tyre market is one of those indicators. Obviously the sale of tyres that does not necessarily reflect the sale of vehicles, though logically the more cars there are on the road, the more tyres there are to sell. But you could still sell the same number of cars and have car usage fall. Or speed limits be applied more strictly so people didn’t drive like maniacs and wear their tyres out. So the relationship is complicated, but it is probably indicative of a problem in the motor industry in general.

This was borne out by highly respected industry analyst Arndt Ellinghorst, who was quoted in the FT today as saying that “80% of suppliers are likely to reduce their full-year 2018 guidance”. What does that mean exactly? Well probably most of them are not going to adjust their forecasts upwards, and he did say elsewhere that he expects to be this reporting season to be the ugliest ever. Certainly problems towards the end of this year with vehicle manufacturing, WLTP compliance and consumer demand have all combined.

Europe has had an energy problem for some time, being highly reliant upon places like Russia for its supplies of gas and for others for its supplies of fuel. So the EU has looked at our future power requirements, and decided to, as the headline says, jump-start its battery electric battery sector. With the emergence of the electric car an inevitable part of future transportation, it is obvious that we need something to power them. And batteries are the new power units. So Europe (and we have to presume presume the UK post Brexit) is looking at ways of promoting battery production.

They are sinking substantial funds and resources into the project partly because 80% of the current world’s production is in Asia. Compare China’s 69% market share with Europe’s 4%. Something needs doing and hopefully we will start to catch up. Though we had better be quick, our Asian rivals are already building plants in Europe to produce over here. European battery production may be a lost opportunity.

Have a great weekend, enjoy the weather. 

THIS WEEK’S JOBS
Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page

 

Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK 

If you can’t say anything good about someone, sit right here by me.
Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884 – 1980)

The covers of this book are too far apart.
Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914), The Devil’s Dictionary

Character is what you have left when you’ve lost everything you can lose.
Evan Esar (1899 – 1995)

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), “Of Beauty”

THIS WEEK

Two stories today demonstrate the uncertain nature of our industry. In particular the changing fortune of what are massive investments in this industry of ours. First of all the announcement that Elon Musk is to be sued by the SEC in the US for alleged securities fraud. This relates to his announcement that he was taking Tesla Private a few weeks ago which took everyone, including the New York Stock Exchange by surprise. On the back of it Tesla shares have taken quite a substantial hit yesterday and today.
It is difficult to know how this one will play out, because the company’s future looks uncertain at best with their acknowledged difficulties in hitting ambitious production targets with the new products. It is fascinating to watch this from the outside, because for so many years, with initiatives in green fuels, in electric cars, in space exploration and in the Hyper Loop technology (you remember the train that can travel at ridiculous speeds) he has been the darling of the press and of technology commentators everywhere.
While that is a story that everyone is sure to have seen this week,  a very different one comes in the form of a report in the FT. It is relates to industries that Argentina leads the world in. One is in retreat and one very much in the ascendancy. 10 years ago Argentina invested in what was the technology of the future, bio diesel. A decade later it is a technology that is either ignored or discredited, but certainly one that has created an awful lot of disruption and missed investment opportunities.
But Argentina is also a leading supplier of lithium. It does not take a genius to understand that whatever the country is losing in terms of biofuels, it is gaining in terms of lithium production. And I bet we all wish we had shares in it now.
As the last day of September approaches I do not think there are many dealers holding their breath on the outcome of the month. Plenty I have spoken to think they will come up well short, but miraculously many cars will be registered on the last day of the month. So it looks like there will be plenty of supply of demonstrators for the rest of the year. For those brands that have sorted out cars that comply with the new regulations, that is. It really isn’t a good time for the UK car industry, with production levels falling and Jaguar going on to a three-day week. Until we sort this Brexit mess out one way or another it is difficult to see how much optimism will return.
Have a great weekend, may your September prove to be a rewarding one.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Everyone’s a hero in their own way, in their own not that heroic way.
Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jed Whedon, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, 2008
When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)
Hell, there are no rules here– we’re trying to accomplish something.
Thomas A. Edison (1847 – 1931)
One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.
Marie Curie (1867 – 1934), Letter to her brother, 1894
THIS WEEK

Just lots going on this week. Plenty of it relating to the future, some of it to the past. No greater hark back to the past than the announcement that Jaguar have moved on to a three-day working week. That takes us back to about 1974 from memory. Falling sales, concern over Brexit, WLTP, you name it it seems a perfect storm for JLR, a manufacturer that could do no wrong until about three years ago. Are they having real problems, or, as the more cynical might think, is this a way of softening up the British workforce? If they have to make cuts in future, or set up manufacturing elsewhere they can say it was already not working in UK.
The EU is obviously in the news a lot this week, especially with regards to our future trading agreements with them. On the flipside, we forget just how much power both the EU and large companies have in Europe. And an investigation was launched earlier in the week into a cartel that was allegedly created by Germany’s manufacturers BMW, Daimler and VW. The story has already been covered elsewhere, but we are now beyond rumours of a cartel and into an investigation.
And just as Europe sets to over here, the US has announced an investigation into a leader of new technology in the US. Elon Musk’s recent pronouncements about taking Tesla private again fell foul, apparently, of stock market rules. They could be viewed as manipulating the market, and as such he will have to answer some serious questions in front of the US Justice Department. All this just as Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has thrown a substantial investment into Lucid Motors, Tesla’s big rival in the US. The company was rumoured to be desperately seeking investment, this would seem to solve their needs for now.
Have a great weekend, welcome to autumn.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps.
Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881)
It is possible to be below flattery as well as above it.
Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800 – 1859)
A specification that will not fit on one page of 8.5×11 inch paper cannot be understood.
Mark Ardis
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is.
Chuck Reid
THIS WEEK

It has to be said that everybody is confused about Brexit nowadays. In fact I was watching the BBC news yesterday morning and the presenter announced that they would be speaking to the “Breakfast Secretary on BBC Brexit”. So we have no chance of knowing whether we going to get a deal, if we can’t tell the difference between Brexit and Breakfast.
But it is certainly exercising some minds out there, and there has been a warning today that the introduction of electric cars in the UK could well be stalled if we leave Brexit. Why, because manufacturers have EU emissions targets to meet, and apparently because of some arcane, obscure regulation if we leave the EU, then cars sold here will no longer count towards their targets.
And indeed Dyson this week announced that because of the confusion over our status they would be holding back on investment on their electric vehicles, or rather not deciding exactly where to site their production plant. And very unusually, one of the senior directors in our industry tweeted this week about his concern. Daksh Gupta made it absolutely clear that he was not making a political point, he was merely concerned that the position we have got ourselves into means that planning for next year and the years beyond for the 800,000 or so workers in the motor industry was proving night on impossible. As we struggle through a September that is proving to be a challenge, we don’t want the next five years to be as tough as this.
Have a great weekend, the weather will be better here than it is in the States.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Nothing fails like success.
Gerald Nachman
When we got into office, the thing that surprised me the most was that things were as bad as we’d been saying they were.
John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)
Some people will never learn anything because they understand everything too soon.
Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)
The nice thing about egotists is that they don’t talk about other people.
Lucille S. Harper
THIS WEEK

I had my car serviced this week, and as it was picked up I was told there was a recall, just announced that morning. It was to do with reprogramming the computer so that vehicle emissions were improved. With some trepidation I allowed it to go off, worried that it would not “pull the skin off a rice pudding” when it came back. In fact I was wrong, and now appears to be working slightly better than it did before.
So my ears pricked up when I saw that Toyota were recalling 1 million vehicles this week, and Ford 2 million. The latter is doing this almost exclusively in the States. It is over a seat belt defect in one of their big selling trucks. Rather interestingly the seatbelt itself, or its pre-tensioner, can theoretically cause a fire. Toyota’s recall also relates to a fire risk.
All of this comes at a time when Korea is talking about imposing greater penalties on manufacturers who fail to deal with recalls properly. We have already seen a number of manufacturers fined in the US and lambasted across Europe for mishandling recalls. And the South Korean government got particularly exercised over BMW recently regarding a fire risk which the government judged they did not deal with adequately or quickly enough. I always say that it is not necessarily the customer of the manufacturer who gets delighted about such programs, but aftersales managers normally love them. A full workshop, a proper reason to write to your customers and get their vehicles back into the workshop. And something only franchised dealers can deal with. What could be better?
I also see from the FT this week that car sales boomed in August. Before we all get carried away and think the world has been put to rights, let us not forget that with the WLTP deadline of 1 September, there was a lot of old stock to clear. I suspect September and October will yield slimmer pickings.
Have a great weekend. And may your month be going well.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.
Laurence J. Peter (1919 – 1988)
The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.
Claud Cockburn (1904 – 1981)
I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.
Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)
THIS WEEK

It is fascinating to read two articles, posted almost alongside each other, in AM-online this week. One, covering a survey by Auto Trader, suggests that it will be another nine years before most motorists seriously consider an electric vehicle. Uncertainties about charging points, infrastructure and range mean that for your average driver, electric is still a step into the unknown. And I can understand those feelings.
On the other hand, a different article based on a report by Leasing Options suggests that in just two years time, in 2020, the sale of electric vehicles will have outpaced the sale of diesels. Given that diesel sales have plummeted nearly 40% in the last year, one perhaps could be forgiven for thinking this was possible.
But is it? As it implies that diesel sales are going to continue to plummet and the slack will be taken up by petrol. This obviously presents the government with a problem, as petrol cars are notoriously worse at emitting CO2 than their diesel counterparts. It only shows that statistics can be made to prove almost anything, it depends what you want to say.
It also depends on how you phrase the question (which is why you never hold a referendum on anything important!) There is no doubt considerable anxiety about the electric vehicles’ ability to cover long distances, though the majority of drivers never drive more than 50 – 60 miles at a time in any case. Equally, if you extrapolate current falls in diesel sales, you will arrive at the conclusion that they’ll arrive at almost zero in 2 – 3 years time. I can confidently predict that will not happen. Some manufacturers are struggling to switch production to petrol cars, others have invested too much in diesel technology just to say goodbye to it overnight. The pricing of such vehicles will become increasingly attractive, even if the taxing of them would seem to go the other way. And like any market, a reaction to adversity is nearly always an overreaction. Diesel’s current plunge may well turn into a rally in 2020. New technology perhaps, new investment, new science and indeed a changing attitude.
As we approach 1 September, it is after all only a few hours away, then I can tell that many dealers are worried. WLTP concerns mean that many will struggle to hit their targets in the next couple of months, some are not expecting much supply before the end of October. And let us face it, with Europe doing rather better and the UK underperforming, we are probably not their biggest concern as a market at this moment, so we are being left to run our own devices. With car production falling 11% in July (against an 18% rise this time last year) things are not looking overpromising in any case. But until you get your vehicles tested and approved, there’s not much point in producing them in any case.
Have a good first of September, or as good as you can at any rate, so you can relax for the rest of the year.
And have a great weekend, autumn starts tomorrow. Let’s hope it is not followed by a winter of discontent.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Honesty is a good thing, but it is not profitable to its possessor unless it is kept under control.
Don Marquis (1878 – 1937)
Men live in a fantasy world. I know this because I am one, and I actually receive my mail there.
Scott Adams (1957 – )
Acquaintance, n.: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.
Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914), The Devil’s Dictionary
Knowledge is power, if you know it about the right person.
Ethel Mumford
THIS WEEK

In the wake of pretty impressive results from Marshalls and Lookers this week, their H1’s have clearly been strong and they are confident of the future. Even if they are a little uncertain for Q3 because of WLTP considerations. However I see electric is in the news for all sorts of reasons this week.
Something that I heard about at the IMI conference I was speaking at in June, was how electric vehicles represents an enormous battery capacity, and how used sensibly it can be mined by the electricity companies to smooth out their supplies. Now I see that OVO have announced that this is indeed what will be happening and could save something like £40bn worth of generating costs by 2050. How? By charging the cars during the quietest periods and taking a bit of charge back during the busiest. Your car could be boiling the water for your tea, or for Mrs Smith’s at no 49. It sounds a long way in the future, but it’s 30 years away. Most of us still remember 1988, which seems quite recent…….
Electric seems to be the thing of the moment, but I didn’t expect Pendragon, who haven’t announced the greatest of results themselves, to be getting so deeply involved. To be fair it is not quite on the same theme –  they have announced the installation of defibrillators at all of its UK dealerships in anticipation of EV-related incidents. And this is not just theoretical, up to 600v flows around a modern electric vehicle, and shorting one out can cause serious discharges and crippling injuries. So no doubt there will be news of customers lives saved by defibrillators in their dealerships, but in reality it is the specialist technicians working on vehicles may be more in need.
It was the for this reason that the IMI recently backed the government’s initiative  to launch a proper electric vehicle technician qualification. We cannot underestimate the energy needed to drive any car, and what can go wrong if you get it wrong. These are powerful machines.
Have a great weekend enjoy the summer while you can.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.
Michael Pritchard

Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content.
Paul Valery (1871 – 1945)

In physics, you don’t have to go around making trouble for yourself – nature does it for you.
Frank Wilczek (1951 – )
Silent gratitude isn’t very much use to anyone.
Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946)
THIS WEEK

A couple of senior automotive figures have been in the news this week, one well-known on British shores and one well-known globally. And how they must both wish at times that they were not running publicly quoted companies, but privately owned firms. Because, as Presidents Trump and Erdogan must also be feeling at the moment, you might be head of something, but corporate responsibilities restrict the actions you can take. And as the US forces Trump to impose sanctions on Putin, and the Turkish lira stumbles, it doesn’t matter how powerful you are on your own patch, you have to listen to both what the market is saying and to your own regulators.
So Trevor Finn had to face the markets this week, as Pendragon announced disappointing profits for the first half of the year. To many insiders these will probably not surprising, as the fall in diesel sales, the difficulty in some of their premium franchises and a sliding registrations have combined to create tough headwinds for the sector. Nevertheless when the Times opens with “Profits have crashed at Pendragon as Britain’s biggest motor retailer begins a strategic sharp turn to concentrate on the used-car market and sell off luxury showrooms operated for the likes of Jaguar Land Rover” you realise that the press is not going easy on them. Having said that, they predicted a stock crash, but a month ago their share price was less than 23.5p, today it is nearly 26.5p. So it’s up nearly 5% over the past month.
The other senior executive is Elon Musk. Now it is rumoured that they are beginning to produce cars in something like acceptable numbers, he tweeted this week (surely he has seen Twitter go horribly wrong for Pres Trump) that he would like to take the firm back into private hands. Except, it would appear, that he angered the regulators and investment merely by uttering those words. Not surprisingly, really, as anything that a senior executive says that could affect the share price has to be very carefully considered. As many of my clients know. So there followed a war of words later in the week about precisely how much he should or should not have said. And lots of speculation whether he could even afford to take it back into private hands if he wished to. And we are talking about one of the richest men in the world. It must be kind of fun running these large monolithic structures, but it does come with responsibilities too. Which can get in the way.
Have a great weekend. You might even have to cut the grass as it starts to grow again.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The least of learning is done in the classrooms.
Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968)
When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.
Thomas Szasz, “The Second Sin”
I don’t mind what language an opera is sung in so long as it is a language I don’t understand.
Sir Edward Appleton (1892 – 1965)
People can have the Model T in any colour–so long as it’s black.
Henry Ford (1863 – 1947)
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