Fleet News

Awards point way to good used performers

'ALTHOUGH the recent Fleet News Awards are already history and much has happened since, they always leave you with food for thought.

The vehicles were judged on their merits in all sorts of areas and not just as new cars – it always goes much deeper than that. All of the winners are indeed fine vehicles and, of course, the best in their particular class.

All of them will make good used cars and vans and in the end it is this that makes or breaks any new vehicle coming on to the market. If the used car buyer won't buy it, then it won't stand much of a chance as a new vehicle.

As we keep saying, a new car only exists for a short time while it exists as a used one for a very long time. The winners were divided between relatively old hands and recent entrants to the market but it's fair to say the award winners and runners up do tend to fare well in the used market.

Speaking as one of the awards judges, every vehicle that made the shortlist was excellent and choosing an outright winner in some categories was difficult.

It is good to see how the Fleet News Awards are growing, not only in terms of attendees, but also the prestige attached to each category. This means that anything that warrants shortlisting or eventual victory will enjoy success for a while to come. Another important industry event I attended shortly afterwards was the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC – another gathering that just gets better and better. How far it has come in four years and what a far cry from the old situation of two commercial shows run by two different bodies.

It's fascinating to broaden your horizons and get away briefly from the typical fleet car and its fortunes over three-years/60,000- miles. The trucks are naturally mpressive but for me it is remarkable to see so much invention and variety and I am struck by the sheer dedication and enthusiasm of the exhibitors.

Even the most apparently mundane product or strangely specialist vehicle is promoted with real enthusiasm, care and technical expertise.

The used market is just as important in this arena and real invention is shown by manufacturers offering removable and exchangeable equipment, so that a vehicle can enjoy a new lease of life after initial ownership.

Not only does this reduce costs but, by offering the potential of returning a vehicle to its original specification, the job of marketing it as a used standard van or truck is made possible.

This is great for the end user or leasing company and should always be considered at disposal time. Of course it's not always possible. A dust-cart will still end its life as a dust-cart, but there are many highly adaptable vehicles out there. Even for those who really don't have any commercial interest in this market it is still beneficial to have a taste and learn about new approaches. Seeing what things are worth as used vehicles can be a real eye opener and we should not forget the fact that many of the vehicles on offer are very much a part of the fleet industry – a fact that is often overlooked.'

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