Fleet News

A hectic week in a dynamic industry

'IF any reminder of the dynamism of today's motor industry was needed, a glance back through one week in my diary would do the trick. There is simply no let-up and it is fair to say that the industry is moving faster than at any time since I joined it 32 years ago.

Over the space of just a few days I have seen vehicles well before even the press get their previews, test driven an important new fleet offering, learned the ins and outs of one manufacturer's service, maintenance and repair research, and toured one of the biggest diesel engine production facilities in the UK.

And as if this wasn't enough, my experiences have been mirrored by many colleagues at CAP who have seen for themselves some brand new aspect of our industry over the same period.

First off, a Volkswagen service, maintenance and repair (SMR) seminar. If this sounds uninspiring, you had to be there because I was amazed at how much insight I got out of it. With many attendees from the leasing industry, it was fascinating to hear their views and problems in particular.

For example, some drivers are extremely unhappy if their car fails and a rental car is provided and the driver has to give their credit card details for a fuel deposit.

Also testing the patience of fleet managers is the unwillingness of drivers to carry out basic checks on oil levels and tyre pressures or simply refill the screen wash with appropriate fluid.

Concern was also expressed over the unavailability of appropriate oil at filling stations, which can lead to problems.

On the other side of the coin, the variety of different oil grades can also lead to confusion and a reluctance to touch the oil filler cap. An important but probably little known fact that also emerged is that most cars use about a litre of oil per 750 miles up to about 8,000 miles. Failing to check the dipstick during this time can mean problems later in the car's life.

A learning process

Much was also learned at the Citroen C3 Pluriel launch in southern Spain, not least from the diverse array of guests – from end-users to leasing companies and banks. Incidentally, the car itself is great fun to drive in the sun with the roof fully down – at least in Spanish weather.

By contrast, north Wales was the venue for a tour of Toyota's plant, where the new diesel engine is being assembled, with 700 people producing a planned 460,000 engines this year, including 72,000 of the new diesel.

And finally, what you might call a pre-preview from Hyundai of its new large 4x4 – the Terracan. As part of a small group of industry insiders, this was a fascinating opportunity to discuss current and future thinking with Hyundai's senior UK management team and gain some insight into this manufacturer's on-going product plans.

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