Fleet News

News review 2004

January

The recently-introduced mobile phone ban was said to be causing a safety crisis as the number of near-misses increased when motorists pulled over to answer calls. Fleets were urged to issue drivers with guidance on safe procedures to avoid crashes.

  • Lex Vehicle Leasing clinched a £1 billion deal after agreeing a new outsourcing contract with Business Partner.
  • Research showed that fleet drivers would rather see their company car tax bills double than downgrade to a cheaper vehicle or use public transport.

    February

    A year after the London congestion charge was introduced, fleets were still suffering from incorrect fine demands. The number of appeals against incorrect penalties was about to hit 35,000 compared with an estimated 7,000 predicted by Transport for London.

  • Industry authorities claimed that annual car and van sales would rocket to three million in the next seven years as part of a global explosion in the car market.

    March

    Award winners collected their trophies at the 2004 Fleet News Awards joined by celebrities including TV presenter Sir Trevor McDonald and weathergirl Sian Lloyd. More than 1,200 people attended the event in London.

  • Manufacturers were out in force to unveil their newest products at the Geneva motor show. Jaguar launched its V6 engine in the S-type, Audi unveiled its A6 while the Mercedes-Benz CLS drew a mixed response for its looks.

    April

    Two-thirds of fleet operators called for legislation to force them to introduce new safety measures. A total of 64% of fleets said they would welcome more laws forcing the industry to take action to improve driver safety.

  • Dealers were slated in a survey as fleets called on vehicle manufacturers to improve the performance of their dealers.
  • Contract hire and leasing giant LeasePlan was sold to a consortium led by Volkswagen as part of a global deal worth more than £1 billion. The move was part of a roadmap set out by Volkswagen to turn itself into a global mobility group.

    May

    Government plans to charge penalties for motorists committing minor speeding offences was criticised by the motoring and fleet industry. The Government suggested it would introduce two penalty points for drivers travelling at one or two miles per hour over the limit.

  • Vauxhall’s new Astra went on sale in the UK.
  • Shock Government figures revealed that 250,000 vehicles had disappeared from the company car park which prompted a major policy review at the Inland Revenue into why the number had fallen.

    June

    The Motor Show Live was held in Birmingham. Ford had its largest stand ever, covering 7,400 square metres, Saab predicted a fleet sales surge and Honda announced plans to double its fleet market share by the end of the decade.

  • Experts warned that thousands of fleet drivers could be at risk of losing their licences during Euro 2004. Late kick-offs meant that drivers could have still been over the drink-drive limit the following morning.

    July

    Fleets were warned of a £1 billion surge in fines and administration fees if the Government went ahead with the introduction of national congestion charges in major cities across the UK. Industry groups called for a clearer charge system to be introduced.

  • Seven out of 10 fleet drivers admitted to having broken speed limits to make up for time they believed they had lost through measures such as speed cameras, speed bumps and chicanes.
  • Figures showed that the UK’s used car industry was worth a record £32 billion in 2003, mainly because of the popularity of ex-fleet and company cars.

    August

    Fleets were urged to introduce contingency plans to cope with problems caused if the price of fuel continued to climb. The average price of unleaded fuel stood at 82p and experts predicted that costs could surge to £4 a gallon or 88p a litre.

  • Research showed that private car use for work had soared. Over the past five years, the number of employee cars used on business had grown from an estimated 1.6 million to more than 2.1 million.
  • German car manufacturers responded angrily after a survey claimed their reliability record had fallen behind their Japanese rivals.

    September

    Companies were forced to review mobile phone polices after a fleet van driver who crashed while talking on his hand-held mobile phone, killing another motorist, was jailed for three years.

  • Ford unveiled its new Focus with new diesel engines, new petrol technology and a range of hi-tech features on the car. It will arrive in the UK next month.
  • Fleets were told how the huge increase in the number of diesel vehicles on the road could lead to a public health disaster by experts at the World Clean Air congress held in London.

    October

    The Government announced plans to target middle lane hoggers as experts claimed that an estimated 700 miles of motorway network would be created if car and van drivers kept to the left. Two safety messages highlighting the campaign were being piloted on UK motorways.

  • Fleet decision-makers were urged to carry out a review of fleet and fuel policies because a shift to diesel by their drivers could lead to soaring running costs, it was claimed.
  • A major car crime study blamed driver complacency for an increasing number of attacks on company vehicles. The study showed costs of crime had surged 40% on last year.

    November

    Transport Minister David Jamieson gave his backing for green fleet cars saying that drivers who opt out of company car schemes are more likely to choose vehicles with higher emissions, which is bad for the environment.

  • Fleets were told how penalty charges for handing back damaged and excess mileage vehicles to leasing companies had cost firms an estimated £330 million in the past year. The results were announced in Fleet News’ FN50 survey.
  • Britain’s fleets called on the Government to give at least four to six years’ notice of any benefit-in-kind tax changes so they can plan vehicle choice more effectively.

    December

    Exactly a year after the introduction of the law banning the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving, a new survey showed that nearly all UK fleets were operating a zero-tolerance policy against drivers caught breaking the law.

  • Fleet registrations broke the one million barrier in 2004. Figures for the year to December showed that large fleet registrations had reached 1.02 million.
  • Fleet operators were vowing to fight Government plans to introduce a new 3% benefit-in-kind tax levy on diesel company cars announced in the pre-Budget report.
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