To achieve this, Vauxhall has launched a series of new niche models, some of which were on display for the first time at the show. Taking centre stage to attract punters was a special Astravan built by Triple Eight Engineering, featuring a blistering 239bhp, 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine with 150mph potential, and special bodykit. Unfortunately, only one of these will be built. Of more practical interest to fleets, there were 12 other vans on the Vauxhall stand, including the Corsavan and Combo featuring the new high-torque 1.3 CDTi engine which is fast setting a new benchmark for business users. The unit pumps out a respectable 70bhp and 125lb-ft of torque while returning 55mpg but such is its diminutive cubic capacity that Vauxhall is having to offer test drives to fleet operators to prove the motor is up to the job. The firm has even removed the ‘1.3’ part of the badge as many dyed-in-the-wool drivers just don’t believe it will be good enough. Vivaro had three new versions on show – the dropside, improved Sportive and nine-seat minibus. There are two versions of the dropside – platform cab and low-floor – and both are powered by a 1.9 CDTi engine offering 100bhp. In the back, there is a flat load area with no rear wheel intrusion and the platform cab has six handy side-mounted secure storage lockers for tools and other gear. Meanwhile the upgraded Sportive boasts body-coloured bumpers, air conditioning, and electric pack and CD player. The old alloy wheels have been replaced by steel items with smart trims after some fleet buyers raised concerns over the suitability of alloys on such a vehicle. Another area which Vauxhall intends to attack is the minibus market. The Vivaro nine-seater is available now and a 12-seater will be added to the list in the second quarter. Both are converted by Advanced Minibus of Derbyshire and prices start at £20,265 ex-VAT. Meanwhile, Movano was on show in new double-cab format with Vauxhall’s new six-speed Tecshift automatic transmission and also as a crew-cab tipper and 17-seat minibus. Also in the pipeline to help improve Vauxhall’s fleet story are a Vivaro with wheelchair access, a Movano car transporter, a Combo with wheelchair access, a Vivaro taxi, a Movano glass transporter, a Movano milkfloat and a Movano with Luton body. National CV sales manager Ian Hucker told Fleet NewsNet: ‘We are on track to crack the 50,000 sales barrier this year for the first time, which is amazing when you think we sold just 24,500 in 2001.
‘All our product line-up has been refreshed, right from Corsavan to Movano, and we have gained some major new accounts from competitors, including BSkyB, BT, Coca-Cola and Highway.’ Vauxhall is also sharpening up its dealer network to give an improved service for fleet customers. Throughout this year, the manufacturer is urging dealers to sign up to a new standard which will see longer opening hours – from 7.30am to 8pm on weekdays – no appointments necessary for diagnosis and repairs under 90 minutes, service bookings within 72 hours, vans repaired within 24 hours, suitable alternative transport available and a dedicated phone line to save customers being transferred endlessly. Hucker added: ‘There is another thing our customers should bear in mind – despite what many preople may think, we are the biggest makers of commercial vehicles in Britain.’