Went down to Luton to have a meeting with a number of people from Vauxhall, Saab and Chevrolet. I drove there in the facelifted BMW X3, which now has colour-coded everything, making it look so much better. It’s something BMW should have done from day one, although the X3 has still been a surprisingly successful fleet car. About half of all those sold so far this year have been to fleet buyers.
A Ford LCV day was held at The Cricketers in Clavering, Essex, run by Trevor and Sally Oliver, Jamie’s mum and dad. The aim of the day was for Ford to show us its ‘one-stop-shop’ in commercial Transit bodies, including pick-ups, dropsides and tippers, some fitted at the plants in Southampton and Turkey.
All its minibuses are factory-built, and the standard was very high.
Roelant de Waard, the chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain gave a speech, and assured the LCV audience he is as much a commercial person as he is cars.
Andy Webb, head of fleet and business sales, SEAT UK, accompanied a small group down to IDIADA, the test track near Barcelona to drive the new SEAT Altea XL, which goes on sale on in January 2007, and is 17cm longer than the standard Altea. Although values haven’t been set yet, our forecast manager Jeff Knight told me: ‘The XL version makes the Altea a more attractive proposition, but it may well impact on Toledo sales, as it offers as much space and is more pleasing to the eye.’
My neighbour said the bright red smart, called the Edition Red, on my drive looked like a fire engine. To prove a point, I took the little thing to Huddersfield Fire Station and parked it next to the real thing and sure enough it looks nothing like a fire engine.
But the lads at the station said it would be handy for going to small incidents like chip pan fires as it could go up narrow lanes, and could carry some essential equipment.