MARTIN Ward scours the globe for the week’s insider fleet intelligence.
Dudenhofen, near Frankfurt, is General Motors’ European testing ground, and I was there with around 30 UK fleet and leasing people to drive the Vauxhall Antara and Chevrolet Captiva SUVs. These two new vehicles are built at the same plant in Korea, but are significantly different. The Captiva is longer than the Antara, will be available with five or seven seats and will have either front or four-wheel drive.
The Antara is five-seat and four-wheel drive only, but is expected to be more expensive. You’re going to have to wait a while to put some on the fleet – the Captiva comes out next June and the Antara a couple of months after. The question is, as good as they seem, can the market – both new and used – take the proliferation of new, small volume manufacturer SUVs being launched in the next couple of years?
Toyota has announced its new three and five door C-sector hatchback will be called Auris, and will go on sale in the UK from February. In the press release, there’s no mention it will be replacing the Corolla.
It seems Toyota is deliberately avoiding using the Corolla name in the same breath as Auris. Honda stuck to Civic, reinventing what you associate with the name and as a knock-on it is making the Honda brand sexy. Corolla has done Toyota proud over the years, but now is the right time for the name to disappear.
Well done to Toyota for being brave, looking for a change in brand image from something of a ‘white goods’ carmaker.
The Battle of the Vans has begun! You may remember a couple of weeks ago I wondered how Fiat, Peugeot and Citroën would be able to differentiate their very similar vans.
How about this? Fiat has announced a promotional tour calling at Wickes DIY stores.
It will have Ducatos in Wickes’ car parks with (and I quote) ‘experienced and fully-trained Fiat promotional girls in attendance’. The van market is now getting really crowded, and with the number of new models out this year, operators will find it doubly difficult to get the best van for the job.
But as all these new vans are in relatively short supply, a cheap deal is not guaranteed.
Went over to Audi’s test track facility in Manching, Bavaria, to have a look at a new car they will introduce in the UK in quarter three next year. The cars we were driven around the track in were very early pre-pre-production models that will undergo plenty of work and changes before engineers, design team, assembly and the board are happy.
A very strict non-disclosure contract means I can’t tell you what car it was, but I can tell you it is stunning – a real leap in design terms. Like many manufacturers, Audi is getting together small teams of non-manufacturer people to assess cars to offer advice on styling, specification, price and engine choice.
Having worked with Audi on Q7, it proves that the more heads from different sectors of the industry the better, and a successful launch can be achieved.