Fleet News

Thinking CAP

MARTIN Ward, CAP’s manufacturer relationships manager, scours the globe for the week’s insider fleet intelligence.

MONDAY

WE get lots of press releases about concept cars, especially with a major show like Paris a couple of weeks away. Generally, they go in the bin, as being too outrageous. However, today I got photos of a new concept from Renault. It’s not a wacky, fun, multi-coloured piece of art with gullwing doors, but a really good-looking, practical four-seater convertible, called the NEPTA (pictured above). If this car ever comes to market, it does have the wow factor.

TUESDAY

JOHN Watts, our operations development manager, has just returned from the new Vauxhall Corsa fleet event in Austria.

Don’t think superminis are big news in fleet? Then look at Vauxhall’s commitment to launching this car: over a weekend there were two separate trips, with around 100 couples per event. This required over 100 cars per trip.

John reckons the new Corsa is a huge improvement, but one criticism is the reflection in the windscreen of the chrome dash trim, something I commented on when I drove the new Corsa back in June.

WEDNESDAY

FLEW from Farnborough on a private charter to drive the all-new, third-generation BMW 3-series Coupe in Pau in the Pyrenees.

It will only be available with the 325i and twin-turbo 335i – a flying machine. But fleet managers will get the 320i, and what will undoubtedly be the best-seller, the 320d, in the first quarter of next year. BMW expects to sell around 4,000 in the remainder of this year and 13,000 in 2007.

But more interesting than the Coupe was the fact that all four members of the crew who flew us – pilots and cabin staff – were women, the first time I’ve seen this. As you can see from my face in the picture, I’m all for this. It’s the only way to fly!

THURSDAY

JEFF Knight, our forecast manager for passenger cars, has been to drive an early pre-production Freelander 2 at the Land Rover Experience Centre at Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire.

He drove the vehicle both on and off-road, and seemed impressed with both the well-equipped cabin that echoed the design features of the larger vehicles in the range and the huge improvements in quality, refinement and handling over the outgoing model. He hasn’t set RVs yet, so watch this space, as obviously such business-critical information takes a lot of research and calculation. But Jeff has an immediate opinion on his bathroom at the castle. He loved it – he reckoned it was bigger than his house!

FRIDAY/SATURDAY

KIA took more than 200 UK dealers to Barcelona for the annual Pan-European Dealer Conference.

Around 2,500 people from 39 countries were in the same auditorium at the same time. Peter Schreyer, the new head of Kia design, famous for penning the Beetle and Audi TT, says curves are out and straight lines in. Hence the all-new Kia cee’d (Community Europe European Design).

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