Fleet News

Thinking CAP

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

MONDAY/TUESDAY

FLEW to Barcelona for the European press launch of the Qashqai which is possibly Nissan’s most important launch for many years.

Nissan is selling this car – released on March 1 – as a C-sector competitor, and is priced to take on the might of the likes of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 307. But the Qashqai is more than just a hatchback. It has presence and, as an alternative to the norm, may also tempt people out of their small 4x4s, MPVs and D-sector cars.

On Tuesday I teamed up with Gary Frigo, Nissan UK’s managing director, where we took a Qashqai 2.0 petrol on a tour of Barcelona – me driving, Gary sort of navigating! We got lost.

James Douglas, the new fleet sales director, told me the Qashqai is the car that will bring Nissan back into the fleet spotlight and unlock the door to mainstream fleet sales. He may just be right.

WEDNESDAY

TALKING of firms being rescued from the doldrums by exciting new products, I took the short trip down to Jaguar’s plant in West Bromwich to hear about its plans and products.

There were people from the fleet department, product managers, and engineers there, and I was really impressed that Bibie Boerio, Jaguar’s managing director, took time out of her undoubtedly busy schedule to spend the day with us.

She emphasised that residual values are now more important to Jaguar than ever before.

The future of the X-Type was discussed, and Bibie confirmed it is definitely here to stay. The long-overdue addition of a six-speed automatic gearbox on the 2.2 diesel should boost sales and offer a good, honest, affordable auto Jaguar.

The XF was also up for discussion. It will replace the S-Type – a good move, changing the name – and the finished production car will be at the Frankfurt show in September.

FRIDAY

EVER wondered who trains the mechanics who service and fix your BMWs? I found out today on a tour of the BMW Academy UK, at Wokefield Park, near Reading.

This £17 million building was opened in May, 2006, and is a purpose-built training and development facility.

It provides technical and non-technical training to BMW, MINI and motorcycle dealers and also to its own employees. On site there is a 32-bay workshop and 22 training rooms, where apprentices and fully-skilled technicians can learn about BMW technology, but more importantly, how to fix it if it goes wrong. An interesting day, and good to know that a manufacturer takes aftersales as seriously as car sales.

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