I have been talking to some manufacturers lately about their badging policies. Some are really easy to follow such as Skoda’s Fabia 1, 2 and 3, and Toyota’s Auris T2, T3, TR.
Even model names from Ford are relatively easy to follow – Studio, Style, Zetec and Ghia.
But there are some more difficult ones, SEAT being an example – Essence, Reference and Stylance.
But a model line-up that really is too complicated is from Nissan, which has Visia, Acenta and Tekna. There’s a very easy way to get them in the right order – VAT.
A delegation from Lexus visited us in Leeds. General manager Ewan Shepherd, corporate sales and remarketing manager Andy Simpson, and corporate sales manager Alan McInnis were very positive, and so they should be after selling 3,381 new cars in September – up 24% on September 2006 with 40% of these being IS diesel models.
They told us that interest in the £80,000-plus LS600h hybrid has been higher than expected, with the waiting list now eight months long.
Hybrid sales now exceed 30% of all Lexus registrations in the UK.
We had a conversation about Lexus being well-known as a brand, but the individual models and badging is still a bit of a mystery to many. On the fleet side, Lexus has seen a 59% growth year-on-year.
Down to Lotus to see Matthew Nice, UK sales and marketing manager, and Rob Savin, new project manager. Lotus produces around 3,500 cars per year with 800 of these staying in the UK.
Lotus would like to sell more into the fleet market, and is working on model ranges that are more fleet friendly.
It is to rationalise and realign the Elise and Exige model line-up, which is a good idea – the current ranges are just too complex.
They are also introducing dual-airbags as standard.
Lotus is always an interesting place to visit as it has a vast array of motor industry knowledge, expertise and huge engineering and design skills – a small company in Norfolk, but renowned the world over.
Kia choose the outskirts of Rickmansworth to show the lightly-facelifted Sportage.
It managed quite well on the semi-adventurous off-road course we drove it on.
The most interesting addition to the range is the front-wheel drive version.
The Sportage is similar in size to a Ford Focus and from around £16,000 you can buy a Sportage XE auto 2.0 diesel.
The cheapest Focus auto, a 1.6 TDCi LX, costs £16,292.
The front-wheel drive version doesn’t have the same off-road capabilities as the full 4WD model, but does the average fleet driver really need it?