Fleet News

Thinking CAP

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

MONDAY

HAD a meeting with Andrew Thomas, business relationship and development manager at Skoda.

He has been part of the firm’s restructuring, which has seen three new business lines created: New business development, account management and used cars – something the firm sees as vital in moving forward.

The new team is charged with re-establishing contact with data suppliers and fleet customers. Andrew has to ensure the brand is correctly positioned, represented and offer a bespoke service.

Skoda will never be the largest fleet manufacturer but expects to go from the current 14,000 fleet units per year to 25,000 by 2010 – a tall order – but Andrew reckons it’s achievable. Skoda, he said, is not ‘cheap’ any more, but ‘value’ – expect a visit from the Skoda boys and girls soon.

TUESDAY

DROVE down to Stansted in an Audi A8 3.0 TDI quattro and got 38.7mpg – what a phenomenal result.

Flew to Palma to drive the new Toyota Yaris flagship model, the SR, which is powered by a 1.8 Dual VVTi petrol engine, producing 131bhp.

It will be available from April 1 in three or five-door versions. Toyota quite correctly describe it as a warm hatch. It handles OK and its performance is OK but nothing spectacular which, in a funny sort of way, makes it a good choice for fleets.

It looks like a small sports hatch – it just doesn’t go like one. But this is reflected in the price (starting at £12,995) and insurance group.

Why does Toyota refuse to really stick its neck on the line and do something spectacular? It’s a great firm going places, but there is inherent conservatism in everything it does. I don’t doubt that if it decided to build ‘sexy’ versions of its cars, it would do a great job. Go on Toyota – give us a Type R, VXR, ST or GTI rival!

WEDNESDAY

WHAT Toyota does very well is attention to detail. While we were checking in at Palma airport, we saw the Toyota events team rapidly swapping SR (the UK badging) badges on the boot lids for TS (European badging), ready for the groups from Europe to arrive. Often on launches, if the badging is European-spec, manufacturers will make do with whatever is on the boot.

THURSDAY

WENT to Fleet News in Peterborough for awards judging, travelling in a Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 Club. I found out what an A8 3.0 TDI and a 1.4 Corsa have in common – they both do about the same miles to the gallon. I wonder what outsiders’ perceptions of my ‘greenness’ were when driving either car.

FRIDAY

I WAS asked how some carmakers’ names came about. Some are easy, Ford from Henry Ford, Honda from the founder Soichiro Honda, but some are not quite so simple. Mercedes-Benz is one of those.

Back in the early 1900s a group of engineers, Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and Wilhelm Maybach, were producing cars, financed by businessman and racing driver Emil Jellinek. Emil had a 10-year old daughter called Mercedes and put her name on the side of his race cars. This aroused much interest and Daimler-Mercedes was born, later becoming Mercedes-Benz. It is a blessing that Honda and Ford used their surnames or we would have a Soichiro Civic and a Henry Mondeo.

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