There’s a lot of travelling in this job, so when there’s a launch in the Greatest County on Earth I’m always happy.
I was up on the North Yorkshire Moors to drive another new 4x4 – the Octavia Scout, which is based on the estate but has bits of bodykit, under-body protection and a four-wheel drive system.
We took it off-road, and it proved to be very capable – not a Land Rover or Jeep, but it coped well in the mud. This is an understated 4x4, not a full in-your-face off-roader, so should appeal to those who occasionally want to leave main roads but don’t want to be seen in a traditional 4x4. Skoda expects to sell 900 this year and 1,200 in 2008.
Only two engines will be available – a 2.0 TDI (85% of sales) and a 2.0 FSI petrol.
Between the big business of manufacturers and leasing companies, often the fleet departments of dealers get forgotten, but they are an important conduit of fleet supply and a key contact for your drivers.
I went to Stoke to meet Judith Olsen, fleet sales director of Bristol Street Motors and to have a look round its new flagship Ford dealership a few days ahead of the official opening.
This all-new site has a team of seven dedicated fleet experts who will sell 1,000 cars and 1,000 LCVs. There are 15 service bays, all with lifts, and a state-of-the-art bodyshop, with a floor so clean you could eat your lunch off it.
Judith will supply vehicles from small businesses to national fleets. Bristol Street, which is now part of Vertu Motors Group, will sell well over 1,200 used cars and vans from the site.
Got a truck sitting about? Now might be the time to sell it. Barrie Travis, our senior editor of Red Book – Commercials, tells me the heavy market is booming, particularly for trucks up to three years old.
He has been in the industry for years and has never seen so much demand for used trucks. There are many reasons, including long lead times on new, meaning that hauliers are keeping them longer, thus reducing the amount of stock around and increasing demand and, ultimately, prices.
According to the SMMT, 77,000 used heavies were sold last year and this year used sales are down in every month too, suggesting there really is a huge shortage of stock. You only have to look on Britain’s roads to realise the staggering numbers of HGVs there are trundling about.
What is the average mileage of a used car? Depending on who you ask, you get a different figure.
People in our office did not come up with any conclusive answers so I went to Jason Owens, our senior analyst/anorak, to look on our database of car sales figures.
He chose an absolutely random sample of almost half a million transactions during the last six months. He worked out the age of each car, from registration and sale date, then worked out the annual mileage, ensuring a wide range of models, ages and sources of disposal.
This result was as close as you are ever likely to get, based as it was on such a large sample across so many sectors. The answer surprised me, as many manufacturers claim it to be higher.
We checked and double-checked – 12,272 miles was the average per year.