Fleet News

Thinking CAP

 

MONDAY
Visited by a contingent from LDV, including sales and marketing director Tony Lewis, who came to tell us about the changes at the factory in Birmingham.

LDV was bought in August 2006 by the Russian company GAZ, which had a turnover of $4.6 billion last year and expects this to exceed $12 billion by 2011.

Since the takeover of LDV, GAZ has employed 200 more staff and refinanced the company with £48 million share capital.

LDV makes the Maxus range of standard vans, pick-ups and minibuses that go up to 17 seats, but is probably better known for its specialist vehicles that are built at the factory.

They told us that Maxus sales were up 61% in 2006 compared to 2005 and 28% in 2007.

Dealer confidence is also growing, with more dealers being appointed.

It all made for a good story for British industry and it is great to see a company that appeared to be failing making a comeback.

TUESDAY

Another visit to the office, this time by some of Ford’s product managers – Chris Muers and Jon Gunn-Smith – to talk about some changes within the model line-up and new product launches during 2008.

A couple of years ago it was difficult to find someone at Ford to talk to, but how things have changed – and for the better.

Jon told us that – unlike the previous Mondeo – the new model has seen a dramatic rise in sales of high-spec cars, and hardly any base spec models.

Demand for S-MAX and Galaxy still exceeds production and Ford is warning fleet customers that if they want vehicles for summer delivery then they had better be ordering them fairly soon.

FRIDAY

Been using a MINI Clubman Cooper S for the past few days, which, with all its optional extra bits and pieces, costs more than £20,000.

It is one of those cars that one day it is the best thing ever, and the next you can’t see any point to it.

It drives really well, has a fantastic engine, makes all the right noises and has a bit more room in it than a MINI hatchback – but is it worth £1,200 more?

The off-side rear door seems to make no sense – it probably does in left-hand drive markets, but not here where it opens up into the middle of the road.

This door must have been expensive to design and produce and you have to ask whether it was worth it.

Would it have been better to simply have no rear door and price it at around £500 more than the hatch?

Now, to me, that would have made sense.

The best test for any car is the friends and neighbour approval, or disapproval – unfortunately most of mine gave it the thumbs down.

But despite this, MINI tells me that sales are in line with expectations, so there are many buyers out there for this slight oddity.
 

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