Fleet News

Thinking CAP - October 30

CAP's manufacturer relationships manager Martin Ward scours the globe for the week's insider fleet intelligence

Monday

Had a chat with Bosch marketing manager David Fulker about its ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) system.

Around 40% of all cars sold in the UK have ESP fitted as standard, and another 8% have it as an option, costing around £350.

He said that it can be a life-saver, but acknowledged that there is a definite lack of knowledge and understanding about what active braking systems do.

David added that the current emphasis is on CO2, benefit-in-kind tax and fuel consumption, with safety taking a back seat.

Customers want a highly specified car with all the goodies, but the things that are hidden under the skin, like ESP, are not desired.

He said companies must make a conscious decision about paying extra for added safety.

Wednesday

I’ve been speaking to a number of manufacturers about next year.

Based on what they say, the general concensus seems to be that next year’s new car market will be around 1.85 million units.

To put that into perspective, 2007 saw 2.4 million new car registrations.

Friday

Went over to Ingolstadt to have a look at some pre-production Audi models due over the coming few months.

Jeremy Hicks, brand director at Audi, told me that 2008 will be a record year for Audi UK, but next year is likely to be more difficult and he is being cautious about volumes.

There are contingency plans to reduce production.

Growth, though, has always been achieved by introducing new models, and this will certainly continue.

The large volume models are likely to fall as more niche vehicles, such as the new MINI-rivalling A1, are in the pipeline.

I got the impression that Audi is being extremely realistic about the future and will not fall into the trap of over-production in a potentially shrinking market.

This will help residual values in the long term, and used car values in the short term.

Saturday

A weekend in Jersey with GM UK Fleet to drive the Vauxhall Insignia.

It seemed a strange place to launch a new car, with a maximum speed limit of 40mph, but guests had driven it at Millbrook the previous day to test its handling.

Around 150 fleet managers, rental firms, end-users and leasing companies attended over the weekend, with the same number due the following weekend – a big event, but a big and important car for Vauxhall.

It is now more than a year since I first saw the Insignia, and thought what a great car it was.

Over the months this wow factor has not been diluted – it looks as good now as it did on first sight. It looked fantastic in the sunshine, drove really well, and was quiet with a high level of quality.

There has been some criticism about rear headroom but, in the saloon I tried, there seemed to be plenty.

The one niggle I have is the front centre arm-rest that is shaped in a way that your arm tends to fall off and land in the cup-holders – but if that’s all that’s wrong, then Vauxhall has done a pretty good job.
 

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