Fleet News

Thinking CAP: December 11

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

Monday

Drove to the home of Lotus in Norfolk to have a look at the first pre-production Evora.

The car goes on sale mid-2009 and is the world’s only mid-engined 2+2. It is powered by a Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 that produces 280bhp.

The Evora is every bit an iconic, British-built Lotus, but has the advantage of four seats, although the rear is a bit tight for two adults.

Lotus has managed to sell around the same number of cars in the UK this year compared to 2007, something no other sports car manufacturer has achieved, but Lotus does sell in very small volumes of around 700 annually in the UK.

Tuesday

Flew to Vienna, then on to Zagreb in Croatia, to have an early look at the new Lexus RX450h which goes on sale next July.

The new RX looks so much better than the current car; it has more modern styling with some very neat design cues. It has lost the slab-sided doors and been replaced with more interesting lines.

The wider wheelbase makes it look more substantial and now its proportions are better balanced.

Lexus has redesigned the rear suspension so the struts that took up half of the luggage area before have been moved and made much smaller so intrusion is now minimal.

During the many presentations, the new improved hybrid petrol/electric system came up many times, and on paper it has been vastly improved and should give even the leanest diesel a run for its money in terms of economy and running costs.

Thursday

I’ve been talking to lots of people connected to the rental industry lately, including manufacturers.

I am no expert in rental, but what I have picked up from a number of people is quite worrying.

Many manufacturers are either reducing the cars they supply and buy-back, or in some cases stopping supply completely.

This will leave many holes and lack of product for most rental companies so they will have to look at alternative ways to run their fleets.

They may have to buy outright, if they can raise the funds, and then dispose of the vehicles themselves at de-fleet time?

This move will mean employing staff who can sell direct to the trade, or set up deals with the auction companies.

For those with good memories, the last time the rental companies sold used cars en masse it was a disaster, with prices dropping like stones, then the manufacturers stopped supplying direct and only supplied on buy-back to stop silly deals being done.

This is likely to happen again.

The other way was for dealers to supply cars with a guaranteed buy-back – it didn’t work years ago and put huge pressure on dealer funds. This could happen again, only this time with even worse consequences.

Some rental companies are talking about keeping cars on the fleet for two or three years, but this would deem them worthless after such a long time on the fleet.

It seems there is not going to be an easy way out for anybody, but you can be pretty sure that there will be a shortage of rental vehicles, and they will be more expensive to hire – be prepared.

 

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