Fleet News

Which manufacturers are set to make an impact in the near future?

What the manufacturer thinks - Mitsubishi

Who's in charge: Toby Marshall, head of fleet and used operations
See: www.mitsubishi-cars.co.uk/fleet

2008 will be very exciting for Mitsubishi’s fleet department. 

The L200 remains extremely strong, with a steadily increasing number of variants being sold.

The Outlander continues its success due to its versatility and emissions credentials.

Our biggest volume-growth opportunity is the all-new Lancer. It’s a C-segment vehicle with D-segment dimensions and comes with a great choice of engines.

It fits perfectly alongside its sporting brother, the Lancer Evolution X, and is a credible choice for user-choosers and specialist fleets.

The Mitsubishi “One Stop Shop” specialist vehicle centre enables customers to specify a vehicle to their requirements.

Opinion: Jason King, senior forecasting editor, EurotaxGlass's

Until now the core offering of 4x4 models has not enabled Mitsubishi to attain a big fleet presence outside of the ‘blue light’ and specialist sectors. 

The Colt is a competent supermini and the Grandis is an interesting alternative MPV, but the new Lancer with its 2.0-litre diesel engine should give them at least some core fleet opportunity. 

Whether the margins are significant enough to enable it to effectively compete in the C-sector remains to be seen. 

The dealer network is maybe not as switched on to servicing the needs of big fleets either.

Opinion: Martin Ward, manufacturer relationship manager, CAP

A small team which is good at supplying niche vehicles into niche fleet markets, such as airport authorities, motorway traffic officers and utility companies, but doesn’t appear to be competing in the regular fleet market as the range is very limited with just the new Lancer to offer.

There are some good alternative vehicles to offer, and Mitsubishi seems happy and content to remain in the niche sector.

Carry on concentrating on the customers it knows and know what they want, and build on this, Mitsubishi shouldn’t try and go for markets it is not used to, or feels uncomfortable dealing in.

Hot fleet model

2008 Mitsubishi L200

The new Lancer for company car fleets, especially in diesel, while utilities and builders love the L200. The one to avoid: being logical, you’d have to say the Evo X. Sorry.

What's in the future?

Facelift for the L200.

What the manufacturer thinks - SEAT

Who's in charge: Andy Webb, Head of fleet and business sales
See: www.businesssales.seat.co.uk 

SEAT UK is growing its fleet business with an ambitious programme supported by a major product offensive. 

We are expanding our dedicated fleet centres, and encouraging the entire network to focus on small businesses.

These initiatives and our emphasis on contract hire companies, are giving us more opportunity to talk to customers.

These are being underpinned by new products such as SEAT’s low CO2, high economy Ecomotive range, the new Ibiza supermini and the debut of SEAT’s contenders in the upper medium segment.

Opinion: Jason King, senior forecasting editor, EurotaxGlass's 

SEAT seems to have missed a big opportunity to capitalise on the Leon, which is a good product but hasn’t delivered as it could have.

Much the same can be said of Altea, which is very good but probably suffers, like the Leon, from having to go up against some heavily backed major fleet vehicles in the lower medium sectors and mini MPVs.

The confusing trim levels doesn’t help either. The new Ibiza is excellent and stands a real chance, while a replacement for the Toledo is a must.

Opinion: Martin Ward, manufacturer relationship manager, CAP

The significant improvement in quality on the new Ibiza should help in the fleet market.

It looks great, is comfortable and should appeal to drivers who haven’t considered a SEAT before.

SEAT’s relatively small fleet department is headed by Andy Webb who is very hands on and dedicated to fleet growth.

As the products improve, it should see a rise in the number of cars going to leasing companies. Some used cars seem to be buoyant, but others that are less than attractive are struggling.

Hot fleet model

2008 SEAT Altea

The Altea XL has a dash of style to go with extra space. The one to avoid? No surprises here: the Toledo.

What's in the future?

Surely a new Alhambra one day?

What the manufacturer thinks - Fiat

Who's in charge: Adam Pumfrey, Fleet director
See: www.fiat.co.uk/Fleet

Another 12 months of new products and change for Fiat Group, particularly in the fleet market.

There was the introduction of a Fiat and Alfa Romeo fleet business centre.

We are establishing new fleet specialist dealer networks, and with the introduction of a specialist SME sales team the focus on long cycle business is evident.

This has been augmented by a real focus on residual values. Fiat and Alfa Romeo fleet expect some interesting new market-leading products to support customers, especially the small business user.

Opinion: Jason King, senior forecasting editor, EurotaxGlass's

Certainly not inexperienced at selling to fleet, but somehow still lacking creditability, Fiat has always relied on a significant amount of daily rental and short cycle business to achieve the desired level of business sales.

The product offering has been strong in the supermini sector with some demand from public sector organisations.

LCVs have been also been competitive. But the demand from user choosers is still below par.

Maybe the 500 can help.

Opinion: Martin Ward, manufacturer relationship manager, CAP

Fiat has been trying over the past couple of years, but fleet customers still don’t understand the product, or have memories of poor quality and reliability.

Fiat has been renowned in the past for continually offering different prices to different customers and doing large amounts of daily rental.

All this has changed, but getting the message over is proving very difficult. If it can bring stability and confidence, with the right price it could achieve higher sales.

Hot fleet model

2008 Fiat 500

We should say the Bravo, but how could you avoid the 500? The one to avoid: The Multipla is looking long in the tooth…

What's in the future?

With Fiat who knows? If 500 form continues, excitement beckons.

What the manufacturer thinks - Skoda

Who's in charge: Martin Burke, Head of business sales
See: www.skoda.co.uk

Skoda has been going from strength to strength and continues to increase its fleet market share, with the Octavia proving to be a consistent favourite.

It is a very exciting as we prepare for the autumn launch of the Superb.

Aimed at the upper medium market, it will go head to head with mainstream brands.

In the current economic conditions Skoda has seen a surge of interest as fleet operators seek lower wholelife costs and CO2 emissions.

We are on course to exceed our fleet target of 20,000 vehicles in 2008.

Opinion: Jason King, senior forecasting editor, EurotaxGlass's

Often seen as the ‘common sense’ brand from the VW Group, Skoda has a strong product offering for fleet drivers.

This is backed up by a large fleet team at Milton Keynes and the kind of organisation and culture that works for dealing with large fleet customers.

The dealer network has seen a massive turnaround over the past decade and can see that business sales are going to be a key element of the growth of the brand.

The one thing it still can’t seem to muster is passion.

Opinion: Martin Ward, manufacturer relationship manager, CAP

A good reliable fleet team, which works hard and is ultra-dedicated to the brand.

Skoda has had a difficult past and has been the butt of many jokes.

But now the product is probably better than most of its competitors and quality is excellent.

But some fleet customers still maintain they would not have a Skoda at any price.

What Skoda needs is a really good sexy three-door hatch that will appeal to younger buyers.

Getting customers to forget the past will be difficult, but time is a great healer, and quality is the key for Skoda.

Hot fleet model

2008 Skoda Octavia

Octavia is still a trusty but dull workhorse. The one to avoid: The Roomster. Good little (but big) car, but causes hilarity.

What's in the future?

What the manufacturer thinks - Kia

Who's in charge: Andrew Sellars, Head of corporate sales and remarketing
See: www.kia.co.uk

Last year new managing director Paul Philpott restructured and refocused Kia after a period of massive growth which was not organic nor sustainable volume. 

Kia withdrew from much direct fleet, apart from solid contracts that we valued, and reduced to just 45% of our 30,000 total.

This year with a dealer-focused fleet business we shall see growth again of about 12 to 15% – but only in sustainable and profitable areas.

The Cee’d family is performing well in the business sector and we expect fleet volumes to remain constant at about 45% as we again reach total volume of 36,000.

Opinion: Jason King, senior forecasting editor, EurotaxGlass's

The Kia approach to fleet has always seemed confusing. Mirroring the Fiat approach, volume achievement was key and long-term relationships with core fleet buyers could be concentrated on after that.

A dealer network certainly not suited to fleet business has been another reason behind a lack of demand from the corporate buyer.

The product line-up, apart from Sedona, did not have the necessary appeal to company car drivers.

Having the Cee’d, including the sporty Pro_cee’d, and a little more direction gives Kia the chance to establish a better name in the fleet sector.

Opinion: Martin Ward, manufacturer relationship manager, CAP

Kia has seen turbulent times, but there now seems to be some stability, a good strong management team, and a fleet team which often seems stretched, but is dedicated.

The Cee’d has changed the face of Kia, and with three models, five-door estate and coupé have for the first time a range of fleet friendly C-sector cars that complement the niche 4x4s and seven-seater.

Kia is moving away from the cheap-and-cheerful end of the market.

It needs to gain confidence within the industry, not start distress selling again, and this should help the fleet industry put Kia back on lists.

Hot fleet model

The Cee’d. Upper medium model on a budget. The one to avoid: Magentis, terrifying depreciation.

What's in the future?

Peter Schreyer, who penned the Audi TT, is in charge of design. Expect much more panache.

What the manufacturer thinks - Chevrolet

Who's in charge: Maurice Howkins, Director, GM UK fleet
See: www.gmukfleethub.co.uk

Chevrolet is a brand that parent company GM has big ambitions for in Europe, and part of that plan includes a complete reinvigoration of the company’s product line-up between now and 2012.

Modern diesel engines, coupled to a range of highly competitive, good value products in all of the key market sectors means that Chevrolet will soon have a range of models with greater fleet appeal than at present, especially among user-choosers where lower than average list prices will help minimise Benefit-in-Kind tax impact.

Opinion: Jason King, senior forecasting editor, EurotaxGlass's

Chevrolet has the capacity to do some big things in fleet, but whether it will is open to conjecture.

Vehicles like the Captiva open it to more business users, and probably shows that it should be offering good value products in niche sectors rather than in the mainstream markets where Vauxhall is always going to dominate that end of GM’s fleet business, with its huge volumes and finance.

Perhaps the cheaper Chevrolet versions will be used to ensure Vauxhall doesn’t have to resort to high discount distress selling.

Opinion: Martin Ward, manufacturer relationship manager, CAP

Now under the control of the mighty GM UK fleet, it stands a much better chance in fleet.

The cars of the past were not up to European standards, but now this company – formerly Daewoo – has made massive improvements to both range and quality.

The problem for the GM UK Fleet sales people is they are selling Chevrolets against similar-sized and almost similar-priced Vauxhalls. The easy sell for them is a Corsa or an Astra, so getting fleets to accept Chevrolet might take some time.

Hot fleet model

2008 Chevrolet Captiva

Captiva is a lot of SUV for the money. One to avoid: The Tacuma. Old and weary.

What's in the future?

Everything. Expect to see a transformation starting this autumn.

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