Martin Ward, CAP manufacturer relationship manager, scours the globe for the week's fleet intelligence.
Down to Avonmouth, near Bristol, to Proton’s new 100,000sq ft distribution centre, close to where the cars come off the ships from Malaysia.
Proton’s HQ was until recently at Hethel, Norwich.
But it is a long way from Norfolk to Bristol, so the move had to be made to be closer to the cars and parts centre.
The main reason for my visit was to drive the new dual-fuel models.
These are the GEN-2 1.6 GSX and GEN-2 1.6 Persona which Proton is converting to run on LPG, and are offered with a full warranty.
I kept using the switch near the gearstick to change between petrol and LPG, and there was hardly any difference in power.
Proton has plenty of experience of LPG as it has been supplying cars to Humberside Police for
10 years – the force has had most of them converted by an independent firm, and has had very few problems.
The LPG cars will be badged Ecologic.
The price will be exactly the same as the standard car – Proton isn’t charging anything for the conversion, which will attract people to the brand that would otherwise not usually consider it.
The prices are £10,995 for the 1.6 GSX and £10,795 for the Persona.
LPG currently costs around 55p per litre, so with a free conversion, half-price fuel and a full warranty, it’s win-win-win.
I’ve been using a car with a name that is not that well known, and a name I associate with posh people in Surrey who use one instead of a shower.
The manufacturer is Abarth, a subsidiary of the Fiat Group, and the F word is banned – it is not a F***, it’s an Abarth.
We are under pressure from the good people at Abarth, who share the same offices as F*** and Alfa Romeo in Slough, to give Abarth its own heading in Black Book, Monitor and New Vehicle Data, and not a sub-heading under F***.
This we can do, but will anyone know to look for the car under Abarth when wanting a CAP Monitor figure or the cost new?
Then, look ahead to three years’ time, and what looks like a F*** Grande Punto goes through an auction.
Will the average motor dealer or trader know to look in his guide under Abarth?
The Fiat Group seems intent on spending plenty of money on branding and image, and it will be only around 10 dealers who will get the Abarth franchise.
In its basic form, the Abarth Grande Punto costs £13,500.
It is powered by a 1.4-litre T-Jet turbocharged petrol engine that produces 155bhp and goes from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds.
It has a firm, sporty ride, and very light steering, but it is the exterior styling that makes it look a bit different.
For less than £14,000 for a hot-ish hatch, it isn’t bad.