Ford scooped a hat-trick of awards and the Audi A3 was named Fleet Car of the Year at the 2013 ACFO Awards last night.
It is the first time that Audi has won the Fleet Car of the Year Award and the German marque became just the fifth manufacturer in the 30-year history of the ACFO Awards to capture the honour, which has previously been dominated by Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen with BMW winning with the 3 Series for the first time last year.
Around 250 ACFO members and their guests attended the annual awards with the winners revealed during a gala dinner at the St John’s Hotel, Solihull, yesterday evening (Wednesday, November 6).
The all-new Audi A3 in three-door guise went on sale last year with the five-door Sportback model following last spring and the saloon variant introduced in September.
The line-up’s attributes include fleet essentials such as a wide range of low emission petrol and diesel engines delivering competitive benefit-in-kind tax bills and first-class fuel economy, strong residual values as well as a range of in-car technology. The A3 range will be further extended in spring 2014 with the arrival of the all-new cabriolet.
Meanwhile, Ford, Britain’s number one supplier of vans, saw its pre-eminence in the light commercial vehicle sector underlined once again as fleet operators voted the Transit Connect and Transit as the Small Van of the Year and Large Van of the Year respectively.
The Transit Connect Van was voted the nation’s favourite Small Van for the 11th time in succession, while its Transit stablemate remained on the winner’s rostrum for the third consecutive year to claim the Large Van of the Year title for the 17th time in the history of the Awards.
The ‘blue oval’ also claimed the award for Environmental Initiative of the Year, which was sponsored by Fleet News, with its EcoBoost 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine boasting up to 125PS.
Introduced to the Fiesta, Focus, B-MAX, C-MAX and seven-seat Grand C-MAX last year, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine - the 2012 and 2013 International Engine of the Year - will be extended to the EcoSport SUV, Transit Connect and Transit Courier commercial vehicles; Tourneo Connect people mover; and the all-new Mondeo.
In the Focus a specially calibrated 100PS version will go on sale next year promising 67.5mpg and 99g/km CO2 emissions making it the first family petrol car to dip below the 100g/km CO2 mark.
Vauxhall retained the Green Vehicle of the Year Award with the Ampera, the manufacturer’s extended range electric vehicle and the 2012 European Car of the Year.
Occupational road risk management is an agenda-topping issue for fleet decision-makers and operating cars deemed to be ‘safe’ plays a critical role.
Last year, Volvo won the Fleet Safety Initiative of the Year Award for the world’s first pedestrian airbag, which debuted on the V40.
This year, the manufacturer, which is synonymous with safety, retained the title for its suite of pedestrian protection systems that, in addition to the airbag, include pedestrian detection with full auto brake and a blind spot information system.
Finally, while all suppliers strive to deliver customer satisfaction through a high quality fleet service, Marshall Leasing won the Fleet Service Company of the Year Award with ACFO members declaring that the organisation offered the best overall combination of quality products, service and integrity and fully understood the requirements of fleet decision-makers.
It is the second time the company has captured the title having first won it when the category was introduced in 2010.
ACFO chairman Damian James said: “Fleet decision-makers are reliant on motor manufacturers to deliver vehicles that are cost effective to operate, safe, reliable and environmentally-friendly and supplier companies to provide a first class service.
“Operating successfully in partnership it means that through the availability of top quality vehicles and first rate suppliers, vehicle downtime can be kept to an absolute minimum and fleet managers can focus on the efficient and effective operation of their vehicles to support their businesses.”
Fleet Safety Initiative of the Year
Winner - Volvo Pedestrian Protection
Runners-up - Ford Driver Assistance Pack, RAC Risk Management, Volvo City Safety
Fleet Service Company of the Year
Winner - Marshall Leasing
Runner-up - LeasePlan UK
Environmental Initiative of the Year
Winner - Ford EcoBoost 1.0-litre engine
Runner-up - BMW EfficientDynamics
Small Van of the Year
Winner - Ford Transit Connect
Runner-up - Volkswagen Caddy
Large Van of the Year
Winner - Ford Transit
Runner-up – Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Green Vehicle of the Year
Winner - Vauxhall Ampera
Runner-up - Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi 95 ECOnetic (87 g/km)
Fleet Car of the Year
Winner - Audi A3
Runner-up - Mercedes-Benz A-Class