By Sebastian Clark, Richard Irvine-Brown
A weekly round-up of the week’s fleet news stories, including German fleet statistics, Alphabet’s hopes for the UK EV market, Belgian lessor’s software, deals for Hitachi, Renault and Bridgestone, Venson’s update, ALD on emissions, VW’s finance deal and Manheim’s latest CV auction news.
German fleet market continues decline
The German car fleet market recorded 53,787 new registrations in September, down 2.4% compared to the same month last year, according to German fleet data supplier Dataforce.
New registrations of commercial vehicles (under 7t) totalled 10,021, down by 3.9%,
477,322 fleet cars were registered in the first nine months of the year, down by 8.5%.
Alphabet aims to energise UK EV market
BMW-owned fleet lessor Alphabet intends to raise the number of plug-in electric cars in use in the UK to 10,000 within the next three years. According to the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) 4,200 electric cars are currently in use.
Alphabet will use its business consultancy service AlphaElectric to address the main barriers which have so far hampered the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK.
Richard Schooling, chief executive of Alphabet said EV manufacturers had not spent enough effort helping "the business or driver to overcome their fears about adopting a new technology." He said AlphaElectric would use "a simple four-step process that takes away the stress and misconception about EVs."
In 2012 the DVLA registered 2,254 new EVs and year-on-year sales in August 2013 have shown a 70% rise. The UK government has made an investment of £37m in infrastructure related to EVs, and has increased the number of public charging points to over 5,000. This, combined with the greater range of EVs for sale, gives Alphabet hope the EV market will grow in the near future.
The lessor said by focusing its efforts on the corporate market for EVs it believes it will spur a more widespread adoption and Schooling said Alphabet could double EV sales next year.
Anubex modernises Belgian bank’s fleet arm software
IT company Anubex has upgraded Belgian bank Bank J Van Breda & Co’s car finance application.
The bank’s car financing and car leasing subsidiary Van Breda Car Finance uses the software in its operations. The application is used by about 1,500 external users and car dealers across Belgium.
The bank decided to modernise the software following the modernisation of its mainframe system.
Marc Wijnants, chief information officer at the bank, praised the work saying the project "presented a big technical challenge" but "that is why we chose Anubex in the first place."
Hitachi Capital – Centrica partnership extended
Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions has extended their existing partnership with UK multinational utility company Centrica by five years.
Although the agreement went into effect on 1 January 2013, the deal ties together the main supply, management and rental contracts between the two companies.
Hitachi Capital will continue to manage 13,000 vans in the Centrica fleet, and will supply and manage 2,000 of Centrica’s company cars. Last year Hitachi Capital improved Centrica’s driver risk management system which allowed Centrica to reduce work-related deaths by 10%.
Meanwhile, Hitachi Capital and British Gas will work with Nissan to develop a fully electric eNV200 van. The new van will reduce CO2 and running costs for fleet operators. British Gas fleet manager Colin Marriott said the company was looking forward to "building on the relationship in the next five years."
Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions chief executive Simon Oliphant said the company was "delighted" to have signed the new contract. He also said the company was committed to "delivering on-going cost savings" and "driving cutting edge innovative fleet solutions."
Bridgestone to maintain Ulsterbus fleet using Nissan vehicles
Japanese multinational automaker Nissan will provide commercial vehicles to UK tyre manufacturer Bridgestone for four years. The vans will be used to service the Northern Irish public transport operator Ulsterbus’s fleet, with which Bridgestone has a large contract.
An initial order of seven Nissan NV200 vans will be delivered to Bridgestone and used across Northern Ireland. The vans will be used to perform portable tyre inspections on Ulsterbus buses and Bridgestone technicians will also move tyres and fit equipment to the Ulsterbus fleet using the vans as mobile service units.
Each van is expected to travel 20,000 miles a year and will be fitted with internal ply-lining to improve durability.
TAS Transport orders Renault tractors
UK-based international haulage company TAS Transport has ordered its fourth Renault truck, a Euro 6 Range T tractor unit. Renault Trucks distributor Norfolk Truck and Van will make the delivery in January 2014.
TAS Transport is set to benefit from Renault Trucks’ two-year R&M contract package and Fuel Eco package, including Optifleet telematics and Optifuel driver training, which is provided free of charge on all new orders placed before the end of 2013.
Venson upgrades fleet management software
UK fleet management IT provider Venson Automotive Solutions has added a ‘Dashboard’ application to its Venson Interactive Portal fleet management software.
The company said the Dashboard delivered a "broad range of fleet vehicle data", which would provide fleet managers with a "snapshot of the key metrics that help to measure and manage cost and operational efficiencies."
Company car emissions down – ALD Automotive
UK-based vehicle leasing and fleet management company ALD Automotive has announced the average carbon emissions of new company cars has dropped to 126g/km during the first six months of 2013.
Managing director for ALD Mel Dawson said carbon emissions remained an important issue and "with emissions and taxation inextricably linked, we are working closely with our customers to help them stay one step ahead of legislation."
VW CV Finance Caddy deal
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Finance is offering its Caddy model starting at £199 a month with no deposit.
Alternatively, the Trendline and Highline variants are available from £215 and £229 a month, respectively. The offer ends 31 December.
Manheim Volvo and CV auction success
Manheim has reported a 100% sale of 27 commercial vehicles for Volvo Trucks, auctioned through its Leeds centre, for a total of £606,900.
On the same day, it completed the sale of just over 100 other commercial vehicles, 76% of the stock for auction, for a total in excess of £1m.
The company is also reporting an ‘unprecedented’ level of buyer interest in auctions of Royal Mail vans.
Tim Spencer, regional commercial vehicle manager at Manheim, commented: "Due to historic de-fleet patterns the market has been starved of Royal Mail vans. Royal Mail vehicles are always presented with excellent service history and full documentation. Buyers know that they are well specified and maintained. On top of that they are realistically priced.
"Every auction section is very well attended by buyers and the competition for these vehicles is very strong. At a recent sale at Gloucester, two northern buyers travelled over 150 miles to fight out with other local buyers to secure several examples well over reserve."