The Business Motoring Week February 16, 2018
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Audi e-tron quattro concept
Audi e-tron quattro, pictured here in concept form: four-wheel quattro drive; electric only; 300 mile range

Audi to launch two new lines this year

I ATTENDED an Audi event this week that entailed driving some rather tasty four rings metal. Tough, eh?

But while much of it was a celebration of RS horsepower, Audi’s head of communications, Jon Zammett, announced that Audi would be adding to its product range this year.

The most significant will be a fully electric quattro model with 300 mile range (due October) along with the new Q8. This will mean that the Audi line goes from a 53 to 55 model range! In addition there will be 21 new model introductions over the next 24 months, starting with the new Audi A6 at Geneva. Wow! That’s some pace of product roll out. More detail here.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter revealNew Mercedes Sprinter revealed

Talking about complexity, how about this for the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which was launched this week.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cargo area
My sort of cargo…

The new Sprinter will be available in 1700 different configurations. So there’s no saying which version will be chasing you down the outside lane of the M1…

The new Sprinter does look like a real tour de force. The usual four-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive configurations are now supplemented by front-wheel drive; there’s a better driver interior; and in 2019 there will be a zero emission version.

For full details of (all) the Sprinters available, read our story on Business Vans.

SME Company Car of the Year supported by Fleet AllianceGreat line up for SME Company Car of the Year…

We had a fantastic entry from car manufacturers for this year’s SME Company Car of the Year Awards, supported by Fleet Alliance. Designed to make life easier for an SME director looking after company cars, the independent panel of judges – currently assessing the entries – will pick the best in sector. So you don’t have to. See the full list of entries here.

Business Van of the Year Awards supported by Vansdirect…and a brilliant line up for Business Van of the Year

Ditto our entries to find the best panel vans, pick-ups and finance & service packages for those in the trades and running small van fleets. Catch up with all the contenders here for our Business Van of the Year Awards, supported by Vansdirect.

Mitsubishi Eclipse CrossDon’t dismiss diesel quite yet

Diesel received such a poor press in the last quarter of 2017 it’s no wonder that diesel cars nosedived in the January car sales.

Down over 25% according to SMMT figures. But the real crash was in the retail side, where opinion is more likely to be swayed by media finding its latest victim to skewer.

While some of the clean air concerns are real, the more hardnosed SME fleet operators of cars recognise that diesel has a real part to play in company car choice today – and tomorrow. In the SMMT’s fleet figures, petrol just nudged ahead of diesel cars.

Toby Marshall Mitsubishi MotorsI was talking to Toby Marshall (left), Mitusbishi’s sales and marketing director at the company’s launch of the new Eclipse Cross – with only one engine option: petrol (pictured above).

Toby told me: “I think the diesel thing will pass and acceptance of all the good things that diesels offer will be reappraised. We are certainly evaluating the viability of a diesel version in six months’ time.”

In the end, it’s about suitability and that ‘fit for purpose’ phrase. For many SMEs covering fewer than 10,000 miles, a petrol or alternative fuel option is absolutely the correct decision. For higher mileage SME small fleets, though, clean Euro 6 diesels, with low CO2 emissions, still remain the ideal choice.

If you want more comment on January’s car sales figures, check out this analysis by IHS Markit on Leasing Broker News.

Fleet management changes at VW

Martin Barrow-StarkeyVolkswagen has appointed Martin Barrow-Starkey to the role of head of group fleet services at the VW Group. Martin’s job is to manage the behind-the-scenes logistics that support the head of fleet for the company’s four brands: Audi, SEAT, Skoda and VW.

More on Martin’s appointment here, who replaces Patrick McGillycuddy.

It appears that a prerequisite of the job is a multi-syllabic name…rules me out then!

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