The Business Motoring Week February 23, 2018
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Editorial director Ralph Morton starts the presentation of the SME Company Car of the Year Awards
Editorial director Ralph Morton starts the presentation of the Fleet Alliance supported SME Company Car of the Year Awards and the Business Van of the Year Awards supported by Vansdirect

Best in sector for the SME market

EYES might have been turned to Geneva for the annual Swiss motorfest shindig, but we were firmly concentrating on our market – the SME business motoring sector.

This week we were having our swish event at Scott’s in Mayfair to hand out the best in sector awards for the SME Company Car of the Year Awards and the Business Van of the Year Awards.

There are some 5.7m SMEs in the UK, and while not all of them will want cars or vans, a good proportion do.

Providing the right products and services is critical, especially against a market backdrop that is highly confusing: taxation rises, concerns over clean air and diesel, moving to electrified products, the impact of GDPR and so on.

It’s not an easy landscape to navigate. But our winners are brilliant in their field and have been chosen by an independent panel of judges who are experts in the SME, car, van and leasing sectors.

Supported by Fleet Alliance, the SME Company Car of the Year was won overall by the Jaguar XF.

Jon Wackett, the Head of Fleet and Business Sales at Jaguar Land Rover, who is pictured above left with awards in the foreground, picked up the awards from Fleet Alliance’s David Blackmore (right). You can find out all the winners by click this link here.

David Hanna with Business Van of the Year AwardsThe Business Van of the Year Awards were supported by Vansdirect, and the overall winner was the Volkswagen Caddy. David Hanna (above, centre), Head of Fleet for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, received the award from Jane Pocock, Managing Director of Vansdirect and Chair of the Judges, Paul Hollick. Full details of winners can be viewed here.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class at the Geneva Motor ShowThe Geneva Show 2018 – what was worth seeing?

Over to Switzerland for the Geneva Show, and there was a brilliant array of new and concept product to be seen. To save you doing the hard work, we have chosen 15 of the best cars at the show, from good value business cars to esoteric exotica. Well, we all have to dream! Check out the list here.

Who are the leasing experts for service?

Each year, Experteye unveils its independent feedback from the fleet and leasing sector. You don’t submit entries for this particular CSi award. As Experteye’s chairman and founder, Rick Yarrow, told me:

“The Experteye awards are highly sought-after in the fleet sector because they are based purely on customer and driver feedback.experteye_Logo

“With no submission process, nor judging panel, the winners are the companies that top their category based on our surveys, which means the only way you can win an award is by achieving the highest scores throughout the year.”

So congratulations to Fleet Alliance which won its category for the third successive year. No wonder our judges for the Leasing Broker Awards named Fleet Alliance the Leasing Broker of the Year. More details here.

What would you like to see in the Spring Statement next week?

I only hope that the government is going to bring some sense and order to the taxation of company cars, and makes its intentions clearer regarding diesel.

I was on the phone to Stefan Oswald, Chief Financial Officer, of leasing firm Alphabet this week, and he explained the three things on his wish list. Would you agree?

Stefan Oswald Alphabet CFO
Alphabet’s Stefan Oswald: three things on the want list

“First, I’d like to bring the BIK advantages for electric vehicles forward from April 2020. No one can understand why, when we want to promote new, low emission vehicles that are still in an ‘early adopter’ phase and with the Government investing heavily in the charging infrastructure, we are delaying the dramatic BIK drop for EVs (from 16% to 2%) until April 2020?”

Truly I agree with that. It’s a nonsense. And makes no sense to SME businesses who want to make the switch to EVs.

Anyway, Stefan again.

“Second, we used to have Government commitment to the certainty of a five year tax horizon. This is much needed for an industry and customers with three and four year change cycles. Currently we don’t know anything of the taxation framework beyond April 2021. More certainty on future arrangements will help fleets make plans and decisions for the future – currently businesses running company cars are planning beyond 2021 ‘in the dark’.

“And finally, the unavoidable reality is that increases in BIK and confused messaging over diesel has resulted in the CO2 output for the total UK vehicle fleet increasing last year. At the moment, that trend doesn’t appear to be changing, which is a reversal of nearly 20 years of progress on emissions. With increasing numbers of organisations and employees considering ‘opting out’, the BIK restraints no longer apply.

“So my final request is for the Chancellor and Government to realise that we are close to a tipping point – if we’re not there already – on company car tax where the unintended consequences will be year-on-year increases in CO2 output despite technological advances, older, dirtier and less safe vehicles out on the roads, while BIK will potentially have lost its power as a governmental lever to persuade large numbers of UK drivers to ‘do the right thing’.”

I’d also concur on those last two points. The Government really needs to clear the waters from its unwelcome muddying. Clarity is what’s required. Let’s hope the Chancellor does just that in the Spring Statement.

Mercedes SprinterNew Sprinter now available to order from £24,350

That stalwart of the motorways, the Mercedes Sprinter, is now available to order from £24,350 + VAT.

The new Sprinter, offers three wheelbases, four vehicle lengths, three roof heights, and the choice of chassis, chassis crewcab, and traditional panel van. Along with a host of new tech that should make the new big Merc a real hit with van operators. Get the low-down on the big Merc here.


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