The Business Motoring Week January 12 2018
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Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A5 Sportback: 2.0 litre diesel delivers exceptional economy

New car sales lower – is it all down to diesel?

WELL, happy new year to you all at the start of this new year. That’s despite some gloomy figures from the SMMT out today noting new car sales are down by 5.7%. But I don’t think it’s that alarming: the new car market was still at the third highest level for a decade.

Some of the froth has gone, replaced by uncertainty caused in no great part by the government’s stringent attacks on diesel and an anti-diesel rhetoric. Oh, and a failure to grapple with Brexit.

Diesel is still an important part of the automotive mix. For long distance company car drivers it’s essential – no fuel goes further: on the Audi A5 Sportback I’m running (pictured above) I can see over 62mpg on a long journey, and a running average of 48+mpg.

And while the government has provided every disincentive to the diesel car, ranging from extra company car tax to additional VED, it’s still got an important role to play while we transition to greater electrification. Believe me, urban air quality is a problem; but CO2 emissions will rise in the interim with fewer new diesel cars on the road.

However, if the consumer appetite for buying cars is understandably wobbly, it should help more drivers move to car leasing – less of an outlay, and the opportunity to drive a new car every two to four years. It’s really making more sense to more drivers. As Lex Autolease’s Ashley Barnett noted, the leasing giant saw strong growth in the SME market

For more on the registration figures, and more from Ashley, read our story: Diesel decline continues but 2017 third best registrations year in a decade.

Mercedes-Benz-X-Class
Mercedes-Benz X-Class: upmarket truck perfect for property developers and owners of small building firms

Merc takes toughness upmarket

I have a real fondness for pick-ups with their tough and slightly brutal image; that mix of rugged practicality with a whiff of dashing flair. And now with Mercedes in the market, there’s every good reason to believe the three-pointed star will bring its magic to the pick-up sector.

We’ve climbed into the cabin to drive the new X-Drive – read about it here.

Emissions Analytics Cayman
New regulations apply to VED changes coming into play this April

Forthcoming VED changes

Just so you are aware, new VED changes are on their way – or road tax to you and me. Simon Benson, head of motoring services at AA Cars, noted on today’s car registration figures that “December marks the ninth month of falling registrations since the VED changes came into force in April.”

I’m not convinced it’s just VED that’s keeping buyers away – but you do need to be aware of the changes. Read Road tax rates 2018 with diesel supplement.

Tom Brennan head of Audi fleet
Tom Brennan head of Audi fleet: significant changes to the way Audi Fleet goes to market

Audi makes a significant change to its business

I was talking to Audi’s head of fleet Tom Brennan yesterday. The company is changing the way Audi Fleet goes to market – and adopting an agency approach.

Tom describes it as “the biggest change the brand has seen”. Find out why here – Audi Fleet moves to agency model.

Hyundai Kona grille
Hyundai: senior changes at the top – but SME aftersales remains rock solid

Senior management changes at Hyundai

New year, new faces. This week saw the appointment of Michael Stewart (pictured) to head up the Hyundai fleet department.

Michael Stewart HyundaiMichael, who was previously working in the fleet department at Nissan, will now be fleet director at Hyundai. Michael’s brief is to oversee the brand’s strategy and direction in the UK’s competitive fleet and business sector.

Hyundai has a great reputation in the SME small fleet sector for the standard of its aftersales performance in particular. The company has won our Best SME After Sales Programme Award since the award was introduced in 2014.

And with some great cars in the business car sector – from the Hyundai IONIQ to the Kona SUV – there’s every likelihood Hyundai will have even greater success in the company car market in 2018.

For more on Michael’s appointment, read Michael Stewart appointed Hyundai fleet director.

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