Ampera and Volt voted Car of the Year
08 March 2012
The Vauxhall Ampera (pictured) and Chevrolet Volt have won the ‘Car of the Year’ award, with the highest score of 47 points.
The Vauxhall Ampera / Chevrolet Volt were the undisputed winners with 330 points against VW Up (281) and Ford Focus (256).
For the first time in the history of the prize, the final selection was made in the context of the Geneva international motor show. The Opel/Vauxhall CEO, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, and Chevrolet’s president and managing director for Europe, Susan Docherty, were both handed the “Car of the Year 2012” award by the President of the COTY judging panel, Hakan Matson. Initially, 35 recently launched vehicles entered the contest. The selection criteria applied by the judges were based on attributes such as design, comfort, performance and especially innovative technologies as well as efficiency.
"It is a proud moment for us and an honor to receive this award from Europe’s leading jury of automotive journalists," said Susan Docherty, president and managing director, Chevrolet Europe. "Our car demonstrates that electric driving can be fun and reliable without ever compromising the owners’ lifestyle."
“We are extremely pleased that our revolutionary electric vehicle has emerged as the winner in such a tough field of competitors. And we are very proud of this accolade,” says the Opel/Vauxhall CEO, Karl-Friedrich Stracke. “This encourages us further to continue our leadership role in the area of e-mobility.”
New A-Class hatchback to hunt Audi and BMW drivers
08 March 2012
Geneva set the stage for the world premiere of the A-Class, Mercedes new compact car, with hopes of introducing a new customer base to the luxury car maker.
It has taken Mercedes close to five years from idea to launch of the new A-Class, with a strong focus on safety and sporty appeal, the manufacturer has set ambitious growth targets for the new compact segment car.
“I really believe this is going to be one of our strongest assets,” said Nathanael Sijanta, head of product development at Mercedes. “We really want to extend our brand to a new level, we are looking to double our customers with the A-Class.”
Safety has been at the forefront of the A-Class design with an array of assistance systems which have been adopted from the larger model range including collision prevention assist and hill-start assist fitted as standard. “For fleets, safety is a key issue, all of the Mercedes safety technology will be included in the A-Class, for businesses, I think this will be really important,” said Sijanta.
With emissions starting at 99g/km for the entry model, a first for the manufacturer, Mercedes believe they found the right combination of driver performance and emissions which will set them apart from their rivals. “We are focussing on the environment without compromising the performance. The key for us is offering our customers a complete car with full options while still achieving 99g/km.” Available in manual and auto engines, the new A-Class will also feature ECOstart/stop as standard.
One of the highlights to the new A-Class is the option to have Apple I-phone technology integrated into the car which will enable drivers to use the full functionality of the iPhone including social media platforms and the Seri technology. “You could say the new A-Class is a smart phone on wheels,” said Dr Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management and head of Mercedes-Benz cars. The prospects of premium compact cars has never been better, we are expecting growth of 4 million units. The A-Class will play an important part of Mercedes 2020 growth strategy,” said Zetsche.
Mercedes has big plans for the compact segment with three more models in the pipeline for the near future.
No respite expected from record fuel prices
07 March 2012
Fleets should forget about any respite from record pump prices after Chancellor George Osborne appeared to reject a further cut in fuel duty.
The average price of diesel in the UK has overtaken the record set in May 2011, hitting 143.35 pence per litre (ppl) – the previous record high was 143.04ppl. However, Osborne has said that fuel duty is six pence lower today than it would have been due to the action he had taken in November’s autumn statement and in his Budget last year.
“I have taken action this year to tackle fuel duty rises, which were planned by the last Labour government,” he said. “That involved committing several billion pounds of resources, it has involved putting a tax on oil companies instead of families and motorists and businesses, precisely to ameliorate the impact of these high world oil prices on the British public.”
The bleak message from the chancellor comes as FairFuel UK launches National FairFuel day by presenting a copy of a report to Number 10 Downing Street today (Wednesday, March 7). The report claims that the Government could cut fuel duty on petrol and diesel without losing any taxation revenue. The report was undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). It concludes that even a modest cut in fuel duty of 2.5 pence per litre would create 180,000 new jobs and would on its own boost GDP by 0.33%.
Jakes de Kock, marketing director at The Fuelcard Company, said: “Government must commit to a long-term strategy to benefit both us in the transport sector as well as the general public – it must not renege on its promises again and must implement a fair fuel policy as a matter of urgency.”
In May, 2011, the Arab Spring was blamed for causing pump prices to rise, before they began falling back to 137.59ppl last summer. However, once they started to climb again the chancellor came under increasing pressure to address planned fuel duty increases in January and August of this year. His announcement in November surprised many when he deferred the scheduled 3ppl rise in fuel duty due in January until August 2012, and cancelled the inflation increase that was planned for August, which was expected to be worth an additional 1.92ppl.
But pressure on pump prices continues to grow. Oil rose to a 10-month high of more than $125 a barrel in dollar terms in the past fortnight, though oil prices remain some $20 a barrel short of their 2008 record of $147. But in euro terms, Brent Crude rose to an all-time high of €93.60 last week, topping its 2008 record. So far this year, Brent prices have rallied by more than 15%, pushed up by fears over Iran and a loss of production from small and mid-sized producers Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.
Tensions in the Middle-East also continue to pile on the pressure while a diesel price of 150ppl was reported at one motorway garage on the M6 near Coventry in recent days. Whatever the chancellor decides to announce in the Budget on March 21, fleet managers are being urged to not take their eye off rising fuel costs.
“Regardless of what the Government does, high fuel prices are here to stay and fleet managers cannot afford to ignore this fact because they will continue to eat into business profit margins and slow economic recovery,” said Jon Tandy, business development manager at Mycompanyfleet. Instead, fleet managers need to make use of the tools at their disposal to analyse fuel costs and identify areas where management action can be taken.
Cutting fuel duty would be a win-win for business
06 March 2012
.......... and Government, says FTA
Jaguar unveils XF Sportbrake
06 March 2012
Jaguar has unveiled its second only estate car, the XF Sportbrake, based on its acclaimed sporting saloon the XF.
And on first appearances, the design gurus at Whitley Engineering Centre, just outside Coventry, have definitely managed to balance style and practicality in creating this new addition to family. The XF Sportbrake builds on the extensive refresh received by the XF saloon for the 2012 model year, which also saw it launch the fleet friendly 2.2-litre diesel version.
A full five-seater with an additional 48mm of rear headroom, remote-fold levers situated just inside the tailgate allow the rear seats to be folded down with just one touch to provide an uninterrupted load surface that is 1,970mm in length. The central portion of the load-space floor can be lifted to reveal an extra, hidden storage compartment, which without the spare wheel helps create an overall load space of 1,675 litres. That’s five litres less than the Audi A6 Avant at 1,680 and five litres more than in BMW 5 Series Touring, which boasts a load capacity of 1,670. However, the XF Sportbrake can’t match the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, with its massive 1,950-litre load bay.
Jaguar hopes that the XF Sportbrake will help boost sales further after selling more than 10,000 units in 2011, but they refused to be drawn on specific sales targets, simply saying that it expects the XF Sportbrake to account for around 20% of XF sales. It will be fitted with Jaguar’s range of four-cyclinder 2.2-litre and V6 3.0-litre diesel engines, with the 2.2 variant expecting to take the lion’s share of orders. It is offered in combination with an eight-speed gearbox and Jaguar’s intelligent stop-start system, which in the XF saloon offers emissions of 149g/km and a combined mpg of 52.3.
No pricing details have yet been released, but the entry level XF has a P11D price in the region of £30,000, so expect a premium of around £2,000 considering the premiums paid for 5 Series Touring and A6 Avant compared to their saloon siblings.