The fleet sector - like the automotive industry as a whole - is struggling in the midst of the global downturn, with new car sales dropping month on month. Similar troubles exist for fleet operators in Britain and Ireland - difficulties within this sphere massively affect the entire automotive industry.
The decline in fleet business can be attributed to cost-cutting by companies which are attempting to fend off the worst of the recession. Many fleet operators are delaying vehicle acquisitions, extending existing leases and offloading ‘excess’ units.
In such a cautious business climate, it is imperative for companies which supply fleets to tempt managers with offers that are too good to miss: vehicles which satisfy practical needs while retaining most of the perks of company-owned transport. Indeed, there has always been something of a conflict between the motivations of the fleet manager and fleet car driver, between company and employee, in choice of vehicle. The manager, of course, wishes to acquire a durable, good quality car at the lowest feasible cost while the driver almost inevitably favours comfort, style and performance. This is a dilemma which is acknowledged by some carmakers, which have succeeded in marrying these two sets of considerations in its range of company vehicles.
Last week in the UK, the Institute of Transport Management concluded a long-term, detailed investigation into the vehicles on offer in the fleet market. The institute announces the accreditation of Volkswagen Passat as winner of the Fleet Car of the Year 2008 Award.
It is the most popular model and for good reason – the Passat, an ideal vehicle for company car use, combining efficiency, comfort, and style. The Passat has been available since the 1970s and has achieved long-term success in the fleet market. Now presented in coupé, saloon, and estate formats, the beautifully crafted Passat is as much a work of art as a feat of engineering, sculpted in smooth lines which are easy on the eye as well as on airflow.