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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 27, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

    Fleets. Not all at sea.

    Neil Briscoe

    There was almost total domination by German brands at the first annual Motorcheck Fleet Car Awards, the winners of which were announced this week. The awards, held at a ceremony in The Europa Academy in Swords, Co. Dublin, have been designed to recognise the importance of business sales to the Irish car market. A significant proportions of even the current deflated motor sales charts are to fleets, a fact that the event’s M.C Mark Richardson sought to remind attendees: “Whilst the retail market faces a serious downturn, business in the fleet sector continues to be vibrant,” he said. “It is high time this important element of the Irish motor industries was recognised in its own right and the fact that almost 29,000 company vehicles will be replaced over the next two years, marks the significance.”

    So to the winners. In the C Segment (smaller cars were deemed to be not so much of an interest to fleets. A mistake, considering the downsizing potential? Perhaps…) The Volkswagen Golf triumphed over the BMW 1 Series, Ford Focus, Skoda Octavia and Audi A3. In the D Segment, The Skoda Superb lifted the cup (the only non-German brand to win, even though of course, Skoda is owned by a German brand; Volkswagen), beating out the Ford Mondeo, Opel Insignia, Toyota Avensis and VW Passat. In the D Segment Premium catgeory, Audi’s A4 beat the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, while in the Estate category, BMW reversed that defeat, pipping Audi’s A6 and A4 Avant, the Hyundai i40 Tourer and the Skoda Superb Combi to the prize with the 5 Series Touring. Finally, in the Executive segment, it was once again the BMW 5 Series that won, defeating the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

    Commenting on the awards, Cathal Doyle, Deputy Editor, Fleet Car magazine, the official media partners to the awards, said “we are delighted to be associated with the first running of the Motorcheck.ie Fleet Car Awards and we wish to thank the car brand distributors for their co-operation and support. Congratulations to the winners Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi and BMW and we wish them continued success.”

    Shane Teskey, Managing Director, Motorcheck.ie, expressed his delight with the day’s proceedings, “Yes, we are very pleased the positivity and enthusiasm shown by the car brands involved in the awards and for their attendance at the event. The judging panel must be complimented for their dedicated and focused approach to their role, all of which led to a very successful event.” (Motorcheck is one of Ireland’s leading car history check websites, investigating the history and financial record of a prospective second hand car purchase.)
    So what, if anything, have we learned from the first Motorcheck Fleet Car Awards? Well, we’ve learned that the fleet sector, so often derided for its rep-car mentality by us motoring hacks is actually a serious engine (‘scuse the pun) for car sales in a market hovering dangerously close to a perigee. We’ve learned that for all the rise and rise of the Korean brands, the traditional strengths of the Japanese car makers and the Herculean efforts of such others as Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and Citroen, it remains in the German’s purview to produce cars that combine effortless desirability and peerless running cost calculations.
    Finally, we’ve learned something very important. Fleet managers are ruthlessly efficient when it comes to the purchasing, running and eventual selling on of the cars on their fleets. They care not for styling, for entertaining handling or whether a particular brand lords it over another in the arenas of Formula One or Le Mans. They care about competitive pricing, tax-efficiency, day-to-day running costs, servicing intervals and repair costs and, of course, residual value. For us private buyers, it seems logical that we should take serious heed of what the fleet boys consider to be the best.

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