Fleet win stuns the old guard
T HE changing shape of the UK company car market was reflected when BMW won the Fleet Car of the Year Award for the first time.
The German marque – which triumphed with its 3 Series – became just the fourth manufacturer in the 29-year history of the Association of Car Fleet Operator Awards to capture the honour.
The award has previously been dominated by Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.
BMW made it a double triumph as the company retained the Environmental Initiative of the Year Award for its low emission EfficientDynamics technology.
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In recent years, this has been rolled out across the manufacturer's model range.
It is a combination of systems involving a mixture of auto start/stop, brake energy regeneration, active aerodynamics, low rolling resistance tyres, electric power steering, on-demand ancillary systems and optimum gearshift indicator features.
The combination makes the 3 Series very fuel efficient and that was a critical factor in its ACFO success.
This is because fleet operators view low-emission, and therefore fuel-sipping models as having an ever-critical place on company car choice lists.
Ford continued its total dominance of the van sector.
Fleet operators once again voted the Transit Connect and Transit the Small Van of the Year and Large Van of the Year respectively.
The Transit Connect won its award for the 10th year running and the Transit repeated its feat of last year and for the 16th time.
Vauxhall won the Green Vehicle of the Year award with the Ampera, the manufacturer's extended range electric vehicle and the 2012 European Car of the Year.
The Ampera arrived in UK showrooms in May and has a real-world battery range of between 25-50 miles. After that, a small range-extender motor intervenes to provide up to an additional 300-plus mile range.
At all times the Ampera's wheels are electrically driven, setting it apart from hybrid vehicles.
The Fleet Safety Initiative of the Year award was won by Volvo due to the company's groundbreaking pedestrian airbag.
Earlier this year, the new Volvo V40 posted the highest ever European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP) crash test result in its segment thanks to the world's first pedestrian airbag, which debuted on the model.
EuroNCAP crash test performance ratings are used by many fleet operators to compile company car choice list and the airbag.
Seven sensors embedded in the front of the car have been introduced to help protect pedestrians when they impact the bonnet and the area around the windscreen wiper recess and A-pillar.
Julie Jenner, ACFO chairman, says: "Fleet decision-makers are reliant on motor manufacturers to deliver vehicles that are cost effective to operate, safe, reliable and environmentally-friendly and supplier companies to provide a first class service."