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incorporating Volume 9. No. 2. Summer 2011

Newsletter for Approved Driving Instructors.

TESTED : Volkswagen Passat 1.6TDI BlueMotion FEATURE : Leasing & Finance

LAUNCH PAD: • Audi • Citroën • Mercedes-Benz • Peugeot • Volkswagen

New Peugeot 508. Quality Time.

From â‚Ź24,850* Test drive now at your local Peugeot dealer.

*Excluding dealer delivery related charges



contents Summer 2011

4 NEWS • Used tyre danger issues • First Auto Finance enters marketplace • Semperit Comfort-Life 2 • VLAI relaunched plus Junction Box snippets.


6 INTERVIEW With Ricardo Espinosa, M.D., Azure Dynamics Europe. 8 COVER Generation 3 Ford Focus 12 FEATURE I Focus on Leasing & Contract Hire

P 18

14 FEATURE II Vehicle Finance – current state of play 16 DIRECTION/adi Newsletter of the Approved Driving Instructors 18 TEST Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

P 22 Fleet Car Magazine D’Alton Street, Claremorris, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Tel: +353 (0)94 9372819/ 9372826 Fax: +353 (0)94 9373571 Email: ISSN: 1649-9433

20 LAUNCH PAD Featuring the new Audi A6, Citroën C4, Mercedes-Benz CLS, Peugeot 508 & Volkswagen Jetta. 22 FLEETING SHOTS The BTCC, RSA, Fiat Automobiles Ireland & Skoda highlighted here.


Editor: Jarlath Sweeney

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Contributors: Gerry Murphy, Cathal Doyle, Rob Van Dieten. Photography: Jarlath Sweeney, Gerry Murphy, Cathal Doyle.

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Fleet Car Magazine’s new website NOW ON T W ITTER TOO!

Fleet Transport/ Fleet Car/ Green Fleet Management/ Fleet Van & Utility/ Fleet Bus & Coach/ Fleet Trailer & Body Builder/ Fleet Maritime are published by JJDS Publications Ltd. Registered Office: D’Alton Street, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Co. Reg. 368767 Directors: Jarlath Sweeney, Sean Murtagh.


Disclaimer: Fleet Transport Magazine management can accept no responsibility for the accuracy of contributed articles or statements appearing in this magazine and any views or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Fleet Transport management, save where otherwise indicated. No responsibility for loss or distress occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by the authors, contributors, Editors or publishers. The Editor reserves the right to make publishing decisions on any advertisements or editorial article submitted to the magazine and to refuse publication or to edit any editorial material as seems appropriate to him. Professional legal advice should always be sought in relation to any specific matter.

FLEETCAR | Summer 2011 3


Dangers of second hand tyres highlighted as replacement tyre market recovers


addy Murphy, General Manager, Semperit Ireland has called on the Road Safety Authority and the Department for the Environment “to put in place some kind of regulations or standards for the sale of second hand tyres”. He issued a warning for motorists who buy used tyres in an effort to save money. “We are seeing more and more shops offering second hand tyres and we would have to warn motorists to be very careful about fitt ing second hand tyres to their car. We know from our tyre dealer customers that some of these second hand tyre shops are fitt ing tyres on cars that are not roadworthy.” Some recent examples brought to his notice included uneven tread wear and repairs done to the tyre’s sidewalls. “People don’t realise the risk they are taking,” he stressed. “Tyre dealers that are members of the Irish Tyre Association will display warning notices on their premises to highlight the issue,” concluded Paddy. At the same briefi ng Mr. Murphy highlighted to the media on the current state of play on the replacement tyre market. “2010 in the Irish tyre industry showed signs of recovery with sales up 12% versus 2009 for the mainstream brands. Paddy attributed the growth to a reduction in the sales of imported Chinese ‘budget’ tyres. However, the tough economic conditions are continuing to affect sales negatively. “By our reckoning, the replacement tyre market can normally be estimated by assuming one tyre purchase per year per car in a particular market.

At that rate, we should be seeing significantly more new tyres being bought and we do have to wonder if some people are choosing to run on tyres that in other, perhaps better, circumstances, they would have changed by now. There are important safety implications as a result of that choice,” said Paddy. “However,” he added, “the overall tyre market is still down 25% compared to 2007.” With 20% of the total car tyre market, the 205/55 R16 is the most popular tyre size in the Irish market (which are fitted to the compact family car segment). For 4x4s, the dominance of the 15” tyre is in decline with 17” sizes growing, while in vans the 16” has 50% share of that market followed by 14/15” which are popular on car derived vans. While a 5-7% price increase on new tyres is imminent, the Semperit General Manager expects to see an early run on orders for Winter tyres judging by the interest from last December’s harsh weather conditions. “Th is could be an issue in relation to supply,” he said.

First Auto Finance enters fray


much needed new player has entered the auto fi nance scene with the arrival of UK based Close Motor Finance Ltd through recently established company First Auto Finance Ltd. (FAF). The company name may be new but the team heading up FAF bring with them a wealth of experience. Chairman Billy Kane; Frank Donnellan, Managing Director and Michael Sheehy, Operations Director were all formerly with leading fi nance houses that withdrew from the market such as GE Capital/Irish Permanent/ Friends First/Bank of Scotland Ireland.

First Auto Finance is in a position to offer credit facilities to consumers and businesses through

First Auto Finance Chairman Billy Kane & Frank Donnellan, Managing Director. 4 FLEETCAR | Summer 2011

the SIMI dealer network towards the purchase of new and used cars, motorbikes and light commercial vehicles. “With few major players left in the market, the limited availability of credit to purchase vehicles in the Republic of Ireland has been widely publicised. Together we are seeking to address this shortfall, providing dealers with more choice and their customers an easy and affordable way to buy the vehicle they need,” Frank Donnellan. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to enter a partnership with First Auto Finance and we are fortunate to be working with the highly capable management team, recruited to establish this joint venture. I am confident that our unique proposition, experience and track record within the motor fi nance industry will compliment the local industry knowledge of our business partners to establish Close Motor Finance as a serious player in the Republic of Ireland,” James Broadhead, M.D. of Close Motor Finance added.

New Car Search Engine Irish car history provider has launched ‘New Car Search Engine’ for Ireland. Available free of charge on its website at the new service gives consumers the ability to compare multiple makes and model of cars across a variety of different headings. Commenting, Shane Teskey Managing Director at Motorcheck said, “Helping consumers to make a more informed choice when buying a car is what is all about. As the market leader in car history checks for used cars, we wanted to see if there was something we could do to assist new car buyers as well.”

London Motorexpo In June Organisers of the 2011 London Motorexpo are expecting over 400,000 visitors to attend this year’s Canary Wharf Show, making it the UK’s biggest automotive event this Summer. The event is set to feature a record number of manufacturers this year, including Bentley, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Saab, Skoda, Tesla, Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Volvo, to name just a few. In all, over 200 vehicles will be on display for the week-long event, which runs from 6 to 12 June, giving visitors unrivalled access to cars and assisting them with their next vehicle purchase decision.

Type R-like Honda CR-Z

MUGEN Euro is developing a highly-tuned version of Honda’s CR-Z, which will deliver “Type R-like” performance from the hybrid’s petrol-electric powertrain – and may offer even better fuel economy. This faster, more powerful car will make its world debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July. The CR-Z MUGEN will feature enhancements to both the 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine and the Honda IMA system to boost power and torque, while bespoke brakes and suspension will be fitted to improve the chassis dynamics. Lightweight components, including a carbon fibre bonnet, will be employed to lower the overall weight.


EV Grant Scheme Switched On

After much trepidation, the Electric Vehicle grant scheme has fi nally been approved by Government. Pat Rabbitte, Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resourses announced that all vehicles with CO2 emissions of less than 75g CO2 per km will be eligible for a purchase subsidy of up to €5,000. Qualifying vehicles sold after 1 January 2011 are eligible for the grant, and a total of €5m has been allocated for this purpose. The Government is offering these grants through Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) in addition to the VRT reliefs and Accelerated Capital Allowances currently available for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV). The grant will be provided via registered Dealers and the Customer receives the benefit through a reduced purchase price for the car. SEAI has established a system for registering and checking each Vehicle Importer and their respective vehicle Dealers before allowing access to the scheme.

Mandatory Breath Test Laws The Dáil has passed significant new road safety laws which make it compulsory for Gardaí to conduct a breath test at any road collision where someone has been injured. Also, drivers, who in the opinion of the Garda Síochána, have consumed intoxicating liquor will be required to undertake preliminary breath tests with the enactment of this new law. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said he was very pleased that the Road Traffic Bill 2011 has received the backing of all parties in the Dáil, as the new law will make a major contribution to road safety. “The measure requires Gardaí to conduct a preliminary breath test at the scene of a collision where someone has been injured, or where they believe the driver has consumed alcohol. I was particularly pleased that it was the first piece of legislation debated by the Dáil under the new Government.”

Better in the wet, wet, wet – the new Semperit Comfort-Life 2


etter handling, shorter braking distances and reduced noise levels are the main attributes of the new Semperit’s Comforthed on the Irish Life 2 tyre, just launched market. Positioned to suit uit small to medium sized cars and available vailable in 13–15” rim sizes, the ComfortmfortLife 2 offers better all round ound n to performance, in relation ed wet braking and improved g. resistances to aquaplaning. “Given that we encounterr ra infa l l in Irelandd approx imately ever y second day on average,, the tyre’s performance inn the wet makes it perfectt for driving conditionss here. Also, the class of ed cars for which it is designed ity is gaining in popularity here, partly because of the ained scrappage scheme,” explained eneral Paddy Mur phy, General and. Manager, Semperit Ireland.

In terms of safety, the tread patt ern of the Comfort-Life 2 has improved to include more gripping edges, which allow for better contact with the road ssurface and to provide excellent wet braking, which is a crucial cru safety aspect for many motorists particularly in Ire Ireland. With regard to han handling, the ComfortLi Life 2 has utilised angled tr tread blocks to prevent ddeformation, while st stiffer circumferential rribs increase vehicle hha nd l i ng stabi l it y ggiving drivers a precise ssteering response by bbetter transferring the la lateral and longitudinal for forces. These off-set rib blo blocks also help to reduce road noise.

VLAI - Vehicle Leasing Association of Ireland restructures


ollowing its Annual General Meeting held recently, members of the Vehicle Leasing Association of Ireland (VLAI) agreed to restructure the organisation that represents car and light commercial vehicle leasing and contract hire segment of the Irish motoring industry.

active fashion plus working with legislators with regard to Duty of Care and Health & Safety issues.

Newly elected President, Larry Dunne (pictured) explains, “We held an EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) prior to the AGM to lay the foundations for a restructuring of the Association. We will now focus on our core membership with the main players in the contract hire/fleet management business with another tier consisting of corporate associates such as vehicle distributors/importers and car and LCV dealers. The boss of Walden Leasing praised his fellow members on how they collectively overcame ‘turbulent times’. “We’re all still there, which is testament to the strength of this sector of the industry which contributes so much to the economy. Lessons have been learned,” he added, “but we handled the business downturn well.” Top of the Agenda during his term of office is to lobby Government to release fi nance for the sector to grow and re-establish its website in a | Summer 2011 5


One-to-One with Ricardo Espinosa, Managing Director, European Operations, Azure Dynamics with Jarlath Sweeney

JS. Three years ago Smith Electric premiered an electric version of the Transit Connect at the Commercial Vehicle Show, how far advanced is yours in relation to what we saw there? I know that vehicle was a prototype and didn’t go ahead. RE. We had a relationship with Smith as a supplier of dry systems in the past, that we no longer have. The Connect that you saw at the Commercial Vehicle Show with Smith was a vehicle of their own in-putting, it was not a collaborative effort with Ford. The difference with the product here is that it is a joint effort between Azure Dynamics and Ford Motor Company. Even though Azure is responsible for amalgamating the vehicle, servicing the vehicle and selling the vehicle, it is a well supported effort by Ford as well. So there is expertise from electric vehicle and energy system experts and safety experts that we work with on a day-to-day basis as the development goes forward. So what you’ll find is that this is a, what I’d like to think of as a ‘no aim level’, refined product that we’re releasing to Europe. JS. And for right hand drive markets as in the UK and Ireland, have you defined your pricing structures and how you’re actually going to sell it to the business community?

JS. Have the Azure Ford Transit Connect Electric van and passenger versions advanced since the last time we met in Dunton? If you remember we were very impressed when we drove it round the track. We were even more impressed when we had it out on the open road under normal driving conditions. RE. Yes, I think you’ll notice the Transit Connect EV passenger version you were driving today has the same attributes as the electric vehicle in Dunton. The vehicle that was shown earlier on was so representative of what we are producing in June of this year. So since we met in Dunton primarily we’ve been busy establishing the European operation, European manufacturing for the vehicle and getting ready for job to be done. JS. So where is the manufacturing going to be? RE. Manufacturing is being placed here in England. It’s done by a company called LLS (Lotus Light Structures) in Worcester, England, which is owned by Malaysian company Proton. JS. With regard to the technology, has that been modified in any way? RE. Absolutely not. The technology had been basically decided and established when the programme started and the vehicle that we were showing was not a production version, but the technology, as far as the battery, the motor, the inverter, all the accessories are the same. You’ll find some very small changes, but fundamentally the vehicle is the same. 6 FLEETCAR | Summer 2011

RE. We’re working with a small group of dealers that we’ve identified. Primarily we’re going where our customers draw us to go, so we’re working with large fleets and, for instance, if there is a large fleet of post vehicles in England, we would go with a dealer that looks after them. So we’ve started with the Dagenham Motors Dealership in the UK, which gives us a family of dealerships that we’ve starting to train and show them the systems etc, but we will very slowly and carefully expand our dealership network wherever it’s needed. We’ll end up with one or two groups of dealerships in the targeted countries. JS. Is Ireland part of the target market? RE. It is targeted in that it is in a part of the World where we think electric vehicles really need to be. We haven’t really made a lot of progress in identifying potential customers as yet. JS. You are probably aware that Ireland has ambitious plans to integrate electric vehicles into mainstream motoring with 10% of the fleet to be electrified by 2020. RE. I would love to meet with the Authorities and the interested parties and introduce our product. It’s a very easy product to introduce. It doesn’t need a lot of infrastructure. Our lines are already dealing with this product you’re mentioning. This product would be almost transparent in integration. JS. With regard to the battery technology do you see any more advances in that you can actually have a better payload and secondly an extended

range of kilometres or miles? RE. For this year’s model it will remain what it is today. We’re launching with this, we can’t afford a change from the stability of the programme. So future generations will certainly improve but right now the technology is staying the same. I think for an emerging market where the first product is actually the adequate part. From a charging infrastructure point of view it plugs in just about anywhere in Europe and with a range that is, I think, practical for most fleet applications. JS. Europe is part of a global programme for this product, in due course, with North America being the biggest marketplace for you. RE. Yes, I certainly have a lot of interest in Europe given what I’m doing here, but both markets are very interesting and our tag line for Azure is ‘Part of the Solution’, so we may not claim to be the solution for the World, but it’s a big part of it. Perhaps not every fleet can use one, but we’d like to think that a high percentage of fleets can. JS. And five years down the road, what are your forecasts for the future? RE. I think we’d like to reach even more aggressive cost targets for the vehicle and be able to put more energy on board the vehicles, and if we were to achieve those two, I think we’d be quite happy. JS. Is the initial cost the biggest prohibitive? You have to sell it to your customers that you’re buying your energy up front? RE. Yes, I mean it’s hard for me not to say that it isn’t a challenge. It is a challenge when you’re selling a vehicle, but it offers a long-term solution. It’s not a ‘throw away’ vehicle that only has a life of 3–5 years because both the platform and the electric system are tired. The Transit Connect has a reputation and it’s now well proven that it is a vehicle that can easily go for a 10-year service life and above. What we have done is match that with just as robust hardware and engineering. So yes, the initial investment is higher but it is something that pays back, and after you’ve done paying it, it’s just money that you’re saving from thereon. So the idea of keeping a vehicle longer is being accepted by quite a few of our customers and that is a key change. JS. In relation to the next generation Ford Transit Connect is your technology easily transferable? I know it has to advance with the new model and all that, but are the basics pretty much the same? RE. Absolutely. Technology is very transferable up and down, so if we were to go to a high sized vehicle it’s very transferable. In fact, a lot of the fundamental hardware is also featured in bigger trucks than Azure Dynamic makes in North America.


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New Ford Focus to again find favour with Irish motorists


s the old saying goes – 100,000 owners can’t be wrong – that’s the number of Ford Focus customers won over since the model was first introduced in 1998. Multiply that by 1,000 and the true figure testifies how the Ford Focus has become a firm favourite with consumers worldwide. Now that the third generation (plus two facelifts) has just been launched, Ireland’s most successful car ever looks like holding onto its reign. Value, Comfort and Safety plus great to drive were among the Focus’ lovable features. “The Ford Focus is a key model for the Irish Market,” said Eddie Murphy, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland. “Its all round great driving ability has ensured its crown as Ireland’s favourite car since its first arrival in 1998 and I am sure that this new model with its up to the minute technology and highly efficient engines will again find favour with Ireland’s value-conscious motorists.”

8 FLEETCAR | Summer 2011

With the new Focus, Ford is introducing a range of new and really useful smart technologies, most of which are being made available for the first time to motorists who drive cars in this segment. These include: Active City Stop that will automatically bring the car to a halt in the event of a low-speed (30 kp/h) collision; AutoStart-Stop which effectively turns off the car’s engine once the car has remained immobile and in neutral for a period of 0.5 seconds, thus saving fuel and reducing emissions; and Torque Vectoring Control which greatly improves cornering as the car reacts to the road 100 times per second resulting in more grip and ultra-precise handling. All new Focus comes to market with three bodystyles – 5-door hatchback, 4-door saloon and 5-door wagon/estate. There is no 3-door version in standard form but the RS model will be a 2-door ‘hot hatch’. Described as a true global car, the new generation Ford Focus is set to continue the successful tradition of its predecessor offering customers high quality build and finish plus improved fuel economy. At the European Press launch Stephen Odell, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe said, “The new Focus is evidence of One Ford in action, and truly represents the best of Ford Motor Company. Our investment in a new global C-car platform is

enabling us to provide consumers in Europe, and around the world, with an affordable range of cars which offer quality, fuel efficiency, safety and smart technology beyond their expectations.” Developed in Europe, for sale in over 120 markets worldwide with 80% parts commonality, the new Focus is built on a new C-segment globe platform. Volume production has begun in Saarlouis (Germany) and Michigan (USA) with St. Petersburg (Russia) to start soon. The Chongqing plant in China comes on stream in early 2012 for the launch in the Asia Pacific region. All three Focus body styles share the same characteristics, that’s more sportier and dynamic than its predecessor. At first glance it looks more substantial and at 1,484 mm high, 4,358 mm long and 1,823 mm wide, the new 5-door is 16 mm lower, 21 mm longer and 16 mm narrower than the current European Focus. Its wheelbase is 8 mm longer at 2,648, which attributes to its improved handling. The range of engines for the new Focus is as follows: 1.6 TDCi 95 PS and 115 PS Band A diesel (with fuel efficient Auto-Start-Stop technology); 1.6 VCT 105 PS and 125 PS Band B petrol; and 2.0 TDCi 115PS 6-speed Powershift automatic Band B. All offer significant reductions in carbon emissions and also fuel consumption compared to the outgoing model. The Focus is the first Ford model to standardise Auto-StartStop technology across a significant part of the range. As a result CO2 emissions start at just 109 g/km on the TCDi diesel unit.

COVER Specification details for the new Focus is as follows:The entry-level Focus features: ESP with traction assist; Ford Intelligent Protection System; body colour bumpers, mirrors and spoiler (5 door); electric front windows; power door mirrors; remote central locking with flip key; stereo radio/CD with USB connectivity and capless refuelling. Focus Edge (in addition to Focus): air conditioning; trip computer with fuel computer and eco mode driver information system; radio steering wheel toggle controls; leather trim steering wheel; power heated door mirrors; body colour door handles and comfort front seats. Focus Zetec (in addition to Focus Edge): 16” 5x2 alloys; front fog lights; Quickclear Windscreen; sports tuned suspension; driver lumbar support; sports style front seats; premium centre console with arm rest and Z-design handbrake.

as it returned an average 6.1 L/100 kms over the distance driven – that’s 46 mpg. The Stop/Start function and gear-shift indicator helped here. There is a 95 PS version that we tried out during the Irish press launch in Wicklow, but it did feel slightly underpowered. In 3-4 months time, the EcoBoost version will be introduced here that will come in at around €26,000. In the meantime, take a look at the specification on this model tested and you will see it packs a lot of punch for just over €27,000.

PRICE LIST Focus 1.6 VCT 105 PS petrol priced from €20,825 (Band B) 1.6 TDCi 95 PS priced from €21,325 (Band A) Edge 1.6 VCT 105 PS petrol priced from €21,675 (Band B) 1.6 TDCi 95 PS priced from €22,175 (Band A) 2.0 TDCi 115 PS automatic Powershift priced from €27,425 (Band B) Zetec 1.6 VCT 125 PS petrol priced from €23,325 (Band B) 1.6 TDCi 95 PS priced from €23,025 (Band A) 1.6 TDCi 115 PS priced from €23,875 (Band A) 2.0 TDCi 115 PS automatic Powershift priced from €28,275 (Band B) Titanium 1.6 VCT 125 PSD petrol priced from €24,475 (Band B) 1.6 TDCi 95 PS priced from €24175 (Band A) 1.6 TDCi 115 PS priced from €25,025 (Band A) 2.0 TDCi 115 PS automatic Powershift priced from €29,425 (Band B)

Focus Titanium (in addition to Focus Zetec): 16” 10x2 alloys; dual-zone electronic temperature control; automatic wipers; automatic lights; autodimming rear view mirror; hill start assist and cruise control with automatic speed limiter. Test Drive There is no doubt that the new Focus saloon will attract renewed interest from the Fleet sector. Ford’s C-segment 4-door offering is in a word – stunning and during my time with the black 1.6 TDCi Titanium (covering 1,577.4 kms), it turned many heads. Ford Ireland’s Chief Eddie Murphy is confident that the Focus saloon will do well at the lower end of the fleet segment which counts for 25-30% of the market, particularly as it comes just €400 more than the 5-door hatch. Options such as the Active City Stop at €420 and Active Park Assist at €750 were never available in a car of this size before. A cockpit-style dash dominates, the new Focus’ interior with the centre console wraps around the driver providing instant access to the car’s major controls. Ford’s latest generation Human Machine Interface (HMI) system is used within the cockpit, with twin five-way toggle switches on the steering wheel controlling the two main vehicle displays located in the instrument cluster and high in the centre of the instrumental panel. Since day one, the original Focus was applauded for its high levels of agility and responsiveness and the new version boasts improved refinements and ride control. Featuring advanced Torque Vectoring Control system fitted as standard, which enhances cornering stability and agility, my only concern is with the completely new Electric Power Assist steering system. On poor surfaces, feedback from the steering is superb but on the motorway at 120 kp/h in windy conditions, it does feel a little light. Nothing about the 115 PS 1.6 litre TDCi diesel disappointed though, as it had plenty of power and torque for the size of this car. Economical too Text: Jarlath Sweeney –

Ford Focus – fastest selling car in Ireland When sales of the Ford Focus surpassed the 100,000 mark on 31 March, the ‘blue ovals’ compact family hatch and saloon became the fastest selling car in Irish motoring history. Along with reaching this milestone inside 13 years, the Ford Focus (which replaced the ever popular Escort in 1998) has been the Number 1 seller among the Irish driving public on no less than 10 occasions. “Alongside its enormous commercial success, Focus has been instrumental in revitalising the Ford brand in terms of excitement and styling but also reliability,” says Eddie Murphy, Chairman and Managing Director, Ford Ireland. “This it achieved not for a specific customer segment, but across all demographics, from young to old, from family buyers to driving enthusiasts. It genuinely is the ultimate all-rounder.” The Focus credentials are wide-ranging: Ireland’s first allergy-friendly car, first mass-produced biofuel car, and first in its class to have ESP as standard. At the same time the model has reached iconic status off-road, with no fewer than 36 World Rally Championship victories since 1999. “It is apt that the 100,000 milestone is reached just when we are welcoming the latest Focus,” he continued. “With the new model I believe we have raised the bar in the family car class once again, with huge improvements in styling and in new technology. I fully expect it to be another top-seller.” The launch of the next-generation vehicle marks the start of an exciting new chapter in the Focus success story, with a single model being designed and engineered on a global platform for sale in over 120 markets worldwide. “We are very excited about introducing the new Ford Focus to the European market given the strong heritage this model has here,” said Mr. Odell. “With its desirable combination of dynamic design, outstanding driver appeal, unmatched levels of technology and impressive fuel economy, we believe that the new car will not only delight our existing customers but also expand the appeal of the Focus brand to a whole new generation of Ford customers.” | Summer 2011



Sales of new cars surpass 50,000


n 13 April, the 50,000th new car of 2011 was registered in Ireland. Speaking on the milestone, Alan Nolan, Director General of the SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) (pictured) says, “We’re not running away with ourselves here but looking back on the dreadful year that was 2009 when 57,000 new cars were sold in the whole of the year, reaching 50,000 at this stage is positive.”

As a result of the upturn, the motor industry has directly employed 2,200 people so far this year, many of which were re-employed having been let go during the recession that hit the motor trade more than most. Commenting on this development, SIMI’s President, Eddie Murphy (M.D. and Chairman of Ford Ireland) said, “The increase can be compared to another Google opening up here, that’s how significant it is. These jobs represent a saving of €55 million for the Government.”

“This year again, car dealers and distributors have reduced the asking prices, not just for under Scrappage, but for all new cars.”

“Undoubtedly the reason businesses have been able to take on any staff is the introduction of the Government Scrappage Scheme last year. New car sales have a direct impact on employment; an increase in car sales means an increase in jobs.”

“With the Scheme ending in less than three months time, any motorist considering buying a new car under Scrappage would really be advised to act now to ensure that they don’t lose out as their choice of car may need to be ordered.”

EU – New Car Registrations down 2.3% - Q1 2011


rom January to March 2011 demand for new cars across Europe increased by 2.3% with 3.583 million units registered. Despite most markets showing growth according to ACEA, the Association for European Auto manufacturers, prominent ones such as the British (-8.7%), the Italian (-23.1%) and the Spanish (-27.3%) recorded losses, which resulted in a 2.3% downturn across the region. The steepest fall was noted in Greece (-57.4%) and the largest growth recorded in Latvia (+131.7%). The Latvian market remained however the smallest (1,902 units) while Germany registered the most vehicles (763,403) over the first quarter. Portugal, like Ireland is going through a tough economic climate at present and it shows. Quarter 1 2011 versus Quarter 1 2010 shows a 15.2% drop (45,588 vs 53,752).

Units ‘10 3,669,378 740,965 394,322 154,437 78,726 112,987 493 510,003 276,683 233,320

% Chg 11/10 -2.3 +5.6 +5.0 +7.7 +0.9 +8.3 -13.8 -5.4 -5.6 -5.1

21.8 11.5 4.6 2.2 3.4 0.0 13.5 7.3 6.2

20.2 10.7 4.2 2.1 3.1 0.0 13.9 7.5 6.4

‘11 3,583,185 782,349 413,842 166,272 79,443 122,367 425 482,527 261,184 221,343






8.2 1.8 8.6

8.7 1.8 8.2

294,812 62,819 309,718

320,940 65,238 300,759

-8.1 -3.7 +3.0






1.2 0.0 8.3 7.3

1.2 0.0 9.3 8.8

43,885 105 295,622 259,888

44,410 430 341,634 321,715

-1.2 -75.6 -13.5 -19.2

















Lancia Alfa Romeo Others (2) BMW Group BMW Mini Toyota Group Toyota Lexus Daimler MercedesBenz Smart Nissan





















4.3 1.0

3.7 0.9

153,279 35,553

137,452 32,291

+11.5 +10.1






4.3 0.2 4.3

4.4 0.1 4.1

153,699 6,038 155,515

161,426 5,139 150,092

-4.8 +17.5 +3.6






0.6 3.5

0.5 2.8

20,185 124,800

19,751 103,610

+2.2 +20.5

% of market




% of market




Increase 14


*Please Note – Scrappage figure for March 2011 is subject to change and likely to be higher when all reclaims are submitted and processed. Table 2 March: Scrappage Top 10 Brands (Ireland) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10




Hire Drive Underlying Market

January-March %Share ‘11 ‘10 All Brands VW Group Volkswagen Audi SEAT Skoda Others (1) PSA Group Peugeot Citroen Renault Group Renault Dacia GM Group Opel/ Vauxhall Chevrolet GM (US) Ford Fiat Group

The Volkswagen Group tops the EU sales league with 782,349 unit sales from its VW/Audi/SEAT/Skoda brands. PSA Peugeot/Citroen is next with 482,527 Renault (Renault/Dacia) rounds off the top 3 on 357,631. Within the Top 10 the VW Group, GM Group, BMW Group, Daimler and Nissan showed market share increase with PSA, Renault, Ford, Fiat, Toyota recording a decrease in sales (see Table 4). Table 1 New Car Registrations Jan-Mar 2011 (Ireland) Total New Cars Scrappage *

Table 4 New Passenger Car Registrations by Manufacturer European Union (EU)*

Make Toyota Renault Ford Volkswagen Skoda Nissan Opel SEAT Hyundai Kia

Units 1195 766 532 459 424 286 212 199 198 196

% share 24% 15% Table 3 Scrappage by 10% VRT category (Ireland) 9% % Category Units 8% share 6% Cat A 2594 51% 4% Cat B 2484 49% 4% 4% 4%

10 FLEETCAR | Summer 2011

Text: Jarlath Sweeney -

ES and Type S equipped with 2.2 iDTEC engine delivering CO2 emissions of 138g/km. Prices quoted are recommended retail prices only and exclude delivery and related charges. All new models come with a 3 year warranty and 3 year roadside assistance.

The Honda Accord. From q30,875 who says you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure?

Honda has it down to a fine art. This smart new-look Accord range delivers the best of both worlds with great aplomb.

But despite its three year warranty*, hi-tech kit and down to earth price the Accord’s most valuable asset is the badge it wears.

With a lengthy feature list, including cruise control and hands-free phone kit, the generously appointed ES and Type S sport attracts envy in the corporate car park – but without stressing the company accountant.

Nobody can touch Honda’s legendary reliability record and exceptional residual values.

Why? CO2 emission are reduced in both models. So annual road tax is now just €156.

So, while other executive saloons may become a liability, an Accord is a real asset to its owner. Year after year. Good business and complete motoring pleasure side by side.

Better still, prices have been reduced too. The ES is down 5.2% to just €30,875.While theType S drops 5.4% to €32,725.

The Honda Accord

Technically brilliant. Financially astute


Leasing industry seriously affected by lack of available finance


straw poll conducted by Fleet Car magazine among the Irish leasing company fraternity revealed that due to lack of available fi nance, existing customers and more significantly potential customers cannot be provided with Contract Hire agreements. There is no doubt from speaking to some of the leading suppliers that there is a growing demand from the corporate car and light commercial sector as companies have held off their vehicle renewal programme due to the economic climate. But as it’s no longer economical to hold onto these vehicles for much longer due to wear and tear plus depreciation write-offs, there is a substantial number of potential customers out there from the fleet sector, which has to be met but is being stymied due to lack of finance primarily due to the lesser number of players in this field. There has been a shortage of good used cars particularly in the C segment as a result. The only ‘knight in shining armour’ in this intense battlefield is that some vehicle brands have come in to offer manufacturer-owned banks such as the Volkswagen Group (Audi, SEAT, Skoda & Volkswagen (cars & commercials), Renault and BMW/Mini). Collectively they can offer finance instantly and at a more competitive rate than the remaining banks interested in this market and other specialist providers. As a result, the industry through the VLAI – Vehicle Leasing Association of Ireland, is calling for a level playing field. In an interview with Fleet Car, Larry Dunne, newly elected President VLAI stated that there is quite a variance in the interest rates offered by the car/commercial companies own banks that what he and his members can provide. Larry, who heads up Walden Leasing, has found that resulting from some of the big names in finance provision withdrawing from this service such as GE Woodchester, Friends First and Bank of Scotland Ireland is having a detrimental affect on the potential growth that exists in the Irish Contract Hire and Fleet Management business today. He also pointed out that with the Scrappage Scheme finishing in June, the corporate fleet sector could shore up the slack when that deadline arrives. “There are two factors here,” he said. “One, the finance companies that now exist in the market place now find themselves with little or no competition and have seriously tightened up on the application criteria. Secondly, the smaller players among our Association membership are fi nding it difficult to establish a relationship with the main players left such as Bank of Ireland Finance and Permanent TSB Finance.”

for a number of reasons. “Car prices are down, modern day cars are more economical and drivers are covering less kilometres in many cases,” he said. “In the executive segment,” he explained, “as an example, the BMW 5 series and Mercedes E Class have come down in price substantially and their emission levels reduced likewise. And although we do not as yet have the emission level controlled BIK valuation as promised from the Finance Act from last year’s Budget, it will be welcomed and inject further into the motoring industry that contributes so much to the exchequer.”

amounts of money passing hands through this system and therefore all this red tape should be eliminated, it’s restricting trade. A new player has entered the market, First Auto Finance, which is indeed good news,” he added. The thorny subject of residuals was also discussed with Larry. “That’s where the banks got stung last time around,” he stressed. “They ended up with a long list of overpriced used cars, many of which still had finance to be paid on them, with Bank Managers burdened with selling second hand cars to anyone that came into them looking for money to buy a car.”

On behalf of his members Larry is lobbying with the financial providers to come up with the finding for the sector and also asking Government to take another look at the Money Laundering Act recently introduced which is hindering the sector also. He explained that the banks now require the Company Directors provide two methods of ID (similar to the mobile phone firms) but with some Irish based companies with foreign ownership, this along with other procedures, slows down the process unnecessarily. PLC Directors do not have to go through the same hoops,” he advised.

As new models enter the fleet car scene such as the latest Ford Focus saloon and Peugeot 508 in recent weeks, interest in the sector and from buyers prospective will be all the more keen. There will also be a continuing trend towards down-sizing also predicts Larry as companies aim to reduce their carbon footprint. He sees a resurgence of the light commercial vehicle industry (which has been decimated in the past few years) as a number of big tenders from semi-states and Local Authorities for fleet renewal is ongoing.

“Lease hire or contract hire provides a vehicle as a business tool for a business to use. The company or business pays a monthly fee to retain the use of the vehicle, which paid by direct debit (through having a bank account and passing the Due Diligence processes), there are no large

Having experienced recession in the business before, Larry is assured that the turnaround is just around the corner, all it will take is availability of freely available funding. “The lessons have been learned, it’s time to move on,” he concluded.

Larry cites that updating vehicle fleets can be done at no extra cost to the existing contract 12 FLEETCAR | Summer 2011

Text: Jarlath Sweeney -

Photos: Paul White -


Vehicle Finance still dominated by Liquidity Issue


ales may be up but there is no doubt that the new car market continues to be badly affected by the banking crisis and resultant lack of fi nancing options available to customers. While some dealers and distributors are putting a brave face on it, saying that those potential purchasers that are creditworthy are still able to get fi nance, there is litt le doubt that compared to a few years ago, getting a loan to purchase a new car is a major achievement, anecdotal evidence pointing to “quite ridiculous levels of paperwork required” to quote one market insider.

Indeed such has been the decline in the market that only two ‘regular’ fi nancial institutions – Bank of Ireland Finance and Permanent TSB are still actively providing third party fi nancing to vehicle distributors. On the

The crisis has led to what is largely a new phenomenon in this Country – the rise of car manufacturer fi nance houses. Whereas in the past the majority didn’t see a need to be able to provide in-house funding solutions to customers, the tightening of loan facilities, coupled with a contraction in the number of traditional companies offering motor fi nance, has forced many of them to look in-house in order to meet the needs of viable customers.

upside though, a new player entered the market in February. First Auto Finance Ireland Limited is the agent here for Close Motor Finance Limited, the third largest auto finance provider in the UK, and already provides fi nancing solutions for Subaru Ireland. While the addition of in-house finance solutions might be interpreted as good news for customers if providers were to see this area as offering a competitive advantage, there is litt le indication that, but for a few

exceptions on selected models, the motor companies are prepared to use this area as a bargaining tool. Aidan Doyle of KIA Motors observes that fi nancial packages on offer from all manufacturers are broadly similar on rates etc, and notes that competitive advantage could be gained by less rigid underwriting criteria, but this is not a route that any banks are seriously considering. David Baddeley of Volvo Cars Ireland says that as interest rates are low, the key area of differentiation is the vehicle itself and the value for money that it represents, and that fi nance is a facilitator rather than the reason you should choose a particular make. Hire Purchase is still the dominant form of vehicle fi nancing, to be expected perhaps for the retail market, but it is a little surprising that leasing options do not feature with more of the manufacturers that are directly targeting the fleet and business markets. There are signs that leasing plans are starting to creep in on the commercial vehicle side, but unlike in the UK where the vast majority of business customers use this form of fi nancing, it is still in its infancy here.

Car Manufacturers – Who offers What? AUDI Audi offers retail and business customers a selection of fi nancial solutions through its inhouse bank Audi Finance, including Personal Contract Plan (PCP)s aimed primarily at private customers. The company has also developed a contract hire solution aimed at SMEs and businesses that do not have contracts with the larger leasing companies. BMW

Hire Purchase and Contract Hire Agreements aimed at the business customer. Packages can be tailored to suit individual customer needs. CITROEN Citroen Financial Services offers Hire Purchase fi nancial packages via Permanent TSB for private customers. For fleet companies, leasing offers are available through various third party leasing companies, and can include offers such as service and maintenance, replacement vehicle and roadside assistance. FIAT AUTOMOBILES IRELAND Fiat offers finance via Permanent TSB through Fiat Credit. While fi xed term fi nancing is still the preferred option for its customers, Fiat says it can offer a full range of solutions to customers including outright purchase and leasing options.

BMW entered the car finance market in Ireland at the end of last year via its credit institution BMW Financial Services Ireland, a subsidiary of the BMW Financial Services Group. It offers a full range of fi nance offerings for its BMW and MINI brands including Non Consumer 14 FLEETCAR | Summer 2011

FORD Ford offers a suite of Retail Finance products for both new and used vehicles under the Ford Credit brand that is operated by Bank of Ireland Leasing Ltd. Funding solutions for business customers include Business Hire Purchase and Business Vehicles Leasing products.

HONDA Honda offers retail customers financial packages via Permanent TSB, although the company says that the majority of customers secure their own fi nance. The company does not get involved in fi nance packages for business users. HYUNDAI Hyundai Credit offers Hire Purchase fi nance packages for retail customers via Permanent TSB with low cost offers available on selected models. JAGUAR As a niche player in the fleet market, Jaguar works on a one-to-one basis with customers to design a leasing plan to meet the customers, needs. KIA KIA Ireland offers Hire Purchase finance solutions via KIA Credit operated through Permanent TSB Finance, with subsidized rates available on certain models. The company doesn’t offer fi nancial products specifically for business customers.

FEATURE 11 permanent TSB but from September the company is launching Renault Motor Finance Ireland through parent company Renault Credit International (RCI). Details of what sort of packages being offered will be unveiled this Summer.


SAAB Finance on Saab vehicles is offered through the dealer network that use Frank Donnellan, M.D., First Auto Finance; Michael J. Kirby, Sales & Marketing a number of third party Manager, Subaru Ireland; Neville Matt hews, M.D., Subaru Ireland and Billy suppliers. Kane, Chairman, First Auto Finance, at the launch of Subaru Auto Finance.

MAZDA Another to offer Hire Purchase arrangements using Permanent TSB as its finance provider for retail customers via Mazda Financial Services, there are no specific products targeted at business customers. MITSUBISHI Permanent TSB underwrites Mitsubishi vehicle finance solutions through the Mitsubishi DIAMONDS fi nancial package for the retail market. The Japanese manufacturer claims the honours for currently offering the lowest rate of APR in the market at 3.6% available on its Colt and Lancer ranges. OPEL Credit Opel loans are underwritten by Permanent TSB Finance with Low Cost Finance Deals available on new Opel passenger vehicles for retail customers. There are no specific packages aimed at the business sector. NISSAN Permanent TSB underwrites Nissan Credit offering hire purchase products aimed at retail customers. RENAULT Currently Renault Ireland offers fi nance via

SEAT As part of the VAG family, SEAT offers Hire Purchase vehicle fi nance agreements through Volkswagen Bank. SKODA Skoda offers Hire Purchase agreements for retail customers via Skoda Finance, which is underwritten by Volkswagen Bank. At present there are no special packages in place for business customers. SUBARU Subaru Ireland has become the latest distributor to establish a dedicated fi nancing solution for customers. Subaru Auto Finance is being offered through First Auto Finance Ireland and offers hire purchase arrangements for both retail and business customers.

Volkswagen Bank GmbH Branch Ireland is the finance provider for Volkswagen and offers hire purchase solutions for retail and business customers. On the commercial vehicle side, the company has introduced a business lease option for its Caddy and Transporter models. VOLVO Bank of Ireland operates Volvo Car Finance on behalf of Volvo Cars. A full range of purchase and fi nance leasing options are available including contract hire.

TOYOTA Toyota Ireland offers finance packages via Bank of Ireland. A number of packages are tailored to meet the needs of business customers including Business Hire Purchase, Business Vehicle Lease (Finance Lease), and Business Lease Fixed Term Contract Hire (Operating Lease). The packages are available on all Toyota cars and commercial vehicles.

Finance Packages – What’s On Offer


or retail customers most manufacturers offer a form of the familiar Hire Purchase Agreement whereby you pay an agreed installment over a defi ned period, at the end of which you own the vehicle. A popular option within this structure is to make monthly payments easier by deferring part of the capital cost until the end of the agreement and then making a fi nal ‘balloon’ payment. A Hire Purchase plan with a difference that is proving increasingly popular is the Personal Contract Plan or PCP. It uses the future residual value of your car to reduce the monthly payments and the length of time in which to make the repayment.

Text: Cathal Doyle -

Business Hire Purchase is a popular solution also for business and f leet customers, while among the fi nancial packages aimed specifically at business customers is vehicle leasing which ensures the car fleet is kept up-to-date and properly maintained, as well as keeping the vehicle off-balance sheet to maintain cash and bank credit line liquidity. There are two main types. Business Vehicle Lease Plan (Finance Lease). Th is type of lease offers flexibility at the end of its term by allowing the agreement to be extended. Alternatively the vehicle can be disposed of to realize the value of the asset. For VAT registered customers of commercial vehicles, it can be possible to reclaim VAT

which is liable on lease rentals. There are fi xed rental payments during the life of the lease to make budgeting easy. Business Fixed Term Contract Hire (Operating Lease). Operating Lease is similar to a Finance Lease except that there is an agreement at the outset to return the vehicle to the supplying dealer on completion of the lease term. Because the value of the vehicle at the end of the term is taken into account, the repayments can be lower than for a Finance Lease. | Summer 2011



Newsletter for Approved Driving Instructors

Volume 2, No. 2 Summer 2011

‘Taking Care’ – Who is responsible?


ny self-respecting employer is aware of their obligations to provide a safe place of work. However, not all maybe fully aware of how far this ‘Duty of Care’ extends and that it applies not just to the ‘place’ where an employee works, or the business is situated. Likewise the Duty of Care not only applies to all vehicles including cars owned by the company. The regulations also apply to any vehicle used in connection with the business, even if it is privately registered to an employee. Once an employee is driving in connection with work for any reason other than the daily commute, the employer’s duty of care is enforced. With regard to the daily commute, if an employee is asked for example, to divert to a customer or collect post, on their way to work, then from the time that person leaves home they are deemed to be driving for work, which places certain responsibilities on the employer.

Many would accept that there is some element of responsibility for the employer if an employee is asked to divert from their normal route - however small that diversion maybe. Nonetheless the issue becomes a little cloudier where the regulations place an onus on the employer to ensure that the car used by the employee is fully compliant with any and all road traffic legislation that may apply to the vehicle and/or driver. Surprisingly if an employer asks a person to call into company ‘X’ on their way into the office and drop off some invoices, the employer must ensure that the person has the correct licence to drive their own car. In addition, that the licence held is valid, in date and appropriate for the class of vehicle being driven. The employer must also ensure that the vehicle is taxed, insured and is displaying current NCT (National Car Test) or CRW (Certificate of Roadworthiness) certificates. Under the Duty of Care applying to the area of driving for work the employer must also check that the employees

vehicle has not only been tested (NCT/CRW), but has been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. At first this may seem a touch over the top, time consuming and unproductive. The regulations appear to impose more expense and responsibilities on businesses which are already hard pressed. However the Road Safety Authority (RSA) cites a number of studies which found that persons driving for work purposes are 30% to 40% more likely to be involved in an accident than ‘private’ motorists. Nevertheless, it may be worth taking a little time to assess how the area of driving operates within a business. It may also highlight some other requirements in need of attention such as appropriate staff training. If a company operates a fleet of commercial vehicles much of what is demanded will already be in place. The Driving for Work campaign particularly targets the small vehicle user who may believe that driving for work only relates to transport operators. Both the HSA and RSA have packages readily available to assist any company putting in place a Driving for Work programme. The packages include what areas to assess and how to conduct the assessment. In addition, it has questionnaires for employees to help establish what experience and relevant level of proficiency they possess. The package also includes templates for accident forms and checklists which any company can tailor to their particular needs. There is now a responsibility for employers to put in place appropriate procedures to cover the area of driving for work. Having reviewed the documents made available by the RSA and HSA, they have helped to create a simplified format, which may shine a light into the dark forgotten corners, where some nasty surprises could be lurking.

Essential Driver Training Welcomed by IDIA


he Road Safety Authority’s new Essential Driver Training (EDT) programme, which requires learner drivers to take compulsory driving lessons for category B vehicles (cars and light vans), has been welcomed by Cathy Bacon, Chairperson of the Irish Driving Instructors Association (IDIA). The introduction of EDT is intended to reduce death and injury on our roads. “The programme will need to be tried and tested and the IDIA are pleased that there is a commitment by the RSA to a review of it in 18 months time,” she said. “Our highly trained and experienced members will fully contribute to the scheme in order to see that the important skills which are absolutely necessary for safe driving are passed to the learner driver. We will be working with our members to ensure a smooth introduction of EDT,” added Cathy. EDT is one of a range of measures announced by the RSA last September as part of a new Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system which will enhance the way drivers are trained, tested and licensed in Ireland. 16 FLEETDIRECTION | Summer 2011

Any person getting their first learner permit with a start date on or after 4 April 2011 must complete a minimum 12 hours of Essential Driver Training, with an RSA registered Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) before they can sit their driving test. Typically the 12 EDT lessons will be spread over six months and be supported by practice and tuition as required. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Mr. Leo Varadkar also welcomed the introduction of EDT saying “The introduction of Essential Driver Training (EDT) is probably the most significant development to the way we train our learner drivers since the introduction of the driving test in 1964. One of the key measures in the Governmentís Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012, to tackle death and injury on our roads, is the introduction of a Graduated Driving Licensing system and EDT forms a core part of this life saving initiative. The EDT programme is designed to protect inexperienced learner drivers while they are learning to drive and to support them as they develop the skills, confidence and appropriate behaviour to share the road safely with others.” Jarlath Sweeney


Have you checked your car today?


ollowing on from the ‘Driver Walkaround Checks’ for Trucks, Vans and Passenger Vehicles as published in Fleet Transport, the RSA, HSA and An Garda Síochána have now produced a Daily Pre-checks for Car and Small Passenger Vehicles. Based on a similar format to the commercial vehicle model, the Pre-check document details items which should be verified as satisfactory. The document must be generic to all passenger cars, as it would be impractical to detail to each specific marquee, let alone each model. Therefore some may fi nd it easy to be critical of the publication. However, the initiative aims to encourage motorists to become more engaged with the vehicle they use on an everyday basis. As the passenger car has developed the private motorist has become less involved with their

vehicle. Th is has reached a point where many motorists have rarely lifted the bonnet other than to fi ll the washer bott le, and many would fi nd it hard to identify any of the vehicle’s major components - or in some cases even change a wheel. If the campaign helps to encourage people who would normally just slide into the driver seat to stop for a moment and walk-around the car - then it can only be a good idea. For example, it is not uncommon to see a car driver unaware that one of their wheel trims are about to become detached from the wheel. Although a simple example, the new daily pre-check should prevent such events from occurring. It may also help to bring it home to car drivers that they as an individual have a role to play in road safety. Where some believe it is always someone else’s problem

Essential Driver Training


ew regulations governing learner drivers came into force on 4 April. The programme titled ‘Essential Driver Training’ (EDT), had been signalled for a number of years, but seemed to arrive overnight. And as with anything to do with driving and the private motorist, it caused much discussion and gave rise to some argument. For the most part the EDT has received a positive reception from all sides. Organisations representing ‘Approved Driving Instructors’ (ADI) generally welcomed the principle, although some ADI’s voiced opinions that the number of mandatory lessons should be increased, and should include additional items such as vehicle maintenance and motorway driving. However there is room for possible inclusion of these aspects as the programme develops.

In essence all persons who apply for a Learner Permit after the 4 April 2011 must undertake twelve mandatory lessons. EDT requires that Lessons 1-8 inclusive must be taken in sequence, whereas Lessons 9-12 may be taken in any order. The process should not be misunderstood as being ‘only’ twelve lessons. The principle is that the learning should

take place over the mandatory six month period which must lapse before a candidate can sit the Driving Test. During this six months the compulsory lessons should be individual elements of the overall ‘learning to drive’ experience. Th is may comprise of as many standard lessons as the person requires. Recently all ADI’s received a series of numbered Logbooks, which they must present to each pupil to record their learning. The document is personal to the pupil and allows them to transfer between ADIs if they wish. The Logbook records the student’s progress and must be stamped by the ADI throughout the programme. Only on completion and return of the required documents to the RSA, will a test date be scheduled for the candidate. Initially there is bound to be a small degree of confusion, in addition to the inevitable teething problems. However looking forward, once the system is in place and fully operational, it should help to enhance road safety. As yet there are no immediate plans to extend EDT to commercial vehicle licence categories – though that has not been ruled out.

Review of Driver CPC Training Syllabus


he current syllabus for Driver CPC was developed in line with EU requirements and in association with the transport industry in both the public and private sector. The RSA receives feedback from all drivers who attend the training and the vast majority are satisfied with the process. Due to ongoing feedback and changes to legislation the training syllabus should be constantly reviewed in order to ensure that the material is as consistent and up to date as possible. A review process was put in place towards the end of 2010 which begun with a review of Module 1. Control of Vehicle and Eco Driving Techniques. Membership of the review working group comprises of representatives of the RSA, Driver CPC trainers, transport organisations and drivers. A separate review team will be Text: Paul White -

established for each particular module. The objective of the review process is to ensure that all the periodic training modules are up to date, interactive and informative; reflect current thinking and all relevant feedback, in addition to developing the benefits of why Driver CPC was implemented throughout the EU. Once each module has been reviewed and amended it will be circulated to all training providers to replace the existing training material. It is hoped that the project will be complete by the end of 2012. | Summer 2011



Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

As a result, the overall driving experience suffers accordingly especially in urban traffic. Out on the open road you are also constantly searching for the right gear between fi fth and sixth when travelling between 80 and 100km/h. However, at motorway speeds the car is far more at home and cruises away merrily. Having said all that, the figures do add up. Volkswagen claims that this car will deliver 4.8L/100kms in a combined cycle. I achieved 5.4, which is not too far off the mark. I would probably have done better if I followed the gear change indicator, but who wants to drive like that?


olkswagen’s latest version of the Passat is another chapter in the lifecycle of a car that is competent and a classic example of the popular family saloon. It is delicately styled to follow the family fashion and so well stitched together that you instantly know you are in a Volkswagen and nothing else. Most companies are now looking for ways to be environmentally aware and Volkswagen’s BlueMotion Technology is intentionally focused on removing as much CO2 as possible and reducing fuel consumption. Its new range of Passats now come with this green technology built-in and the 1.6 TDI 105 hp Comfortline with just 118g/km CO2 emissions is a case in point. It features Stop/Start technology, a transmission geared for economy, aerodynamic changes including a lower ride height, and special low resistance tyres. There are also 2.0-litre versions but more of that at a later date. The question is: Does the 1.6 stack up? The answer is yes and no. As a family or business saloon, there are few if any negatives surrounding the car itself. Regular Passat owners will be very familiar with the

18 FLEETDIRECTION | Summer 2011

geography of interior and will have subjective views of the exterior styling. I like the new look, it is clean, solid with a classy kerbside stature that is pleasing on the eye and a lot less fussy than the old model. It is instantly recognisable as a new model VW from the front end with the latest styled grille, angled lights and clean lines. The rear is also completely changed and is even classier than before with shades of Audi design cues, while the side view is now more linear and sleeker. Inside, much of the layout and switchgear are the same as the preceding model. In the Highline version on test, Volkswagen designers have plushed it up with decorative ‘Zebrano’ wood inserts and new styling features such as a Mercedes-Benz type analogue clock in the centre of the dash - a nice touch. Space, as you would expect is plentiful and the seats are both comfortable and supporting. You also get a thumping big boot with folding rear seats and ample storage throughout the cabin; nothing to complain about there. Under the hood, however, the detuned 1.6-litre engine struggles to inspire and is notably underpowered. In addition, you are offered a gear change indicator that is rather annoying. If you were to follow its instructions you would be driven demented. Safe to say, I chose to ignore it completely, to maintain my sanity if nothing else. This system would have you changing gears at an unacceptable rate. Another drawback with this car is that the gear ratios are widely spaced. It is done for reasons that are understandable to decrease fuel consumption and reduce CO2 emissions, but coupled with low power it adds to the number of gear changes.

Clearly, Volkswagen has embraced the green agenda with this new technology. I cannot see the 2.0-litre, which is an excellent engine being quite so anaemic. It is also a pity that they don’t include Bluetooth, especially for safety reasons and cruise control in this Highline specification. This aside, the overall specification is quite good. Features include: 17-inch ‘Michigan’ alloy wheels, multi-function leather steering wheel, climatronic air conditioning, electrically adjustable lumbar support for driver’s seat, ‘Leaving Home & Coming Home’ lights with auto dimming mirror and fatigue detection ‘Rest Assist’. At the end of the day car companies that take their environmental responsibilities seriously, as Volkswagen clearly do, deserve commendation. The motor industry gets far too much flak on these issues despite the huge strides it has made in recent years, so it is important that we make the public aware of how far the industry has come in relation to developing greener cars. That goes for all motor manufacturers and some, such as VW are more advanced than others. But there is a price to pay for being green and sometimes that price is just a bridge too far. The 1.6-litre TDI BlueMotion is a prime example. The 2.0-litre has got to be a better choice.

Specification: Make: Volkswagen Model: Passat BlueMotion Comfortline Engine Size: 1.6-litre TDI Power: 105bhp/77kW @ 4000rpm Torque: 250Nm @ 1500 – 2500rpm 0-100km: 12.4 sec. Fuel Consumption: 4.9L/100km Achieved Fuel Consumption: 5.4L/100km Price: €29,080

Text & Photos: Gerry Murphy -

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Audi A6 – next generation business saloon


t would be grossly unfair to sit in the allnew Audi A6 and drive away without fully appreciating the high levels of technology and innovation contained within this next generation business saloon. But that’s exactly what we did at the recent International Press launch in Sicily. Yes, we learned about the new Audi executive on the 130 km drive from Palermo Airport to the Verdura Gold & Spa Resort along the coastline at Sciacca, but it wasn’t until we got the full briefing later that evening that we realised the full extent of what’s involved here. Audi Ireland knows that it has a hit on its hands and is now ready to tackle the opposition, which comes primarily from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Newly appointed Managing Director at Audi Ireland Andrew Doyle is seriously enthused with the new A6’s arrival in April. “We are thrilled to be introducing it to the Irish market. We know that efficiency is a key factor to our Irish customers and the new A6 is built with this in mind. The new A6 offers CO2 reduction of 21% compared with its predecessor. This, in addition to its lightweight construction, cutt ing edge infotainment and sleek design, will I believe convince you that the new Audi A6 simply out-performs the competition in its segment.” With a family lineage dating back to 1968 with the Audi 100, the new A6 is now in its seventh generation. Seen as a natural progression from the previous model launched in 2006, the new A6 takes its design cues from the current A4 and recently introduced A8 flagship. With its longer wheelbase, more interior room is available for legs and shoulders, and the fact that

the front axle is 71 mm more forward, an allround better driving performance is delivered. New to market is the link-up with Google to provide pinpoint Sat-Nav accuracy plus the Wireless LAN Hotspot Internet on board enables 8 terminal devices to be connected at one time. Then there is the Park Assist and the Lane Detection System that will help drivers keep between the lines whether it’s in the car park or out on the motorway.

Five engines – 3 diesel and 2 petrol – power the new A6 line-up. Both the 2.0 TDI (177 hp) and the new 3.0 L TDI (204 hp) which replaces the outgoing 2.7 litre TDI come under the Band B for VRT and annual road tax of €156. The Quattro version of the 3.0 TDI with S-Tronic box slots into Band C (€302 tax) along with the BMW 525d, so the standard 2.0 TDI gives it a run for its money and cheaper too, as BMW increased its prices in April. Stop/ Start technology used also brings down the emission levels. With an on-the-road price of €43,300 for the 2.0 TDI SE, the range to be introduced initially extends to the 3.0 TF

SI V6 350hp Quattro S-Tronic SE at €63,500. The A6 3.0 TDI V6 240hp Multitronic SE is priced ex-dealer at €51,500. Th ree engine variations were driven while in a rain sodden Sicily with lots of standing water making life as difficult as possible for the new A6. On the route from the airport, the 3.0 TDI provided a pleasant introduction to the new 4-door sedan, with its intelligent night light systems working electronically to help the driver see and avoid any obstacles along the way. Next morning it was the turn of the 2.0 TDI, which will make up 70% of A6 sales in Ireland. As expected everything worked well, like clockwork, Germanesque. Then the trip back to the airport awaited and the 2.8 FSI V6 204hp Multitronic SE was tried out. Sure, why not, even though the take up in Ireland will be small. It did have to use the services of its electronic machinery to keep a straight line going through the standing water on the motorway, which in turn helped the driver have every confidence in his new acquaintenance. Although 15% lighter than the previous model, this is not evident on the road. Steering control was sharp at all times with the flow of the drivetrain – engine and transmission working extremely quietly on the version driven. To come is a Hybrid model using 2.0 (155hp) TFSI petrol with the electric motor delivering 33kW. Since the Audi 100 laid down the foundation for the A6 in 1986, over 7 million customers have been attracted to the German brand’s executive offering. Looks like the seventh generation will keep them coming with numerous conquest gains to boot! Jarlath Sweeney

New C4 spearheads Citroën’s new models in 2011


itroën Ireland is confident that the new C4, which has gone on sale in what is a tightly fought market segment is well placed to appeal to both private and fleet buyers, thanks to a combination of competitive pricing and generous specifications. Among the stand-out features of the new C4 is the largest boot in its class with 380 litres available below the parcel shelf, while a Bluetooth system with USB socket is standard on the middle-spec VTR+, expected to be the most popular option. Standard on the Exclusive model (and an option on the VTR+) is a climate control system featuring a REST function that keeps the car cool for eight minutes when stopped.

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engine is also now on sale on the C5 where it qualifies for Tax Band A, and will be available on the C4 Picasso and C4 Grand Picasso later this year.

Coming in three trim levels and available with a choice of three diesel or a brace of BMW codeveloped petrol engines, prices range from €18,990 up to €25,330. The diesel engines include an eHDI version with a six-speed Electronic Gearbox System (EGS6). Th is

The C4 isn’t the only new model that Citroën will introduce this year with the DS4 due to arrive in Ireland this Summer. Higher and wider than the C4 it features coupe-like styling despite being a full five-door five-seater. The company has also just unveiled the third member of the DS family, the DS5, at the Shanghai Motor Show, while back at home, the DS3 family is extended with the introduction of two special versions - DS3 Racing and the DS3 by Orla Kiely Collection. Meanwhile the company’s electric vehicle, the C-Zero is now available to order. Cathal Doyle


EFFICIENCY all round offered with new Mercedes-Benz CLS


he unmistakable style of the World’s fi rst four-door coupé in the shape of the MercedesBenz CLS Coupé transformed the way many people perceived the brand. With 170,000 units of the original model sold since launch 2003 it now makes way for its successor. Launched at the Paris Motor Show last year, this new and more substantial edition has arrived in Ireland. Built on the E-Class platform, the new CLS once again offers executive-class comfort with the sporty appeal of a coupé. While looking distinctively different than the previous model, its appearance with its striking grille is similar to that of the new SLS AMG with the larger ‘three-pointed-star’ linking the CLS to other Mercedes-Benz coupés. Its aerodynamic affect has been reduced to 0.26 CD. A wrap around cockpit

both equipped with Blue EFFICIENCY technology that delivers reduced fuel consumption, reduced emissions and lower road tax. First of the two is a four-cylinder CLS 250 CDI automatic which comes on the market at €65,750 ex works, a figure some 23% lower than the model it replaces. Delivering a CO2 figure of 134g, it will have road tax of €156 per annum.

is the interior’s dominant feature with up to 5 colours and trim levels available including a choice of 3 wood fi nishes.

Second is a V6 CLS 350 CDI automatic. With a CO2 figure of 159g this version will have annual road tax of €447. Selling at €71,700, it is priced significantly lower than the previous 320 CDI which sold at €84,850.

Two models make up the range that will be marketed here – both diesel powered and

Active and passive safety items are in abundance as one would now expect. Jarlath Sweeney

New Peugeot 508 targets fleet buyers


ustomers in the fleet car market will get another welcome addition to the D-segment market with the arrival of Peugeot’s new 508. Replacing both the 407 and 607 models, the 508 looks well placed to offer a genuine alternative to such favourites as the Ford Mondeo, Opel Insignia and Volkswagen Passat. Speaking at the European press launch Des Cannon, Sales Marketing Director at Peugeot Ireland noted that total cost of ownership, a decisive factor when buying a vehicle in the fleet segment, was a key priority for the company when designing the new car. He expressed confidence that the 508 would prove an att ractive alternative for fleet customers.

Ecomatique gearbox falls into Tax Band A with CO2 emissions of 109 g/km, but trades at a premium of €1,300 compared to the equivalent regular 1.6 HDi. Both the 1.6 and the manual 140 bhp 2.0 HDi engines are Tax Band B, while the more powerful 163 bhp 2.0 HDi with automatic gearbox falls into Band C.

Available in both saloon and Sport Wagon versions, prices start from €24,850. The 508 will be offered in three trim levels, Access, Active and Allure, and with a choice of 112 bhp 1.6 or 2.0 litre HDi diesel engines. An Eco version – the 1.6 e-HDi with stop/start technology and electronically controlled

Quality and fi nish are noticeably improved compared to the 407 and follows the trend set by recent Peugeot launches, while a test drive at the official launch in Spain revealed the 508 to be a more driver focused car than the outgoing 407. Cathal Doyle

New Volkswagen Jetta – all set to be Irish success story


olkswagen’s Jetta has long been a popular choice with Irish customers, and the latest version, which goes on sale this month, looks well placed to continue this affection. Longer by 90mm than the outgoing model, the Jetta is closer these days in size – and styling - to the Passat than the car on which it is nominally based, the Golf. A useful 510 litre loadspace and room for fi ve adults that includes an extra 67mm rear legroom over the old car will appeal to people looking to downsize from D-segment cars, as well as to those looking for a spacious compact family car.

DSG versions are available with all engines apart from the 1.2TSI. The 1.6TDi, likely to be the most popular choice here, qualifies for Tax Band A in manual form with CO2 emissions of 199g/km; all the others with the exception of the Band C manual transmission 1.4TSI fall under Tax Band B.

A choice of two petrol engines - a 1.2TSI with 105hp and a 1.4TSI with 122hp are complemented by two diesel variants, a 1.6TDi with 105hp and a 140hp 2.0TDi.

Th ree trim levels will be offered in Ireland, Trendline, Comfortline and Highline, with prices starting from €21,985 for the 1.2TSI Trendline. Diesel versions are available from €23,725. Cathal Doyle | Summer 2011



27 cars - 10 makes - 13 models – Record BTCC 2011


he 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship which began at Brands Hatch last month has a record entry list with the highest number of different makes and car models entered for the series in the two decades it has run as an all 2.0-litre formula. Ten makes of car representing Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Proton, SEAT, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volkswagen will all feature on this year’s flourishing grid. This beats the previous record (nine makes and 11 models in 1993) seen in the BTCC’s 2.0-litre era that began in 1991. In total, 27 entries have been received for the 2011 season. Notably, the Audi, Proton and Toyota entries are all for cars built to the BTCC’s dynamic new Next Generation Touring Car technical regulations which provide dramatically reduced costs and

the BTCC’s importance to manufacturers as an ideal sporting arena in which to showcase products, the Ford Motor Company has chosen the championship to debut the competition version of its new 2011 Focus model, in the hands of the independent Team Aon squad.

have led directly to four new teams alone joining the BTCC for 2011. Official ‘factory’ teams from Chevrolet and Honda also star on the entry list, while Toyota GB are funding an engine development programme for customer teams running its Avensis to the new NGTC regulations. Further underlining

In 2011, the BTCC will once again receive unrivalled levels of television coverage – both live and highlights – across the ITV network. Its ITV4 and new ITV4 HD channel will be broadcasting ‘all-day live’ at the ten BTCC events with highlights on both ITV1 and ITV4 in the days following. In addition, the Goodyear-Dunlop group will continue as the championship’s title sponsor through its high performance Dunlop brand. It will be at Dunlop’s Tyre Fort headquarters in Birmingham that every one of the 5,000 or so tyres supplied to teams in this year’s BTCC will be manufactured.

RSA rewards Schoolchildren’s commitment to Road Safety


n one of the most important road safety events of the year, the Road Safety Authority rewarded schoolchildren from ten schools nationwide for their efforts in making the roads safer for road-users across Ireland. At the annual ‘Seatbelt Sheriff ’ and ‘Hi-Glo Silver’ awards ceremony at Dublin Castle, over 280 schoolchildren and their teachers from ten primary schools attended the ceremony to receive awards for their projects on road safety. The competition, which is now in its seventh year, encourages children to get involved in saving

Fiat Group Automobiles Ireland relocates


iat Group Automobiles Ireland has relocated from its old home near the Red Cow Roundabout in Dublin to new headquarters just a short distance away on the Naas Road.

The landmark property, which was formerly Nissan Ireland’s headquarters, was sold in 2008 for redevelopment which never consequently took place. Over the past few months Fiat Group Automobiles Ireland has completely renovated the 5,000m2 building and has renamed it “Agnelli House” in honour of Giovanni Agnelli who founded Fiat in Turin in 1899. The move coincides with Fiat Group Automobiles Ireland’s expansion this Summer, when the company takes over the sales, distribution and aftersales of the Chrysler and Jeep brands in Ireland. Fiat Automobiles SpA assumed control of Chrysler and Jeep in 2009.

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lives on the road by educating them on the importance of buckling up and wearing high visibility clothing. Ciara O’Reilly from 1st Class in St Colmcille’s National School, Gainstown, Mullingar, County Westmeath took first prize in the ‘Seatbelt Sheriff ’ competition for their poster, ‘Mind Yourself, Mind Me, Buckle Up and Think Safety’. The students from 2nd Class in Scoil Mocheallog in Kilmallock, County Limerick took first prize in the ‘Hi-Glo Silver’ competition for their poster, ‘Now You See Me, Now You Don’t!’

Skoda Ireland supports Premier County


koda Ireland is the new title sponsor of Tipperary GAA. The three year sponsorship agreement worth €200,000 per annum gets underway following the 2011 National Leagues.

The full sponsorship of Tipperary GAA covers both the hurling and football codes and includes all grades from minor to senior inter-county teams over the next three years. As part of the sponsorship agreement, the new look Tipperary jersey was unveiled displaying the Skoda brand name. Marketing Manager, Ray Leddy of Skoda Ireland detailed Skoda’s objective in getting behind the reigning All Ireland Senior and U21 Hurling champions, “The opportunity to become the sponsorship partner with Tipperary GAA was simply too good to turn down. A powerhouse in hurling, Tipperary teams have always played with a style and passion that can be appreciated by all sports fans. We see tremendous potential in the current Tipperary teams, including the footballers who have been building solid foundations at U21 level over the last number of years.”

Fleet Car Summer 2011  
Fleet Car Summer 2011  

Fleet Car Summer 2011