FLEETS : Reinventing the wheel

There’s an old quote floating around about executive cars, says Alastair Sloane. “You take Merc to summit meeting and BMW to rock concert.”
Despite the perception, Sloane is adamant either car would suit modern executive for either purpose, having recently driven models from both the high-end luxury marques.
“Certainly, the new 5-series might just be the best car BMW has ever made,” he says.
And across at Mercedes Benz, the E-class is return to the excellence of the Mercs of yesteryear, he says. “It’s traditional, masculine design, both in interior and exterior design.”
Sloane says Audis have broad appeal right across the age range, from the up-and-coming young exec to the family guy who likes to head off to the ski fields.
He says that’s largely due to the design skills of Stefan Sielaff, who was responsible for the stand-out Audi interiors of recent years.
Hot on the heels of the Europeans is the Jaguar, both the XJ and the XF. “With the XJ, Jaguar has finally caught up with the Europeans. They will have to watch out – it’s bloody good car!
“It’s the same with Lexus, which is also doing some good things,” he says.
Subaru Legacy wagons still appeal to many executives with outdoorsy lifestyles, he says, while crossover SUVs like the Audi A4 Avant and the VW 4Motion series suit the sporty CEO.
The big news in fleet cars, says Sloane, is ‘green’ cars and the hybrid. Companies should expect to have to install charging equipment into their fleet garages in the next few years, he says.
According to Sloane, there’s lot of scepticism about electric cars in New Zealand, but with roughly 70 percent of our electricity generated by sustainable sources, it puts us in pretty good position.
“Whether you like the electric concept or not, they’re going to be here, because everybody’s making one – even Ferrari!”
With fleet cars, there’s world of choice depending on price and the driver’s needs, says Sloane.
“At the top end, there’s the Honda Accord and the Nissan Maxima is also very good. Nissan is very good engineering company. The new Toyota Camry is moving into the $50k range and the Camry hybrid is actually better drive than the petrol-only car.”
Sloane says Kea and Hyundai are making big inroads into the fleet market. “The Koreans have come long way.”
The traditional fleet cars, like the Ford Mondeo, are still reliable and sound, and he says sales of Holdens show that New Zealand buyers are still supporting the down-under economy.
Sloane says there’s been growth recently in small cars. Toyota Corolla is the best-selling car in New Zealand, he says.
“All the manufacturers are starting to make small cars. Audi will release its A1 in Europe later this year and BMW has its new range of small cars, smaller than the 1-series.”
So there’s only one question left. He drives so many cars, but which one would Sloane pick if budget was not an issue?
“I’ve always had yearning for 2CV Citroen van like the one Peter Sellers drove into the swimming pool in The Pink Panther movie,” laughs Sloane.

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