By Grant Collinson, Peter Johnstone, Richard Irvine-Brown

A weekly round-up of fleet news including UCO Bank’s deal with Tata Motors, German fleet registrations, Ebbon-Dacs expansion plans, public-private fleet management preferences, the ‘negative’ impact of UK new registrations on fleet, telematics, multiple EV and smartphone application investments, Ford, Nissan, Renault, Iveco and Volvo.

Tata-UCO India deal

UCO Bank (formerly United Commercial Bank) has signed an agreement with India-based vehicle manufacturer Tata Motors to provide finance for its commercial vehicles.

UCO will provide loans of up to 85% of the on-the-road value of Tata commercial vehicles, with rates starting at 11.5% and terms of up to seven years.

Tata claims to be the largest manufacturer of medium and heavy commercial vehicles in India and the fifth-largest in the world.

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German fleet drops 8.4%, July

The German fleet market dropped 8.4% year-on-year in July to 72,490 commercial registrations, split between 59,355 cars and 13,135 (sub-seven tonne) vehicles.

According to German fleet data provider Dataforce, total commercial registrations (including traded vehicles and those for rental) came to 85,156 for July, down by 4.9% year-on-year.

However, Dataforce has hopes for the overall German vehicle market based on the slowing decline in private registrations and an upturn in expenditure by fleet managers surveyed by the company. Last week Dataforce predicted the German fleet market would increase, rather than shrink, over the next 12 months.

Ebbon-Dacs moves, North European plans

Online technology provider Ebbon-Dacs has relocated to offices in Wootton Business Park near Oxford. The company is preparing for staff increases and overseas expansion after spending 12 years in its previous offices in Cumnor.

Ebbon-Dacs recently began development of its e-procurement platform Leaselink, used to order and track delivery of more than 100,000 vehicles a year, and recently launched an updated version of its vehicle delivery and collection product MoDel, which has been involved in the delivery of over 20,000 fleet vehicles.

Robert Pilkington, managing director of Ebbon-Dacs’ Leaselink division, said: "We wanted new offices that matched our growth and expansion ambitions. As well as further developments to Leaselink, we are also planning to open new offices in Germany later this year, to go with those we already have in the Netherlands."

Alphabet: 90% factor in whole-life costs

BMW-owned multi-marque lessor Alphabet has released further findings from its UK Fleet Management Report 2012, particularly highlighting discrepancies between public and private sector fleet use.

According to the report, 90% of fleet managers are now using, or would like to use, the whole life costs of vehicles to evaluate fleet. While 83% of fleet operators in the public sector used such costs to determine policy, up from 70% in 2011, only 56% of their private-sector counterparts used them, the same as 2011.

Meanwhile, splitting fleet by finance profile demonstrated 43% of fleet operators preferred staff to drive company cars, followed by 28% who encouraged drivers to use their own car and claim back mileage, 24% who preferred car pooling and 4% who opted for rental cars.

However, a majority of public sector fleet managers, 52%, held a preference for car pooling, ahead of 26% who wished to lease cars and 21% who used grey fleet. Private sector fleet managers opted overwhelmingly for company cars, according to Alphabet, with only 17% using car pooling.

Cakebread: New car sales "slightly concerning"

Peter Cakebread, managing director of Marshall Leasing, has said the recent rise in new car registrations could "have a negative impact" on fleet providers.

Following a revised forecast from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders predicting 2.216m UK new car registrations in 2013, and the potential for an increase in used cars coming to market in a few years time, Cakebread said the implications for "those who rely on the second hand car market when refreshing fleet stock" were "slightly concerning."

He added: "As the continued strengthening of the UK market serves to make us an even more attractive prospect for the manufacturers on the Continent, the situation is certainly one to watch for fleet providers. It will be interesting to see how the story unfolds."

LeasePlan launches telematics product with RAC

Fleet lessor LeasePlan has launched an in-vehicle telematics product aimed at UK passenger vehicle and LCV fleets with the aid of RAC technology.

Trials of the device showed fuel savings of almost £20 per vehicle per month, lower CO2 emissions and reduced mileage inaccuracies.

As well as providing HMRC-compliant mileage reports as standard and in-car navigation, LeasePlan Telematics offers four product packages: from a basic mileage and expenses option, through added driver care and performance and performance diagnostic versions, to one which provides feedback based on the examples of other fleets.

UK goes down EV avenue

The UK’s Energy Saving Trust has set up an online forum for fleet users to get the latest information on electric vehicles (EVs) as several companies seek to boost low-carbon vehicle usage.

The Plugged-in Fleets Group, sponsored by utilities firm EDF Energy, aims to be a source of information for potential grants new and forthcoming plug-in vehicles and technical advice on charging compatibility and infrastructure.

Elsewhere, Nissan is supporting EV charge point firm My Electric Avenue in its trial of charging points for ‘clusters’ of businesses by offering use of its Leaf EV model. Drayson Racing Technologies will act as the first trial cluster along with nine neighbouring businesses.

Alphabet has added an electric vehicle to its corporate car-sharing product AlphaCity. The firm will trial the BMW Active E alongside its current range of MINIs and BMWs.

Meanwhile Lex Autolease has delivered its 100th EV following a deal to provide five Renault Kangoo ZE vans to energy firm E.ON. Steve Gowler, managing director of Renault’s UK finance provider RCI Financial Services, recently explained the Kangoo performed as the brand’s EV fleet representative, alongside the Fluance in the company car sector and the Twizy in the rental market.

Fleet management app drive

Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions is offering two smart phone and tablet apps designed to help fleets save money.

Through the Grey Fleet App fleet operators can collect mileage and servicing information to produce a detailed overview of their grey fleets’ performance, while the Company Car App helps vehicle users to catalogue and assess any wear and tear prior to the end of a fleet contract to avoid excess de-fleet costs.

Leasing and fleet management firms Fleet Alliance and Chevin Fleet Solutions are both launching data gathering and reporting apps for fleet users. Both Fleet Alliance’s e-fleet mobile and Chevin’s FleetWave will link the firms’ respective online fleet management systems and mileage records while updating vehicle reports.

Ford, Nissan, Renault, Iveco and Volvo deliver 122 fleet vehicles

In a busy period for individual UK fleet deals, vehicle glass repair and replacement firm Autoglass has taken on 90 Ford Transits as it refreshes its 1,250 Transit fleet. Ged Raymond, fleet manager at Autoglass, attributed the 44-year relationship between lessee and lessor to the US marque’s "cost, reliability and dealer support".

Bournemouth dry cleaning business Barker Group Ltd has ordered seven Nissan LCVs, six Primasters and one NV400, on a three-year Nissan Business Finance contract hire package, while Vinshire Plumbing and Heating in the West Midlands has added 11 NV200s from Nissan to its fleet, expecting to run the vehicles for five years.

Nissan sister-brand Renault has supplied seven Midlum 220.12 trucks to hotel and restaurant laundry supplier Fresh Linen Ltd through Renault Trucks distributor Norfolk Truck and Van. Karl Bueggeln, financial controller at Fresh Linen, said the decision to switch from 18- and 15-tonne vehicles to the lighter Renaults would reduce the company’s operating costs.

Iveco has supplied six of its Stralis Hi-Way models to fleet manager Clipper Logistics through the marque’s Northern Commercials dealership. The Stralis 6×2 twin-steer trucks will be used by arts and crafts retailer Hobbycraft, supplied on four-year Iveco Elements repair and maintenance contracts.

Meanwhile, Hawkins Logistics has taken delivery of a Volvo FH Globetrotter through Hartstone Group, Midlands-based commercial vehicle distributor of the Swedish manufacturer, funded by Volvo Financial Services. The FH joins Hawkins Logistics’ mixed fleet of 15 vehicles, eight of which are Volvos, and is expected to run for seven years before de-fleeting.