By Mike Cobb and Richard Irvine-Brown

A round up of the week’s UK and global news including contracts for Lex Autolease, Renault EVs, Hitachi Capital, Volvo, epyx and Toyota Fleet Services; Ford’s aftersales programme, EV salary sacrifice and EU passenger car data.

Lex begins £3.7m contract with 140-vehicle lease-back

Lex Autolease has signed a five-year contract worth £3.7m (€4.4m) to manage the 140-vehicle fleet of Belfast-headquartered utilities infrastructure manufacturer Powerteam.

The fleet consists of vans, specialist vehicles and 4x4s, covering Powerteam’s clients, including Scottish and Southern Energy, Scottish Power, Northern Powergrid, Electricity North West and Electricity Supply Board.

The first move of the contract was the sale and lease-back of the entire Powerteam Fleet, arranged by Lex.

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FedEx Brazil goes EV

Global delivery firm FedEx has taken on six Renault Kangoo electric vehicle (EV) vans in Brazil for deployment in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as of January 2014.

The full EV range of the Renault-Nissan Alliance is available in Brazil through CPFL Energia’s Electric Mobility Programme as well as a memorandum of understanding with the Rio Capital Energy Program, which includes partnership with the city’s investment agency, Rio Negócios.

FedEx currently uses 161 EVs in its worldwide fleet and expects the total to rise to 222 by May 2014.

Use of EVs in Brazil is expected to rise from the 125 vehicles in use in 2012 to an import of 5,700 units by 2017.

Ford spreads fleet blues

Ford has expanded its BlueService UK aftersales package to fleets of 25 of the manufacturers’ vehicles or more.

Fleets will also qualify for the brand’s Fleet National Pricing programme, including accident management, service costs and support from service centres.

Booking lead time for service work will have a three-day maximum, and large fleets are promised a response to online bookings within 20 minutes.

Hitachi Capital draws four companies and two models

Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions has helped to add six 12-tonne Mercedes trucks to the UK National Grid fleet.

Hitachi Capital worked as a partner to the National Grid to develop the vehicles which combine a TT-UK coring unit with a suction excavator from German manufacturer RSP Saugbagger.

Richard Dyke, key accounts manager at Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions, said: "After developing the first generation of specialist suction excavator vehicles seven years ago, Hitachi Capital and its specialist vehicle suppliers, TT-UK and RSP have worked together in close collaboration with National Grid for 18 months, which has resulted in the design and delivery of this ground breaking vehicle."

Fleet for fleet

Volvo has leased 60 cars to Britain’s top sailors and their support teams as part of a four-year deal with the Royal Yachting Association.

Half the vehicles will go to the sailors themselves to help them get to competitions and events, with the other 30 assigned to coaches and officials.

The agreement comes on top of existing deals which have supplied 17 cars to the sailors and 19 to coaches.

Hybrids for high-tech

Toshiba Tec has placed an initial order with Toyota for 28 Auris Hybrids to form a solus fleet.

The cars will be supplied by Toyota Fleet Services through Currie Motors Toyota Centre in Twickenham.

The fleet will be used by Toshiba Tec engineers, based in Chertsey, Surrey.

Tusker CEO pro-EV commute

David Hosking, chief executive of Tusker, has spoken of his belief in EVs in fleets following a six-month trial of a Nissan Leaf.

Hosking, who used the Leaf for a 76-mile round commute to and from the UK contract hire and salary sacrifice provider, said: "There is little doubt in my mind that EVs have a use within a corporate environment.

"The very low running costs make a lot of sense against the higher front-end costs that the EVs currently incur. I was running the Leaf at practically zero cost compared to my previous diesel car."

However, Hosking added take-up of EVs on salary sacrifice schemes would not increase "until purchase costs start to come down".

Hilton to use 1link

Small-fleet contract hire and lease provider Hilton Vehicle Leasing has signed to the commerce platform 1link Service Network.

The service from epyx will be used to manage the 1,400 vehicles in its system spread across the fleets of companies running 25 vehicles or fewer.

Morgan Devereux, managing director at Hilton, said the decision to sign was due to the "nature of our customer base, we have a very hands-on approach to fleet and maintenance management".

EU registrations: nations recovering, brands less so

The EU (27 nations, not including Malta) passenger car market for the first 10 months of the year dropped 3.1% by new registrations year-on-year, but was up 4.7% for October, according to the European automobile manufacturers’ association, the ACEA, and Jato Dynamics.

For the month, Italy was down 5.6%, while Germany was up 2.3%, France up 2.6%, the UK up 4.0% and Spain up 34.4%. For the first 10 months, Germany was down by 5.2%, France by 7.4% and Italy by 8.0%, while Spain was up 1.1% and the UK up 10.2%.

Of the top 10 brands, only BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Škoda saw year-on-year registration gains for the January-October period. However, all 10 brands except Audi and Citroën gained registrations for the month. Volkswagen was the best-selling marque for the month and year-to-date with 134,858 registrations and 1,298,682 registrations, respectively.