granitekitchen Awards 2017
04 October 2017
Around 250 people from across the industry attended our black-tie ceremony to help us celebrate what has been a great year in fleet
Judged by a panel of industry experts including well-known motoring editors, residual value professionals and the chairmen of ICFM and ACFO, the granitekitchen Awards rewarded those that have gone above and beyond in 2017, recognising the manufacturers, leasing companies, rental companies and fleet managers that have delivered excellent products, services and initiatives. We reveal all the winners below.
Rental Company of the Year:
Enterprise provides more rental car services at more locations than any other provider in the UK and also claims it can offer "every type of vehicle for every time period", from electric cars for an hour to a large HGV for five years.
Unlike some competitors, Enterprise allows customers to use one account for on-demand car-club services, as well as daily rental options, avoiding the need for multiple accounts that can often be an administrative burden for many fleets. And if customers want to rent a vehicle for personal use, they simply click a button when reserving the vehicle so their company doesn't get charged for personal journeys.
It was this flexibility and variety on offer for customers that made Enterprise stand out for our judges in the rental award category this year.
Leasing Company of the Year - Under 25,000 vehicles:
Ogilvie Fleet is one of the UK's largest independent vehicle contract-hire and leasing fleet management companies, operating an expanding, full-risk fleet of more than 15,000 company cars and vans.
The company has recently expanded its fleet, which has grown by more than 50% since 2010, and attributes the growth to a continuous investment in IT and customer service.
The company's ambition is to become "the Apple of the contract-hire and leasing world", providing the best IT and customer service, and the most desired product range in the market. With a team in place that is ready to win business in the south, and new IT innovations to ensure Ogilvie Fleet becomes one of the most modern leasing companies on the market, the firm has all the tools to become a real leader in the UK.
Leasing Company of the Year - Over 25,000 vehicles:
Innovative new products and updates to the award-winning Pulse platform ensured that Zenith retained 100% of its customers in 2016, answered more than 90% of calls within ten seconds, won a large new contract with Royal Mail and became a Sunday Times Top Company to Work At for the third year running.
In addition to these impressive statistics, the judges also commended Zenith's new customer-relationship management system. This is designed to take customer service to another level, providing 100% visibility of all customer and driver queries, helping identify trends and suggesting measures that can be put in place to minimise areas of concern.
Zenith has been working extremely hard for more than 25 years to ensure the smooth running of its operation, and the firm's passion for service and commitment to evolve in this fast-paced industry made it a stand-out winner for the judging panel.
Customer Service Award:
A second granitekitchen Award win for Ogilvie Fleet is the result of the company's dedication to its customers. Ogilvie Fleet's consumer-centric approach has allowed the firm to maintain a 100% customer retention rate that has been further enhanced with the addition of more than 35 new clients this year, each with an average fleet size of 118 vehicles.
The firm strives to offer good value for money rather than the cheapest price, and engaging with drivers to make sure they are happy is a key part of the firm's approach to customer service.
This philosophy has won Ogilvie Fleet a string of industry awards in recent years. A number of new initiatives stood out to the judges, including Mi Fleet, an online reporting tool that includes driver licence validation for company car and grey fleet drivers; and the firm's Happy Drivers app for company car and van drivers as well as fleet managers.
Green Fleet of the Year:
Since establishing its all-electric pool car fleet in 2012, Edinburgh College believes it has saved more than £100,000 in grey fleet costs.
That figure itself makes the education centre a contender for this hotly contested award, but there were other green initiatives that also impressed our judges.
Take the college's
30 vehicle charging points, 23 of which are available to the general public and car clubs, while the 15-strong fleet of electric vehicles - the college estimates it has saved 50t of CO2 since 2012 - are fully integrated into the curriculum. This allows students in engineering, automotive and electrical courses to get hands-on experience with the vehicles.
While the huge savings alone make Edinburgh College a worthy winner, the fact that the education establishment is helping the local community and tomorrow's workers learn about electric vehicles is equally commendable.
Fleet Manager of the Year:
David Fisher - Rexel
David Fisher has been on quite a journey since joining Rexel in April 2016. He has introduced a number of policy changes and new initiatives to the fleet that have already delivered significant results.
It was quickly apparent to Fisher that big changes were needed to improve the overall operational efficiency of the Rexel fleet. A reorganisation of the user-chooser list and a focus on vehicle utilisation have been key, with the latter helping to reduce short-term hire costs significantly, as well as reduce the frequency used by the firm by 58%.
Fisher is also trialling suppliers that can help improve overall fuel consumption figures for the 770-car fleet, where even a 3mpg improvement could bring a six-figure saving to the company. Meanwhile, low emission vehicles are set to be introduced for employees who travel fewer than 10,000 miles a year.
New Company Car of the Year:
BMW 5 Series
It seems the BMW 5 Series was not just a popular choice with the judges' in the executive car class this year. The firm's saloon has also proved popular with granitekitchen readers, picking up the reader-voted award for new company car and seeing off stiff competition in the shape of the Skoda Kodiaq, the Jaguar F-Pace and the
Although the D-segment is, as a whole, in decline, the premium brands have bucked the trend somewhat, and the 5 Series, along with some of its key rivals, has remained a popular choice in the company-car market.
Now in its seventh generation, the new 5 Series is lighter, more powerful and more efficient than its predecessor, and boasts impressive figures. It's also more refined than the outgoing model and is still an excellent car to take out on any stretch of tarmac.
Fleet Manufacturer of the Year:
The third award of the night for BMW was the highly acclaimed Manufacturer of the Year Award, which sees the German firm pick up the accolade for a staggering seventh year in a row.
BMW's new corporate sales manager, Steve Oliver, joined the firm in December 2016. He brought big plans to put the attention firmly on the company-car driver this year, and to deliver a customer experience closer to what retail buyers receive. Picking up the majority of votes from readers is no easy feat either, with hundreds of fleet decision-makers having their say this year.
It seems the plans put in place by Oliver and his team are clearly having an impact. Add an impressive and vast product line-up into the equation, and it seems BMW are going to be hard to beat in this particular category for years to come.
The Manufacturer Awards
Best City Car:
Say 'city car' and the Volkswagen Up is always likely to be one of the first cars people think of. Its fun nature, low costs and good residual values made it the standout choice for the judges this year, who also praised its characterful drive and good-quality interior.
This isn't the first time the dinky VW has scooped a granitekitchen Award either. In 2013, in the era when the magazine's readers decided the winners, the Up stood out in the City Car category once again and ended the Fiat 500's four-year hold over
Best Small Car:
The new Fiesta ticks a lot of boxes for fleets, with great whole-life costs, impressive residual values, increased practicality and new and advanced technology.
Happily, it also still leads the class for drivability too, thanks to its sharp handling and responsive steering. It has been the UK's most popular car for almost a decade now, and Ford hasn't ramped up the costs of the new model, despite a significant growth spurt. With a starting price of £12,715, the new Fiesta is slightly cheaper than the outgoing version and has proved itself to be an all-round star for fleets.
Best Green Car:
The Ioniq is the first car to be available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and a pure EV in one body type, allowing fleets to choose the most appropriate method of propulsion in one car.
It offers the level of choice and flexibility fleet managers are looking for in a low-emission car. This variety of powertrain choices alonside the cars generous equipment levels, understated and more mainstream design, and roomy interior with a 443-litre boot (350 litres for the EV), made it a big hit with our judges this year, and the clear winner in this category.
Best Lower-medium Car:
It's not often we award a perfect 10/10 score at granitekitchen, but when we drove the revised Volkswagen Golf there was little our editor could fault.
It seems the judges agreed, declaring the Golf one of the best all-round hatchbacks money can buy. Practical, good to drive and comfortable, it also has strong residual values that help whole-life costs stack up.
Add to that a wide range of different propulsions including an all-electric model, a plug-in hybrid and a high-performance diesel, and the Golf offers one of the biggest and most accomplished ranges in any sector today.
Best Upper-medium Car:
In the upper-medium sector, size matters and Skoda's flagship car really stands out against its rivals.
But the Superb's practicality credentials are only half the story here. Its excellent residual values, generous equipment levels and range of low-emitting engines helped seal the deal, with the judges agreeing unanimously that the Superb is the best all-round fleet car in its class.
Launched in 2015 and priced from £20,050, the Superb is available in hatch and estate guises, and comes with a wide range of engine and transmission options, including a fleet-favourite 1.6-litre TDI model.
Best Compact SUV:
Following a facelift in mid 2017, the Captur is now better than ever, with a bolder look, a noticeable uplift in interior quality and enhanced equipment levels. The good news for fleets doesn't end there either, with CO2 emissions as low as 95g/km, and competitive whole-life costs and residual values.
Although sometimes overlooked in what is fast becoming a crowded segment, Renault's compact SUV makes a great deal of sense, and its characterful nature, generous equipment levels and eye-catching design helped make it the stand-out choice with our judges this year.
Best Mid-sized SUV:
Volvo's previous XC60 quickly became the firm's bestselling model when it was launched in 2008, so to say that this new generation car had big shoes to fill would be a
Happily, the new XC60 delivers on all fronts, and has already notched up its fair share of awards and acclaim in the media. Its stylish looks, impressive safety kit and superb cabin are just some of the reasons the XC60 stood out with the judges this year. Add some rock-solid residual values and a compelling plug-in hybrid option into the mix, and the XC60 looks set to be a massive hit in fleet.
Best Large SUV:
Land Rover Discovery
It's somewhat telling that a model is going to be a success when it amasses 4,000 preorders from eager customers even before any motoring journalists have driven it.
No, we're not talking about a new Tesla, but the Land Rover Discovery, one of the most significant new cars to go on sale this year. Alongside its supreme off-road ability, stylish looks and high-quality interior, highlights for business buyers include the addition of the firm's frugal 2.0-litre Ingenium turbo-diesel engine and a significant boost in residual values, making the Discovery one of the best 4×4s for whole-life costs.
Best Compact Premium Car:
The Audi A3 may not be the newest car among its rivals, but this latest generation is still one of the best of the breed and a subtle facelift in 2016 only added to that.
It's one of the bestselling premium models in the UK, and is Audi's bestselling car, thanks to a range of trim levels and powertrains that cover all the bases that fleets could require. It also boasts a well-crafted interior, as well as plenty of safety and efficiency technology.
Audi says it will launch its fourth-generation A3 in 2019, pushing the car further upmarket and featuring 48v electric technology when it goes on sale.
Best Premium Car:
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been a contender in the compact executive car market for many years now and the competition in this category is high, with rivals such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series hot on its tail.
Launched in mid-2016, the newest C-Class took a big step forward in a number of areas, with efficiency being a big one for the fleet market. Its CO2 emissions are extremely competitive - great news for company car drivers, while the C-Class also boasts a spacious and high-quality interior, and in terms of comfort, tech and efficiencies, it sets a very high bar in the premium car sector.
Best Executive Car:
BMW 5 Series
There's not a lot we can say about the BMW 5 Series that hasn't already been said. Since its launch in February, the seventh-generation model has won many awards, and significant praise with fleets and retail buyers.
Lighter, more powerful and more efficient than its predecessor, the new 5 Series boasts some pretty impressive whole-life cost figures and, despite a step forward in refinement, the saloon also still leads the segment for driver engagement.
Proving a big hit with the judges and granitekitchen readers alike, the 5 Series remains the one to beat in the executive car class.
Best Luxury Car:
Fresh from a midlife facelift, the S-Class remains the sector's car of choice. Not only does it come with a feast of new technology on board, it retains the stylish, luxurious cabin that made it the ideal chauffeur car.
While it is great to drive, there is also no better place to be than in the back seat of the S-Class, and thanks to some solid residual values and economical engines, as well as a hybrid option, the S-Class creates a formidable argument for itself in fleet.
With all this on offer, it really is no wonder the S-Class won over our judges to scoop the Best Luxury Car award.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Think of a large people mover, and the Grand C4 Picasso rises to the top of the list. The large Citroen has won 20 awards since its arrival in 2014, seven of them coming from the fleet and business media.
Our judges commended the Grand C4 Picasso for its value for money, low CO2 figures - meaning minimal tax costs for company car drivers - as well as a stylish exterior and spacious interior.
The car's comfort levels over long distances - a crucial aspect of any family vehicle - was also praised, as was the high equipment levels offered across the model range.