Skip to main content

The fleet news cycle extends far beyond our own local borders, with many stories, trends and ideas eventually filtering across to the Australasian market.

With that in mind, here is the round-up of the latest fleet management news, views and events from around the globe.

Germany – Diesel Guarantee

Volkswagen has said it will buy back new or nearly new diesel cars, should German cities ban them from their streets. The move comes both as a bid to reassure potential buyers about a diesel future and to stop a recent fall in diesel vehicle sales.

In late March, a German court ruled that cities within the country would have the legislation to ban the highest polluting diesel vehicles from their streets at their discretion. Currently, several German cities exceed European Union limits on atmospheric nitrogen oxide, which has been known to cause respiratory diseases.

In a press release Volkswagen said: “The affected customer will receive an offer that the participating Volkswagen dealership will buy back the original model for the current value determined by the independent institution, Deutsche Automobil Treuhand (DAT, German Automobile Trust), if the customer then buys from the same dealership a new or year-old vehicle which would not be affected by driving restrictions.”

It remains to be seen what effect the strategy, dubbed the “Germany Guarantee”, will have in preventing Volkswagen’s slumping diesel car sales within its home market.

Belgium – Charging Developments

All new and thoroughly renovated residential buildings that house more than ten parking spaces will need to install the appropriate pre-wiring for EV charging points, as part of new directives from the European Union.

The moves are also set to affect commercial buildings, where 20% of spaces will need to be pre-wired. It is hoped that the new directives will ensure that buildings’ car parks are increasingly prepared to have charging stations installed so EV owners can charge their vehicles easily.

In a statement from the recent Brussels gathering, the European Parliament said: “Following the approval by the European Parliament of the revised directive on Energy Performance of Buildings on 17 April 2018, the Council of Ministers has to finalise its formal agreement in an upcoming Council meeting.”

“This endorsement will be followed shortly by the publication of the text in the Official Journal of the Union, which will enter into force 20 days after publication. Member States will then have to transpose the new elements of the Directive into national law within 20 months.”

New Zealand – Infrastructure Overload

Our good mates over the ditch are leading the way forward in regards to EV infrastructure developments, but there’s only one problem – no one is driving them yet!

While research from Drive Electric found that there are 7000 electric cars already on New Zealand roads, they are only making up a small fraction of the 4 million registered vehicles nationwide according to government data.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is looking to change these figures by acquiring 48 new electric vehicles, which in turn may act as a pilot for a wider rollout from other government agencies. The company’s safety and environment director Harry Wilson said additional infrastruture in black spots would help fast track the electric revolution.

“The significant [charging station] coverage gaps are located in the South Island, on the West Coast and in Southland,” he said.

“Charging infrastructure coverage has a domino effect. That is, once projects are completed, the next section of highway may become a viable proposition for public charging infrastructure providers to continue to install chargers as part of a nationwide network.”

United Kingdom – Pothole Problems

Britain’s harsh winter conditions continue to take its toll on UK roads, with the RAC reporting that breakdowns caused by potholes in the first quarter of 2018 were the third highest recorded since 2006 when tracking of such faults first begun.

The potholes are thought to be leaving motorists with damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels, with the percentage of total breakdowns in this subset doubling from 1.2% in the last quarter of 2017 to 2.3% for Q1, 2018. But according to the RAC the damage wasn’t as bad as originally forecast and that it would probably take another few months to see the full effects on motorists.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “While RAC patrols saw the third highest quarterly share of pothole-related breakdowns in the first three months of 2018 the figure was not as high as we had been expecting, probably due the fact that the weather hit relatively late in the quarter.”

“For this reason, we feel we are likely to see more vehicles suffering pothole damage in the second quarter of 2018 compared with recent years.”

Japan – Next-Gen Nissan

New developments from Nissan will see eight electrified vehicles launched within its dealer network over the next five years.

By the end of 2022, the manufacturer hopes to introduce three fully electric models, alongside five of the company’s e-Power range extender hybrids, the Japanese company said. Executive Vice President Daniel Schillaci, who is responsible for operations within the local market, said the moves were an important step to establish Nissan as a serious EV player across Japan and the wider Asia-Pacificregions.

“We believe our domestic market will be one of the fastest-moving toward electrification,” Schillaci said. “Japan remains the centre of our vision to move people into a better world.”

Nissan has already had success in the EV market with 100,000 of its Leaf models being sold in Japan since 2010. Global sales have exceeded 300,000 vehicles over that time.

Meanwhile, the company is also hoping to improve its retail network experience in Japan, that will see customers able to learn about and configure cars directly on tablets.

“The relationship between dealers and customers is changing, with customers expecting a more digital and customized experience,” Schillaci said.

South Africa – Ford Fiasco

Ford South Africa has warned customers of a potential fire hazard associated with certain Focus, Kuga, Transit Connect, and Tourneo Connect Vehicles. The manufacturer found that derivatives of these four models with manual gearboxes could suffer a clutch pressure plate fracture with the risk of fire, Ford announced in a statement.

“As a precautionary measure, we are directing affected customers to schedule an appointment with their preferred dealer in order to have a diagnostic test completed,” the statement said.

“Should there be any evidence of clutch slippage the clutch assembly will be replaced. Any action carried out on affected vehicles will be free of charge.”

In a further bid to give drivers confidence in their vehicles, Ford is also working on a software calibration remedy that will detect excessive clutch slippage and warn the driver to take the vehicle to their preferred Ford dealer, according to the automaker. Ford will notify customers when the software becomes available, but it is slated for release later in May.

In 2017, Ford South Africa recalled over 4,500 Kuga SUVs following reports of engine fires.


You can read more of the latest global news within our latest Fleet Drive edition. For more details on how to access this resource please email us at [email protected].

The 2018 AfMA Conference & Exhibition will take place at  Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre next Thursday 17th and Friday 18th May. Tickets are still available here.