By Steffen Müller, Grant Collinson, Richard Irvine-Brown and Peter Johnstone

A round up of the week’s top European and UK fleet news featuring VW’s market share and car-sharing, vehicle leasing’s impact on the British economy, IFMI’s Brussels seminar, Arval’s safety tips, Rentokil, Volvo, iVendi and (probably) the world’s most expensive police fleet.

VW domestic fleet share steady, extends car-sharing stake

Volkswagen increased its share of the German fleet market in the first quarter of 2013 by 1% year-on-year to 48.2%, according to the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer.

There were mixed market share performances by the four passenger car brands under VW’s parentage, with VW down 0.8ppts to 27.6%, Audi up 1.5ppts to 14.3%, Škoda up 0.1ppts to 4.7% and Seat up 0.2ppts to 1.6%.

In Germany’s light commercial vehicle segment (up to six tonnes), VW remains market leader with 41.6 percent, a gain of 0.7ppts.

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Martin Jahn, head of Volkswagen Group Fleet International, attributed the "downward trend" of the fleet market in Germany to "economic uncertainty".

Meanwhile, Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS) has extended VW’s involvement in the car-sharing sector.

After the launch of the car-sharing branch Quicar 18 months ago, VWFS, through its joint venture with Dutch importer Pon Holdings, has taken a stake in car-share firm Collect Car, also known as Greenwheels, which runs a 2,000-vehicle fleet in the Netherlands.

VWFS aims to develop the business model and make Greenwheels an international supplier of pay-per-use cars.

Frank Witter, chief executive of VWFS, commented: "More and more people now opt for only temporary use of a vehicle and choose therefore a particularly flexible form of mobility. With the Greenwheels participation, we substantiate our claim to provide mobility solutions for almost all customer needs."

Rental and leasing industry adds £14bn to UK economy

The UK car and van rental and leasing industry is contributing £14bn annually to the UK economy and supporting more than 183,000 jobs, according to a report commissioned by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).

The report by research firm Oxford Economics took into account the rental and leasing industry itself, the UK-manufactured vehicles and engines it purchases, the activity of UK dealerships and it’s impact on the used car market.

As part of the £14bn figure, equivalent to £1 in every £90 of UK GDP, the report found the sector generates approximately £2.8bn in tax revenue and directly employs 38,000 people with a further 145,000 employed through the supply chain.

The BRVLA said, on top of the economic impact, the report demonstrated the rental and leasing industry could claim to "play a leading role in driving down emissions" with the CO2 output of the average leased car 52% lower than the average car on UK roads.

IFMI to hold Brussels training seminar

The International Fleet Managers’ Institute (IFMI) has released details for its 2013 training session for international fleet, procurement and finance managers, to be held at the Hotel Brussels Airport Van der Valk on Wednesday 29 May.

Joe Carreira, fleet manager at global healthcare provider MSD, will dissect the operational costs of an international fleet, including lease rental, tax and contract costs, as well as how to identify stakeholders, acquire fleet data, launch a tender process and measure the ‘success’ of a fleet.

Marc van Eck, regional sales manager at ALD International, and Nathalie De Vries, consultant for LeasePlan International, will examine international fleet strategies, management and procurement, followed by a roundtable chaired by Carreira.

Toyota Motor Europe will host a dinner for delegates the evening before the seminar. All delegates will also receive free access to the Smart Mobility Forum and Awards at the same venue on Thursday 30 May.

Arval offers driver tips for worldwide road safety week

Arval, the vehicle leasing arm of BNP Paribas, has produced its top 10 tips for safer driving to coincide with the United Nations Global Road Safety week, which runs from 6 to 12 May.

In the UK the lessor has produced thousands of credit card-sized safety cards with the 10 tips on them and a tyre wear indicator which it plans to distribute to employees and members of the public during the week. The firm will also be running safety related puppet shows for students at colleges in Birmingham and Trowbridge.

Arval’s Top Tips for Safer Driving:
1. Belt up on every journey – always wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers do too (front and back).
2. Protect your neck – adjust your head restraint and save yourself from whiplash.
3. Keep your distance – always keep a 2 second gap between you and the vehicle in front.
4. Slow down – don’t exceed the speed limit! Adjust your speed around schools and in poor weather conditions.
5. Concentrate – just a moment’s distraction can kill. Give the job of driving your full attention.
6. Take a break – never drive whilst tired. On long journeys stop for at least a 15 minute break every 2 hours.
7. Switch off your phone – there is no conversation or text message that is more important than a life.
8. Don’t drink and drive – alcohol impairs your driving. Think carefully if you’re safe to drive the morning after too.
9. Anticipate and observe – look once, look twice, think bike. Look out for pedestrians and all other types of road users.
10. Look after your car – regularly check oil, water, tyres and lights. It is your responsibility to keep your car roadworthy.

Volvo truck deliveries down in March and Q1

The latest figures from car and commercial vehicle manufacturer Volvo have shown a 12.81% year-on-year drop in truck deliveries in March and a 15.80% drop in Q1. A total of 8,679 Volvo trucks were delivered worldwide in the month and 21,061 in the quarter.

Although the brand saw growth in truck sales in South America and Asia, Europe and North America saw large falls in volume. Volvo Trucks registrations in Europe decreased 18.67% year-on-year in March to 3,214 units and decreased 20.05% in Q1 to 7,987.

Western European registrations fell 18.39% for the month to 2,108 units and 23.24% for the quarter to 5,340 units. Eastern European registrations fell 19.21% for the month to 1,106 units and 12.73% for the quarter to 2,647 units.

Rentokil sells City Link for £1

Rentokil Initial has sold its parcel delivery firm City Link to restructuring specialist Better Capital for £1, with immediate effect, following an operating loss of £8.1m in the first quarter of 2013.

City Link’s management team, led by David Smith, will remain in place, with Better Capital planning to invest £40m in the business.

Rentokil will take an exceptional charge of £40m, made up of £30m asset write-offs and £10m additional cash costs, with its second quarter results.

Alan Brown, chief executive of Rentokil Initial, said: "I believe City Link has now turned the corner after five years of substantial losses. The business has made strong financial progress over the last two quarters, it now has a strong management team and we have found a very committed investor in Better Capital."

Commercial first for iVendi calculator

Leicestershire-based Paynes of Hinckley has become the first commercial vehicle dealership to take on the commercial vehicle version of iVendi’s Quoteware online finance calculator.

The calculator, which has seen widespread integration into the websites of retail car dealerships, has been adapted for commercial-specific use such as calculating VAT and accepting VAT as deposit.

Richard Tavernor, director at iVendi, said the company believes "owner-operators and small fleet buyers are as interested in looking in detail at a range of finance quotes online as any car buyer".

Volvo targets UK SMEs

Volvo Car UK has announced its ambition to gain SME business through a business car partnership with national newspaper the Daily Telegraph.

The company has said its market strategy – Designed Around You and Your Business – will focus on increasing awareness among small business owners of the Volvo fleet range and on how safety technologies can save money and improve efficiencies for companies.

Among a series of Telegraph business features tied to Volvo Business Sales and Volvo sponsorship of the Telegraph 1,000 Club, the newspaper will also host an online hub for SME Volvo fleet management including tax calculator, pricing details and infographics.

Fleet Assist marks tenth anniversary

Maintenance network management company Fleet Assist has celebrated its 10th birthday this month.

Fleet Assist was formed by Mike Smith and Simon English in 2003 and originally managed around 1,500 garages and 85,000 vehicles for five leasing companies. It now looks after more than 7,000 garages for 26 companies, with a combined fleet of over 650,000 vehicles.

The business, which offers services such as service booking, maintenance authorisation, a garage services programme and consultancy services, now employs 23 people.

Whoop-whoop, that’s the sound of… a Lamborghini Aventador?

Dubai Police is building a fleet of supercars, having recently added a Lamborghini Aventador and Ferrari FF to their parc.

The force has also added a Bentley Continental GT and Mercedes SLS, with Emirati newspapers speculating they may also acquire an Aston Martin One-77, worth around AED 6.5m (€1.4m, £1.2m).

Police Chief Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said the supercars reflected the "uniqueness" of the city, and the force had been "pleasantly surprised" by people’s reactions.