By Peter Johnstone, Richard Irvine-Brown and Jonathan Minter

This week’s roundup of European and UK fleet news featuring LeasePlan in Austria, UK fleet and LCV results, emissions and Golfs in Spain, Hitachi Capital, Citroën and Lex Autolease’s provision for regional social housing fleet.

LeasePlan to acquire Austrian fleet business

International fleet management company LeasePlan has signed an agreement to acquire the Austrian vehicle leasing and fleet management company BAWAG P.S.K. Fuhrparkleasing.

In a deal expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2013, Leaseplan will take 100% of the business’ shares from parent company BAWAG P.S.K. Leasing, giving it control of some 6,500 cars.

Nigel Storny, managing director at LeasePlan Austria, said: "This transaction represents one of the few inorganic growth opportunities available in the highly competitive Austrian leasing market. This acquisition is a nice strategic fit to strengthen our core business, and we look forward to welcoming our new colleagues into LeasePlan."

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UK CV market up 7.6%, fleet up 3.4%, H1 2012

UK total commercial vehicle registrations were up by 7.6% year-on-year for the first six months of 2013, and up by 4.5% for June, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Van registrations rose 11.2% to 133,177, while truck registrations dropped 10.4% to 21,320 for the half-year. However, trucks were up by 11.7% in June to 3,995 registrations and vans by 3.4% to 23,041.

Fleet car registrations were up 6.1% to 107,883 in June and by 3.4% to 555,561 in the first half of the year. Business car registrations rose by 27.7% to 10,143 in June and by 14.3% to 50,564, year-to-date.

Spanish corporate fleet emissions drop 15%

CO2 emissions from corporate car fleets in Spain have fallen by 15% since 2008, according to a study by the Company Vehicle Observatory (CVO) and Arval, the fleet arm of BNP Paribas.

The survey of 4,800 fleet managers from SMEs and large companies across 16 nations found average emissions in Spain had dropped from 152g/km to 129g/km in 2012, and concluded corporate fleet could play a large role in achieving EU emissions targets of an average 95g/km by 2020.

Of the Spanish respondents, 30% called for government aid to purchase more efficient models, perhaps in conjunction with the Plan Pive which makes a €2,000 grant available toward the purchase of more energy efficient cars. 15% also called for other benefits or tax advantages on a par with those in the UK or the Netherlands.

Europcar Spain takes 800 VW Golfs

Following its March buy-back deal with Volkswagen in the UK, car rental service Europcar has added 800 VW Golfs to its fleet in Spain, with 600 more to come before the end of the year.

José María González, chief executive of Europcar IB, said the Golf 7 was chosen for its safety and quality, as well as increasing the diversity of the fleet.

"This is one of the most demanded models in the automotive market and we want our customers to enjoy design and comfort at competitive prices," said González.

Hitachi Capital to use 1link for large vehicles and plant

Hitachi Capital has adopted automotive technology supplier Epyx’s 1link service network for larger commercial vehicles and plant.

Hitachi has been using 1link for light commercial vehicles since 2007, and is the first fleet supplier to use it for larger vehicles.

The 1link network is an electronic trading platform for fleet suppliers and purchasers, and began allowing larger commercial vehicles on the service in 2012.

‘Business class’ package from Citroën

All Citroën LCVs registered from 1 July onwards will be offered with an ‘Upgrade to Business Class’ servicing package from the manufacturer, targeting UK SMEs.

For £249 + VAT, the package will include servicing for four years or 60,000 miles and four years’ Citroën Assistance.

The package can be used in conjunction with Citroën Finance Lease.

Lex Autolease provides social housing company cars

Social housing provider Your Housing Group has begun offering a salary sacrifice scheme to all permanent employees.

The housing provider will be offering Lex Autolease’s Your Cars scheme, which also includes fully comprehensive cover, with up to two additional drivers eligible to be added.

Your Housing Group employs 1,500 people across the North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands.