SAFETY FIRST GIVES TOYOTA A TECHNOLOGICAL EDGE

Safety consciousness has helped Toyota GB secure a major fleet car contract with leading science and engineering innovation business AEA Technology plc, of Harwell in Oxfordshire.

AEA Technology has a £308 million turnover and provides services and products for the oil and gas, rail, pharmaceutical, defence and nuclear sectors, as well as to the government and utilities. It operates in over 30 countries, but more than 4,000 of its staff are based in the UK.

Recruiting and retaining the right personnel is a key to the company’s success – half its staff are graduate scientists or engineers and almost 90 per cent have a financial stake in the business. So replacing the company’s former user-chooser approach with a single-badge company car policy had to be undertaken with care. But drivers are reported to be pleased with the Toyotas which have been coming on stream since the start of the year.

“We decided to reduce the cost of our fleet of around 300 cars by negotiating a deal with one manufacturer,” says AEA Technology’s Procurement Manager Terry Parker. “Safety and environment are very important to the company, and the spec included ABS braking, driver and passenger airbags, remote alarm/immobiliser and other standard safety features.

“The results of European Community tests were used to establish the running costs and fuel efficiency of the cars. We were also keen to find a single manufacturer which could offer a car to drivers in all our four car bands.”

AEA Technology approached all the major manufacturers about the support they were prepared to offer, and asked several contract hire companies to convert that support into monthly costs. It settled on Toyota, supplied by Hartwell Motor Contracts (HMC).

“Toyota met all the requirements of the spec,” says Terry Parker. “Recent tests show that Toyotas are among the safest cars in their class and are cost-effective to run. The HMC route offered best value for money.

“We were also able to reduce the replacement cycle from four years to three. This is an important factor in selling the single-badge policy to our drivers, along with air conditioning and CD players in all cars.”

The first car was delivered in March, and 15 more have already been handed over as those on the current fleet come up for replacement. HMC provides a full maintenance contract hire service, and obtains the vehicles from local dealer Blenheim Toyota, Banbury Road, Oxford. “AEA Technology went into the whys and wherefores in great detail before making its decision, but Toyota won hands down,” says HMC’s Account Manager Jo Clark.

“When staff had tried out the demonstrators they became really enthusiastic. The take-up has been extremely good, and we’re particularly pleased with the order because the residual values of these cars are strong, and maintenance costs low and predictable.

“HMC was pleased to work with AEA Technology, and is looking forward to continuing the business partnership.”

Mark Hall, General Manager of Toyota Fleet, says: “Because of its standing in the market, AEA Technology was naturally concerned not only about the cost-effectiveness of the cars it chose but that safety and environmental issues should be given due attention.

“We are delighted to have been selected after such a rigorous appraisal by a company at the leading edge of technology. After all, if AEA Technology doesn’t recognise a sound investment in engineering, no one does!”

ENDS

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