Top carmakers' websites rated
14 November 2007
A manufacturer's site should be an effective interface between it and the business car world. David Motton investigates the top 20 to see who's doing the best job
The internet has made us all impatient. We're used to getting what we want, when we want it, whether it's booking a holiday at 2am or shopping for Christmas presents without the queues.
The same is true in business - or at least, it should be. Why wait days for a new car brochure to be sent in the post when you can download everything you need to know in seconds?
Carmakers have come to understand that when we require information we want it now, so increasingly their online shop windows aren't just aimed at retail buyers, but cater for harassed fleet managers and time-poor company drivers, too. As BusinessCar's investigation shows, however, some do a much better job than others.
We've judged the websites of the 20 biggest-selling manufacturers in fleet on 10 different criteria, each with a maximum score of five. Firstly, we checked the sites' Google ranking by typing in the manufacturer's name and the word 'fleet'. Ease of use has also been tested, for example, how quickly could we find price lists and other key information? Further points were on offer for appealing design and the depth of information available in downloadable price lists and brochures. We also looked for a readily accessible business section, a clever tax calculator, swift response to emails, a good dealer search facility, and an easy-to-find contact number and any other useful extra features.
These scores then gave us our overall percentage.
This is a slick, stylish site - a fine online reflection of Audi's cars. It's quick and easy to download prices and specifications, and the directory of phone numbers for the team is a nice touch. Some sites responded more quickly to email enquiries, but we're quibbling, really.
Best of the best: BMW gets our vote as top fleet site
You'd need to have your eyes shut to not find the corporate sales area: it's clearly signposted from the home page. The downloadable brochure was one of just a handful to include the BIK percentage along with the CO2 figure, and the tax calculator will even do your cash or car sums.
Easy to use with all the essentials, but there's not as much to keep you coming back as on some other sites. There's lots of form-filling if you want a brochure, and it must be posted rather than downloaded, which seems rather backwards. There is a downloadable price list, though.
The best-looking site here with a fabulous virtual showroom that seems to be suspended over the Italian landscape. But the tax calculator is only basic and finding a brochure to download is enough to give Mensa members a headache. And when you do find one, it's not worth the bother.
A shame there's a redundant page between the home page and the fleet microsite, and that our email enquiry got no response. Otherwise there's lots to like, with good extras such as the Talkback club, which offers a free mag and discounted airport parking.
A good site that's very nearly great. Lots to keep fleet managers and user-choosers coming back for more, including reviews from owners. And the Honda Driver Club gives discounts, service reminders and an eNewsletter. A dedicated contact number for fleets would have helped.
The dealer finder service is one of the best, even giving directions from your office to the nearest showroom. But the business home page is text heavy and dull, with a strange photo of two shadowy figures. Why? A clever tax calculator aside, there needs to be more to keep business users coming back.
Must do better: Come on Kia, make life easier for business car folk
This is a passable site for consumers, with pleasant design, easy navigation and a good find a dealer service. But there's no tax calculator, no email contact, no useful extras and no dedicated fleet section. If Kia wants fleet business, this site does a good job of hiding it.