BusinessCar's 2009 fleet website review
18 November 2009
We've examined the biggest fleet sellers' websites again, and this year we've a new winner, reports David Motton
The internet can - and should - make our working lives easier. It saves time, reduces clutter and finds the info we want in seconds.
That's the theory, at least. In practice, fussy design, poor navigation and lacklustre content can leave you longing for the days when TWITTER was just a twinkle in some web geek's eye.
Our annual survey of fleet websites aims to sort the neat from the nerdy. We've clicked our way through the online offerings of the 20 biggest-selling fleet car makers to find sites that deliver comprehensive information quickly. First of all, sites must be easy to find, so we've checked the Google ranking by typing in the brand name and the word 'fleet'. Communication should be a two-way street, so we've given extra credit this year to manufacturers with a Twitter feed. If it's fleet-specific, so much the better. Combined, these two aspects of our survey give the accessibility score.
Once you've found the site, it's important to be able to navigate around easily without impenetrable headings and endless clicking, so this also forms part of our assessment. We've also rated each site for how easily the fleet section can be found from the site home page, and scored each site for visual appeal, too. However, it's the content, such as downloadable brochures and price and spec guides, that really count. The more detail - especially regarding CO2 and P11D values - the better.
We're also looking for a comprehensive BIK tax calculator, easy to find contact numbers, detailed dealer-finder service and a prompt response to email queries. Finally, we tot up these scores and convert them into an overall percentage.
Audi's site fell down in 2008 because there was no tax calculator. This year there is one, and it's impressively comprehensive. The design is as cool and clean as ever, with neat touches like the Audi TV channel. The downloadable price and spec guides are thorough, and there's a Twitter feed for the latest Audi news.
BMW is once again one of the front-runners in this survey - finding your way about the site and reaching the info you want couldn't be much easier. P11D values for every car can be looked up quickly, although there is some form-filling before the price list can be downloaded. The dealer finder is one of the best, even giving directions to the nearest showroom.
Citroen's tax calculator is as good as they get, spelling out tax implications for the firm and driver, with the facility to compare more than one model. Navigating the site is easy, and the design is attractive. But we're still waiting for a reply to our email
Fiat's email response took just two hours, there's a free fleet phone number, the find-a-dealer service gives directions, and it's probably the best-looking site here. The bad? The tax calculator's results are dated 08/09.
They don't let the grass grow under their feet at Ford: we had a reply to our email in just 15 minutes. What's more, there are plenty of fleet-focused extra features, a tax calculator that gives figures for other makes and an excellent dealer finder service. If Ford started tweeting the score would be higher still.
Honda loses points because it doesn't rank highly on Google. Otherwise, we're impressed. Nobody makes it easier to find P11D, and we had an email reply within a working day. There's a freephone number for small firms and fleet drivers, and the dealer finder is among the best.
Kia's site was the most improved of last year's survey. The better content including easy navigation, comprehensive tax calculator and clever dealer finder is now matched by a fresher look that's bright and colourful. If Kia used Twitter and featured more prominently on Google they'd challenge for top spot.
Last year we criticised Land Rover for its out-of-date table of BIK rates. It's been updated, but only to 2008/09 and there's still no tax calculator. It's a shame, because the site's design makes you want to take a Land Rover for a spin. There's lots of useful info and we had a response to our email in just over an hour.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 2...