MANUFACTURERS' FLEET WEBSITES: Big brands' web presence rated
29 November 2011
David Motton sorts the useful from the woeful in our annual review of the top 20 fleet manufacturers' websites
The best manufacturer websites put important information just a few clicks from the home page. The worst leave you tangled in a maze of confused navigation.
It's no good having a great site for fleets that's hard to find, so each fleet area is rated for accessibility. For example, how high does it rank on Google if you type in the brand name and the word 'fleet'?
We also give credit (all categories are scored out of five) to manufacturers that make finding your way around straightforward, and more points are on offer for attractive design.
Websites should make it quick and simple to track down tax bands and P11D pricing. A surprising number of manufacturers still make business users do their own sums. It's easy to include the P11D in the price list alongside the OTR total, so why not do so?
Tax calculators are a must-have too, but are only as good as the figures they supply. We asked Comcar.co.uk to check the accuracy and scope of the tax calculators. Comcar specialises in company car tax, and provide many calculators, including BusinessCar's.
More points are given for the contact details of the fleet sales team, where freephone numbers and contact details for individuals earn extra credit.
Finally, we've checked for extras (not including test drive requests, which all offer, and car builders, which only two don't), handy apps and TWITTER feeds, which turn a good online experience into a great one. We feel this is so important we've doubled the weighting of the score in this category.
Last year Audi neglected its Twitter feed. Now there are separate fleet tweets (@AudiFleetsales) and the feed is updated. Useful extras include a microsite for small businesses, and we had a response to our email in under an hour. The tax calculator was basic, though, and returned a couple of errors.
Our email had a quick response and was followed up by a visit from the local business development manager! The site's good, too, with each model's P11D, CO2 and BIK included in the price lists. The car comparator allows you to see how BMWs stack up against rivals.
Why don't more manufacturers have a price list for the full range that's just one click from the home page? Citroen's site has P11D and BIK, too. It's also easy to find fleet contact details. However, the tax calculator is too basic, and its results can't be relied upon.
Fiat needs to sort out its tax calculator as it isn't effective enough. However, the site is gorgeous, it's easy to find a phone number and there are some decent extras. Independent reviews and a forum are welcome, and the dealer finder is sophisticated but easy to use.
What Ford's site lacks in style it makes up for in content. The tax calculator is especially impressive, with comprehensive data and no errors. Clever features like the whole-life cost calculator and fleet disposal guide also impress, as do the price lists, which include CO2 emissions, BIK rates and P11D values. We're still waiting for a reply to our email, though.
This site is one of the best for finding P11Ds quickly and easily. We had a response to our email the next working day, and there are freephone numbers for company drivers and fleets of under 100. There are some well thought out features, such as the provision of SMR data. The tax calculator isn't perfect but it returns accurate results.
Must Try Harder
A quick response to our email and the full-range price guide includes P11D and BIK. Navigation is easy, but there aren't enough features, and the tax calculator's errors make it unusable.
You can find your way easily around Kia's site. It's a shame the price lists don't give P11D or BIK, but that's easier to forgive when the tax calculator is so good, with the facility to calculate a personal tax bill and compare cars. We also had a phone message responding to our email the next working day.
With a response to our email in under three hours, Mazda's fleet sales team is on the case. Its efficiency is matched by the tax calculator, which is comprehensive and error-free. What's more, so long as you go into the fleet section of the site before you look up prices, you get P11D and BIK rates. We'd be happier still if the competitor comparisons allowed you to choose which cars to compare Mazdas with.
Merc's design is less austere than it used to be, and there are lots of useful features. The cost comparisons for Blue Efficiency models are a nice touch, and would be even more useful if Merc didn't dictate which Audi or BMW is a competitor. Presenting both monthly and per annum tax bills and showing figures at the 50% tax rate would make a very good tax calculator a great one.
Mini has turned the corner this year with a new site that we got early access to (it should be live by the time you read this). The chooser tool creates a shortlist of suitable models, and the tax calculator is an improvement but would benefit from further refinement.
On the plus side, Nissan's site features a freephone number for fleet customers, a cash or car tool, fuel benefit calculator and independent car reviews. The tax calculator is one of the best, too. It's a shame that nobody replied to our email, and that P11D prices and BIK rates aren't included in the brochures.
Best Tax Calculator
The tax calculator is the best here and there's a well thought out shortlist maker. However, it's shame the price lists don't include the P11D value or BIK rate.
An excellent site let down by the tax calculator, which isn't detailed enough. The whole-range price list includes BIK for every model, there's an 0800 number for business and we had a reply to our email in just over two hours. Clever and unusual extra too.
Couldn't fault Seat's tax calculator for accuracy, there's a freephone number for business, and it's easy to find contact details for team members. We had a call responding to our email within 24 hours, plus we really like the Business Range brochure.
Skoda answered our email within a working day. There's plenty more to praise here, such as brochures that include P11D and BIK. It's easy to find contact details for specific fleet individuals, and there are worthwhile extras such as whole-life costs.
Only a basic tax calculator, but we like the car comparator. Tick the box for business and you get P11D, BIK and running cost data compared with several rivals', and the flexibility to choose which cars are included. Find-a-dealer service is detailed, and we had a reply to our email within two days.
Roadtrip iPhone app records distance/ cost of trips, and the whole-life cost calculator is a time-saver. There's also P11D, BIK and WDA data. Shame email reply didn't fully answer our question.
We waited six days for a reply to our email, although VW did apologise. The tax calculator has improved - no errors but it's not as sophisticated as the best. So long as you click on the link for the business user price list, P11D and BIK info is included. The 'Car Configurator' app is the stand-out extra.
Volvo's tax calculator only offers basic info, with the exact model not clearly identified on the summary page. The price lists also lack P11D and BIK. But we had a response to our email the following day and the comparator tool is excellent.