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Awards 2012 - Manufacturer of the Year: BMW

Date: 24 January 2012

For the second year running BMW has blitzed the competition, with its cars racking up a total of seven category wins, just as it did in our 2011 awards - so it's not surprising that one of those is Manufacturer of the Year 2012.

As well as the two most coveted prizes - Business Car of the Year and Green Model of the Year - your votes have ensured the company has dominated the car makers' section of our accolades.

One of the main motivations behind the firm's repeated success in the fleet sector is its Efficient Dynamics programme, which has seen consistently lower emissions levels and improved fuel economy across the board, and that shows no signs of slowing.

As big a difference as they make, low running costs alone aren't enough to keep a manufacturer in vogue with business users. The cachet of the blue and white propeller badge is another big draw for drivers, as is the more logical trait of consistently strong residual values.

The firm's consistent rear-wheel drive layout remains a staple of its success because it maintains the appeal of its cars to keen drivers.

That has occasionally worked to its detriment, though, as the original 1-series consequently suffered from a lack of rear passenger space. But BMW has worked around that and improved the latest model, which is one reason why it's our car of the year.

The outgoing 3-series - the brand's core fleet model - is both our Upper Medium Car of the Year and, in Efficient Dynamics guise, Green Car of the Year, but it hasn't got long left in the showrooms.

Dealers are already taking orders for the new, sixth-generation model, which is due on sale in February. A BusinessCar road test in November 2011 confirmed the replacement is just as good, if not better than its forebear, and business users will be pleased to know that the popular 320d now emits 109g/km without the full-on Efficient Dynamics treatment and with the addition of an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Good as the cars may be, the company's approach to sales and support outside its factories has a huge impact on the impressions of corporate customers.

In our recent assessment of manufacturers' fleet websites, BMW finished second, with an impressive score of 86%. It's this kind of outside-the-box thinking that guarantees yet another top spot as BusinessCar's Manufacturer of the Year.