BusinessCar Awards 2014 - Manufacturer of the Year: BMW
28 January 2014
BMW's blue and white propeller badge is a familiar sight in the BusinessCar awards. Not only are its cars in the habit of dominating their respective categories, but 2014 is the fourth time on the trot that fleet operators have voted it Manufacturer of the Year.
The biggest news from the company in the past 12 months has been the official debut of its i electric vehicle sub-brand, marked by the on-sale date of the i3 supermini.
Electric vehicles are far from the only new things to emerge from the firm's Munich base since our previous awards. An all-new version of the X5 SUV arrived at the back end of 2013, which introduced front-wheel drive for the first time and saw emissions drop to a low of 149g/km.
The executive favourite 5-series was also facelifted midway through last year. There were no cuts to emissions, but a new, entry-level 518d model was introduced, which brought the starting P11D below the watershed £30,000 mark to £29,830.
It sacrificed little power, leaving a still respectable 143hp compared with the existing 520d's 184hp, but maintained the same emissions and economy as the best-selling 520d at 119g/km and 62.8mpg.
New coupe and convertible versions of the fleet-favourite 3-series were also spawned in the form of the 4-series. It's less of a fleet player than the saloon on which its based, but it's dripping with kerb appeal.
Proving it's tapped in to corporate buyers, the firm launched a new Business trim for its 1-series, X1 and 3-series Efficient Dynamics models in 2013. The pack adds a bundle of kit to those core fleet models including satnav, a leather interior and heated seats.
While on the subject of trim levels, the company's X-drive 4x4 models have taken off well and are proving credible rivals to the likes of rival Audi's quattro cars.
BMW's fleet influence can be seen outside its own doors too, as leasing giant Arval has taken on an electric 1-series Active-E as part of its ongoing EV trials.
Snapping at its chief rival's heels in this year's new Highly Commended Manufacturer of the Year spot is Mercedes.
When current fleet boss Nick Andrews took the helm two years ago he made clear his ambitions for the firm to become the number one premium brand in UK fleet.
It was a bold statement considering the identity of our overall winner, but Merc's raft of new models such as the trendy A-class, sublime S-class and forthcoming C-class with 103g/km have set it firmly on the right track - something business car operators have clearly noticed.