BUSINESS Motoring went ahead with its annual awards last night albeit as a virtual event.
Coronavirus may have meant the cancellation of our glittering evening at The Brewery in London, but we were still able to announce our winners.
This year produced a record number of entries to 21 Business Motoring Awards, handed out to those businesses and cars that best serve the SME market.
The awards are judged by an independent jury of experts who involved in the fleet and SME markets.
And the winners?
Best Company Car – BMW 3-series
This category is not necessarily about the most popular company car, but the one the judges liked best – and the one most people want, but can’t necessarily have.
The 3-series has been going for 40-odd years now and it’s still at the top of the tree.
As well as carrying a premium badge, the judges liked the fact that there’s a wide choice of engines and performance.
Best Electric Vehicle – JAGUAR I-PACE.
This EV has been picking up lots of awards since its launch and with an increasing number of EVs taking to the road the judges were looking for a mixture of performance and efficiency.
The I-Pace picked up the Business Motoring EV award for the second year running. 0 to 60mph in 4.5 seconds is quick by any standards as is a top speed of 124mph. More important, however, is a 298-mile range
Charging takes 10 hours to top it up from 0–80% with a 7kW home charger, or 45 minutes with a 100kW DC supply, this vehicle also takes the honours for its design, interior space and practicality.
Best Supermini – MINI ONE
Plenty of top notch choice in this category with newcomers arriving all the time from everywhere around the globe.
Highly commended by the judges was the: Škoda Fabia SE hatch 1-litre
However, the winner this year has been around for some time – around 60 years in fact.
The latest versions of the Mini One feature some of the most economical engines yet. Its three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine, is what caught the attention of the judges – sounds good, has strong acceleration, and simply feels fun to drive.
Best Compact Car – BMW 116
There are plenty of great compact cars on the market and it seems the badge is all important.
Despite ditching its traditional rear-wheel-drive this German premium proved to be a hit with the judges.
They were particularly impressed with the improved interior space in the latest model.
Best Estate Car – BMW 320d TOURING
The UK has always been big for estate car sales and there’s certainly plenty of choice.
Highly commended in this category was the: ŠKODA OCTAVIA ESTATE 1.6
What appealed to the judges with BMW was not so much the 500-litres of cargo space but the some neat touches which ease loading and to keep cargo in place.
There is also a separate opening tailgate-glass which is much more handy than waiting for the fully-electric door to open.
Best Executive Car – BMW 520d
This car is popular among the company car drivers as well as the judges thanks to its low CO2 emissions and correspondingly low BIK tax.
It also comes with good equipment levels including sat-nav and leather upholstery to front and rear parking sensors and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Not bad on economy either, it’s possible to get well into the high 40s mpg on town and country driving while a long motorway cruise may see a return of 60mpg.
Best Large SUV – BMW X5 Xdrive 45E
Another win for BMW. In this category the judges were not just looking at size but driveability as well as some green credentials.
As well as being premium, this model hit the spot as it’s a plug-in hybrid, helping to provide reasonable economy and range.
Around town you can cover up to around 50 miles on electric power alone.
Best Plug-in Hybrid – BMW 330e
BMW yet again and if you’re looking to cut your tax and reduce your benefit in kind payments then hybrid is one way to go.
In this category the judges were looking for driveability, range, comfort, performance and desireability.
An electric-only range of 40+ miles, high mpg figure and low CO2 emissions.
Best Medium SUV – KIA SPORTAGE 1.6 MILD HYBRID
This Kia has established a reputation as the definitive SUV – a brilliant design, incredibly well equipped and economical to operate.
Now available with mild hybrid technology bringing CO2 levels down, it is a car which has real financial appeal for the Company Car driver.
Its timeless style manifests itself in exceptional residual values which have stayed strong since its launch.
Best small SUV – MINI COUNTRYMAN
Highly commended by our judges in this category was the SEAT ARONA 1.6 TDI
The MINI, however, has plenty of heritage and from small beginnings mighty things have grown.
The latest version is the biggest yet with room a-plenty for five adults and a good size boot
There is now a much better interior generally and plenty of personalisation options.
Best compact SUV – JAGUAR E-PACE
This car ticks the box terms of the burgeoning market demand for crossovers of all shapes and sizes.
It brings a premium brand to within reach of smaller budgets with the range starting at just over £29,000.
The more expensive versions come with all-wheel-drive while there may be cheaper and more frugal compact SUVs out there this one handles better than its rivals and can also boast a lot more refinement.
Best Hybrid – VOLVO XC40 T5
Small but beautifully formed was how we described this car in our review at the end of last year.
The brand is gradually electrifying all of its range and while you generally think big, particularly when it comes to SUVs, it has genuinely done a great job downsizing.
There is also an all-inclusive finance service that means you can have a new model every couple of years with all insurance and tax costs thrown in.
Best remarketing company – ASTON BARCLAY
This award was open to providers of remarketing services for small businesses and SME small fleets.
The judges were looking for innovative solutions designed to improve processes and efficiencies for independent dealers and buyers, boosting bottom line finances and driving up profitability.
Highly commended in this category was: BCA
Aston Barclay’s strategy was shown to drive return and unlock increased value for both vehicle buyers and vendors, creating cost, time and environmental savings.
Best business lease – FREE2MOVE LEASE
This business sets itself apart as being a “connected leasing” product which is what caught the judges’ attention for the second year running.
It provides connected boxes as standard or as an option with various packages such as telematics or connected and predictive maintenance – the car tells you when it needs a service.
This is all part of a connected service designed to provide convenient mobility, anywhere, anytime, for both end customers and corporate customers.
Best Fleet Management – DRIVE SOFTWARE
The judges here were looking for a business that could help make dealing with vehicle management less complicated, stripping out mountains of paperwork, unexpected charges, time consuming admin, and countless legal responsibilities.
Drive Software provides an easy to use software with a mobile interface and telematics inside. It runs in the Oracle cloud, meaning businesses can manage their fleet and their drivers on the go, using any kind of device.
Business owners, human resource managers, finance directors and fleet managers can simply login, and start managing their vehicles and drivers.
Best Company Car Programme – BMW GROUP
Highly commended in this category was: SEAT UK
As for our winner: Whether it is a sole trader looking for a car that works for their business or an SME with a fleet of fewer than 50 company cars, BMW’s programme has been designed specifically for them.
A dedicated website allows you to search for models based on monthly budget or model preference, view latest contract hire offers and easily contact a Local Business Development Manager for further information.
Best Car Share Company – CO-WHEELS CAR CLUB
This company provides low emission, hybrid and fully-electric cars across 60 towns and cities for organisations and businesses in the private sector.
Its primary focus is to help businesses save money, reduce car ownership and create a cleaner environment by making lower impact transport options available to everyone.
Co-wheels has developed a unique service, Corporate Fleet Management Car Sharing solution, which provides a fresh alternative to grey fleet, pool cars and ad-hoc rental vehicles and is proven to reduce fleet mobility costs for SMEs.
Best electric chargepoint business – ELMTRONICS
Highly commended entry was ALFA POWER but was pipped at the post by Elmtronics which has so far installed more than 3,000 charge points including AC fast and DC rapid charging stations and has an excellent customer retention and customer referral rate.
Its intelligent management solution makes electric vehicle charging infrastructure easy to manage from one portal.
A simple cloud-based back office systems allow customers to configure their charging points remotely and collect extensive data from the chargepoint and its individual users.
SMEs can build and create their own network with a range of branding options for their chosen charging infrastructure.
Best mobility solution – EUROPCAR MOBILITY GROUP
Mobility solutions are a growth area in the automotive business and highly commended in the category this year was: TCH LEASING
Europecar Mobility Group, however, has worked hard to help SMEs tackle the combined challenges of economic uncertainty and a seismic shift in grey fleet usage.
It has a range of mobility options – all available via a single portal. With a shift from ownership to ‘usership’, this company has been evolving to develop a range of flexible mobility solutions to help keep staff on the road.
It believes that the more control employers can have in the choice of mobility the better for their duty of care responsibilities, as well as cost control.
Europcar aims to span the whole spectrum of mobility solutions, whether it’s ultra-short-term car use, traditional daily rental or flexible, long-term hire.
Best Personal Lease – NATIONWIDE VEHICLE CONTRACTS
Since its inception in 2002, Nationwide has supported almost 28,000 sole traders, partnerships and SMEs and as the UK’s largest vehicle leasing broker, continues to work hard to balance volume with a strong service provision.
It has a specific focus on better supporting businesses and their employees in an increasingly complex marketplace.
In addition to the launch of its new Business hub and Electric and Hybrid vehicle offerings, the past year has also seen the expansion of two of its most popular services aimed at better supporting businesses looking to simplify the management of fleets.
Best Rental Company – THRIFTY CAR AND VAN RENTAL
A lot of competition in this category and highly commended by the judges was: EUROPCAR MOBILITY GROUP
Winner Thrifty provides a subscription-based mobility product from that gives all SMEs the freedom to change cars according to circumstance for maximum flexibility.
It recognises and understands the challenges faced by SMEs and prioritises the need for flexibility as companies grow by providing a service that doesn’t require any long-term commitment on a car purchase.
The focus moves from ‘ownership’ to ‘usership’ and is geared towards changes in business operating environments and provides a broad range of vehicles, from economical hatchbacks through to premium SUVs and sportscars.