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resource to deal with their fleet," says Curtis. "As a result, we remove the hassle for them, provide support when it's required and resolve any issues quickly and effectively."Its customer sales team manages the life of the vehicle or fleet, with a contact strategy in place. Using its customer relationship management systems, Arval says it has visibility of all of its customers renewals, allowing it to not only notify them by phone, but to send email alerts at nine, six and three months enabling them to renew vehicles at a time that works for their business.Meanwhile, its telemarketing team says that having a wealth of knowledge ensures it is able to manage new prospect enquiries effectively, answering any questions that they have. Thereafter, the new business sales team specialises in meeting the initial vehicle sourcing requirements for new customers, offering best price, manufacturer offers and the best terms for their business, as well as the support to process their applications smoothly.When considering products and services, Arval recog­nises that its offering has to be fairly flexible, due to the diversity of its customer base.In the spotlight Arval March 3 2011 23As a result, it offers contract hire on any timescale over 24 months, on any mileage and with the option of Arval's full maintenance service, relief vehicles and its gap insur­ance product.It can also provide short-term flexible rental vehicles on a daily hire basis or reduce customer costs by providing a longer term mini-lease vehicle.Its account managers have day-to-day contact with vehicle manufacturers and dealership suppliers in order to keep ahead of any vehicle changes in the marketplace. The manufacturers provide regular training, product updates and opportunities for the team to become familiar with model ranges so that they have the most up-to-date knowledge, says Arval. This combined approach to product knowledge and training builds confidence in the services that its team sell, allowing it to provide knowledgeable advice to its customers, while strengthening relationships with its supplier network. Curtis says: "To best serve our small business customers, Arval has to work seamlessly with our dealer network and the manufacturers towards a common goal - the smooth, successful delivery of a new vehicle to a customer."A dedicated team of phone-based account managers is on hand to assist Arval's SME customers in getting the most out of their fuelcards. It provides customers with advice on optimising their fuel spend as well as equipping them with the tools to effectively manage it. There is a range of information, tools and tips on the Arval website which, combined with email and phone-based teams, provide a range of ways for its customers to make contact with the team. Meanwhile, for new SME customers or prospects, the company has another dedicated team so that if small businesses want to discuss their requirements or even if they need assistance completing their application form, the team is there to help.In addition, Arval provides online account management services that allow its SME customers to access their bills and invoices whenever they like. Arval says it understands that the focus for its customers is on running their businesses, not worrying about fuel, so the reporting suite allows its customers to see quickly and easily where their employees are purchasing fuel and where they may be able to make savings"For SMEs, now more than ever, their time is precious and they need to focus on their customers," says Graeme Good, head of SME Card at Arval. "The Arval fuelcard proposition supports small businesses in doing this through its broad, market-leading fuel network, saving businesses time and hassle because they are never far from a forecourt where they can use their card."Its phone-based team is dedicated to SMEs and is coached in understanding the priorities and business challenges that they face and how the Arval proposition can be of benefit. This, says Arval, provides its customers with immediate access to a dedicated, professional and knowledgeable team.Good adds: "With cashflow so critical to small businesses, the Arval fuelcard proposition helps SMEs to manage their cashflow and achieve savings through clear reporting on how much money a business is spending on fuel and where cost reductions can be made."Dedicated team serves fuelcard customers "Arval provides online account management services that allow its SME customers to access their bills and invoices whenever they like"Providing the best possible service A key strength of the Arval proposition lies in having the right people available to deal with each customer so they receive the best possible service. To support this, 2010 saw it begin a process of continuous improvement in educating and increasing the knowledge within its teams with the introduction of the Arval Sales Academy. This provides the company with an educational environment where all team members can study and are accredited on a regular basis. It also supports its team members through the official ICFM and NVQ qualifications.They also have a strong understanding of FSA regulations and the financial aspects of the business for both Arval and the customer. This, coupled with knowing the fleet industry and marketplace, has helped to ensure that whoever answers the telephone will be a confident fleet professional, who is able to give the best impartial advice on a number of subjects, says Arval. These strengths are all applied in its proactive approach to service improvement and in the day-to-day management of fleet vehicles for each and every Arval customer.

24 March 2011 focus on the cars and vans with the lowest running costs in their sectorThe BMW 5 Series launched in 2010 set a new benchmark for low emissions and fuel consumption, and the standard bearer was the 520d model, which produces 184bhp and CO2 at 129g/km and has fuel consumption of 57.6mpg on the combined cycle. The 2010 5 Series was the first to use stop-start technology and the entry-level SE model is also generously equipped, with standard leather seats and part-electric adjustment in the front, electronic climate control and cruise control as well as Bluetooth integration. It is also roomier than the previous version of the 5 Series, is more comfortable and more refined, making easy work of motorway miles.10of the bestThe Pixo sits below the Micra in the Nissan range, but has five doors and can accommodate four occupants. It is actually built by Suzuki and is a re-badged version of the Alto. Its 1.0-litre engine offers 64.2mpg on the combined cycle, and its CO2 emissions of 103g/km ensures low tax liability. We are often told that depreciation incurs the highest expense in the running cost of a vehicle, but here fuel costs run it a close second. Perhaps not ideal for pounding the motorways, the Pixo is ideal for short journeys and should fit the bill for companies that need a pool car or one based in towns or cities that won't usually be required to cover high mileage.The Honda Civic range has been rationalised somewhat in recent months with the diesel model being dropped (because Honda didn't believe it was worth investing cash to make it compliant with the latest emissions rules during the final 12 months of the life of this Civic model) along with the four-door hybrid model. However, some competitively-priced derivatives were introduced last year, which, combined with the Civic's good performance on depreciation, still makes it worth considering. The 1.4 Ci model has 100bhp, so its performance is competitive with 1.6-litre models in many rival cars, but with 48.7mpg on the combined cycle, it is relatively frugal for a petrol.A mini-revolution has taken place in the upper-medium sector over the past 12 months where there is now an expectation for at least one engine derivative to offer CO2 emissions below 120g/km. A few of the latest generation of models now achieve this, but the cheapest to run over three years/60,000 miles is the Skoda Superb Greenline II. Greenline is the name given to Skoda's most fuel-efficient models. The latest version of the Superb Greenline has CO2 emissions of 114g/km and official fuel consumption on the combined cycle of 64.2mpg. The Superb, which won the Fleet News Award for Best Upper-Medium Car in 2010, uses a 105bhp 1.6 TDI diesel engine, with stop-start technology.Competition between premium badge cars is intense and the status they afford company car drivers can be important. Audi has found great success with the latest A4, running the BMW 3 Series close for sales. Until the latest version of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class arrives with fuel-saving stop-start technology in the spring, the Audi and BMW have an advantage, although it is the 136bhp version of the Audi that has an edge in the sector as a whole. Energy recuperation and stop-start technology results in official fuel consumption of 61.4mpg on the combined cycle. Its CO2 emissions also ensure company car drivers face the current minimum level of BIK tax for diesel cars in the 13% bracket.Small carNissan Pixo 1.0 Visia Price £7,295Depreciation 9.03ppmFuel 8.92ppmSMR 2.63ppmTotal 20.58ppm3yr/60,000 miles £12,348Lower-medium (five-door)Honda Civic 1.4 i-VTEC Ci Price £13,890Depreciation 14.02ppm Fuel 11.97ppmSMR 2.21ppmTotal 28.20ppm3yr/60,000 miles £16,920Upper-medium carSkoda Superb Greenline II Price £18,630Depreciation 21.34ppmFuel 9.24ppmSMR 2.47Total 33.053yr/60,000 miles £19,830Premium upper-medium Audi A4 2.0 TDIe 136 Price £25,077Depreciation 27.17ppmFuel 9.67ppmSMR 3.14ppmTotal 39.98ppm3yr/60,000 miles £23,988Executive carBMW 520d SE Price £29,375Depreciation 31.70ppmFuel 10.30ppmSMR 4.59ppmTotal 46.59ppm3yr/60,000 miles £27,954Cars