A FEW years ago the word ‘fleet’ was anathema to premium badge motor manufacturers, notably BMW and Mercedes. After-all they had corporate sales departments, not fleet sales departments. But times have changed. Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz are all desperate for a slice of the fleet action. A combination of motoring-related taxes, vehicle technology, total cost of ownership figures and employees’ lifestyles have to a greater or lesser extent played to each of those manufacturers’ strengths. A couple of years ago BMW sponsored ACFO’s conference, which was hosted at its Oxford Mini plant. Last week Mercedes hosted the fleet operators’ annual event at its Mercedes-Benz World complex. At the event the marque’s fleet chief Nick Andrews threw down the gauntlet: ‘We want to be closer to the fleet market than we have been historically,’ he said, adding that the brand wanted to become ‘the number one premium fleet manufacturer in theUK’. The challenge is tough, but let battle commence as fleets will be the winners.