FREE seminars boost dhow - Seven magnificent seminar sessions graced the shows this year.

Guy Bird reports an all-new and free seminar programme was launched at this year’s shows. Held in the Motor Heritage Centre’s lecture rooms, seven concise 30-minute seminars on each day covered key topics from future fuels to safety best practice. As well as being issue-driven (rather than sales-pitches in disguise) each speaker opened up the floor at the seminar’s end to allow lively Q&A sessions. Jaama’s Alexandra Pittortou kicked off proceedings by looking back to the future.

The entertaining seminar contrasted the state of fleet in 1995 – the first Vauxhall Vectra, Daewoo Cars’ UK launch, DOS software systems and Robbie Williams with Take That – to predictions for 2015. If Alex has it right, a huge web-based ‘data cloud’ will enable vast amounts of info to be stored and accessed easily and specifically when needed. “You’ll be able to book a service via speech recognition systems that really work and track a new vehicle purchase for a staff member as easily as a parcel being delivered.”

Next up was the van disposal seminar by Manheim’s Alex Wright and James Davis which included a look at what is, and what is not, fair wear and tear to avoid end-of-contract ‘recharging’. This sparked a healthy debate on certain leasing firms’ unscrupulous use of recharging to boost profit on low initial rentals. In one worst-case scenario, the proposed recharges were more than the vehicle’s RV – you’ve been warned.

Chevin’s Stephen de Launay focused on the hot topic of fuel savings and analysis. He showed how being able to measure fuel use is the key step to saving money and at the end of his perk}’ seminar, delegates got the chance to crunch their personal fleet numbers (average MPG, fuel cost and mileage) in his real-time on-screen MPG calculator – to see what savings they could make for their fleet.

One of the best-attended seminars was Vauxhall and Saab fleet team’s future fuels session. Hosted by long-time eco-minded fleet expert Dave Sellers, the talk compared current fuel options (like petrol v diesel and petrol v LPG), upcoming options like bioethanol and the predicted increase in hybrids, and the hurdles yet to overcome before hydrogen finally supersedes them all.

BVRLA’s Robin Mackonochie (on Wednesday) and Jay Parmar (on Thursday) talked about how safety best practice can also save money on everything from insurance premiums to tyres – and, after a well-deserved lunch break on the first day – Hitachi Capital’s Graham Hine spoke on formulating an effective fleet policy respecting duty of care issues. The programme ended in a flourish with an accomplished talk on road safety by Roadsafe’s Adrian Walsh with concise case studies and a Q&A session. Qualify stuff.

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