Nissan has been named the South Africa Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association (SAVRALA) Manufacturer of the Year for the fourth consecutive time.
Despite slipping slightly in the overall scoring in a year that saw some significant shifts in the placings in the two sections that comprise the competition, they have set a new record in the process.
Ford/Mazda finished second overall with the first of importers, Hyundai, continuing its stunning improvement to take third place.
Nissan's overall score of 68.6 was 0.3 down on their winning score from last year and 2.7 down on its 2004 score, the company able to secure top slot with a win in the Leasing Section where its score improved by 5.6 over 2005 - enough to counter the drop of 6.3 recorded in the Rental Section.
Ford/Mazda was just two points behind Nissan in the overall tally but its Leasing improvement of 1.8 was not enough to offset the 5.5 point drop in the Rental Section. Hyundai stole third place with an absolutely dramatic improvement of 19.2 points in the Leasing segment, giving it an overall improvement for the entire competition of 9.0 points ? the only company to show an improvement other than Renault which placed eighth overall with an improvement of 1.4.
Roel de Vries, director Sales and Marketing for Nissan says: "Nissan SA is ecstatic to be awarded this recognition for the fourth consecutive year.
"Not only is this a record within the history of the Awards but it re-affirms Nissan's dedication and efforts to Customer Focus are firmly entrenched as company values and recognised as such by our key customers.
"It is no secret the Rental, Leasing and Fleet Management Industries are extremely important to Nissan SA and as such we invest much resource in meeting the unique needs of this market and creating business partnerships with them ? the accolade of SAVRALA Manufacturer of the Year 2006 means that the path we are on is the right one.
"I thank SAVRALA and all it's members for this honour, we will celebrate this record vigorously and continue to aim at being benchmark Manufacturer to the industry."
In the Rental Section the Gold went to Toyota, which also won this section last year. It finished on 65.8 points, 1.3 ahead of Hyundai and 4.3 ahead of third-placed General Motors. Hyundai improved its position in this section, coming from sixth last year, while General Motors moved up to third from seventh. Fourth place went to Volkswagen followed by Ford/Mazda, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz.
Gold in the Leasing Section went to Nissan with 76.8 points with Ford/Mazda improving by one place to take the Silver Award ahead of last year's category winners, General Motors. Hyundai finished in fourth place ahead of Toyota, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.
Only Renault managed to improve its score compared to last year in the Rental category, the final average of all scores down by 1.1 points on last year. In the Leasing segment the overall average was 1,9 points up on last year.
Anthony Calcutt of KA Smart, the company responsible for analysing the results, says: "In the Leasing section Nissan have managed to regain their top position from two years ago at the expense of GMSA which falls to 3rd, which in turn gives up its number two spot to Ford/Mazda in for the 5th time in the last 7 years, to this position.
"Big improvements are seen in 'Communication and Marketing' across the board with performance in the remaining categories remaining pretty much the same as last year.
"Hyundai has once again shone as the one manufacturer that managed to significantly increase their scores in every area.
"In the Rental section Toyota once again take top honours followed by two manufacturers that are both new to the top three ? Hyundai in 2nd and General Motors in 3rd, both moving up four places from their previous position.
"Not many manufacturers managed to better their scores from last year with the exception of Renault who were the only ones to improve in 'Communication', 'Support' and 'Maintenance'. The 'Value' section, which includes things such as Residual Values, Discount Structures, Labour Rates and Parts Pricing is one section where the most improvements can be seen.
It should be noted that there were some improvements made to the Rental questionnaire which could impact on the direct performance comparison over last year's scores.
"Just as last year was a close race, this year sees the top four positions being separated by only two and half percentage points. With more manufacturers putting greater effort into the issues that are important to the SAVRALA members and their businesses, next years' race should be really exciting."
"Consistent performance is the key to the success of tonight's winners' and I would like to congratulate and thank them for the outstanding levels of service and support afforded our members in the past 12 months," says SAVRALA president, Sherle Camera.
"In particular, I must cite Hyundai's two wins tonight as clear proof that perseverance has its rewards. This time last year, Hyundai received a special mention based on its steady rise through the ranks from 12th overall in 2004 to 7th overall in 2005.
"Taking second and third places in the rental and overall categories in 2006 is, indeed, a phenomenal achievement. Congratulations to Ford / Mazda on taking second overall and to Nissan SA, congratulations on your 4th consecutive win!"