Ford extends aftersales contract with Norbert Dentressangle
Ford has signed a multi-million, two-year contract extension with Norbert Dentressangle Transport Services for the distribution of aftersales parts to the carmaker’s 300 UK dealers.
The operation involves Norbert Dentressangle collecting orders from Ford’s Daventry facility for onward delivery directly to the dealerships overnight through its national shared-user network. This ensures parts ordered by the dealers up to 6pm are delivered before the dealers open at 8am.
Norbert Dentressangle is using its transportation management system miSHARP and the Ford part number tracking system DEALIS. Ford’s consignments are tracked by bar code throughout the process, providing real-time information, proof of delivery and data to measure against agreed KPIs.
Norbert Dentressangle has been providing Ford with aftersales distribution services for 20 years but the contract was first signed in 1955 with the previous incarnation of the business – Swift Transport Services making it one of the oldest continuous automotive aftersales contracts in the UK. Swift was bought by Christian Salvesen in 1993, which was itself bought by Norbert in 2007.
BMW signs technical services contract with CAT
BMW has signed a long-term contract with CAT Group for the provision of technical services for the German carmaker’s company fleet at two sites in the UK – Thorne, near Doncaster, and Oxford. Operations began in November following a three-month transition project.
CAT UK is handling the receipt, inspection and preparation of all BMW Group UK company cars and the re-instatement to BMW Approved Used Car standards on return. The company will process around 100,000 vehicles per year, preparing and fitting accessories to dealer cars and those for fleet/direct sales. Other special programmes are also included for BMW and MINI branded cars, as well as compound management, truckload preparation and dispatch.
“CAT is working to incorporate both sites under the CAT UK umbrella, so that the sites and existing staff become part of CAT ‘One Team’ culture,” said the company in a statement.
Ford starts movement of electric Transit
Ford has begun shipping its Transit Connect Electric vans to customers in North America in partnership with Azure Dynamics, provider of electric and hybrid electric drive technology. Customers in the UK will follow in 2011.
The vans are built on the Ford Transit Connect vehicle body, equipped with Azure Dynamics’ Force Drive battery electric powertrain, and assembled by contract manufacturer AM General at its facility in Livonia, Michigan. The powertrain is driven by Johnson Controls-Saft’s advanced lithium-ion battery.
An initial build of 30 vehicles built in the fourth quarter of 2010 have been shipped with up to 700 planned for distribution in 2011.
Seven companies are taking delivery of the first units before the end of this year with the remainder of their orders to be filled next year. Customers include AT&T, Southern California Edison, Xcel Energy, Johnson Controls, New York Power Authority, Canada Post and Toronto Atmospheric Fund EV300. Additional customers will be identified by the end of the year.
Ford first announced the collaboration in October 2009, with an agreement for Azure Dynamics to upfit the Transit Connect van with Azure’s Force Drive battery electric drivetrain and a commitment to deliver the first run of vehicles by the end of 2010 to the North American market.
The Transit Connect Electric is the first product in Ford’s accelerated electrified vehicle plan and will be followed by the Focus Electric passenger car in 2011, along with a plug-in hybrid electric and two next-generation lithium-ion battery-powered hybrid vehicles in 2012.
Gefco announces additions to UK management
French logistics operator Gefco has announced two new appointments at its UK operation.
Peter Duranti assumes responsibility for the management of the company’s Automotive Finished Vehicle Distribution business, which includes Gefco’s own fleet of 32 car transporters as well as third party suppliers. 
Duranti has worked in the logistics and transport industry for over 25 years and has previously held senior leadership positions at ANSA logistics, as well as working as a freelance management consultant, specialising in transport.
Meanwhile, Cedric Chacon joins Gefco’s Network Logistics Division, as UK Overland Manager. Chacon previously worked as Operations Manager for Gefco Lyon and has been with the company since 2000. He will now be responsible for groupage, forwarding, spare parts and 2Wheelers distribution.

Commenting on both roles, Gefco UK Managing Director Alain Vignon, said: “The combined talents and extensive expertise of Peter and Cedric will help us develop and deliver further innovative new services to the industry and help bring us even greater success in 2011.”

Gefco UK was named Company of the Year 2011 as well as Automotive Logistics Company 2011 by the Institute of Transport Management (ITM) last month.
Chevrolet begins Volt shipments
Chevrolet has started shipping models of the Volt from its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant to customers in California, Texas, Washington D.C. and New York.
The first shipment of an expected 160 vehicles left the factory last week.
“Today is a historic milestone for Chevrolet,” said Tony DiSalle, Volt marketing director. “We have redefined automotive transportation with the Volt, and soon the first customers will be able to experience gas-free commuting with the freedom to take an extended trip whenever or wherever they want.”
The company is using finished vehicle carrier Cassens to move the vehicles by road.
Earlier this year, Chevrolet shipped 15 pre-production Volts to technology enthusiasts and electric vehicle advocates whom were the first consumers to experience the Volt every day under real-world conditions during a 90-day vehicle and charging evaluation programme.