Fiat has beaten off General Motors Europe’s Vauxhall to take over the supply of thousands of cars to Bsm (formerly the British School of Motoring), the UK’s most popular driving school.


The BSM reportedly switched from Vauxhall Corsa and Astra models to the Fiat 500 and Grande Punto because its core customers – female learner drivers in their late teens and early 20s – wanted to drive a more fashionable vehicle.


“The fleet vehicle is the biggest depiction of the BSM brand, and the introduction of the stylish Fiat 500 design is intended to appeal to new learners by echoing the brand’s iconic feel,” BSM said in a statement.


The deal is for 14,000 cars over a four-year period. Deliveries start this summer and the Vauxhalls should be gone by the end of the year.


BSM said the 500’s manoeuvrability, safety features, environment friendliness and visibility helped win the deal.


BSM has said 70% of learner drivers go on to buy the same model of car they learned in and Fiat is offering a GBP500 discount on all its new models to BSM learners.


Fiat could not be reached immediately. A Vauxhall spokesman declined to comment on the fashion issue but said; “[BSM] went out to pitch and commercially what they wanted to do wasn’t right for us.”


He added that Vauxhall expected to recover the lost sales through new offers such as free insurance to under-19 buyers. In the automaker’s view, learner drivers going on to buy the same brand after passing their test buy used, rather than new cars “so we’re not really losing too much in sales. We’ll pick it up again.”


Fiat sold 22,340 cars (down 28% year on year) in the UK in the first half of this year. Vauxhall’s tally was 122,013, off 30%.


The automaker’s Corsa was third best seller year to date with 43,625 units. The Astra was fourth with 28,992.