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General Motors’ UK arm Vauxhall has been awarded a contract to exclusively supply British Telecom with around 16,000 vans over the next three years.

BT awarded the three-year contract, with an option for a two-year extension, to Vauxhall following a competitive tender process that included most of the major commercial vehicle manufacturers in the UK.

The company operates what is thought to be the largest independently owned fleet in the country through its subsidiary BT Fleet, with 45,000 vehicles including 13,000 light vans, 16,300 medium and heavy vans and 11,200 cars.

BT will be buying three models from Vauxhall – the 1.3CDTi Opel-designed and built Corsavan and Combo and the UK-built 1.9CDTi SWB standard roof Vivaro.

A key factor in the decision to move away from BT’s previous supplier was the whole life cost of the Vauxhall vans, said the company’s head of fleet supply, Peter Howard.

“The principal reason for our decision to switch to Vauxhall was the fact that their vehicles offered the best whole life costs and will give us the best return over the contract period.”

BT will run the vehicles on operating cycles of between one and five years to ensure it optimises the residual values of the vans at the time of disposal.

All vans supplied will be fitted with racking and liveried in BT colours with the Corsavan and Combo being modified at the ports of entry and the Vivaro at the IBC Vehicles plant in Luton where it is built.