FN: The van product lists are very complex compared to cars. What steps can you take to make them easier for customers to understand?
AS: We are making it clear to customers that our buying process is easy. It’s prevalent in cars with simple trim structures in our product line up.
Now on Caddy and Transporter we have straightforward trim lines and a walk-up through the range rather than extensive options. We have bundled together common specifications and build in the value by charging less than all the options selected together. It simplifies the range for customers and gives them better value.
We are now evaluating this for Crafter. But there is so much specialisation demanded from customers which means fewer clear patterns on buying requirements.
There is also a trend towards higher basic equipment levels in commercial vehicles. We won’t see an increase in new model replacements but we will see more significant mid-life cycle updates on vans and also the step up with each new product will be fundamental.
FN: Amarok has been in huge demand but there have been significant shortages in supply. How are you tackling this?
AS: We have just transferred European production for Amarok to Hannover to speed up deliveries. We have also introduced an eight-speed automatic – previously it was manual only.
The introduction is concurrent with BlueMotion technology on Amarok. Fuel consumption and CO2 is slightly improved and we have increased power from 163bhp to 180bhp.
We have still not seen the full potential of Amarok because of the product limitations Now we have more product we believe we can increase sales.
FN: Volkswagen offers BlueMotion across its range of cars. Do you plan to extend this technology to all your vans as well?
AS: We have BlueMotion Technology across our van range and we are now introducing pure BlueMotion.
BlueMotion Technology will become the standard choice and we will also see take up of pure BlueMotion as our most efficient derivative in the range.
FN: There is a perception among fleets that franchised dealers are more expensive than independents for servicing and repairs. What are you doing about this?
AS: We are increasing transparency with national pricing structure for jobs.
Also, we have relaunched our service plans this year offering customers a choice of monthly, upfront or pay-on-demand plans which gives them cost predictability over the life of the vehicle.
And with service intervals extending and all vans on variable intervals, fleets are entitled to a free of charge express visual check at our dealerships.