Stepping into the Fleet Van hot seat for questioning this month about his job and his strategy to sell more vehicles is Steve Clary, Ford of Britain’s new director – commercial vehicles
FV: What does your job involve?
SC: I’m responsible for ensuring Ford of Britain hits its commercial vehicle sales and share objectives on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.
We have a dedicated field team that are focused on working with our CV dealer network to deliver marketing initiatives, measuring and sharing customer satisfaction best practice and providing analysis that identifies opportunities.
Our team works very closely with Kevin Griffin’s (fleet director) customer-facing fleet team to ensure the dealers deliver on the contracts and commitments that have been negotiated.
FV: You’ve just taken over from Steve Kimber. Will you be changing his fleet sales strategy or is it a question of ‘steady as she goes?’
SC: Very solid foundations have been created over many years of involvement within the fleet industry – we have and will continue to be a major player in the fleet market and our strategy of maintaining a balanced share of all segments of the fleet business will continue.
FV: Last year when sales were down 35%, Ford actually raised its market share from 27.89% to 28.34%. How was this achieved?
SC: We have an unrivalled range of competitive commercial vehicles and we fully expect to retain a high market share as long as we keep delivering vehicles that businesses can rely on.
The market has changed and our business will change alongside it although we will naturally be aiming to sell as many vans as possible!
Ford Transit and Ford Fiesta Van are key contributors to increased Ford commercial vehicle sales.
New Ranger, Fiesta Van, Transit Connect and Tourneo and Transit ECOnetic were all launched last year. The interest in Transit ECOnetic (with 39.2mpg) has been greater than we thought which is great news. We expect to sell around 400 this year.
FV: How are sales going so far this year and how do you expect them to progress during the second half of 2010?
SC: We have witnessed some strength in the light and medium markets so far this year – however, the recent Emergency Budget announcements and strong signals from the coalition that certain Government-funded departments could be subject to 25% budget cuts will have an effect in the second half of this year.
The unknown thing at this stage is the size of the impact.
FV: The Ford Transit is 45 this year and has been market leader since its launch in 1965. Why do think this van has consistently beaten all the others for so long?
SC: Transit still outsells the next top three selling manufacturers put together but we never rest on our laurels. I think there are some key reasons that it remains at the top: Ford constantly reinvests in the product and our design and engine teams in Essex where all of Europe’s commercial vehicles are developed.
We continue to listen to customers through our fleet and dealer networks.
This means we can produce niche products that they want to use – for example our One Stop Shop conversion programme accounts for 70% of that market.
Our front line of dealers is large, strong and well trained.
FV: What is Ford doing to celebrate Transit’s birthday?
SC: Having a birthday party! Transit has reached two milestones this year and Fleet Van reported on Southampton creating the Sapphire special edition to mark the world’s six millionth Transit being produced.