Volvo to drive for more SME business through dealer network
The manufacturer’s UK registrations climbed 1,000 units last year against 2011, but business sales were static and Motability fell slightly due to changes in the legislation, expected to recover this year. Daily rental has remained constant, capped to help improve residual values and total cost of ownership for fleet users.
Cooper believes product will be important. The V40 is helping Volvo tap into the high-volume C-segment, where 70% of sales are to fleets and the carmaker’s recent offerings have limited their appeal. This will grow to include an R-Design version, expected to account for 25% of the 12,500 UK sales, and a Cross Country model tipped to sell 1,500 in 2013. All models, including the SE Lux, are available with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions.
Larger models, meanwhile, have benefited from the recent addition of the Business Edition trim. This replaces the entry-level ES, with options revised to remove the support package in favour of Bluetooth, navigation, rear parking sensors and upgraded audio, lowering BiK costs for drivers. Launched in Q3 2012, this already represents a third of S60 sales, a quarter of the V60 sales and a fifth of the V70.
An all-new family of engines, based on a modular architecture that allows three and four-cylinder units to share components, is also on the way with large improvements in economy expected. Further ahead, models will feature part-electric drivetrains, designed to offer high power and low fuel consumption similar to the 49g/km, 285bhp diesel-electric V60 Plug-in Hybrid, first deliveries of which are due this summer.
But it’s not only the product range being refreshed. Volvo’s online Car Comparator tool allows visitors to compare its cars to key rivals on 16 cost-related criteria, and has had strong feedback according to Cooper. Dealers are being trained and motivated to work with small fleet clients, and Volvo is launching its Freedom Test Drive campaign in March; a three-month, 13-venue tour of the UK allowing unaccompanied test drives to be booked online.
Cooper explained: ‘We’ve got the big accounts sorted, not that we’ve got where we want to be but it works. But 40% of UK fleets are below 25 cars, so we’re going to continue to drive to get more of that business. It’s about using the dealer network to capture that business, using the expertise they’ve got and my guys to train and motivate them to get that opportunity.’