Volkswagen prepares for fleet petrol switch
25 August 2017
Author: Debbie Wood
Petrol engines are now available to order in the Passat Saloon and Estate, and Tiguan SUV model ranges, as Volkswagen prepares for fleets to switch away from diesel.
The Golf is the biggest seller in fleet for the firm and has always been available with a range of petrol choices as it's a key retail and fleet model, but the Tiguan, which takes second spot with 20% of fleet sales, and the Passat family with 16% of the share, have been heavily focused on diesel.
Although fleet demand for diesel has not yet declined significantly, Volkswagen's head of fleet, Michael O'Shea, believes being flexible to changing perceptions will be key for success.
"We need to make sure that we have the products available to make that decision; that's our starting point," he told BusinessCar. "If there's a change in perception, we need to have the relevant products available.
"There is media and press noise around diesel that we all hear and see, but from a fleet perspective there is little evidence of that manifesting in actual decision-making. When you speak to most people in the industry, they believe government legislation will probably dictate the speed and appetite of change."
There'll be four petrol options offered in the Passat, ranging from a 125hp 1.4-litre unit to a 220hp 2.0-litre powertrain and will cost roughly £1,900 less than their diesel equivalents. In the Tiguan, seven petrol options will now be available, including a 2WD 125hp 1.4-litre and a 150hp 1.4-litre.
One of the key drivers to including petrol in the line-up has been the recent media and legislation backlash around diesel technology, which has left many fleets considering changing their previous 'diesel-only' policies. Although O'Shea supports diesel and believes not enough has been done to get the message out about how clean the latest Euro 6 engines are, change is inevitable, and the firm is placing its focus on electric and plug-in technology for the future; in fact, by 2025, the brand has stated it wants to become the biggest manufacturer of electric vehicles globally and sell one million vehicles a year.
Showcased at Paris Motor Show in September last year was the I.D concept, which clearly demonstrated VW's commitment to electric cars in the future, and although a concept at the show, bosses have confirmed the I.D will become a production car and hit UK streets within the next couple of years. Further concepts this year, the I.D Buzz MPV shown at Detroit and I.D Crozz SUV, debuted at Shanghai, have also been hinted for production.
"I am confident that Volkswagen will be in a position to react to change," said O'Shea, "The focus is now electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, and the I.D is coming in two years, but ultimately customers will dictate the speed and pace of change."
Volkswagen Group also launched Moia in December 2016, a separate and entirely new company for the firm that is looking at redefining mobility for VW's future goal of being the world's leading mobility provider by 2025. It's not just about car sharing either, but also ride-hailing and pooling services, and focusing on transport solutions within the major cities.
Planning for the future is important, but Volkswagen is also currently enjoying phenomenal success in the UK, especially in fleet with the firm up 7% in total fleet sales year to date and 14% in true fleet sales, plus market share is also up by 0.6%.
"For VW as a brand, it's about producing a sustainable profitable fleet channel and effective channel management is an important part for moving forwards. We're not just chasing channel and market share," said O'Shea.
"Volkswagen wants to maintain and grow true fleet, and what's critical for the company is managing the lifecycle from a new customer perspective as well as from a used car standpoint."
With the launch of the T-Roc imminent, a new seven-seat Tiguan also coming soon and the all-new Polo already open for ordering, continued growth looks almost certain for the German carmaker's immediate and long-term future.