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Keeping it simple

Date: 23 January 2018   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

While it was somewhat in the wilderness before, Seat has been rapidly growing within the fleet market. Its true fleet market share was up 54% in 2017 compared with 2016, meaning it is now a fleet brand not to be underestimated. 

Seat is now aiming to build on its success and enter the top ten in fleet. To accomplish this, Seat UK's head of fleet and business sales, Peter McDonald, says the brand must do a few things to ensure its fleet offering is as simple and user-friendly as possible for customers. 

At a fleet lunch, McDonald told BusinessCar that Seat has been particularly focused on building its product offering, launching a number of cars in the past year, which have increased not only market share, but also brand awareness. 

"Last year, we launched the Ateca, Arona and a new Ibiza, which have all played a part in ensuring we now represent a bigger proportion of the market," he says. "The SUV focus with Ateca has particularly helped us grow, as that's where the demand seems to be within fleet right now." 

Product growth is not the only way that Seat is looking to make its mark in fleet, although it definitely helps. 

Another key focus for the brand right now is keeping things simple for its customers. While this strategy has only just been launched with the Arona at the end of 2017, Seat decided to take the car to market with just six different trim levels, no options and metallic paint included in the price.

"We decided to go to market with the Arona with what is effectively a simple solution for our customers. All they have to do is choose their trim, and then decide if they want petrol or diesel, and the body and roof colour. It's a very easy customer transaction that should make it easier for customers to choose, and work with our brand,"  he says.

With the upcoming Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle test procedure (WLTP) approaching, McDonald explained that the brand's user friendly offering will allow a far easier process for fleets when it comes to CO2 calculations. "With a big options list, it can end up being a complex procedure, so we've decided to make things simpler. That way, if a major leasing company is quoting for a fleet, the CO2 is much easier to calculate. So far, we have had really good feedback on this," he says. "By simplifying the Arona, we have managed to spec the cars highly for a similar price and make it a less complicated process. It also means the cars have high residual values." McDonald also alluded that this strategy could stretch to its other models in the future. 

Another aspect of the market Seat has turned its attention to is making the fleet transaction not just straightforward for fleet managers but also for user-chooser customers. "We identified that the biggest pain point was, surprisingly, how difficult it is to get hold of a demonstrator car if you're a user-chooser driver," says McDonald.

"Any fleet manager will probably get a good service and a test drive from a manufacturer easily, but user-choosers suffer a bit more and they get inconsistent experiences."

To tackle this, Seat has introduced a direct consumer offer in the shape of a four-day test drive. "We will speak to the customer and identify what car is right, deliver the car and four days later pick it up, and insure it if need be," McDonald says. 

"From our research, 96% of users would recommend it to their friends and two thirds of them have purchase intent after using the service. It really has strengthened our proposition in the market. We have made something that was really convoluted simple, as it should be." 

McDonald says he expects Seat to continue to grow in fleet and launch an SUV later in 2018 that will expand the range again. 

He says he had no doubt that EVs would be adopted and would become mainstream vehicles in the foreseeable future. He also revealed that Seat's product plan does include an electric vehicle in the near future. "We have six new cars being launched between 2018 and 2020. Three of them will be all-new, one of them is an SUV and we can say now that one of them is an EV," he explains.  

The commitment to new technology and a decision to make autonomous emergency braking standard across the range is helping make Seat a more attractive brand to fleets. McDonald says Seat will continue to play on the fact that its cars are reliable, which means less downtime and lower SMR costs. "We're actually leading in these fields so that puts us in a powerful position for continued growth," he says. 

Using the technology accessible to the brand through the VW Group, Seat is taking advantage of its potential in the fleet market. "With these new initiatives, products and services, we are sure that our fleet proposition will continue to strengthen going forward," he says.