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Skoda focuses on blue-light fleets

Date: 12 January 2018   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

Skoda has been on a constant growth path in the past few years and has now doubled its sales volume in the UK since 2010. As well as releasing new products for the passenger-car market, its focus is also now on true fleet, a market which the manufacturer made up 3.6% of in the UK in 2017. 

One fleet sector Skoda has a rich history in is the emergency services, and although its product offering to that sector is now very different to the first Skoda ambulance created in 1906, it still considers the sector an important one. 

Henry Williams, head of fleet at Skoda, explains, "In the emergency services sector, it is very important that we do things on their terms and make sure that the drivers are happy with our products, as they use them on a constant basis for often very complex jobs." 

To ensure this, Skoda has recently introduced new fleet initiatives to make the brand more accessible to true fleet. These measures are proving very popular with its emergency services customers, too. 

One of these recent launches for Skoda is LiveTour - a digital showroom for fleet customers. Skoda is the only manufacturer in the UK to be offering a service of this kind. "Fleet decision-makers have busy lives, so with our new service we are providing a non-pressured, information -sharing platform for them, in their own homes, at a time that is convenient to them, where we can bring our offering to them in more detail," Williams explains. 

As part of this service, Skoda has trained 'product geniuses' to offer information about specific cars and provide a live virtual tour via telephone, answering any questions the customer may have as part of the research phase, and also after they've made the purchase.

Skoda has also launched direct account management, which provides fleets with one point of contact for all service needs. "This is called our SME direct service via VW financial services, in which fleets with a busy manager who doesn't have time to schedule the maintenance of the cars can come to us and easily obtain this advice," Williams says. 

The requirements of emergency services cars include offering high quality, and practicality, as well as enabling the job to be done in often very testing situations. This often requires bespoke conversions. "One of the most vital services we offer is called One Stop," says Williams.

This service provides full financing on the conversion at one price, and enables the fleet to make any changes they feel are necessary to the vehicles. 

Skoda's Octavia Estate is number one in its segment for true fleet and the Octavia range has been popular with the emergency services, proving to be a strong contender for use as a rapid response unit. "We find that the NHS is opting for the Octavia, due to its enhanced suspension systems and spacious load capacity to house life-saving equipment," says Williams.

Instructed by a pro-driving team of current and ex-police officers, we headed out on multiple road conditions at Longcross proving ground - an ideal testing bed for emergency services vehicles to see how they are able to aid emergency services staff in potentially tough road conditions and emergencies. 

Some of the main emergency services cars Skoda is offering to its customers, and which were available to drive on the day, included the Octavia Scout ambulance with a raised ride height, the Kodiaq fire and rescue vehicle, the Superb police dog vehicle and Superb 280 Covert, which offers 280hp and 4WD as standard, and can also comfortably fit four police officers laden with body armour. 

"The line-up of cars here today, and that which we offer our emergency services customers, all cater for the different requirements of our customers and can be changed to suit their needs even further," Williams says. "Our emergency services offerings enable us to do anything for these customers. This could range from clever solutions such as suspension upgrades and changes to geometry, to making sure the car is fit for purpose - which in their line of work is vital. What we want to do is take care of everything for the customer and make running a fleet as easy as possible for them."