Audi: Electrifying fleet growth
04 October 2021
Author: Sean Keywood
Audi's new head of fleet says the brand has the ideal range to appeal to its key customers.
Audi's new UK fleet boss says the company's ever-increasing range of electrified products has driven a strong fleet market performance so far in 2021, with the prospect of more growth to come.
Claire English, who took over as the brand's head of fleet in July, said it had secured a number one overall position in true fleet for the year to date.
Speaking at a media event in late-August, she explained that year-to-date sales in true fleet were over 30,000, an increase of over 13,000 compared with 2020, but also up by 3,000 versus pre-Covid 2019.
She highlighted as a key factor in this the opening of orders for Audi's new electric Q4 E-Tron, as well as sales of the existing larger E-Tron EV, and its range of 12 plug-in hybrids.
English said: "The real joy within the Audi fleet team is the fabulous range of products that we have now got for our key fleet customers.
"The fleet team have been able to go out to all of our fleet segments, and we've got something for everyone.
"We are absolutely focused on corporate sales growth and the range of models we now have really enables us to drive forward in this channel.
"We have got a lot of work to do around our EV leadership, going out to customers talking about not just products but the range of partnerships we have also got in place to make sure our vehicles are really usable and practical in real life, both from a lifestyle and business perspective."
As well as corporate sales, English said other areas of focus included salary sacrifice, with a strong EV offering a particular advantage in this market.
She also said the new Q4 E-Tron - which Audi predicts will become its second best-selling UK model after the A3 - was proving popular with target customers, with over 50% of the orders so far being true fleet.
She said: "The Q4 had a really strong start to order bank building. From a fleet perspective, we had a significant number of orders placed pre-demo and that's quite unusual for us - we like to get our demos on the road and that's when ordering [usually] starts in earnest.
"This model has bucked the trend, and we've seen a lot of orders placed from the press information.
"I think the team have done a great job working closely with the key leasing partners around strong positioning on this model."
In less positive news, Audi has like most of the car industry been affected by some production problems due to the global semiconductor crisis.
English said that the key to managing this situation from her team's point of view was maintaining transparency with customers.
She said: "We're being as transparent as we can with the latest production updates, understanding that it could well change. I think customers have been really understanding, because we are not alone, it's an industry issue rather than an Audi issue, and we have been open from the offset, so we've got multiple ways to do it really.
"We have got to make sure our network is fully updated, because from a fleet point of view, typically we have a touch point with our area fleet manager, but also [we need] the retailer speaking to the customer as well.
"In terms of fleet managers, we have got to keep them posted and, just as importantly, we've found the leasing companies [have] got to make sure they know what the issues are, and have the core information they need to pass it through their systems and on to the end user drivers."
English also conceded that some spec changes were being made to cars in order to ensure faster deliveries.
She said: "If it's a specific element, so, for example, wireless charging, of course you'd like wireless charging, however, if removing that then [means] you get your new car and you can still use your phone - albeit not with a wireless charging pad - then there's been a real understanding [from customers], which I think has been good."