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VW out to end fleet drivers' second class status at dealers

Date: 21 April 2010   |   Author:

"Customers are normally happy to wait and we can deliver most cars within 10 weeks, but it seems - anecdotally - that customers are looking to take cars out of stock," Vince Kinner

VW has set out to ensure business drivers are treated with the same care as retail customers when they test drive models at its dealerships.

VW fleet boss Vince Kinner told BusinessCar that one of the firm's biggest challenges is to ensure fleet drivers are able to access demonstration vehicles. "One issue is how to get the car closer to the end user," he said. "The difficulty we face is no different to other manufacturers - user choosers tend to get treated like second-class citizens at dealerships and we're looking to see how to change that."

The German brand is working with leasing firms to try and get them to source their vehicles from more local dealers, rather than having a large-volume deal with a small number of dealers and delivering nationwide from those, in the hope that dealers will be more willing to embrace fleet customers if they feel they will get business as a result. "Given the amount of cars we sell into leasing - certainly in the top three - we're a very big part of most major leasing companies' fleets," said Kinner.

"We're saying to the retailer, if you've got a sign above the door then part of the agreement is that you do demonstrations for fleet or retail. I find it difficult to accept that people won't be treated with respect."

Kinner said VW started conversations with leasing firms during 2009, and delivery miles have started coming down, with the latest figure at an average 72.4 miles, down from 85. In the last quarter, Kinner said some leasing firms cut their delivery mileages by 25%.

"Our objective is to make sure drivers are happier and getting good service - when they are making decision to buy the car and when they take ownership," he said. "We want to win business but sustain it. Repeat business is a lot easier to do than going out and finding new. We want them to keep coming back and buying more VWs."