Mercedes sets sights on premium fleet leadership
07 February 2012
Mercedes-Benz has targeted becoming the top premium brand in the business car market within three years as it places a fresh emphasis on the sector.
The firm is currently well adrift of BMW and Audi and sits in eighth place in the fleet registrations table with 44,242 cars in 2011, compared with BMW's 68,827 in fourth and Audi's 65,380 one position behind.
"Our goal is to be the number one premium manufacturer in the UK. It's our mission statement and will live and breathe through everything we do," Mercedes head of fleet, Nick Andrews, told BusinessCar.
"We want to beat Audi and BMW in terms of volume and market share, and we're looking at inside three years."
But the firm is looking at more than basic sales, with creating the best customer experience and sustained profitability for the dealer network also targeted. "Being number one isn't just about sales, it's about giving the best fleet experience," Andrews continued.
Mercedes' new fleet boss was recruited from Seat last September to develop a business car plan for the German giant, as it has not had a specific fleet boss position before.
"I was brought in with a blank sheet of paper to create, develop and implement Mercedes-Benz's fleet strategy," he said. "We are ultimately trying to get sales growth, ensure it's profitable and ensure that customer service is delivered at all times."
The volume increase will come in part from the introduction of a new lower medium A-class model, which Andrews hopes will provide a massive boost in fleet sales when it launches early next year.
Unlike the taller Mini-MPV-shaped current model, it's designed to go head-to-head with the BMW 1-series and Audi A3 hatchbacks. The A-class recorded less than 3700 fleet registrations in 2011, compared with the 1-series and A3 both achieving more than 17,000. In the first full year of sales in 2013, Andrews predicts 20,000 new A-class fleet sales.
Leasing volume increases from across the model range are also expected. "The number one priority is to grow our sales within the leasing industry," said Andrews.
"You have to start with a consistent long-term offer that's featured on company car choice systems. It's absolutely basic and if you can't do that then you won't appear on driver's choice lists. You have to get the basics right."
It's rumoured that Sally Dennis, Andrews' former national sales manager at Seat, will be making the jump across to join him at Mercedes-Benz. Dennis left Seat at the beginning of the year and is due to reveal her new role with another manufacturer on 9 February.
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