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Vauxhall plays down market leadership aim

Date: 17 March 2014   |   Author: Tristan Young

Vauxhall's new MD has played down talk the brand will overtake Ford to become number one in the UK market.

Tim Tozer joined Vauxhall from car distributor Autobinck at the end of February, and speaking just ahead of the Geneva motor show he said: "We're number two in the market now.

"I don't know where we'll get to in future, but Vauxhall will grow and it will be fun."

This is in contrast to the line taken by  a Vauxhall spokesman, who speaking a few days before the Geneva event said: "We will have overall dominance in the market by 2016.

"In other words, we aim to beat Ford and we'll do that by 2016."

This goal appeared to be backed up, albeit less bullishly, by Tozer's predecessor Duncan Aldred, who before he left Vauxhall to run one of GM's brands in the US, said: "The actual target is to be number one at retail and true fleet.

If we do that we might get to number one overall. We know Ford or Vauxhall could add 10,000 or 20,000 vehicles just like that with less-profitable fleet business.

"Being number one overall is always a choice you make; being number one in user chooser fleet and retail is where you improve the business."

Taking a softer stance still, Tozer said: "We will be number one in retail sales, [but not] at any price. We are an ambitious company in the market, but we are not going to go mad - we will get there with natural growth and we've got the backing of GM to do that."

Meanwhile, Vauxhall's claims it will grow naturally with retail sales and 'true' fleet sales while cutting back on fast-turn registrations in areas such as daily rental seem have taken a back seat in February.

Speaking to BusinessCar, two rival manufacturers said Vauxhall had taken more than 40% of the daily rental market.

BusinessCar was also shown the official figures for all but the last two days of February, which confirm these claims.  

A Vauxhall spokesman said this was customer driven: "[Daily rental firm] Enterprise planned to take significantly less cars, but due to their own internal demand they took many of their March cars early.

"It's worth noting Vauxhall did 3000 fewer daily rental cars in Jan 2014 than Jan 2013. Year-to-date we are down 1300 cars in rental as of today."