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Honda makes fleet consistency pledge

Date: 09 October 2015   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Honda is hoping to make up for lost time and sales with a more consistent and effective approach to the corporate sector when a review of its business car strategy is completed within six months.

Predicting that the brand's fleet operation could be "radically different in six months", Phil Webb, Honda UK's head of car, said: "Our main goal is to get on more fleets' lists, rebuild relationships, and to a degree make up for lost time, during which many of our competitors have taken a previously stable part of our business away."

Honda UK's managing director, Phil Crossman, endorsed Webb's views and admitted: "We have simply not been consistent enough in recent years. Honda and its widening product range is essentially about.user-choosers and being more structured and efficient in engaging with that market. Fleet business must be sustainable within the overall business plan.

We have moved into and out of fleet channels too erratically."Crossman added: "Our current fleet numbers are relatively small, measured in a couple of thousand, when at its peak it represented tens of thousands. As part of our overall volume plan to grow from 58,000 units to 80,000, fleet will not involve making up the numbers up with huge, discounted deals. This root-and-branch review will be applied over the next couple of years."

Webb confirmed that the 12-strong fleet department, including a core field team of five, could expand subject to the nine-month internal study, which employs consultants. He emphasised that the dealer council would be "fully involved and highly influential" in determining the final strategy and structure.

Crossman said that Honda was interested in blue-chip contract hire business, and an element of Motability, but not on a large scale, although the fleet division includes Motability specialists.

As the market generates 38% of European volume, Crossman claimed that the UK demonstrated its clout by gaining the Swindon-built Type-R Civic two months ahead of mainland Europe, while both the Jazz and revised HR-V launched three weeks early for the peak September 65 plate market.

Webb said the fleet team needed to put the revitalised range, with its wider variety of models, in front of the right people, largely through 12 specialist corporate dealers. This would exploit the ability to individualise UK-built Civics for British business requirements. That in turn should help restore the Civic's fleet element to 25%, including pan-European contracts.