Mercedes on course for premium leadership
13 March 2015
Mercedes-Benz is on course to meet its target of becoming the number one premium brand in the fleet sector by 2020, according to fleet boss Sally Dennis, speaking in her first press interview since stepping up to replace Nick Andrews last summer.
Andrews moved up to become director of fleet and remarketing, and Dennis said taking over as head of fleet "gives me an opportunity to take us to the next stage".
"We opened the doors for business in 2012 [when Mercedes began to take fleet seriously]. We're now three years in and we'll go again, so what does that look like?" she said. "I would never be arrogant enough to say we are established - we've built the foundations and they are really strong, we have a good customer base we want to expand and grow, and we will do that with new cars and new segments."
The company moved up to number six in the fleet chart last year, one place behind BMW and two behind Audi.
New product has led the charge, beginning with the new A-class being a more mainstream model than its almost mini-MPV predecessor, and continuing with entries into new niches and sectors, exemplified by the small coupe-saloon CLA and the GLA small crossover. Dennis also said the GLC, a small off-roader coming later this year to rival the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, will provide a "huge opportunity" for growth. "By putting the A-class onto company car lists we're giving a choice that wasn't there before, and there is more choice coming along - the GLA and CLA last year, and the coming GLC.
"Are there further inroads that the A-class can make? Absolutely," she continued. "We have opportunities for growth because we have not yet touched all the people we should have touched over the last year."
That product expansion has meant the brand, including Smart and Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, is talking to more people. "Our conversations with customers are a lot longer than they used to be, but when we enter a tender we can tick a lot more boxes," declared Dennis.
Mercedes-Benz set up a new Fleet Customer Hub in the fourth quarter of 2014, based at the Milton Keynes head office and designed to support the field team. "The customer experience is important; no one makes a bad car any more so you have to show what makes you different," said Dennis.
"We live in an always-on generation - customers are a lot more informed than they used to be about our products, and if they are 'always on' then we need to be," she concluded. "Traditionally fleet has been Monday to Friday - that needs to change and we need to be accessible."