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Ford wants 'life customers'

Ford light commercial dealers are to play a key role in a plan to make new Transit appeal to a wider range of potential customers in an effort to win back former owners of the previous model and to persuade buyers to stay loyal to the brand for aftersales.

They start with a disadvantage because Ford has cut ownership costs to ensure Transit is competitive.

Robin August, director of Ford's UK commercial vehicle operations, said: “An operator could reduce the cost of ownership by 30% compared with the previous Transit.”

Mr August said the new Duratorq family of diesel engines would reduce fuel consumption by 15%. This saving is enhanced with servicing extended from 12,500-mile intervals to 15,000, shorter servicing times and lower accident repair costs.

He acknowledged these changes would impact on dealer profitability but said the company was confident that this would be replenished in different ways.

Mr August said that around 66% of all commercial vehicle owners stopped using franchised dealers for servicing once their vehicle was three years old. “We are implementing a pricing structure for the servicing of older vehicles and adding convenience for owners.”

He said dealers agreed to lower the cost of servicing older vehicles and would offer flexible packages with marketing support from Ford.

Opening times had also been negotiated with dealers who would be encouraged to open from 7am to 7pm, to minimise vehicle downtime.

Convenience would also be improved by the central marketing area approach which offered a greater national coverage of servicing centres.

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