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Focus on specialist fleets to counter 4x4 sales slump

Dealers and manufacturers should adopt a ‘back to basics’ approach to large 4x4 sales in an effort to counter the sales threat posed by environmental concerns.

So believes motor industry consultancy Network Automotive, which says that the core attributes of large 4x4s - their off-road ability and general ruggedness - has strong appeal for core specialist fleet markets, especially the blue light sector.

Colin Bruder, managing director, said: "A substantial proportion of dealer and manufacturer profitability in recent years has come from sales of large off-roaders. While we are not in a position where the bottom is about to fall out of this market, there are signs that it is slowing considerably, especially as concerns about the environmental impact of these vehicles mount up.

"One way of countering this is to go back to basics with these models and promote them to the kind of markets where their core off-road abilities have very strong appeal - such as fire, ambulance, police and specialist public sector fleets. Here, the demand for this kind of vehicle is consistent and relatively strong."

Bruder said that Network worked with a number of dealers and manufacturers to help them increase their understanding of these specialist fleet markets.

He said: "Selling into these sectors is a matter of having the necessary expertise, knowing where to find out about tenders and entering bids that stand the best possible change of success. This is something we have done for many years.

"Certainly, large 4x4 sales have always formed an element of these specialist fleet sales but manufacturer and dealer interest has been sporadic simply because retail demand for off-roaders has been so strong in recent years, which has served as something of a distraction.

"With that retail demand starting to plateau and possibly slide, we believe that there is potential for manufacturers and dealers to maximise large 4x4 sales opportunities through this route."

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