Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK wants to increase the amount of stand-alone dealers it has in its 72-strong network from 60% to 80% in the next few years because it’s a more profitable model.
Simon Elliott, VW CV UK managing director, told AM: “I think a common view is that standalone van centres are not as profitable as those that are paired with a car franchise, but that’s totally wrong.
“In terms of gross profit, sales volume and customer satisfaction our stand-alone sites are making a bigger return than those that are sitting in the corner of a car dealership.
“That’s because those sites have van people talking van language to van customers.
“So our intention is to keep on pushing for a standalone network. We’d love it to be 100%, but probably a more viable figure would be 80%.”
Twelve more VW CV specialists will be added to the UK network over the next three to four years.
Elliott is feeling confident after a strong Q1 2011 performance with sales up 32% and a year-to-date market share of 11.8% in a CV market that was up 20%.
He said: “We’re in a particularly good place at the moment. We sold more CVs for VW in the UK than in any month ever in our history with 4,700 units sold.
"We also sold the most amount of CVs in one month for VW compared to any other country in the world. We anticipate our market share to grow further in Q2 and Q3 as we deliver our volume into other sales channels like rental.”
Volkswagen is expecting the CV market to grow by 18% in 2011 with around 280,000 sales in total.
As VW CV introduces more lifestyle products to grow its market share, like the Amarok pick-up, Elliott wants dealers to think about what those customers might expect from their dealer.
He said: “Traditionally, CV dealers aren’t open at weekends. If someone’s going to spend £40,000 on a California, they want to be able to see a dealer at the weekend.
“The network understands we need to extend our opening hours and be open on the weekends. It’s a conversation we need to be having with the network in the future.
"It’ll be a difficult conversation, but I’m sure there will be a nice compromise somewhere along the way.”
Pick-up sales grew by 60% in total in Q1 this year and VW wants to steal some share from Mitsubishi, Toyota, Ford, Isuzu and Nissan.
He said: “We will never see big discounts on Amorok. We’ve got a big order bank that will see us through until the end of the year.
"My biggest problem is getting hold of more production to satisfy demand.”