Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles had a record month in March for CV registrations.
It was the biggest single sales result outside of Germany.
Alex Smith, who took over as director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK five months ago, said Volkswagen is tremendously lucky to be selling such strong and diverse product range in the current market.
The Volkswagen Van Centre network has been required to invest in order to create the right environment for the products to be sold. Volkswagen customers see continuity and consistency across the network as fundamentally important, he said.
Smith is proud that it is a specialist network, not simply car dealers selling a few vans.
“A specialist network gives us the knowledge depth, sales expertise and technicians that are trained specifically for vans.
"That’s important because we deal with van customers all day,” he said.
Despite the macro economic conditions, if a business customer needs to replace their van the network is well placed to demonstrate products offering consistent running costs and value to their business, he said.
However while the brand scores well for sales satisfaction there are elements of the customer experience which Smith said must be improved.
One is vehicle handover – dealers need to ensure the sales and service teams work in complete concert to make the experience faultless.
Communication and customer contact needs to be improved, he said.
In Europe’s sub-five tonne market Volkswagen is the number one CV brand – in the UK it ranks second.
Since 2008 VW Commercial Vehicles UK has steadily grown market share from 9% to 13.2% in 2011, a record year with almost 36,000 registrations.
Smith said share ranking is not a preoccupation, however, and the focus is on sustainable growth, maintaining the brand’s premium positioning, and ensuring the dealer network is sustainable and performing.
There is a volume plan for the long term, but that is based on “sensible, consistent growth” delivered through product range expansion and increased contract hire opportunities.
In line with those ambitions, plans are in place for the dealer network to develop.
It has already grown from 66 locations to 73 in the past five years, and will increase to 80 dealerships over time, with a further 45 separate authorised repairers.
The challenge to expansion is finding the right locations and the right properties – VW Van Centres require a large footprint.