By Martin Ward, manufacturer relationship manager at Cap HPI
I recently attended Suzuki’s first Fleet Experience Day where fleet industry professionals were invited to meet the new team and drive some of the key models, including the Vitara, Ignis and the recently introduced all-new Swift.
Graeme Jenkins, a well-known figure in the motor industry, is now in charge of the fleet department and is determined to sell more cars into fleet and is implementing a fleet structure for most of its dealers.
I spoke to many people at the event and they all seemed quite positive about what they had heard, and what they had driven.
Angus Gillon, director of public sector sales at Arnold Clark, said that up until the event Suzuki had been a “bit of a mystery” and an “unknown quantity” and he didn't really know the models or the structure of the ranges. But now he felt he did and that most of the Suzuki range should be a consideration for the public sector.
Adrian Temple, head of rental services at ALD Automotive, was only aware of the Vitara prior to the event but afterwards he felt he understood the range and liked the engine line-up. He enjoyed driving the Swift, fitted with the 1.0 Boosterjet, and was “pleasantly surprised” with the Ignis, with quality on all cars better than expected. He thought Suzuki could improve its fleet sales, provided awareness could be achieved.
Fiona Hall, sales director SME at Lex Autolease, said the product line-up had “moved on considerably”, with “lots of appeal at an affordable price”. She felt the Lifestyle product would suit the current fleet segment and that the economical petrol engines, especially the 1.0-litre, fit corporate requirements.
With a small team now in the fleet department, and set to grow, Suzuki could make some inroads into many leasing and contract hire companies, and directly into businesses.
But it is all well and good having a master plan, the people on the ground, the local dealers, need to be on-board too, and that is where the challenge could be.
Suzuki dealers, in my experience, are all, in the main, very competent and professional when it comes to dealing with private and retail customers, as this, traditionally, is the only type of customer they have known.
Now the salesperson and service department will have to get used to dealing with fleet customers as well - sometimes not an easy task.
Suzuki has employed AutoXP to handle fleet demonstrators, and quite a number of cars are in the fleet, ready to be delivered to for tests.
I would recommend getting a new Suzuki to try for yourself and get to know the range.