Skoda has evolved during the last 10 years or so from a budget brand to a mainstream car manufacturer with a broad range of products suitable for fleets.
The Superb hatchback impressed judges at the Fleet News Awards for the second year running, retaining its Best Upper-medium Car trophy in 2011.
For Martin Burke, Skoda’s head of fleet sales, this wasn’t a surprise. Fleet News Awards haven’t been the only accolades won by the Superb and other models continue to pick up trophies and plaudits for their ability as products as well as customer satisfaction.
But satisfaction for fleet customers is a different matter. Organisations running vehicles need commitments from manufacturers that they will provide support and meet business-critical requirements and Burke is keen to talk about the actions taken to improve the brand’s standing among fleet operators.
Fleet News: What actions has Skoda taken to improve engagement with fleet operators/leasing companies?
Martin Burke: We’ve significantly increased our activity in the last 18 months, having met a large number of fleet operators and leasing companies and presented Skoda at more than 50 fleet-related events.
One example of these events took place in October, where we completed a series of regional fleet customer ride and drive events, with 120 customers driving our range on-road and taking the Yeti off-road.
After driving our cars, more than 90% of the attendees said they would consider a Skoda as their next company car, which is fantastic feedback and really encouraging for the team.
We recently launched our Fit for Fleet Initiative to our retailers, with more than 30 retailers indicating their interest in participating, which is another indication of the strength of Skoda’s development in fleet.
This year we were also awarded a place on the Government Procurement Service framework agreement, helping us to amass more than 5,700 quotes from public sector fleet users in just six months and boosting sales and orders by over 15%.
Again, this is a market looking to reduce costs without compromising quality and we’re delighted with the response so far.
All of this has helped us achieve a record number of fleet sales in 2011, with sales already totalling 20,215 with December still to go – a fantastic achievement which is testament to the team’s dedication and enthusiasm.
FN: Have you been surprised at the level of critical success achieved by the Superb?
MB: We haven’t been surprised at the Superb’s success, either in the media or with the buying public.
In addition to the Fleet News award for the Best Upper-medium Car, Superb has won a further eight awards for product and customer satisfaction.
Year to date, Superb sales through November are more than 4,000, which is an increase of 30% above record-breaking levels in 2010.
In the current climate, value for money is of utmost importance with fleet customers looking for executive cars without a premium price tag.
Customers want high- quality vehicles with an executive specification without compromising the bottom line and we are in a great position to satisfy demand.
FN: Has your GreenLine range helped raise Skoda’s profile with fleet, and how much appetite is there for these specialised models?
MB: There is increasing demand for fleet cars that fall into a low-CO2 emissions banding; otherwise, employees could pay more tax than they need to.
It’s also important to consider the company’s National Insurance contribution (NIC) – if the car is more energy efficient, the NIC can be reduced, making significant savings for the company.
Our GreenLine range can offer substantial savings to benefit both the individual and business.