Difficult market conditions
Being out of rental was one of the reasons Citroën’s volume was down last year (car fleet sales dropped 6% and van sales were down 21.9%, against a 4.4% fall in the van market, according to SMMT figures).
Market conditions were “difficult” and “challenging”, according to Wady.
The Euro exchange rate was significantly adrift of Citroën’s predictions last year and proved to be “quite a painful experience”.
Migrating the Nemo to Euro V earlier than competitor products was also difficult, adding cost, particularly on production.
Wady expects Citroën’s fortunes to improve this year, but with the economic backdrop remaining tough he is only anticipating modest growth.
He predicts Citroën’s share of the car fleet market to be 3.30% (up from 3.21% last year) and vans to be 6.95% (up from 6.65%).
On the positive side, Wady says “the quality of the business” has improved and Citroën is winning national fleet contracts.
He points out that meter reading company AccuRead renewed its contract for the supply of 1,300 C1s last year.
“Its experience in-life was good,” Wady says. “And any issues it had we worked with it proactively to make sure the vehicles got back on the road quickly.”
On the van side, Citroën secured a solus deal with Virgin Atlantic with 100 of the 400 to 500 vans being supplied last year.
Convincing fleet managers of Citroën’s reliability is one of the challenges Wady faces.
“We are still unfortunately tarnished with a view that Japanese cars are very reliable and French cars aren’t,” he says.
“There isn’t truth in that statement but it is the perception in a lot of people’s minds.”
He says during his two years at Citroën “the product has come on a long way” and the manufacturer is “beginning to make inroads into people’s opinion of the brand”.
As part of its strategy to win over leasing companies, Citroën holds an annual meeting showing them key reliability information such as warranty rates as well as highlighting awards.
“There are quite a broad number of independent measures which do show the brand is making progress,” Wady says.
Citroën has also created a sub-brand called Citroën Business Class aimed at SME car and van fleet customers.
Ninety of Citroën’s 200 dealers have been appointed business class centres. Each has a level of minimum standards to meet around booking response times, courtesy vehicles and extended opening hours.