Fleet News

Mitsubishi's complete fleet rethink

MITSUBISHI'S presence in fleet was 'practically non-existent' towards the end of last year while the firm completely rethought its approach to the market. Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, acting managing director Dennis Murphy revealed that an overhaul of the fleet department which started half-way through last year came out of necessity after Mitsubishi made a loss in the UK for the first time in its history in 1998.

During 1999, the unspecified level of losses continued, reflecting a worldwide problem at Mitsubishi which led to plans for 12,000 job losses being announced. Murphy revealed: 'We pulled back completely from fleet business and focused on retail business. We were trying to be all things to all people and trying to sell our products to every company in the UK market.

'We stretched the fleet department so much that they were not providing the level of service that companies needed. We needed to get focused and ask if we wanted to be in fleet at all and if so, what we wanted out of it and which cars we wanted to sell.' Starting in mid-January, the firm started again in fleet business, intending it to be a low volume addition to retail business and only doing daily rental deals and buy-back deals where they were on 'sensible' terms, while a close eye is kept on residual values.

A fleet sales staff of about 15 people is now in place, of which only three are carried over from the old team. Declaring 1999 a 'long year', Murphy - who has asked not be considered for the post of managing director, added: 'The price cuts of 15% last year were a retail move and if you look at the sales figures you might think we are not doing too well, but there are no fleet sales, no self registrations and no dumping 500 cars on to fleet to get registrations and we have had a 300-400% increase in people coming to our dealerships.'

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