Fleet News

Fleets to lead Land Rover back into the black

FLEETS will be one of the main weapons which transform Land Rover into a profit-making venture within two years, its new bosses at Ford have declared. Ford formally took over the business from BMW on Saturday in a deal worth an estimated £1.95 billion and within an hour of the contract being signed, new chairman and chief executive Bob Dover was setting out his vision for the future of the company.

Land Rover becomes a member of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, along with Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo and Lincoln. Plans include the creation of a dedicated fleet department which will work with the Ford fleet department to share contacts.The two sales teams will also be able to offer a joint product range to fleets. User-choosers will be a also key focus while the manufacturer ensures it keeps lucrative Government supply contracts.

Sales targets are not being released, but Land Rover currently sells 170,000 units, including 40,000 in the UK, with Freelander the best-seller. However, Ford insists it would be 'insane' to damage the strength of the brand, so it will keep the models as individual as possible.

Ford will also be keeping its 4x4 products to give the manufacturer the largest overall 'footprint' in the off-road market. Dover added that although the company would look at potential expansion of the model range, present plans would keep the four-model line-up. However, new derivatives of Defender are likely, based around a 'lifestyle' vehicle.

Dover, who has worked in the British motor industry for 32 years and served as director of manufacturing for Land Rover from 1984 to 1987, said: 'The fleet market is very important to us. We already have a sizeable share, but there is a lot more we can do with the brand. We have been talking to customers and although they are happy with the driving position and the feeling of airiness, they are unhappy with build quality and we need to do something about that.'

Matthew Taylor, sales and marketing director, said: 'We need to ensure we get on more fleet choice lists and we will be talking to fleets and working with Ford to share potential contacts, including contract hire and leasing companies. We will also be speaking to companies such as CAP and Glass's to ensure the brand retains its strong residual values.'

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