Volvo's director of international fleet, Alan Carpenter, described the Ford strategy for the international fleet market as realising 'maximum synergy while protecting the individual brands'.
Interviewed at Frankfurt with Ford manager, European fleet, leasing and remarketing operations, Maureen Graham, Carpenter said Ford was succeeding in covering a wide market with its range of brands.
Unlike some other multi-brand global car makers, Ford is happy to discuss fleet deals involving Ford, Jaguar, Volvo, and Land Rover vehicles in addition to its North American brands.
Graham said Ford was signing a rising number of pan-European deals, and the addition of the Premier brands - including Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar - had helped to boost international fleet interest. But there were no plans to merge the fleet departments of the different brands.
'This trend to cross-border deals is more customer-driven than manufacturer-driven,' said Graham. 'Some customers say they want a pan-European deal, but often they don't have the authority over all their subsidiaries. This is a big issue for the fleet sector.'
Carpenter said he thought there were no more than 100 fleets with a full pan-European structure at the moment, although this figure is growing.
'But many of the people we are talking to now about a deal were those who had a failed pan-European policy a couple of years ago,' he said. 'It shows that fleet customers are learning how to restructure themselves to take advantage of the efficiencies that an international policy can offer.'
The Ford fleet department has made early links with Mazda corporate sales, which is slowly being brought into the Ford of Europe operation. The next Mazda 323 will be built at one of Ford's Focus plants, and the product development teams are working increasingly closely. (October 2001)