Fleet News

Opel shake-up to boost fleet sales

Opel is looking to dramatically improve its fleet sales and transform its dealer network in Germany.

The new strategy comes after several years of under-achievement by the firm. Now, with the new Vectra and a renewed emphasis on Opel's role within General Motors' global operations, the company is focusing on growth in its home market.

Jonathan Browning, the newly-appointed sales and marketing vice-president for General Motors Europe, said both issues were high on the agenda after a disappointing 2001 in which Mercedes-Benz outsold Opel in Germany.

Browning said: 'There are areas of commercial fleet business that need to be developed. We need to improve in Germany in areas like leasing, across different sizes of fleet customer.'

Carl-Peter Forster, chairman and managing director of Adam Opel, said Germany was also the focus of major dealer restructuring.

'In the first half of this year we will terminate all our dealer contracts and renew half of them,' he said.

The goal is to reduce the number of German Opel dealers from 950 to 470, and cut the number of sales and servicing outlets from 2,300 to 1,600.

'No customer should be more than 30 minutes from a showroom, workshop or pick-up point, and on average they should be no further away than 20 minutes,' said Forster.

Company car drivers in Germany can, however, look forward to the creation of pick-up points - including airports - where they can take their cars, and a dealer will then drive the vehicle to the nearest workshop.

This collection and delivery service will add convenience to busy fleet drivers and save them time.

But it also requires investment by dealers, hence the need for a fundamental restructuring.

'Only a profitable dealer is a good dealer because then they are motivated, they can invest in the dealership, and they can attract the best people.'

He added that the dealer remuneration system would also change, so that the margin system would reflect quality standards and customer satisfaction, rather than just the number of new cars sold.

Conceding that the changes would cause disruption, Forster said there were trends in the car sector that made this an unavoidable strategy.

Chief among these are longer service intervals and greater vehicle reliability which is reducing the volume of service and maintenance work in dealer workshops.

When Opel has finished restructuring its German dealer network it will look to apply similar strategies to other markets, although the UK and Italy are both seen to have developed networks that already meet the new criteria.

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