Fleet News

Citroen battle plan bucks trend

CITROEN is bucking the trend with its van sales strategy in 2003 in a bid to grab a larger slice of the growing sub-3.5 sector.

While some other manufacturers are establishing networks of specialist van centres, Citroen has decided to make all car and van models available at all its 230 dealerships across Britain.

Outlining his battle plans for the coming year, Citroen commercial vehicle operations manager Brian Roskell said: 'We are taking a different route from other manufacturers. A full range of van demonstrators will be available at all our dealerships and they will all service cars and vans. Vans are an integral part of our activities, not an adjunct, and we like to treat our customers as Citroen customers, not as car or van buyers.'

Citroen's aim is that 95% of operators will be no further than 28 minutes' drive from a Citroen dealership – and this has almost been achieved.

Roskell added: 'Others are setting up van centres, but our dealerships are large enough to offer servicing and other facilities for vans and cars. We are committed to making vans successful, right from boardroom level down to the dealerships and we are confident that we will offer as good a service as these new van centres. Technicians are trained to work on both cars and vans.'

Among the facilities on offer for van customers will be a full range of demonstrators, while-you-wait servicing and replacement vehicles. Citroen is recognised as the most aggressive van manufacturer in the UK today and makes no pretensions about its aim to rob Vauxhall of its number two sales position behind market leader Ford.

Roskell claims while Citroen may not be the biggest player in the market, it is certainly the most innovative. Berlingo was the first purpose-built light van when it was launched in 1996, Dispatch was the first volume-selling light panel van and the new Enterprise, which goes on sale this month, stakes a claim as the first truly car-like van. Looking ahead to the coming year, Roskell believes long-term business confidence will suffer as people worry about the prospect of war with Iraq.

Also, customers are increasingly focusing on value-for-money while there is an increased demand for specialist conversions.

Meanwhile, there is demand for alternatively-fuelled vehicles, but the market is sending back mixed messages. In a bid to satisfy these demands, Citroen is making several moves in addition to the launch of Enterprise.

Massive cashback deals of up to £3,500 are being offered until March 31.

The evergreen C15 Champ is now priced from £4,995, while Berlingo starts at £6,995, Dispatch from £9,495 and Relay from £9,965 (all prices ex-VAT and delivery).

There will also be an LPG-powered Berlingo featuring a 1.4-litre petrol engine at £9,995 and an electric-powered version at £15,345. For the first time the batteries will be sold as part of the price, rather than rented separately as previously.

Citroen is also offering customers a wider range of special vehicles and is now linking up with Tipmaster for a Relay tipper. Other offerings include refrigerated bodies, minibuses, wheelchair accessible vehicles, meals-on-wheels vans and mobile police stations.

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