Peter Lambert, the German maker’s UK van sales and marketing director, said far from a waning appeal in the three-pointed star, the spectacular fall in sales was caused by the success of the Sprinter – the factory just can’t make enough of them.
Speaking exclusively to Fleet NewsNet, at the official unveiling of the new Sprinter in Stuttgart last week, Lambert said: ‘Our fall in sales is purely because worldwide demand for Sprinter exceeded supply and we have been rationed by our bosses. It’s as simple as that.
‘When the new Sprinter comes on the market in May, we will still be selling the old model and people are ordering it like it’s going out of fashion.’
Lambert also stressed that although he was seeking to win back last year’s lost sales, it would not be done at the expense of profit – and he criticised some other manufacturers which, he said, were chasing volume at the expense of profit.
He said: ‘There are some crazy fleet deals being made at present with some manufacturers, who are entering into buyback deals in which they can’t be making a profit. We don’t do business like that. We want to increase sales but we won’t do it if the business is not profitable. We must make a reasonable margin.’ Lambert also ruled out big rental deals as he believed they would destroy the Sprinter’s present high resale values.
He said: ‘Sprinter makes fantastic money at selling time and if we launched into some big rental deals, we would see a huge number coming back on to the market at the same time. We guard our residual values with our lives and would not want to see them suffer.’
Lambert also predicted that in the future, most vans sold to larger fleets would be fitted with speed limiters.
He said: ‘Already many of our big fleet customers are specifying speed limiters and we expect more to ask for them soon. They have a significant effect on fuel consumption and also cut down on accidents and maintenance. They are definitely the way forward and will help improve the image of white van man.’