An executive chauffeur operator is creating Britain’s biggest single fleet of Mercedes-Benz private hire vehicles after ending its 15-year association with Volvo.
From the end of the year, Tristar Worldwide will be switching to an all-Mercedes-Benz fleet of 450 vehicles to provide, it says, a “strong and simplified proposition” to its global clientele.
The company, which has its UK head office in West Drayton in Middlesex, currently operates a mixed fleet of premium Volvo and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Tristar Worldwide has been a Volvo customer since 1999 and uses its vehicles to transport customers flying into Britain on major airlines.
The company has been an enthusiastic advocate for Volvo, speaking at events about how the manufacturer’s cars have help to reduce accidents and improve its safety record.
Fleet News understands that Tristar Worldwide’s decision to end its deal with Volvo was because some customers regularly requested chauffeured Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Dean de Beer, chief executive of Tristar Worldwide, said: “With our increasingly global business offering, the Mercedes-Benz brand enables us to offer a strong and simplified proposition to our customers around the world.
“The Volvo product has been a successful part of our service offering for many years, but we had to make a tough decision based on our customer expectations, which led us towards Mercedes-Benz.
“There are also operational efficiencies which come from having a single-brand fleet.”
Volvo has stated that Tristar Worldwide’s switch to Mercedes-Benz will mean the supply of cars for the Volvo Chauffeur Programme will now finish at the end of the year.
This programme provided companies with competitive contract hire rates, the option of extending those vehicles’ warranties from 60,000 to 120,000 miles and like-for-like replacement vehicles for up to 10 days.
Tristar Worldwide will now operate a fleet of Mercedes–Benz vehicles consisting of E-Class, S-Class and Viano models, as well as Sprinter mini coaches.
Each vehicle will be leased from the manufacturer on a three-year contract.
The new Tristar Worldwide vehicles will have lane tracking and Mercedes-Benz’s collision prevention assist system.
De Beer said: “Tristar Worldwide will become the largest private hire operator of Mercedes-Benz in the UK with a 450-strong fleet.
“We are very excited about moving to the new fleet, which will be completed by the end of the year.
“The new vehicles have impressive lines on both the saloon and estate and give a superb first impression to our customers.
“Our business is very closely linked to the economy, so with the improving economic picture, we are seeing a positive upturn in our business too.”
Sally Dennis, head of fleet at Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to work in partnership with Tristar Worldwide.
“We believe there is a true synergy between Mercedes-Benz, Tristar Worldwide and its customers.
“This will be a solid foundation for the future as we work together in the years to come.”
In 2011, Tristar Worldwide renewed a three-year deal with Volvo for 2,100 cars which would be used to service upper-class chauffeur contracts.
This saw Volvo supply 700 cars per year – mainly S80 and V70 models – on a six-month replacement cycle.
Following Tristar Worldwide’s decision to move to Mercedes-Benz, Volvo’s largest contract with a chauffeur fleet is now with Sussex-based Club Class Chauffeurs.
Selwyn Cooper, head of business sales at Volvo Car UK, said: “Volvo has had an excellent relationship with Tristar Worldwide since 1999 – a 15-year contract with nothing but a positive relationship is something of which we can only be proud.
“Such relationships take significant investment, so Tristar Worldwide’s decision allows us to focus on other channels and opportunities.
“We are enjoying a very successful year. Sales to British businesses were up 19.5% year-on-year in the first six months, ahead of market growth of 9.4%, and we are on track to meet our business sales target of 40% growth in 2014.”