In May and June, Fleet News surveyed all the major manufacturers to find out how they were responding to the coronavirus pandemic, how they are supporting their fleets customers and their views on the type of impact it would have on the fleet sector.
Here is Škoda's response.
Fleet News spoke to Henry Williams, Škoda head of fleet (answers as at 4/6/20)
How are you and your team staying operational in times of Covid-19?
We have remained fully operational during the crisis, and the team have adapted quickly to working remotely from their homes.
We switched immediately from meeting customers in person to video calls and have ensured they receive regular updates, and the team is on-hand if they have any questions or concerns.
What action are you taking to support fleets during the Covid-19 crisis? Have you still been having conversations about fleet orders and new contracts?
We remain in constant contact with customers to understand their position and how we can help. We are working with them on vehicle supply as well as providing access to repairs through our retail network to help keep key workers, on the road.
For our emergency services customers who are on the front line of the pandemic, we are working hard to ensure we can support where needed at this crucial time. This has included the supply of additional vehicles from our own fleet, and alongside our logistics providers, we are continuing to convert and deliver new vehicles that are needed to support the increased demand.
We are also putting new processes in place to ensure supply of parts and are continuing to take new orders and working with convertors, to get them processed safely and without delay.
What proportion of your retail network remained open for SMR business during lockdown?
Many of our retailers kept their aftersales facilities open during this time for emergency services, key workers and emergency repairs. Additionally, our retailers also stayed open digitally where possible, and have been available for customers to contact by telephone and email for support and enquiries.
How much of a decline in total market fleet sales are you forecasting this year?
It’s too early to say at this point. The coronavirus situation is constantly evolving and we are reviewing the forecast for the year on a regular basis.
Please outline your exit strategy and how you believe the way business is carried out in future might change – the so-called ‘new normal’. Will Covid-19 have a bigger and longer lasting impact on our industry than the financial crisis in 2008?
We’ve seen over the past couple of months an imposed shift towards remote working and using video calling to connect with our customers.
My team has reacted quickly and really well to this ‘new-normal’ and we’ve been able to use technology in new and innovative ways, such as incorporating our Digital Assistant app into zoom appointments with customers.
The app is a fantastic tool that allows us to show all the vehicles in the range, configure different options and demonstrate pricing. I think this will continue to play a complementary blended offering in the future but meeting customers in person will still be important to how we work.
As the country is still facing the on-going threat of Covid-19, we still don’t know what the long-term impact on the industry will be.
How soon do you think fleet sales will recover after the coronavirus threat is over? Will there be a bounce-back?
Demand from our customers has never gone away, even during lockdown, so I do expect to see some form of a bounce-back.
Realistically speaking, we are looking at a different sales picture from when we started the year, but we’ve adapted quickly, so although it’s too early to say what the effect this period has had on the business, we are optimistic for the remainder of the year.
Will we experience a break on the development of MaaS and fleet electrification?
The move towards electrification is an important step for the brand and continues to be a priority. We don’t envisage there being a break in the development of fleet electrification, but due to a temporary factory shut down, there may understandably be a short-term delay.
In terms of the development of mobility solutions, this is something as a brand we are hugely passionate about and we are continuing to test different pilot schemes through the ŠKODA DigiLab.