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 Volvo's response.
Fleet News spoke to Steve Beattie, Volvo's head of business sales (answers as at 2/6/20)
How are you and your team staying operational in times of Covid-19?
People’s safety is always our top priority. Our UK offices have been closed, with colleagues working from home, but doors have now opened, with stringent safety measures in place, for those who need to access the office.
We are fortunate to live in a time where virtual video meetings are possible – these have been something of a lifeline for us over this period.
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 have kept in constant contact with our fleet customers during this period. While some are understandably holding off purchases, many are still discussing new contracts, which is positive. Our Virtual Sales Team, launched in 2019 and dedicated to the needs of SMEs, has been busy supporting customers.
Our special vehicles division has been especially busy during this period, ensuring vehicles are delivered to emergency services such as air ambulance crews and police forces as quickly as possible.
What proportion of your retail network remained open for SMR business during lockdown?
The majority of our retailers remained open for service, maintenance and repair – for many people, their car has been a lifeline during the pandemic, and we have been working to keep those vehicles safe and running throughout.
How much of a decline in total market fleet sales are you forecasting this year?
We can’t say for certain at this point. We are aiming for a 2.5% market share across retail and fleet combined this year.
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 have made huge strides in our digital retail offering over the past few weeks, transforming our business so that all customers can do business with us in the safest, most convenient way possible.
This will set us in good stead for the ‘new normal’ – services such as home delivery, Volvo Valet and online retail, which we have either introduced or enhanced to help keep people safe, are likely here to stay into the future as people seek greater convenience and efficiency in the way they deal with us.
At this point, it’s difficult to say for sure what the long-term impact of Covid-19 will be on the industry, but a lasting effect will be the way it has made us transform the way we interact with our customers.
We have aimed for some time to be the easiest car brand for fleets to interact with – in some ways, the virus has helped us with this, and positions us well for the future.
How soon do you think fleet sales will recover after the coronavirus threat is over? Will there be a bounce-back?
Again, it’s difficult to predict the extent of the recovery in the long term. We have a very competitive product offering for fleets and are in prime position to help any fleet looking for a premium, customer-centric experience.