Probably the biggest new arrival at the 2015 Show was Mercedes’ new Vito. With a UK on-sale
date timed to coincide with its appearance at the NEC, the all- new medium van is tasked with increasing the German brand’s fortunes in a sector where it isn’t anywhere near as strong as the Sprinter is in the large van segment.
Mercerdes-Benz Vans managing director Steve Bridge admitted that the Vito’s job will include changing attitudes.
“It’s not only whole-life costs that makes buying decisions; some of it is dimensions or habitual,” Bridge told What Van? “What tends to happen with fleets is that they stick with the brand they have always had and each manufacturer settles into its own niche.”
He said that compared with VW, the Transporter outsells the Vito three-to-one, but the Mercedes Sprinter outsells VW’s Crafter four-to-one: “Everyone knows their place but we have to change some of those habits.”
The decision early last year to split the van and truck departments is still feeding through in terms of impact on and improvement to the van business, according to Bridge. “I have responsibility for sales, aftersales and used, and this year [want] to see more emphasis on joining up the effort so it becomes more van-specific,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if a customer wants new or used. Put the customer into the badge; it’s not for us to decide what they want.
“Being competitive is not all about volume; it’s about me and the brand doing a better job in terms of product, people, processes, dealer network, and if I can do that, people will choose accordingly in the future,” he continued. “[We must ask] what do we need to do differently to delight the customer, and not just go after volume. Some manufacturers are massively hung up on volume.”