This year’s inaugural Innovation Award goes to Citroen for its Business Class programme.
The French brand seized the initiative in targeting small business customers with the scheme and in doing so improved its offering to fleet operators. It has successfully backed up the scheme with a high-profile marketing campaign to make sure potential customers know what’s on offer at Citroen’s dealerships.
The manufacturer is driving the Business Class programme through 90 Business Centres, about half of its UK dealerships.
Citroen stated its commitment to improving customers’ sales and aftersales experiences in the first quarter of 2010 when it began recruiting retailers to become Business Centres.
As we passed the halfway point of this year the brand announced that Business Centres were accounting for at least four out of five van sales to SMEs.
The manufacturer has worked hard to maintain the initiative’s high profile. In September it targeted small businesses and owner/drivers with a ‘Free fuel for a year’ incentive for customers buying a new van by outright purchase, PCP or hire purchase. National fleets are not included in the deal.
Scott Michael, commercial vehicles operations manager, says: “In today’s tough economic climate businesses need to make savings and the new ‘Free fuel for a year’ scheme meets this need.”
In October Citroen launched its 5 Star Euro5 LCV programme under the Business Class banner to highlight its commitment to technology to cut the CO2 emissions and improve the fuel economy of its Euro5 line-up of vans.
The scheme flags up five eco-friendly characteristics of the range: fuel-efficient, low-emission petrol and diesel engines; new e-HDi Airdream micro-hybrid drivetrains for selected Berlingo vans; a diesel particulate filtration system; the Citroen Trafficmaster Smartnav and Trackstar stolen vehicle telematics package that is claimed to improve fuel efficiency and comes as standard on Dispatch, Berlingo and Relay panel vans; and the fact that Citroen’s HDi engines can run on up to 30% bio-diesel without affecting the warranty.
Says Michael: “Since the introduction this year of the Citroen Vans Business Class programme, Citroen has continued to improve its sales and aftersales service as well as provide a greater choice of converted vehicles through our Relay Specialist range and our expanded Ready-to-Run range. With 5 Star Euro5 our customers can now benefit from fuel efficiency improvements of up to 19% and CO2 reductions of up to 17.5%.”
In pursuit of its aim to set the benchmark for customer service in the LCV sector, Citroen has installed dedicated sales and aftersales staff in Business Centres and offers extended workshop hours to accommodate working fleets. Courtesy vans are available and a wider range of demonstrators are kept than in standard dealerships.
There are more approved-used LCVs stocked and displays of Ready-to-Run conversions. Through Business Class the manufacturer has enhanced its offering to SMEs in a tough economic climate.
Highly commended in this new category is Bevan for its lightweight, aerodynamic Luton body for 3.5-tonne vans. With a payload of 1200kg compared with the industry standard 1000kg, the body, dubbed the Icon, was unveiled at the Commercial Vehicle Show fitted to a Mercedes Sprinter chassis cab. It is made largely from fibreglass and was designed by three-dimensional CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics).