Volkswagen is working with a range of companies to increase its share of the converted van market, says Dan Gilkes.
While Volkswagen’s Caddy and Transporter vans have been hugely successful, it is no secret that the firm has struggled to have the same impact on the UK heavy van sector with previous Crafter models. This has been particularly true in the conversion market, where VW captures just 4% of the sector, despite an overall brand market share of 11.5%.
That’s in a sector of the market where at least 65% of vans have some sort of conversion, with every chassis cab forming the basis for a dropside, a tipper or any one of a hundred other specialist vehicles.
That all looks set to change, with the launch of new Crafter taking the firm into a number of market segments for the first time. This is partly through the addition of front, as well as rear and all-wheel drive models, plus the availability of manual and automatic transmissions on all three drivelines.
Earlier this summer Volkswagen launched a Converter Recognition programme that is now up and running, with a rapidly growing selection of Engineered To Go and Engineered For You vans on offer. Engineered To Go is VW’s off-the-shelf ready-built range, that includes a number of tippers, dropsides and Luton vans, while Engineered For You offers a much broader spread of conversions, including minibuses, access platforms and car transporters.
“We’re constantly looking to develop and improve our products and services and this programme streamlines the conversion process for the benefit of our customers,” said Nick Axtell, specialist sales manager at VW Commercial Vehicles.
Volkswagen pulled together some of its current conversion partners to show dealers and potential customers just what is possible. The vehicles on show included the likes of Ingimex, JC Payne and VFS for tippers and dropsides; CoolKit, the Cold Consortium, Paneltex and TBC for refrigerated transport; GM Coachwork, Minibus Options, Lewis Reed and TBC for minibuses and Bri-Stor for welfare buses,
The dealer involvement is particularly important, as all VW Van Centre sales staff are being trained to handle sales and aftersales requests for converted vehicles. This has been combined with training from the Freight Transport Association, to ensure that VW’s Van Centres are up to speed on the latest legislation and van operator information.