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New Iveco Managing Director outlines strategy for 2015

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Bob Lowden, appointed Managing Director of Iveco Ltd in November last year, used the occasion of Iveco’s annual State of the Nation press conference to outline his goals for 2015, telling assembled media that Iveco is fitter, leaner, stronger and more determined than ever before.

Bob Lowden

Bob Lowden

A brand of parent company CNH Industrial, which was formed 15 months ago and has British headquarters, Lowden says Iveco has the assuredness and stability that comes from being part of a major global industrial organisation. Indeed, CNH Industrial is the second biggest capital goods company in the world, which should give Iveco sufficient financial security to operate in the UK commercial vehicle market.

Commenting on his return to the UK after three years heading Iveco’s operations in South Africa, Lowden said:  “My experience gives me an in-depth appreciation and awareness of the pressures that road transport operators live and work under every day. I understand the character and the demands of the local markets in the UK and Ireland; everything we do as a business moving forward will be about building relationships and delivering for operators where they are.”

New Home for 2015?

Recent Dealer Convention at the Basildon facilities for New Holland

Lowden also faces the prospect of moving their head office from Watford over to Basildon, where the CHN Industrial group has a significant factory and set of offices.  At this point it is at consultation stage with existing staff, but a move could be on the cards in 2015.

Looking ahead to 2015, Lowden believes that the van market (in the segments that Iveco competes from 3.5 to 6 tonnes) holding steady at some 85 to 87,000 units (2014: 85,977).  In trucks above 6 tonnes, Lowden anticipates a market of some 40 to 41,000 units, (2014: 34,671).  Considering the averages over recent years, from 2012 to 2014 – eliminating at least some of the extremes brought on by legislation, you get a figure of exactly 41,000.

Light Commercial Vehicles – Retail is the Target

New Daily drove well on UK press drive event in January 2015

New Daily drove well on UK press drive event in January 2015

Lowden cited 2015 as offering a very bright future for New Daily, after becoming International Van of the Year 2015.

But he said that Iveco’s bedrock of commercial and fleet business, and in particular its successes with dotcom companies, needed to be matched by growth in the retail sector too – the very target market for which New Daily has been designed.

The company is aiming for a top three slot in the 3.5 tonne segment, according to Marketing Director, Ian Lumsden, “We have high hopes and an in-bred confidence that this will be the product that establishes us up there towards the top three in the volume 3.5 tonne sector.”  High aspirations indeed, based on 2014 registrations, the Daily was ninth in the 3.5 tonne segment (down from 6th in 2013) and 4,000 units behind third placed Peugeot (2,769 vs. 6,722).

“We need to be more visible,” Lowden said. ”Our strategy for 2015 is to focus on growing our visibility, widening our retail dealer footprint, concentrating our dealer sales teams accordingly – and making New Daily a ‘van of choice’ for the huge variety of retail customers nationwide.”

What does this mean in reality?  Lowden hopes that the existing dealer network will be keen to expand with ‘Retail Daily Centres’ – especially existing service-only centres, but if this is not possible then they will be scouting for businesses to take on the franchise.

When asked whether the Fiat dealerships were a target for Iveco, Lowden considered it unlikely, “Fiat’s success in moving the Fiat Professional brand forward in recent years has been down to the truck dealers that have joined the franchise, rather than the retail car sites.  We would not be interested in other truck dealers selling the Daily.”

There may well be opportunities within the CNH Industrial Group.  There are plenty of CASE and New Holland dealers who could easily include the Daily in their portfolio, although the traditional customer of these business is unlikely to be looking for a large panel van.

Lowden’s target for 2015 is to add an extra ten to fifteen outlets to the existing network of 63 outlets.  The thinking is that if the new dealerships can be as effective as Southampton-based Pitter Commercials at selling the Daily, then Iveco’s market share will increase.

On the dealer network front, Iveco still have to find a buyer for their company-owned dealerships that was forced upon them thanks to the demise of Guildford-based Grays Truck and Van.  The £29 million turnover business was bought from the administrators back in August 2013 effectively for the outstanding, secured debt to Iveco of some £1.7 million.  Iveco has no appetite to continue to run this business and is actively seeking a buyer, “Entrepreneurs are the way forward,” confirms Lowden.

Medium sector

18 tonne and 26 tonne 6x2 rigids performing well for Iveco

18 tonne and 26 tonne 6×2 rigids performing well for Iveco

Looking at medium weight trucks, Lowden said that Iveco’s SCR-only approach to Euro VI was proving a winner, particularly as vehicles in this sector often struggle to reach and maintain the heat needed to minimise the need for regeneration.

“When you’ve got a vehicle using EGR as well as SCR that – as a number of operators have already told us they’ve found – is proving to be an operational Euro VI headache. We’re not using EGR. So regeneration is not a problem with Eurocargo.

“The challenge for us with Eurocargo in 2015 is to maintain our market position. We have the product, the performance and the pedigree to achieve this. Plus, we have a new generation Eurocargo to come later this year that will take us a further stride ahead.”

Iveco saw their share of the 7.5 tonne market increase from 17.2% to 23% in 2014, better than all the non-Japanese manufacturers, but Isuzu saw an improvement of 8 percentage points in their share over the same period.

Add Daily registrations from 6 to 7 tonnes to Eurocargo registrations at 7.5 tonnes, Iveco have a total share of this ‘light’ truck sector from 6 to 7.5 tonnes of 32% – with a third of the market and sector leadership.  The Japanese brands together account for a further third – whilst all the other European brands added together account for the final third.

Other areas where Iveco saw some success in 2014 was the 18 tonne sector, overtaking Scania and Volvo and in the 6×2 rigid sector, where the company more than doubled its (albeit small) market share to 6.9%.

Heavy trucks

Some Operators aren’t frightened of Stralis

Some Operators aren’t frightened of Stralis

In the heavy truck sector Lowden praised his dealer network’s success in targeting heavy truck retail sales; but highlighted an aggressive conquest plan for 2015 and beyond to do more business with medium and large fleets.

He reaffirmed that Iveco’s SCR-only approach was proving itself to be every bit as innovative, creative, forward-thinking and efficient as expected, bringing significant advantages in terms of fuel efficiency, simplicity and familiarity for operators.

“Our number one goal is to get more drivers, fleet engineers and company bosses behind the wheel of a demonstrator,” he said. ”We know for a fact that today’s Stralis and Trakker models are every bit as competitive as every other manufacturer on the market. Both products stand out for their driveability, cab comfort, economy and reliability – that’s confirmed by the feedback we get universally from demonstrations.

He continues, “Too many fleet operators shy away from Iveco heavy trucks for what can only be described as out-dated historical reasons.  For sure, some of that is understood and deserved, but that was 20 years ago – and since then, we’ve worked harder to get things right.  Our problem is that operators still don’t know that.”

Iveco Highlights 2014

  • Best market share over 3.5 tonnes since 2010
  • A strengthening in truck performance over 6 tonnes and in our Medium truck performance (from 6 to 15.9 tonnes)
  • An improvement in heavy truck performance above 15 tonnes
  • A 2.5 percentage point increase in 3 axle rigid market share, the best performance since 2005
  • A 2 percentage point increase in 18 tonne market share – fourth consecutive year of improvement and best performance since 2010
  • A 5.8 percentage point increase in 7.5 tonne market share, with best performance since 2007