Company Van Today - Issue 8 - Winter 2018

COMPANY VAN TODAY.CO.UK 8 Coffee with... Tom Webster grabs a cuppa and chats with the industry’s main figures MERCEDES-BENZ VANS’ UK MANAGING DIRECTOR STEVE BRIDGE Mercedes-Benz has seen plenty of change in its model range in the past year or so, with the launch of an all-new Sprinter and the introduction of the brand’s first pick-up truck in the form of the X-Class. There’s been no change at the top, though, with UK boss Steve Bridge having clocked up five years in the top job and almost 19 years at the brand in total. We sat down with him to get his views on a busy year just gone, and his hopes for what 2019 will bring. Q How was 2018 for Mercedes-Benz Vans? A For us it is all about order intake. Despite all the challenges of exiting an old model, introducing a new model, bringing in a V6 version of the X-Class as opposed to just the four cylinder, our order intake is just over 4000 units, about 10% more than it was at this point last year. I can’t complain. It is not as easy as people think to come to market with a pick-up truck or a small van and just take from others; we have to know our place. Often, we have little option but to sit on the subs bench and wait for people to decide they are ready to go for a small van or a pick-up with us. When you change a vehicle, it is really difficult to exit what is in essence a 10-year-old vehicle and bring in a brand new one to market that comes in rear- wheel drive and front-wheel drive and comes with all of the options in on day one. It is almost impossible. Customers move from one vehicle type to another and some have gone without any drama and others have needed options that we simply don’t have yet. Q What are your main goals in the CV marketplace for 2019? A I have a mantra that is very straight forward. It is not so much about market share, it is about the amount of customers that we have. So, in my world we need to know every operator that runs a van in the UK. That is a nice thing to have, but if we make ourselves known to them and if we consultative sell to them that is the right thing to do.