Redefining Vauxhall as a brand is the number one task for new chairman Tim Tozer who took over the post in February.
“The job is to work out what the brand is and define it properly. At the moment the brand message is not very well articulated and has been confused to a degree by having Chevrolet which is seen by many as direct opposition to Vauxhall,” he said.
“We also have to look at the model line-up because there is too much complexity. We have to ask ourselves why there are so many derivatives.”
Tozer said that in terms of the brand it has to be clear that Vauxhall is neither cheap, nor premium. “We have to fight our corner in the middle ground. We are certainly not aiming to be premium. When car companies say they are moving upmarket it can just be a dream. It normally means they want to put the price up because the business model isn’t working.”
What does the brand represent? “Good value, good cars and Britishness,” he said. “Vauxhall is woven into the fabric of the country and we are one of the few car companies with no advertising taglines – maybe we will in the future but no decision has been made. As a purely British brand we don’t have to play an international tune or worry about pan-European advertising.”
His predecessor, Duncan Aldred, who has moved on to a bigger job in the US, wanted to see Vauxhall overtake Ford at the top of the UK sales charts but Tozer said the company will not challenge its rival for the sake of it.
“We could try and overtake them by pumping vehicles into the daily rental market but that is not high value business. We have to grow profitably and I am pleased that our retail share continues to rise.”
Tozer also described the decision to discontinue with Chevrolet in the UK as “brave”. He added: “It means we can stick to the nitty gritty of the Vauxhall brand. It doesn’t make life easy for dealers who have invested in the Chevrolet brand in recent years, but those showrooms can now be transformed into a van centre or even a special Adam store. I think dealers understand that there was a strategy mismatch in having Vauxhall and Chevrolet.”
Tozer was speaking at Vauxhall’s light commercial van plant in Luton which will be assembling the new generation Vivaro medium van from August.
Richard Collier, Vauxhall’s LCV sales chief said: “We are confident that the commercial vehicle market is coming back, in fact it grew 13 per cent last year and is growing at the same rate so far this year and we expect full year total market sales of around 270,000 against a peak of 300,000 before the downturn.”
The medium van segment accounts for around 30 per cent of that and the Vivaro takes 26 per cent of the segment. Collier added: “The market is picking up particularly as the large fleets such as the Post Office, the AA and Centrica are renewing their fleets after holding onto vehicles longer during the downturn.”