One only has to browse the showrooms of the manufacturers, and in particular the points of sale reserved for professional buyers, to realize the omnipresence of the business ranges in the catalog of car brands.
In France, the B2B channel has clearly become a prime target for most brands. It is even sometimes the first of the markets for some of them. All are busy anyway to refine their business finishes, starting with the use of on-board technologies.
Finishes over-equipped with accessories and driving assistants
In recent years, we have witnessed an increase in the range of on-board equipment offered to fleets. Like what is done for example at Fiat with the Tipo Cross Plus, at Ford through the Trend and Titanium Business collections, like what prevails at Hyundai. All Business versions of the Korean manufacturer are over-equipped. They include (especially on the Tucson and Kona headliners) parking assistance, cruise control, but also a driver fatigue detection system, automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth and even European navigation. So many effective ingredients which contribute strongly, alongside a wider choice of engines, to the growth of the “Business Hyundai” range on the French market.
The Mercedes Class A, number 1 of foreign cars distributed to tricolor fleets, also emphasizes an incentive livery. As an emblem of the Mercedes-Benz Business Solutions division, the German compact can only seduce with its optimal look. Indeed, when it becomes a company car, it intends to provide more services. It then makes the most of its MBUX infotainment console. A customizable voice-activated tool that is useful, for example, for dictating an SMS to an employee or colleague without taking your eyes off the road. The A-Class Business Line, like most other consumers geared up for the working world, additionally offers real-time traffic information and driving aids such as blind spot warning and assistance lane keeping.
Models centered by nature on the ecological expectations of the pros
If the brands insist on technology behind the wheel to shape their business finishes and meet the comfort needs of the self-employed, very small businesses and large accounts, most do not forget to highlight their stylistic and mechanical innovations either. Like Tesla with its Model 3 sedan, the new Volkswagen ID.4, the BMW X1 or the Volvo XC40 plug-in hybrid urban SUV. Some even knowingly focus their communication on the motor arsenal. This is among others the case of the Peugeot e-208 city car marketed since the end of 2019. It has a strong visual identity, a qualitative standard endowment, of course. But above all, it has a 100% electric motorization that is both sufficiently invigorating (136 horsepower) and autonomous, capable of delivering up to 340 km per charge.
The Renault Zoé is another example of a product naturally adapted to the environmental requirements of fleets. With the difference that it was one of the first to venture into this niche. It has now been eight years that the city car with the diamond has occupied the public and private professional field, seeking to improve its potential almost season after season. The main asset of the Zoé is its 100% electric motorization (110 to 135 horsepower) and its level of autonomy which now claims 395 km. These mechanical advantages, combined with a design and on-board equipment much less boilerplate than originally, have been recovered to place the Zoé in 13th place in sales to professionals in 2020, all energies combined.
Allowing drivers to drive in zero emission mode while guaranteeing them dynamic driving and a credible level of autonomy, these are the two arguments that are now proven in the eyes of fleets in a context where the concept of park greening is tax each year or even each semester more.
Towards the emergence of marketing “coups” to boost business ranges?
Given that almost 60% of company cars are now held on a long-term rental basis, taking control of a business variant (among other choices of finishes) is generally accompanied by assistance and maintenance included, sometimes even a “financial loss” guarantee.
At the same time as this appeal of the foot that has finally become classic, some manufacturers are imagining really new offers to build customer loyalty even better. Within the Toyota-Lexus alliance, for example, where the business ranges represent 40% of the models delivered on the B2B channel and where around 90% of the cars of interest to the fleets run on hybrids, a unique marketing campaign of its kind emerged last summer. The ambition of the two Japanese brands is to reward any buyer of a new hybrid and Business (or Dynamic Business or Design Business) vehicle with a half-day of free eco-driving coaching. A well-regarded publicity stunt given the growing interest of companies in this approach combining ecology, safety and TCO savings.
The intense competition in which manufacturers are currently engaged in the professional vehicle market could favor commercial approaches of this kind in the months to come.