Interview: Stephen Norman, Managing Director, Vauxhall Motors

31 October 2018

Over a year has passed since Vauxhall Motors became a subsidiary of the PSA Group, and with the new ownership comes a complete refocus on the brand’s LCV strategy, including a new network of specialist van centres and a brand-new small van – the Combo. Transport News Brief caught up with Vauxhall’s Managing Director, Stephen Norman, to talk about the company’s plans.

How important is the LCV market to Vauxhall under PSA ownership?

Crucial. After Groupe PSA took control of Vauxhall and Opel last year, the business developed its strategic PACE! plan. A key part of this is a 25% increase in our LCV volume. As the UK market is the second largest in Europe, with a largely consistent 355,000 vans per year, Vauxhall’s British LCV business will be crucial to the plan.

What’s Vauxhall’s plan to increase its share of the LCV market over the coming months?

We see the potential for significant improvement with our three-part plan: product, people and places. The new Combo winning International Van of the Year validates the level of excellence that we see with our new product. We have restructured our business with Derek Wilson being appointed LCV Director and him having a newly focused team. As for places, we see the new Van Centre strategy delivering all of this to our end customer.

What type of customers will be the key focus for Vauxhall in LCV as it grows the business?

We want to appeal to all LCV customers, from sole traders through to medium- and large-sized fleets. Our products have the appeal and our business has the rational case to make them highly practical, desirable and cost-effective solutions carrying British business.

How important are specialist LCV centres to customers and what are the unique factors for Vauxhall? Where will they be, and how many?

The quality of the face-to-face interaction with our customers is, of course, extremely important. We plan for around 70 Van Centres around the UK through which customers will purchase their vans. All of our network will continue to be able to maintain the van parc. We will be able to give more details on the standards and locations before the end of the year

What does the future hold for Vauxhall’s van manufacturing plant in Luton and how does the PSA ownership fit in alongside Vauxhall’s existing relationship with Renault-Nissan?

As a British brand since 1903, Vauxhall is the only volume manufacturer of vans in the UK. Earlier this year we announced a significant investment into the Luton plant to build the next generation Vivaro on a shared PSA platform from next year. This investment will increase capacity to 100,000 vans per year. Whilst this will end our relationship with Renault for the current Vivaro, we continue the joint venture with them with Movano.

What do you think the key purchasing decisions will be in the LCV market over the next few years and how is Vauxhall preparing for this?

Customers will always want desirable and practical, cost-effective solutions for the transportation of people and products. Vauxhall has the solutions for British business.

Which future technologies will be most significant in the LCV market in the short and mid-term future?

In the short term, the clever, thoughtful cargo carrying solutions in the new Combo. It’s full of ingenious ideas for maximising use of space and carrying products safely (such as its overload indicator). In the longer term, we have already announced our “Vauxhall goes electric” plan. For this, we will launch four electrified vehicles by end of 2020 and our objective is for the entire product range, including vans, to offer an electrified version by 2024.