News Commercial Vehicle ShowBy Tom Seymour Ford is addressing the skills gap in its commer-cial vehicle network with one-on-one skill needs assessments as many of its experienced sales executives approach retirement age.Steve Clary, Ford CV director, has also responded to concerns that dealers will lose out on valuable servicing work with the new Transit, which has set service intervals at two years/30,000 miles.He said: "Most of my experienced sales people in the network are looking at retirement age so we're facing 350 one-on-one skills assessments which will work out the training needs of dealer-ships where we will lose senior employees."We're acting now so we're not in a position three years down the line where we're left without experience commercial vehicle sales people."Ford addresses problem Ford acts now to avoid skills shortage as many sales executives approach retirement ageFord is lowering the cost of its dealer training by making more of it available online. Clary believes an increase in e-learning will reduce the cost and time out of the business.Training will also focus on improving finance training to give customers and businesses strug-gling to get credit access to funding.Isuzu has high hopes D-Max Isuzu is looking to lead the pick-up market before the end of 2015 with its new D-Max model which will go on sale in June.The Japanese brand, imported by IM Group, is currently fourth in the segment with an 11% share, but believes a push in model quality and a competitive price will help it to win sales from Nissan and Mitsubishi.William Brown, Isuzu UK general manager, told AM: "The network has been getting into a position where it's ready to handle the intro-duction of the new D-Max."It's a utility vehicle but we've moved it into a Vauxhall to push Combo salesVauxhall will not replace its Astra Van but will push customers towards its new Combo instead. Duncan Aldred, Vauxhall UK chairman and managing director, said the Combo offered a lot more to customers.New Ford Transit
New car marketNewsCV ShownewsUsed caranalysisNews RecruitmentdigestDealerprofileShowroomTo view all the images of the most important model launches at the CV Show Click here problem of ageing CV sales forceClary also said Ford has an initiative in mind that has been discussed with dealers that will counter the potential lost service hours as a result of the Transit's extended servicing interval.Clary said: "We understand how longer service intervals will affect dealer service departments but we're working on something innovative which will be available at launch." Clary would not be pushed on whether it would be a free health check, but did say it would not be "just another service".No network shake-upClary confirmed there would not be a "disman-tling or massive shake-up" of the Ford CV network which is made up of 104 specialist CV dealers and 100 Transit specialists.He said: "I'm very happy with the dealers that we have in place. They're doing a great job."Clary said it was difficult to pull out an average profitability figure, but the share of total profita-bility within the network was "coming up".Ford launched the new Transit at the Commer-cial Vehicle Show in Birmingham and while the model already has an "extensive customer base", the brand is hoping it will broaden the appeal in the market.Clary said: "We want to attract new customers to the range. The current Transit is great at what it does, but it's very utilitarian. We want to attract more owner operators, guys that need to use their work vehicles as a car for their families too."Max will push it into top spot in the pick-up marketmore premium range. It's got a better specifica-tion and we've now got four derivatives for the first time - we only previously had three."Asked if moving the brand upmarket would confuse its previous marketing position as solely a commercial vehicle, rather than a lifestyle model, Brown said: "Our message is still that it's a fit for purpose commercial vehicle. We will have a more lifestyle-orientated derivative, but the core focus is still on business use."IM Group also imports Chinese pick-up manu-facturer Great Wall, but Brown said the models competed at different ends of the spectrum.