You’ve been at VW Australia for more than a decade, and in your current post since mid-2019. Can you tell us what your role involves?
My role as the national fleet sales manager for passenger and commercial vehicles involves basically bringing the Volkswagen family to the broader community in the corporate fleet space.
How important is the fleet market to VW?
It is just as important to sell to corporations and government and councils and as it is to single owners and families of the car.
What’s in store for you in a work sense in 2020? What are you looking forward to working on this year?
2020 is going to be a very exciting year for Volkswagen, simply because we are going to grow our product offerings, diving more into the SUV market with more vehicles coming on board. We are also going to have new Transporters in the medium-sized van space. Just having this full suite of product offering and being able to talk to many different types of customers is very exciting. Having the EV range up on the horizon, where we are not going to have to have just one vehicle but a whole range and introducing that to the Australian market is also something that’s very, very exciting.
Take us behind your desk at VW and let us in on some of the company’s plans and strategies for Australia this year and the coming decade?
What I just touched base on — bringing new products to the markets. And, at the same time, continuing to establish our offerings and adding small items that come along: things like pre-paid care plans that you can purchase for three to five years and which represent substantial savings. These are all tiny little pieces in the big puzzle and bringing that to life is what this year and the coming years is about.
Can you tell us what you have observed with regard to the position of women in the automotive industry in your time? Have you noticed an erosion of discrimination against the female gender, and what may have helped that?
It’s definitely changed over the last few years. I was the first female area manager within the Volkswagen group and it was very interesting to see how the different stakeholders and partners would react. Today it’s absolutely normal. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s definitely getting easier. It simply doesn’t matter anymore whether you’re male or female.
They say women are involved in the majority of vehicle purchasing decisions? Does that ring true in your experience?
In the retail space 100 percent. In the fleet space it’s whoever is in the chair. A lot of the business partners are male; are in a fleet manager position. But, I have the impression that this is changing as well.
What VW models are most popular among fleet buyers?
In the passenger vehicle space there has been a shift towards SUVs, so it is definitely the Tiguan that has been getting a lot of traction. In the emergency space the Passat has been a big player. Golf is still one of the icons of the Volkswagen brand so that keeps on tracking along really nicely. In the commercial vehicle space, obviously Australia is a huge ute market so the Amarok is the number one but the vans are standing their ground. The big van that we have — the Crafter that was launched in 2018 — has been getting serious traction nipping away and taking market share.