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FEATURE: Five minutes with…Richard Hughes, LCV Director, Vauxhall

18 September 2019 #CV Sector #Features & Interviews #News #TNB News #Van

Earlier this week Transport News Brief caught up with Richard Hughes, Vauxhall’s new LCV Director, at the UK media launch of the brand’s new Movano large van. We asked for his expert insight into where both Vauxhall and the industry is right now and where it is heading.

You are new to your role and to commercial vehicles. Tell us a little about your background.

I’ve been with Vauxhall for 25 years, always in sales and marketing roles, including two European assignments with the parent company Opel in Germany for five years and Switzerland for three years.

This has given me a broad knowledge of the business and a solid foundation that will help me take the commercial vehicle business forward.

What’s your take on where the CV industry is with electrification in comparison to passenger cars?

On the car side the milestones for when and where change will come are more clearly defined than they currently are in commercial vehicles.

But interestingly, our commercial vehicle customers seem further advanced in their mindset and more knowledgeable than those on the consumer side.

With cars, we’re educating the consumer to an extent but on the commercial vehicle side it’s the opposite paradigm in that an awful lot of our core fleet customers are driving development.

They’re coming to us and telling us that they want the new technology and want us to help them to increase the electrification of their fleets as quickly as possible.

When do you think the step change will come in favour of electric?

Electrification is a huge part of our plan moving forward and, with the sight I have of the technology we have in the pipeline, I can see it taking off a lot quicker than originally predicted.

Obviously, this will go hand-in-hand with the development of charging infrastructure and, there too I think things may well happen much quicker than expected.

The launch of new Movano gives you the youngest range in your sector. Looking forward, how do you think the Vauxhall van range will look in 10 years’ time?

Well, conversions will remain a key part of our plan moving forward and you may see the development of more specialist conversions to meet the needs of individual fleets and businesses.

Fundamentally I suspect that in 10 years’ time the structure of our line-up will still be broadly the same, with small, medium and large vans. I can’t see that changing so dramatically over the next decade.

However, the development of our range will have to be driven and informed by the world we’re operating in. We will have to understand where we fit in to the whole chain of logistics, with brands like Amazon already using autonomous delivery pods in Milton Keynes, for example.

We might find that in 10 years focused more on the middle bit of the chain, with a technology business partner completing the last leg of the chain .

It’s all very exciting and there’s lots of opportunity to innovate.

Is Innovation at the heart of your strategy?

Absolutely. We’ve got to innovate.

We’ve got to see what’s happening out there in the broad sphere of mobility solutions and fully understand our role as a mobility provider.

That’s something we’re looking at in cars, where we see ourselves not just as a manufacturer of cars, but as the provider of mobility solutions.

This has led us to adapt to new developments like car sharing.

This kind of adaptable and innovative approach will become more and more evident in commercial vehicles.

As a business, we are now seeing beyond manufacturing and to look at integration – where we fit in to the larger ecosystem.

Finally, Vauxhall will launch a number of new battery electric (BEV) LCVs in 2020/21. Do you see this as a key two-year period for the brand?

Very much so. This will be a hugely important time for us.

This will be a period of real opportunity and we have the technology that really suits the vehicles in our LCV range and we’ve got the battery capacity and range that can handle commercial vehicle operations.

We will have an incredibly strong product offering – I genuinely believe we have the opportunity to be the leader in commercial electric vehicles.



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