Niche Marketing - The Road To Survival

Paint it how we like, the UK motor industry is a shadow of its former self. With LDV in administration yet another British auto manufacturer slips on the commercial banana skin.

Is that too harsh? Not so, say Aardvark Associates, specialist PR consultants to the niche market motoring sector. "There is a great deal of emphasis on volume in commerce. Drive the price down and sell in volume. It is a fine idea but generates a vicious circle of costly research and development to continuously re-invent and re-market products for a volume market - and every player on the field is after exactly the same sales with a virtually identical product." Says Francis Samish, of Aardvark Associates.

"The fact is that many of the purchasers of these products don’t actually need them and they are way over-specified for the jobs they do. Delivering light packages around town and city centres doesn’t require a conventional van, it needs something light, nippy and cheap to run. Does the delivery van really need 3 litres of diesel engine throbbing away with enough torque to pull over Big Ben? Probably not.

"This is where low volume manufacturers such as Aixam Mega or Alke UK can score with their lightweight delivery vans or utility pick-ups, which if specified with electric motors are more than a match for conventional vehicles around town - and have lower tax, and don’t have to pay congestion charges.

"There is a real opportunity in today’s more environmentally conscious marketplace for small and innovative manufacturers to design and deliver transportation that does the job asked for it, efficiently, cleanly and with added value for the end users and the public alike. The average inner city delivery vehicle will travel maybe sixty to seventy miles each day, and rarely touch 50 miles per hour. Where is the sense in a Transit or a Mercedes that can easily exceed 80 miles per hour and has a range of 500 miles?

"Better to utilise the type of vehicle envisaged by Bluebird Automotive, with the same load carrying capacity as a conventional van, but electric powered, so just as quick around town, and with a range that matches its requirements. Quick, clean, and good for the environment too."

"There can be no denying that there is a place for full sized commercial vans and trucks, but they need to be appropriately priced to meet production costs. Not only does this make those manufacturers more viable - but it levels the playing field for niche vehicle producers, opening up the market for innovation and conceptual development targeted at the specialist markets."

17 December 2005 Staff

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