Car Dealer Live

Car Dealer Live: Commercial vehicle sales will never be purely online, says new eStar boss

  • Commercial vehicles are too complex for a fully online sales process
  • Buying a van or truck online is a very different process from purchasing a new car
  • Steve Bridge joined eStar Truck & Van earlier this year after leaving Mercedes-Benz Vans

Time 6 months ago

The new boss of Mercedes-Benz commercial dealer eStar Truck & Van has said he can’t see commercial vehicle sales ever being purely online.

Speaking on Car Dealer Live, Steve Bridge said CV sales had embraced digital forms of retailing but unlike the new and used car market the roll-out of a purely online, end-to-end sales process was very unlikely.

‘The permutations on vans, buses, trucks and chassis is endless,’ he said. ‘Could I see the day where people are ordering everything online? No, not really. Could I see the day where people interact with sales people digitally? Yes.

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‘But then we would order that vehicle at the factory. We need to allow the consumer to understand all the options on vehicles nowadays. It’s fraught with danger – we would have vehicles ordered that are left-hand drive with no steering wheel!’

Bridge explained that car makers had successfully transitioned customers to pure online sales by limiting choice and simplifying the ordering process.

However, with commercial vehicles, that’s not possible.

‘There’s a wide spectrum with cars – from the people who don’t know what the car is and are just interested in the colour, to the Rolls-Royce Phantom buyer who wants the experience of sitting in H.R. Owen in Berkeley Square.

‘With trucks, it’s nigh on impossible to do it online. For used it is possible as the truck is what it is, but even then you’ve got to talk through the features and benefits with the operator.’

Bridge was speaking to Car Dealer Live a few months after taking the role of managing director of eStar Truck & Van.

He was previously MD of Mercedes-Benz Vans in the UK and had been with the German brand for the past 22 years.

In a wide-ranging interview, Bridge explained his decision to leave Mercedes-Benz and join eStar – a business that was established last year by transport industry entrepreneur Sid Sadique – and talked about the current commercial vehicle market as well as the semiconductor shortage that is causing enormous problems too.

Click the video at the top of this story to watch the full interview

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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