How Volkswagen keeps Lodge Tyre's vans on the road

We find out about the unique challenges that this commercial tyre-fitting company places on its 300-strong van fleet, and how Volkswagen stepped in to help...

With 300 uniquely customised vans, commercial tyre-fitting company Lodge Tyre faces some unique challenges

For most commercial fleet managers, replacing a van or truck’s tyres is one of the headaches of the job. But what challenges do the vans of a commercial vehicle tyre-fitting specialist – such as Lodge Tyre – have to conquer? As famous Roman philosopher Juvenal once asked: who guards the guards?

Lodge Tyre offers a 24/7 tyre lifeline for commercial vehicle fleets, so it works its vans hard. This fast-growing business has 51 depots across the UK from Carlisle to Great Yarmouth, and a fleet of 300 vehicles – mostly 3.5-tonne panel vans, with a few dropside flat-beds for large tractor tyres at specialist agricultural depots.

Lodge Tyre recently started changing its fleet to Volkswagen, with an initial order of 60 Crafter panel vans. We talked to Group Fleet manager Andy Wills to learn what makes its fleet unique, and how Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles – via its ‘Working With You’ promise – is helping Lodge Tyre to offer a dependable emergency tyre-fit service for its clients.

What challenges do your mobile tyre-fitting vans face?

A big factor for us is fitting a powerful compressor that provides enough air to inflate a truck or tractor tyre. We used to mount diesel compressors in the back of the van, but they were heavy, took a lot of space, and were terribly noisy and dirty. We’ve now got an engine-mounted compressor that runs when the engine is on idle. As it’s small and weighs very little it doesn’t impact on the payload, and as it’s mounted on the engine, we can use all the space in the rear of the van.

Fitting this – as well as tool racking and working lights – can cost up to £11,000 on top of the van price. Plus, truck tyres cost a few hundred pounds each, so security is a big thing – all our vans have deadlocks fitted to all the doors. Finally, as we offer a 24/7 tyre-fit service, our vans need to be on the road and working. They can do 25,000 miles a year, so simple reliable servicing is crucial.

What made you pick Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, and how has your relationship evolved?

A key part of the decision was aftersales support, which is key for our business. We weren’t satisfied with other networks, but Volkswagen came to the table with a good support package and have continued to deliver on that promise. 

Nothing is an inconvenience. Volkswagen are always at the end of the phone. They’ve also worked hard to understand our business. We have quarterly reviews – which also involve the conversion company who fit our compressors. Volkswagen actually sent their technical team to the conversion company in Leeds to learn the challenges and understand what we need. It’s a real conversation that makes us feel like we’re part of a team; part of the bigger picture. It’s quite refreshing.

How do Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles help with everyday fleet challenges – such as roadside assistance and servicing?

The fact that Volkswagen’s Roadside Assistance is in partnership with the AA is a real benefit. As we offer a 24/7 service to our customers, it’s important that problems on our vans are solved quickly. The size of the AA network means that Volkswagen Roadside Assistance can respond faster than we’ve experienced with other brands. 

We haven’t really experienced the full benefit of Volkswagen’s Mobile Service offer, as we’re still quite early in our relationship. But the fact that Volkswagen come to your depot to service the vans is a big plus. And, once our regional managers get wise to that, I’m sure it’s something we’ll use a lot more.

How do you see your relationship with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles evolving in the future?

We’re looking to change the rest of our fleet to Volkswagen over the next few years. We’re also looking at electric vans. We’re an environmentally minded company. All our directors drive hybrids. We run 10 small electric vans at various depots for local deliveries. Plus, we’ve got the challenge of depots in Birmingham, Nottingham and Manchester that will be affected by ULEZ ultra-low-emissions zones. 

We’re keen to go down the electric van route, but the challenge is the air compressors, which need an engine to run. We’re working with the conversion company on a solution. We’re also talking to Volkswagen about using their future electric models for last-mile deliveries into towns. From our previous experience with electric vans, the fuel savings could be really beneficial.

To find a Volkswagen Van Centre near you, click here.

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