MAXUS on a Charge for 2022 – Interview with Mark Barrett, General Manager Harris Maxus

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According to the SIMI, New Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) registrations in 2021 saw an increase of 32.3% (28,741) compared to 2020 (21,732) and +13.4% 2019 (25,336). Is this trend likely to continue?

MAXUS is hugely optimistic about the future of the commercial vehicle sector in Ireland as it bounces back from the significant impact of the pandemic.

2021 was a very strong year for us in Ireland and the UK and overall, we finished on a high with a 400% total increase in sales on 2020, with EVs accounting for half of all sales last year. The outlook for 2022/2023 is even better.  The interest in EVs in particular has soared and MAXUS, with its wide range of vehicles and outstanding range is benefiting from this heightened interest. We’re finding that the difference now is individuals and businesses are not just thinking about switching to EV, they are taking action and green mobility is part of their business strategies. We anticipate even further growth across the sector during 2022 and expect EV LCV registrations to double, with a small increase on diesel sales anticipated.

Has e-commerce led to a quicker turnaround in the replacement of vans, due to high milage and extended usage?

Digitisation has certainly helped in that customers can access a lot more information online, can view 3D models, book test drives and communication with dealerships is faster and more responsive.

In China, SAIC MAXUS is actively transforming into a platform-based, digital automobile full lifecycle company.  What this means and using the SAIC MAXUS ‘Smart Spider’ as an example, customers can choose, customise and ‘build’ their dream vehicles online in just three minutes, while also specifying a preferred delivery time.

However, in Ireland I think we are some way off adopting that model.  EVs are still a new concept to many and people like to get behind the wheel and get a feel for the vehicle. And when it comes to access to the experts, face-to-face relationships with dealerships are really important for our customers.

Ecommerce is an evolving area in the commercial vehicle sector and it is creating efficiencies, but it hasn’t yet replaced personal contact when it comes to buying one or a fleet of vans.

As van manufacturers move rapidly towards electric power, will customers take to zero emission in increased numbers?

At MAXUS, we are seeing demand increase month-on-month; there is huge interest from van drivers and fleet buyers who have not yet made the switch to EV, but are doing all of their due diligence in anticipation of making the move.   This is likely to result in a burst of sales over the coming 12-24 months, as interest turns to action.

While Ireland is somewhat behind the UK, more than half of MAXUS sales in the UK last year were EVs, which is indicative of the shift in the market –   albeit from a low base. We can only anticipate that this will progress even further in the year ahead and across both markets.  However, without an improved charging infrastructure and in the absence of meaningful grants from government, we believe that there will be challenges in Ireland achieving its climate change targets to which it has committed. The pace of change from ICE to EV is slower than it needs to be but as stakeholder, MAXUS is playing its part in driving change and supporting customers on their EV journey.

Interestingly, we are seeing real growth across a number of key sectors such as courier and retail delivery services and pharmaceuticals.   They are seeing the benefits of an investment in EV, which over the total lifetime of the vehicle or fleet can offer huge savings.  These businesses are helping to future proof their organisations and understand that an investment in electric is an investment in the future.

With running costs lower and residual costs higher on a standard EV (versus diesel), not to mention the significant reduction in a company’s carbon footprint, the incentives are still significant.

How is the used market?

The used market for MAXUS is reasonably buoyant at the moment, with values at an all-time high, which reflects the recent squeeze in supply. This is reflected right across the motor trade due to factors such as the pandemic and Brexit impacting vehicle production and imports.

Any new vehicle launches during 2021?

MAXUS MIFA 9, the world’s first, full-size pure electric MPV will be available in Europe, the UK and Norway from Q3 2022. Visually impactful, the MAXUS MIFA 9, which stands for Maximum, Intelligent, Friendly, and Artistic, boasts a range of up to 323miles / 520km on a single charge.

This is the first car built on the MIFA platform which SAIC has confirmed could also be used for SUVs and pick-ups. More information is available on our website https://saicmaxus.ie/mifa-9/

We are also gearing up for the possible launch of an eT90 Pick-up later in the year and will announce more details, including specs, over the coming months.