Volkswagen's sales director quits for Motability role

Volkswagen UK’s sales director James Douglas has left the carmaker to take on a new role in the leasing sector.

Douglas has joined Motability Operations as its manufacturer and network partnerships director, after 11 years with Volkswagen Group UK, most recently as sales director of Volkswagen passenger cars after Patrick McGillycuddy quit to join Jaguar Land Rover.

He is tasked with developing and delivering Motability Operations’ dealer and manufacturer strategy, building on the existing partnerships it has and developing new ones.

As a leasing supplier to individuals in receipt of certain disability benefits, Motability is the UK’s largest fleet, accounting for just over one in 10 of every new cars registered and remarketing end-of-lease cars via its MFL Direct division to franchised dealers mostly.

“I’ve spent the last 20 years working for manufacturers’ national sales companies and I’m proud to have supported the Motability Scheme throughout my many years in the industry,” said Douglas.

“I have a long-standing professional and personal respect for the scheme and the life-changing impact it has for so many people.

Car manufacturers are moving into an EV future, while at the same time developing distribution structures to engage customers in digital environments, and I’m excited to help Motability Operations navigate through the market changes.

Motability Operations recently marked 45 years of helping disabled people and their families access independent mobility with a pledge to making sure no one is left behind as the UK transitions to electric.

It currently has over 670,000 customers on the road so the impact of an electric transition is significant, it said.

It introduced the New Vehicle Payment in February 2022, and as the cost of new cars continues to rise in 2023 it is investing £525m to ensure all its car and wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) customers will now receive a £750 payment when they get their new vehicle.

In 2018 the organisation, which administers the scheme on behalf of the charity Motability, was criticised by the National Audit Office for inadequate governance and making high levels of unplanned profit and large financial reserves, leading to its then chief executive Mike Betts to step down.

The NAO found at the time that Motability’s customers had been charged £390 million more than was required to cover lease costs, and it was holding £2.62 billion in reserves – significantly higher than major car leasing companies. 

Its accounts for the year to September 2022 show that Motability Operations Group made £1.1 billion pre-tax profit from £4.7bn revenues. It made a gain of £723.4m from the disposal of ex-lease vehicles, up from £416.4m the prior year.

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