Fleet News

Warranty windfall for UK fleet buyers

EVERY volume car manufacturer in the UK now offers at least a three-year/60,000-mile warranty after Ford sparked a scramble among European rivals to match its deal. When Ford announced three-year warranties on October 2, Vauxhall, Renault, Citroen and Fiat still offered a 12-month warranty.

The Ford scheme is made up of a one-year manufacturer warranty and two years' extended dealer warranty, and rival manufacturers are offering similar deals.

Vauxhall announced a three-year/60,000-mile scheme within days, then Renault and Fiat unveiled similar plans at the start of the British International Motor Show. Citroen followed by announcing a three-year warranty for its cars on Friday, while retaining a two years/unlimited mileage warranty on vans.

While welcoming the moves, ACFO director Stewart Whyte warned that drivers and fleet managers must now take responsibility for remembering whether their vehicles are covered by warranty when they are serviced: 'How much fleets will benefit will depend on whether operators and drivers keep this in mind. Over the next few years it will be the responsibility of the driver every time he or she takes a vehicle in for a service to know whether it is post-Motor Show 2000 and whether any of the work should be done under warranty.

Whyte also said it would make PCPs slightly more attractive by reducing the risk of expensive repairs being paid for by drivers opting out of company car schemes.

Four years ago Derick Perkins, director of Fleet Management Services, called on car manufacturers to introduce three-year/60,000-mile warranties, predicting that 'if Ford moved today, the rest would move tomorrow'.

Perkins said: 'There will be a joint benefit from the move. For the manufacturers it will mean their vehicles will be maintained and repaired by their dealers, and for fleet operators it will mean all those claims out of warranty will now be taken care of, so everyone gains.'

But Whyte warned there was a danger of manufacturers following each other without planning how the schemes will work: 'A few years ago Rover started a 30-day guarantee where you could return your car within 30 days if it was not suitable. Everyone else followed within days, but had no idea how they could make the scheme work. Manufacturers seem to concentrate on how they stack up against each other competitively, which might not be the same as offering the best deal to the consumer.'

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