Fleet News

Audi service intervals extension triggers leasing rate debate

AUDI'S introduction of service intervals of up to 30,000 miles across its range has caused concern among contract hire firms and raised fleet managers' expectations of a reduction in leasing rates. The German manufacturer has become the first to re-engineer its cars to increase service intervals to longer than any car-maker has previously achieved, due to the new Audi Variable Servicing Interval Programme.

Thanks to a new engine management system, cars will now need servicing between around 19,000 miles and 30,000 miles, up from the previous 10,000 mile interval, with the potential to cut servicing bills by hundreds of pounds. The next highest service intervals in the industry are from Peugeot, which pushed them out on its petrol cars from 9,000 to 20,000 miles two years ago.

The Audi AVS, installed in all Year 2000 Audi models, monitors the condition of the engine and the driver's driving style and a dashboard light illuminates when a service is needed. However, the system can be cancelled on the request of a customer, if they want to adhere to the more traditional service timetable.

Jamie Wiseman, maintenance manager at Lex Vehicle Leasing, said: 'We are reviewing our maintenance budgets now under intense negotiations with Audi on this because it raises a number of questions about the need for regular servicing.

'We could have a scenario where one fleet runs cars on two servicing programmes, one with Audis using the AVS and one not. How do we account for that in our rates? We are bound to take the worst case scenario of more frequent servicing because it's us that's taking the risk on the vehicle.' A spokesman for HSBC Vehicle Finance said maintenance rates would stay static until uncertainty about AVS had been resolved. 'We have a number of vehicles on test and are a little concerned by Audi's claims because the cars are not achieving the mileages it claims before needing servicing.'

Mike Wilkinson, director-general of Securicor's in-house leasing operation, which runs about 150 outright purchased Audis, said: 'If the cars run as Audi claims they will then we expect to make maintenance savings. But should they achieve an average of 20,000 miles between servicing then the only benefit would be less inconvenience to the driver rather than cost savings.'

Audi says that petrol-powered models have 'the potential' to spend a maximum of 19,000 miles without needing maintenance, V6 TDI version can 'conceivably' travel for 22,000 miles and four-cylinder TDI engines can, 'in the right circumstances' go the full 30,000 miles without a service.

A spokesman said: 'Servicing frequency depends on how cars are driven. If you're a light-footed easygoing motorway driver, your car will go all the way to 30,000 miles.' Audi claims such a 'light-footed' driver would save more than £400 driving an A4 over 60,000 miles.

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