Fleet News

Ford shows way forward with used car training

Throughout Europe the main target for investment in the motor industry is new vehicles, particularly cars.

Commercials are regarded as the poor relation, as are used vehicles.

New car salespeople get all the help they need in the way of training, brochures and technical specification, in fact they are inundated with guidance.

But the used car person struggles to give the customer the right information - they have to find out by themselves the intricacies of each vehicle, and somehow get by. This applies virtually throughout the world, not just in Europe.

Ford Motor Company in the UK recently piloted a scheme to give a day's training to not only their own members of staff, but also dealer used car salespeople, plus disposers from the leasing industry and rental companies.

The course included information about Ford product but also about competitors. Driving capabilities and technical data was also covered.

This is perhaps the first time that a major manufacturer has taken these unprecedented, and expensive, steps.

There have been some used car training courses in the past but they tended to be limited to smaller niche manufacturers. But Ford has done it on a grand scale. So much so in fact, that managers from Ford Europe came along to the event to assess the possibility of extending it throughout Europe.

You have to admire Ford for this initiative, it says knowledge is everything, and in this case they'd be right.

  • As more and more used cars are moved around Europe, manufacturer badging policies appear to be becoming more standardised.

    Whether this was planned or simply coincidence remains unclear. But badging cars in similar ways certainly helps residuals.

    Most manufacturers don't particularly encourage cross-border dealing but it is becoming more common, and we are talking about reality here.

    Badge engineering is almost as important as the condition of the vehicle being exported because wherever it ends up, knowing exactly what it is, is an absolute must.

    One of the big issues in Europe is the question of changes to the car distribution block exemption. In the UK, consumer groups have campaigned for it to be lifted at best, or heavily modified at worst.

    However, in most other European countries it has hardly been mentioned and because of this it would be unrealistic to expect dramatic changes in the regulations.

    Countries with the largest franchised dealer networks would have the most to lose if block exemption was diluted. The list below shows the number of franchised dealers in selected European countries:

    UK 6,500
    France 13,500
    Germany 16,500
    Spain 5,500
    Belgium 2,500
    Austria 2,000

    Even the smallest countries, such as Belgium with about 2,500 dealers, could see serious consequences for their profitability and viability.

    But the UK's dealer network per capita is among the lowest in Europe, so any shouting from the UK is felt to be unrepresentative.

    Changes to block exemption at new car dealer level would have a knock-on effect on used cars. New car operations could well switch to selling used, if new car profits became insufficient.

    The imbalance throughout Europe for used car disposals could be immense.

     

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