Fleet News

Euro fleets facing a servicing revolution

European fleets could face a revolution in vehicle servicing following changes to rules on car distribution, a new survey has found.

Independent research among fleet managers in France, Germany and the UK also found there was a lack of awareness among fleets as to the recent reform and their implications.

Once explained though, the IBM Automotive Practice survey found that 85% of fleet managers would use an approved, brand independent garage instead of franchised or manufacturer-owned dealerships.

Price was quoted as the most important reason for switching to an independent operator and a 20% decrease in servicing costs would inspire 58% of the survey sample to switch from a franchised dealer.

IBM Europe's automotive retail, sales and aftermarket leader Mike Woodward said: 'We've already seen changes in the way people buy their cars across Europe. Our research shows that with the block exemption reform, motorists are ready to leave dealerships in large numbers for servicing elsewhere.

'It's clear that the sales and aftersales segment of the marketplace is about to enter an era of unprecedented change, with new entrants looking to gain a substantial foothold. Motorists can expect increased contact from car manufacturers as they try to maintain long-term relationships.'

Fleet management company Arval PHH Deutschland head of operations, Franz Gantner, said: 'We will watch the reaction of dealerships and manufacturers carefully. Beginning next year, the total amount of warranty claims within our fleet will be compared to the savings achieved by assigning inspections and repairs to independent shops.

'For accident repairs, we already work very successfully with a number of carefully selected body repair shops, the majority of which are independent. Our aim is to find partners able to guarantee a defined quality and service level at the lowest cost.'

The new block exemption, which come into effect properly next year, will give dealers greater freedom to open multi-brand showrooms, while independent repairers will be guaranteed access to technical information and training from manufacturers to allow them to compete with franchised garages.

The survey comes just days after Fleet News Europe reported that a new website had been created to explain to fleets the implications of block exemption. It can be found at www.blockexemption.com

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