– By David Brown –
Luxury vehicle manufacturers are selling a quality product at a price. To help get fleet and novated lease buyers over the line in making a purchase, they offer corporate programs targeted at certain professions and organisations and companies that are purchasing multiple fleet vehicles.
Over the years various enticements have been tried, aimed at reducing costs or providing services that make you feel special.
Mercedes Benz Australia were very helpful with information including the results of a survey of their customers’ perceived benefits of their corporate program as it was in 2014 in the table below.
|Complimentary service at an authorised dealership||31%|
|4 years complimentary Road care nationwide||22%|
|Preferential pricing on new vehicles||18%|
|Reduced dealer delivery fee and complimentary carpet mats||15%|
|Preferential finance rates||5%|
|Special rates for valet parking provided by Mercedes-Benz Airport Express (Melbourne and Sydney only) (This has now been discontinued)||5%|
|Access to Corporate Sales Consultant||3%|
|Corporate Program vehicle evaluation fleet||2%|
Clearly the benefits that directly reduce the ‘Whole of life ownership outgoings’ (i.e. cost of ownership), are the ones that are valued the most, with reduced servicing costs being at number one.
This was the thinking behind Hyundai’s Genesis offer of free servicing for five years which is provided on all purchases as they do not have an official corporate program. Fleet Auto News was at the launch of the Genesis in Australia in 2014 and we were told that while buyers of luxury vehicles accepted that they would pay a price premium, they often felt stung when they were faced with very high service costs.
While some manufactures do not release the details of their sales breakdowns, Mercedes noted that so far in 2017, approximately 1 in 4 vehicle purchases are under their Corporate Program/Fleet Program. BMW did say that user-chooser (novated) type purchasers make up the vast majority of their fleet clients.
You have to look closely at the qualifications on the benefits. They usually only last for a fixed period and may not apply in part of in full, to all vehicles in their fleet.
A summary of what the various company offer, at the time of writing, is as follows (note you should confirm the exact benefits that apply to any vehicle you are looking at purchasing):
|Who gets it?||BMW Group Australia offers two types of corporate sales – individual user chooser type offers, and volume offers to larger organisations. These larger organisations can be associations such as medical associations or CPAs, or to larger businesses.||These companies are typically BRW Top 500, but can also be considered for eligibility with 75 or more employees and an ability to actively promote the benefits of the Corporate Program. Fleet Program is measured against the volume of purchases, starting at 3 vehicles per annum and scaling upwards from there.||AudiCorporate Program membership is available to any company which has registered with the program and has a fleet of 5 or more premium cars. The vehicles can either be in the company’s own name or in the name of an employee.||The Lexus Corporate Program is offered to employees of the BRW Top 500 businesses as well as certain professional association members eligible to receive the benefits.|
|Free Scheduled Servicing||Gold member companies receive BMW Service Inclusive for 3 years or 60,000kms.* • Platinum member companies receive BMW Service Inclusive for 5 years or 80,000kms.||Complimentary scheduled servicing at an authorised participating Mercedes-Benz dealership for up to 3 years or 75,000 km² (whichever comes first).
The kilometre allowance is reduced for some performance models.
|Complimentary scheduled servicing for three years or 45,000 km (whichever occurs first) as per the manufacturer’s recommended scheduled servicing specification.||3 year/60,000km complimentary scheduled servicing.
Note: Complimentary scheduled servicing expires at 3 years or 60,000km from the date of first registration, whichever occurs first.
|Loan vehicle||Complimentary use of a BMW during scheduled servicing.||Complimentary pick-up and drop-off, (Within 25 km of the servicing dealer) or access to a loan vehicle when your Mercedes-Benz is being serviced⁴.
Pick-up and drop-off, or loan vehicle features, only available during the period of complimentary servicing offer.
|Loan cars when your A5/S5, A6/S6, A8, R8, Q7 or RS model is being serviced for the duration of the Audi Corporate Program.
Free pick-up and drop off of your vehicle for servicing in your city’s CBD (to a maximum of 20km radius from the servicing dealer) for the duration of the Audi Corporate Program.
|Service loan cars or complimentary pick up/drop off during servicing.|
|Pricing||Competitive rates and tailored financial services solutions including Agility Program||Preferred pricing dependant on current month programs||Preferential pricing (varies across different Lexus models).|
|Dealer Delivery||Reduced Dealer delivery of $1,850 excluding taxes.||Reduced Dealer Delivery fee. Not applicable to all models.||Reduced to $1,095 incl. GST vs standard $2,500 incl. GST ($1,405 savings).|
|Other||Reduced rate on BMW driving course
BMW Corporate benefits extended to your spouse
|Total of 4 years complimentary Mercedes-Benz Road Care nationwide.
Access to your own Corporate Sales Consultant.
Available at authorised participating Mercedes-Benz dealerships only.
|Complimentary external washing of the vehicle when your car is being serviced for the duration of the Audi Corporate Program at the selling Dealer.
AudiCare A+ for the duration of the new car warranty
|Lexus DriveCare providing 24/7 roadside assistance
Lexus exclusive events
Company web sites will have some general information but any web link that says it is a “Brochure” is unlikely to give you more than the general benefits and some marketing words. But it is worth finding out just what each benefit provides. A good example is roadside assistance. Is it a glorified towing service or are there an extensive range of benefits? This is also good to remember if you purchase a car.
Another way to get some idea on how customers are reacting, is to look for “Corporate Program car forums” in your search engine, but remember these are almost always initiated by a complaint but then again, they can be useful when other customers reply to the original posts and tell of the positive way they managed to fix a problem. They can also give you an idea of what to keep in mind when negotiating a deal.
In summary, no matter what your business situation it is worth asking if you could have a corporate program.