– By Carolyn Taylor –
Salary packaging and novated leasing have become popular employee enticements, and adding to these benefit packages are corporate programs offered by most luxury car manufacturers.
These programs effectively offer employees of large companies, free and/or discounted incentives to purchase a new luxury vehicle. Eligible companies are determined by the manufacturer, and there are, of course, some conditions.
For example, to be eligible for the Audi program you must be a permanent employee of a top 1,000 company as published by BRW (Business Review Weekly). Additionally, Audi may approve other organisations that agree to purchase two Audi vehicles per annum, and have five prestige cars under five years old on their fleet.
All major luxury vehicle manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Volvo, Lexus and Land Rover run corporate programs. And like salary packaging, many employers use their membership of these programs as reward and recruitment tools.
But how real are the advantages and are there any significant differences between the offerings of the various manufacturers?
As can be seen in the table below, there appears to be little difference in the type of ‘rewards’ on offer. Of the programs examined, free servicing, corporate pricing, reduced dealer delivery charges and other added extras such as roadside assistance and priority allocation, are featured.
|Free Scheduled Servicing||4 yrs/60,000km or 5 yrs/80,000kms whichever comes first||Up to 3 yrs or 75,000 km whichever comes first||Up to 3 yrs or 45,000kmwhichever comes first||3 yrs or 60,000km whichever comes first|
|Loan vehicle||For 5, 6 and 7 series models only||Service loan car subject to availability||For A5, A6, A7, Q5, A8, Q7, R8, any S or RS models only||Service loan car subject to availability|
|Pricing||Corporate pricing and exclusive finance rates||Preferential finance rates and tailored financial solutions||Preferential pricing on most new Audi vehicles||–|
|Dealer Delivery||Reduced||Reduced on some models||–||Reduced|
|Other||Reduced rate on BWM driving course||4 yrs nationwide Road Care Service||Priority on vehicle order and allocation||24 hour roadside assistance|
Please note that conditions apply. Refer to manufacturers brochures for details.
But the devil is in in the detail. Servicing conditions vary greatly from three years/45,000 to five years/100,000kms and in some programs, dealer delivery reductions are not available on all models. Additionally, users of these programs have commented that corporate pricing can vary greatly between manufacturers, dealerships and even the vehicle model in question.
In many cases it was felt that the final price was a result of negotiation rather than set corporate pricing. This is probably due to the fact that the dealer network is often expected to fund a significant proportion of the discount.
It appears that delivery and servicing is where savings are made. Dealer delivery charges can vary from $1,500 up to $3,000. But it should be noted that Corporate Programs offer reduced delivery charges, so the actual saving is likely to depend on the generosity of the dealership.
Servicing costs also vary, but even with fixed price servicing or prepaid servicing packages offered by some manufacturers, free scheduled servicing will save the driver substantial dollars. For example a BMW service package for a Series 5 starts at $1,440 and a service plan on an AudiA4 around $1,600.