Cheaper is not always better when it comes to the costs of vehicle ownership

For many South Africans a car is the second biggest expense after buying a home, and committing to the costs associated with ownership can be a daunting experience. In an industry perceived to be fraught with fly-by-night businesses and individuals who may not have customers’ best interests at heart, it’s becoming increasingly important for consumers to transact with reputable and accredited dealers and financial institutions.

“Franchise dealers are accountable to international brands. Recourse and redress against known and larger entities has shifted power to the consumer largely because of social media,” says Mark Dommisse, the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) Chairperson. NADA is a constituent association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI)

“There is far more risk to a larger business than there is to a smaller independent and unaccredited dealership or workshop. Consumers are in superior positions to ensure that if anything goes wrong, the franchise dealer and the international brand behind it will do all things reasonable to assist with resolution.

“Motorists who do business with franchised and accredited dealers also have better recourse to dispute resolution, when necessary, which is invaluable when dealing with a high-cost item such as a motor vehicle,” adds Dommisse.

The NADA Chairperson went on to explain that NADA members and accredited franchise dealers are also in pole position to train staff to handle the growing wave of electric and hybrid vehicles coming from most vehicle manufacturers and importers represented locally.

A recent study, the 2022 Green Economy Market Intelligence report, compiled by GreenCape, a non-profit company in the Western Cape, has highlighted a shortage of EV-skilled workers required to deal with the sales and servicing of the New Energy Vehicles that have hybrid, plug-in hybrid or battery electric drivetrains.

Accredited franchised dealers are required to employ qualified technicians, who attend regular training at respective manufacturers and importers to ensure that they are fully abreast with the latest technology incorporated into the vehicles.

“We are confident that our dealers will have access to the resources needed to upskill employees where necessary so we can fulfil our objective of building rewarding relationships between dealers and their customers in this rapidly changing mobility environment,” concluded Dommisse.

Accredited dealers are able to provide peace of mind during all phases of the total vehicle ownership experience, from the initial purchase to subsequent servicing and repairs with qualified personnel who undergo correct and on-going skills training. These dealers are also skilled in the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act and the growing number of financial / transactional requirements from the authorities, which provides added assurance for their customers.

Franchise dealers represent approximately R50-billion in investment and employ 58 000 people directly and 25 000 indirectly, making NADA a key component of South African retailing. The automotive industry’s total contribution to GDP is 4.9%, of which 2.8% is attributed to manufacturing and 2.1% to retail.