Toyota nails it

Backing up its performance last year, Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) dominated the 2018 Manufacturer of the Year (MOTY) Awards and even clinched the Leasing Category to become overall Gold Award winner by some margin.

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The Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (SAVRALA) whose car rental members manage more than 70 000 vehicles while leasing members account for over 68 000 Owned/Funded as well as 250 000 managed vehicles a year in South Africa, survey members twice during each year to establish the scores for the competition.

Now in its 23rd year, MOTY recognises motor manufacturers that have provided SAVRALA members with the best-possible support and assistance. These awards are based on the results of a continually improved industry-specific survey comprising 38 criteria reviewed twice annually among 31 of the largest Rental and Leasing companies in South Africa.

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Calvyn Hamman, says: “We cannot thank our staff enough – including our strong dealer network, manufacturing plant and head office staff. We are particularly proud of this recognition as it shows our holistic approach in the way we do business.

“Toyota has won several awards in other sectors, including consumer, pre-owned, quality assurance as well as dealer network.The results from MOTY will also enable us to identify our strengths and work on areas that need improvement.”

Congratulating Toyota, SAVRALA President Winston Guriah says: “While the evolving needs of both the car rental and leasing fleet owners made it an exceptionally demanding business environment, the dedication and commitment of manufacturers, which continued to understand and address these needs, deserves recognition through the MOTY awards.”

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Questionnaires are completed by a panel of individuals who depend on and deal directly with each manufacturer. This results in obtaining an accurate, objective, unbiased and company-wide perspective of the service levels experienced.
Areas of evaluation scored by the Rental members include:
• Communication: Covering the timeous and accurate information on new models, pricing and vehicle delivery, as well as regular manufacturer contact – improved by 4,7%.
• Support: Assessing the quality of operational support and ability to accommodate industry specific requirements as well as timeous delivery of vehicles – improved by 2,6%.
• Maintenance: Rating the technical training, contact with the technical representatives, response to technical issues and warranty claims, dealer support, parts availability and flexibility on Goodwill and Policies – improved by 1,3%.
• Value: Covering the protection of residual value and pricing structures, under the current economic challenges – improved 1,3% above last year’s results.
• B-BBEE compliance: This area shows some modest improvement but remains an area of opportunity

The Overall Rental industry score this year improved by 2,6% from last year.

Areas of evaluation scored by the Leasing members, include:
• Communication / Marketing: Including regular visits, information on production issues, pre-launch and ongoing information – improved by 8,1%.
• Technical Support: Measuring the technical relationship as well as provision of technical information and parts availability – improved by 9,4%.
• Financial: Looking at fleet pricing structures and discounts and residual value – improved by almost 8% since last year.
• Dealer Support: Including delivery issues and aftersales service – improved by 7,6%.
• B-BBEE compliance – This area shows some modest improvement but remains an area of opportunity

The Leasing survey showed improvement in all criteria measured, hence the improvement of 8% in the Leasing Industry score since 2017.

While it is still well below the rental score, Guriah said: “It is clear the manufacturers have taken up the challenge to improve their focus on the Leasing members. It is only a matter of time before the current gap between the two section scores is eradicated.”
Rental Results for 2018:

Toyota moved up from their second position last year to take top honours this year, pushing Volkswagen into joint second with BMW, which proved to be the wildcard this year. Renault, which was the most improved manufacturer in 2017, took third position, breaking into the Top 3 position for the first time.

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Toyota also received the Value award, following their top score in this category on the Rental questionnaire.

BMW received the award for the Most Improved Manufacturer on the Rental side, while BMW won the Tutuka award, awarded to the automotive member who supplies lower and niche vehicle volumes to SAVRALA car rental members.

Leasing Results for 2018:

Toyota took the honours for the second year running by quite some margin, followed by Hyundai in second position and Volkswagen in third.

Toyota was also awarded the Value Award, having scored the best in the Financial Section of the Leasing questionnaire.

The award for the Most Improved Manufacturer in Leasing went to BMW, which managed to improve its Leasing score by 13.7% since 2017.

Best Representative Awards for 2018:

SAVRALA awarded BMW’s Queen Ramaliwa as its Best Rental Account Executive, while Ramatjitla Penyane from Toyota was voted the best Rental Technical Representative for 2018.

Best Leasing Account Executive was awarded to Jackie Grindrod from BMW, while Ramatjitla Penyane, from Toyota, was also voted the best Technical Representative to the Leasing Industry.

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Kona brings new crossover options

Hyundai South Africa has taken a gamble in launching the crossover Kona to compete alongside the Tucson and, to an extent, the Creta – where other markets have selected only the former or the Tucson.

Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive SA, acknowledges it is a calculated plan but believes the Kona will complement, rather than take away from, the Tucson range adding: “We see the Kona buyer as a completely different person to the Tucson buyer.”

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Hyundai’s new crossover model is launched in the local market with derivatives sporting a high specification level and a choice between two engines – including a perky 3-cylinder turbo-charged petrol power source that, based on general comments from journalists at the launch is the engine of choice.

“The Kona is an important milestone in Hyundai Motor’s journey. The quality of the exterior and interior design and the fit and trim level in the cabin bears testimony of the status that Hyundai has achieved as one of the top automotive brands in the world,” says Anderson.

“We are launching the Kona with a 2,0-litre naturally aspirated engine and the new 1,0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo engine that is frugal, yet powerful enough to make a drive in the Kona an exciting experience. The whole package is exciting and modern and represents our brand with pride.”

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The Kona 1.0 T-GDI Executive (manual) enters the local market at a launch price of R379 900, while its sibling, the Kona 2.0 NU Executive (automatic), comes with a price ticket of R399 900.

Both models are front-wheel driven. The 1,0-litre turbo-engine delivers its power via a 6-speed manual gearbox, while the 2,0-litre naturally aspirated version uses a six-speed automatic gearbox with the option of manual shift.

The exterior design boasts muscular sculpted shapes, sleek LED lighting and one-of-a-kind details that highlight the DNA borrowed from its SUV siblings.

A striking design feature of the Kona is its twin headlight design with LED Daytime Running Lights that create an unmistakable front signature, while 17-inch alloy wheels, standard on both derivatives, further contribute to the bold character of the car.

Daniel Kim, a senior designer at Hyundai America’s Design & Engineering Centre in Irvine, California, who was in charge of exterior design during the development of the Kona, summarises their approach to the car’s design: “The basic thinking was to give the all-new Kona slim, modern and high-tech daytime running lamps.

“This was a priority as it is one of the main things people notice all the time, whether it’s during the day or at night, which makes it appealing and visible. We took this opportunity to create something unique by having a main projection lamp integrated with fender cladding. Overall, this gives it a protective, but tough and modern aspect.”

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The interior of the Kona come with two distinctive colour themes: Lime, for the Acid Yellow exterior colour; and Red, for the other four exterior colours. The interior colour accents are featured on the air vent surrounds, around the gearshift, the engine start button ring, the stitching on the seats and the steering wheel.

Kevin Kang, creative manager of interior design at Hyundai America’s Design & Engineering Centre in California who was in charge of interior design during the development of the Kona, says: “My main personal highlight of the all-new Kona is the bold character line that hugs around the outside vents, which gives the interior a wide and engaging feel. This is complemented by a balance of smooth, contoured surfaces and high-contrast elements that create a rather unique character.”

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The floating screen of the 7-inch navigation touchscreen in its ergonomic position allows drivers to stay tuned to the traffic ahead at all times. The infotainment system, with its excellent sound from four speakers and two tweeters, integrates navigation, media and connectivity features, and the Display Audio allows passengers to mirror their smartphone’s content onto the system’s 7-inch display via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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The Kona offers plenty of space for both passengers and luggage. The front-seat legroom, measuring 1 054 mm, and 880 mm for passengers in the rear, are both generous. With a trunk capacity of 361 litres (VDA) that can be increased by removing the hidden storage tray, the Kona is optimal for weekend escapes and longer trips. When large objects are transported, the 60:40 split rear seat back rest creates the necessary space.

The all-new Kona comes with air-conditioning, rear passengers’ arm rest with cup holders, and the 7-inch infotainment system that links to CarPlay on Apple iPhones or Android Auto on Android cell phones. Remote control buttons on the height and reach-adjustable steering wheel enables the driver to operate the speed cruise control, answer phone calls, toggle the onboard computer’s information screens and change radio stations or mute the sound system.

The Kona’s Kappa 1,0-litre T-GDI 3-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine provides 88 kW at 6 000 r/min and 172 Nm maximum torque between 1 500 r/min and 4 000 r/min. It is a perky 998 cc engine that gets its boost from a turbo-charger equipped with an electronically controlled waste-gate actuator, which improves fuel efficiency by reducing pumping losses as well as improving throttle response and low-end torque.

The unit features a six-hole GDI injector, pressured to a higher-than-average 200 bar, securing a clean combustion.

Power goes to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. The maximum speed of the Kona 1.0 TGDI is 181 km/h and fuel consumption, measured in a real-life combined cycle, can be as low as 6,8 l/100 km.

The Atkinson 2,0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine employed in the Kona 2.0 NU Executive delivers 110 kW at 6 200 r/min. and maximum torque of 180 Nm is reached at 4 500 r/min. The four-cylinder engine is coupled with a six-speed automatic gearbox, also delivering its power to the front wheels.

It can reach a maximum speed of 194 km/h and recorded fuel consumption of 7,2 l/100 km on a combined urban/open road test cycle.

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The active safety features include an anti-lock braking, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Downhill Brake Control, Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning.

Passive safety features include driver and front passenger air bags, complemented by curtain and side-impact air bags.

 Pricing

Kona 1.0 T-GDI Executive Manual – R379 900

Kona 2.0 NU Executive Automatic – R399 900

It includes a 7 years/200 000 km manufacturers’ warranty (comprising the 5 years/150 000 km warranty with a 2 years/50 000 km drivetrain warranty); a 5 year/90 000 km service plan; and 5 years/150 000 km roadside assistance.

 

Honda sedan targets corporates

Fleet and corporate buying remains the dominant force in the South African vehicle market, even though much of this is hidden in the sales returns as ‘dealer sales’, and the sedan is still the body shape of choice for company cars.

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In line with world trends this is slowly changing – with one automaker already having announced it is ending production of small and medium sedans – and that trend will follow suit locally by choice or by force.

In the meanwhile, the way into this market is with a choice sedan and Honda is looking to capture a slice of the pice with the new Amaze.

Designed specifically as a sedan from the ground up, the new Amaze is larger in every dimension than the Brio, which it effectively replaces.

“We believe the new Honda Amaze will set a new, elevated standard for small sedans in South Africa,” says Toshiaki Kusakari, Head of Automobiles at Honda Motor Southern Africa.

“We are expecting the car to appeal to a broad and varied motoring audience, ranging from young singles and start-up families to mature motorists. All will be attracted by the Amaze’s value-added purchase price, excellent fuel efficiency and low operating cost.

“In addition, the new Amaze is exceptionally roomy and offers a generous luggage compartment, while Honda’s revered reputation for reliability and good resale value will also add to the Amaze’s attraction.”

The new Amaze is only 5 mm longer and 15 mm wider than its predecessor, but the wheelbase has grown by a substantial 65 mm, which translates into shorter overhangs and more interior space.

The front is dominated by Honda’s characteristic ‘solid wing’ appearance, which manifests itself in a broad bar extending across the width of the contrasting black honeycomb grille. It also provides a visual link to the bold halogen headlight clusters.

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A lower air intake is framed by recessed, black-framed fog lamps in the case of Comfort models. A slim, colour-coded splitter below the air intake adds a sporty finishing touch.

Viewed from the side, the alloy wheels – standard across the range – are a visual highlight, while also reducing unsprung mass. A crisp shoulder line running from the headlights to the taillight clusters highlights the Amaze’s sculpted flanks while a broad sill contributes to the sedan’s planted, powerful look.

The rear view is dominated by the C-shaped taillight clusters, which frame a bootlid that opens wide and deep. An integrated spoiler on the bootlid’s leading edge adds a sporty touch, while the colour-coded, integrated bumper extends into a stylised rear diffuser.

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Smart cloth upholstery is used to trim the contoured, supportive front seats and rear bench seat. Genuine Honda synthetic leather seat covers can be ordered as a no-cost option.

Gloss piano black detailing on the dashboard adds to the ambience, while the ergonomically designed dashboard features a driver-centric instrument binnacle with analogue dials for speed and rev count. The binnacle also houses a digital trip computer.

The centre stack is home to a sound system offering FM/AM radio functionality, as well as MP3 music file playback and Bluetooth, which allows hands-free telephony and music streaming. The four-speaker system also provides USB connectivity and an AUX socket.

A multifunction steering wheel allows safe and convenient control of the audio system, as well as making Bluetooth-linked hands-free cellphone calls. Generous cabin storage includes pockets in all four doors and cupholders in the centre console, while a fold-down rear seat armrest also incorporates cup holders for rear occupants.

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Because of the new Amaze’s comparatively long 2 470 mm wheelbase, the interior is airy and spacious, with ample leg and headroom both front and rear. The boot capacity is 420 litres – 20 litres more than the original Brio Amaze.

The new Honda Amaze is powered by a 1 199 cc unit that employs Honda’s i-VTEC intelligent valve timing management system. Maximum power output is rated at 66 kW, reached at 6 000 r/min, combined with a torque peak of 110 Nm at 4 800 r/min.

In the baseline Amaze Trend model, a five-speed manual gearbox is standard, while buyers of the Comfort model can also opt for a new-generation Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT).

With a kerb mass of just more than 900 kg, the Amaze is able to deliver swift performance, and frugal fuel economy. Manual-gearbox models will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 12,3 sec, while the CVT version requires 13,5 sec. Top speed is 160 km/h for all derivatives.

The manual-transmission Amaze models achieve a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 5,6 l/100 km, while the CVT version is only slightly thirstier at 5,7 l/100 km.

The Amaze’s all-new platform features an independent, McPherson strut-based front suspension, and a torsion beam rear set-up. It has been designed to offer confident handling and a refined ride, while the electrically assisted power steering ensures effortless, crisp steering response.

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Overall refinement and NVH has been improved substantially, thanks to the new platform’s enhanced sound proofing and reduced engine noise transmission, as well as optimised engine mounts.

All Honda Amaze models are fitted with dual front air bags, inertia reel seatbelts front and rear, and IsoFix child seat anchors. On the active safety front, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) are standard.

The new Honda Amaze range consists of three models, all employing the same engine, but offering a choice between two transmissions, and two trim levels.

The most affordable Amaze is the 1.2 Trend, available as a manual gearbox model only. However, even this so-called base model offers buyers an extensive list of standard equipment.

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Exterior features include 15-inch alloy wheels shod with 175/65 R15 tyres, a roof-mounted sharkfin antenna, and a high-mounted third brake light. Inside, smart cloth upholstery is standard, as is the tilt-adjustable multifunction steering wheel. The four-speaker audio system features FM/AM and MP3 functionality.

It also includes Bluetooth connectivity for audio streaming and hands-free telephony. Central locking is standard, while the exterior mirrors are adjusted manually.

Moving up to the 1.2 Comfort, the exterior gains colour-coding for the exterior mirrors and door handles, while low-mounted, recessed fog lamps are standard, too.

Inside, the Comfort includes everything that’s standard on Trend versions, but adds automatic air-conditioning and electric adjustment of the exterior mirrors, as well as automatic door locking once the vehicle starts moving.

The 1.2 Comfort CVT is identical in all respects to its manual-gearbox stablemate, but gains gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel to allow for manual shifts between the CVT’s virtual gears.

PRICING, WARRANTY AND SERVICE PLAN
The new Honda Amaze recommended retail pricing is as follows:
Honda Amaze 1.2 Trend: R179 900
Honda Amaze 1.2 Comfort: R193 900
Honda Amaze 1.2 Comfort CVT: R208 900

The range is supported by a full 5-year/200 000 km warranty, as well as a 2-year/30 000 km service plan, and a three-year AA Roadside Assistance package. Scheduled services are at 15 000 km intervals.

Catastrophe for motor industry looms

Implementing the proposed Code of Conduct for motor dealers will be catastrophic for the industry according to Mark Dommisse, National Chairperson of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA).

Mark Dommisse National Chairperson NADA SAAICC 2

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“NADA and its members fully recognise the need to broaden participation in the automotive aftermarket sector and are committed to co-operating and assisting the commission to address matters of concern raised in the proposed new Code of Conduct.

“The impact of implementing the code in its current form will, however, have a catastrophic effect on the economy as it undermines investment, employment and consumer welfare in this important sector of our economy.”

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South Africa currently has approximately 1 600 new franchised automotive dealerships comprising R48-billion worth of investment. It directly employs 60 000 personnel.

The South African motor industry is impressively sustainable. Lionel October, Director- General of Trade and Industry, speaking on behalf of the Trade and Industry Minister, has called it “a South African success story”.

It provides substantial benefits to the country and its impact on the overall economy and employment is substantial and far-reaching. Production and sale of automotive products also generates profits for a wide range of industries up and downstream.

“Only around 20% of the entire South African car parc comprises in-warranty vehicles, and it is this small portion which the new code is addressing. We feel that significant effort and focus should be placed on developing the other 80% of the industry – which is predominantly made up of out-of-warranty vehicles,” says Dommisse.

The automotive retail industry’s contribution to the whole industry includes consulting with government through NADA and the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (NAAMSA), invaluable apprenticeship programmes, a broad range of employee benefits, hundreds of millions of Rands in staff training and funding healthcare and pensions.

“A loss of just one of the seven major manufacturers to South Africa would have unprecedented spill over effects both financially and socially that would far outweigh the current subsidies that manufacturers are receiving,” says Dommisse.

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“We should also keep in mind that Australia shut down an entire motor manufacturing industry due to adopting controversial codes.

“If we were behaving in an anti-competitive manner, the arbiter would have said so, which to date hasn’t happened,” he says.

“Furthermore, the background document to the draft code notes that the basis for the code is derived from complaints related ‘to potential exclusionary conduct…’, and does not mention anti-competitive behaviour. However, proponents of adopting the code ‘as is’ blame the franchised dealers for just that.”

“To say we are anti-competitive is untrue and defamatory,” he adds.

“We want to work with government and we want prosperity for all, but we want it to happen in a responsible manner that does not adversely impact consumer safety, the economy and job creation. We support a code that opens up the market in a way that protects investment, economic sustainability and consumers.

“We are a highly regulated industry and this protects our South African consumers. It will be impossible to effectively regulate a bigger industry in such a short space of time.”

By providing world-class training and exposure to global industry best practice, the franchised dealer sector plays an important role in developing the industry and its technicians. Many technicians leave these establishments to start their own businesses, or take up opportunities at other workshops. The skills they acquire are invaluable.

“Furthermore, if someone, or some organisation, is prepared to invest in us and set up costly facilities and services, then we have an obligation to protect them and their investment. This is not anti-competitive, it is responsible business practice.

“We also believe strongly that manufacturers have the right to determine the standards of those that service their products in much the same way that Boeing does with airliners or Apple does with cell phones, tablets or any of its exclusive products.”

It is important to note the franchised dealers’ standards include significant technical training, staff welfare, pension and insurance benefits, extremely expensive special tools (calibration machines, diagnostics etc.), specific detail of facilities (special flooring etc.), CI upgrades, higher than legislated minimum wage, skills development levies, injury protocol and healthcare benefits.

“We want to build our competition but it’s not reasonable to do it immediately. Our businesses have to meet global manufacturer standards which, on average, take many years to establish a return on investment on meeting these standards. Our level of investment is mandatory. We therefore support opening the market slowly and responsibly. There are no defined standards in the code yet. These need to be developed appropriately, and here we can help,” says Dommisse.

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South Africa, according to many sources, does not have a culture of saving. Household debt ratios are increasing, inflation has the potential to skyrocket, and our currency is extremely volatile. Against this backdrop, a plan that costs out servicing and maintenance for a period of time (2 – 5 years), priced at today’s exchange rate, and with the savings added in terms of reduced labour rates and parts pricing (volumetric pricing), is not only necessary, it is critical to the consumer.

“South African consumers should consider service and maintenance plans which are built into vehicle purchase prices at the time of sale are beneficial to them. The volatility of the Rand should be a very real concern for motorists, and securing parts prices at current exchange rates is a wise move. Ultimately, service and maintenance plans are designed to help the customer, not hurt them,” says Dommisse.

“Factory plans have a cost to them, but so does a steering wheel or car seats or any other standard feature, the costs of which will always be lower when there is massive scale (such as in every car) as opposed to purchases that cannot match these economies.”

“Additionally, inflation and currency issues affecting South Africa are not the same in the EU, US etc. where their economies are stable, growing and mature,” says Dommisse.

Service and maintenance plans add value and give customers peace of mind. NADA believes over time, the cost of these should plans be disclosed. In the interim customers can assume the costs for these are in line with any of the third-party bolt on plans – the costs will be similar, and most likely a bit less.

“There is no quality control of alternate parts coming into the country and we don’t believe that this is responsible. Our question is: How will the industry ensure quality parts are utilised in consumers’ vehicles? Who is going to police the parts and vehicles coming into the independent workshop,” says Dommisse.

“If the industry is not required to use genuine or approved parts, there can be no monitoring of safety standards. And this won’t only apply to passenger vehicles – heavy commercials, trucks and buses will also be affected.”

“In the case of a dispute, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) will have to inspect the vehicle. There are bound to be many claims and compliance will be unmanageable.

“If the independent workshops are going to use quality parts, made by an original parts manufacturer (such as Bosch or Denso) and of the same specification, design and model, then this might, one day, in theory, be acceptable. However, the reality is that it is unlikely that all independent workshops will use these parts due to the very high cost. It is doubtful that the manufactures will allow this during warranty.

“What we will likely see is the use of ‘equivalent’ generic parts that fit, but are nowhere near the quality nor have been tested under the conditions that Original Equipment (OE) parts are. Even in the case of OE parts, unless the person knows how to install them properly, test them, and assure that the work is completed to specification, the parts themselves are meaningless.

“Take cola for example. Cola is stored in the same container, is the same colour, has the same ingredients as Coca Cola®, but nobody comes close to the original. Applied to safety, this difference is critical,” says Dommisse.

“It is extremely important to emphasise that the sale, maintenance, repair and operation of a motor vehicle is ultimately about the safety of the customer.

“In general, we agree with the principles noted throughout the code. It is the application and machinations of it that we object to. The changes made to draft 2 of the code have not taken on board the submissions made by NADA to the first draft,” says Dommisse.

“In order for the automotive industry to continue to contribute positively and sustainably to the South African economy, all stakeholders need to engage, discuss and constructively develop a meaningful and sustainable new Code of Conduct.”

Rally to Read

Reading is something all too many of us take for granted yet, for hundreds of children in rural areas of South Africa, not being able to read (or write) is a fact of life.

It is not their fault. How far would your children have got in a school without educational materials: no reading books, exercise books, pens or pencils. No playground or play equipment, beyond paper crushed and taped together to resemble a ball. Perhaps no desks, running water or toilets.

Welcome to the reality of rural schooling for hundreds of thousands of South African children. But it does not have to be like this. A R35 000 sponsorship can make a lifetime of difference to hundreds of children. It can also give you an experience to remember.

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In the 20 years it has been operating, Rally To Read has found that a little goes a very long way in rural schools. That R35 000 will provide a rural primary school with two portable classroom libraries packed with carefully-selected books designed to teach children to read.

It will also fund a year’s additional teacher training for the school’s educators.

Each school is supported for three years — every year the books delivered are a little more advanced — so that by the time the programme finishes, a culture of reading and appropriate teaching is embedded.

Does it work? Independent studies show a rapid improvement in literacy skills at Rally To Read schools. Not convinced? Then come and see for yourself.

At no extra cost (besides fuel and alcoholic drinks), sponsors are invited to join Rally To Read when it delivers books to schools. Each year, hundreds of sponsors and companions join us on weekend rallies into far-flung corners of the country, where we meet the children we are helping, as well as their families and community members.

It is a big event in their lives. Sometimes hundreds of people turn out to greet the strangers offering their children a future. It can be emotional; tears are not uncommon.

There are four rallies in 2018. One, in Kwazulu-Natal, is already full. But there are still spaces in the others.

The Free State rally is on September 8-9 and will support primary schools around Reitz, Petrus Steyn and Tweeling. The Western Cape rally, on October 27-28, will take sponsors into the Winelands region around Robertson. Finally, the Eastern Cape rally will go to schools around Butterworth, in the former Transkei, on November 3-4. This is a new date; the rally was originally scheduled for September.

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Who are you likely to meet on these weekends?

Sponsors come from all kinds of industries, but transport and automotive companies have always been big supporters. Many of SA’s motor companies remain involved. In addition, Shell, Mercedes-Benz SA and the OneLogix/United Bulk group host the KZN, Eastern Cape and Free State rallies respectively, with Jonsson Workwear doing the same in the Western Cape. Hosts cover the costs of sponsors’ weekend food and accommodation.

Weekends start ridiculously early on Saturday morning when sponsors and guests (it may be colleagues or family) meet to load their vehicles with portable libraries and other educational materials. Convoys split later into small groups, each of which visits two schools. Once that’s done, everyone meets up again at nearby accommodation, usually a hotel, for drinks and dinner, where we share feedback and experiences.

On Sunday morning, participants have the opportunity to visit local places of interest, or they may head home after breakfast.

For more information about Rally To Read and details on how to become a sponsor, visit rallytoread.co.za

Service with a smile

There is some service with a smile in the South African auto industry with Volkswagen and Audi dominating the top positions in the latest automotive customer care survey conducted by Ipsos in South Africa.

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This research, based on interviews with more than 20 000 customers in 2017, covered both purchasing and servicing experiences.

The sample of participating brands in the latest survey represented more than three out of every four new cars and light commercial vehicles sold through dealership channels in South Africa in 2017, as well as the consistency of results from year to year supports the credibility of the research as a valuable tool with which to measure customer service in the automotive market in South Africa.

The Volkswagen Group continues to fight the ongoing backwash of its 2015 so-called Dieselgate scandal and a host of vehicle recalls worldwide, but it seems its image remains strong if one looks at its dominance in terms of global vehicle sales and customer loyalty.

The excellent ratings by customers in both the purchasing and servicing aspects of vehicle ownership here in SA are evidence of this good relationship between these brands, their owners and the franchised dealers.

The Volkswagen and Audi brands have been in leadership positions in the purchasing experience in these annual Ipsos surveys for a number of years. In the latest survey Audi and Volkswagen both once again attained gold awards for the customer purchasing experience with Volkswagen also collecting gold in the LCV sales category.

Audi achieved the gold standard in the servicing experience for the past four years too, while Volkswagen has had a gold rating for both passenger car and LCV servicing for the past two years.

Nissan has made very positive strides in both its purchasing and servicing operations at its dealers and collected gold awards in both categories among local passenger car and light commercial vehicle buyers.

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Audi, Nissan, and Volkswagen were the only brands which received gold awards for passenger car purchasing, with several brands – Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Toyota, and Volvo – collecting silver, with Ford, Honda and Renault rating bronze in this category of the survey.

Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen were the only three gold award winners in terms of the light commercial purchasing experience, with Chevrolet, Ford and Isuzu collecting silver.

Five brands – Audi, Lexus, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen – earned gold awards for the passenger car servicing experience, with another five – Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Renault, and Volvo – rating silver. Honda was the sole recipient of a bronze award in this category.

Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen all earned gold awards for the light commercial vehicle servicing experience, with Chevrolet rating silver and Ford bronze.

“The consistency of good service that some brands deliver across their dealer network to so many customers over time is highly commendable as consistency is one of the most important factors in building a powerful brand reputation,” says Patrick Busschau, Business Unit Director at Ipsos.

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“Volkswagen and Audi brands continue to maintain particularly high levels of customer satisfaction in terms of both the buying and servicing of new passenger vehicles, year after year, despite facing very tough opposition in the local market.”

“What is also pleasing to note is a number of other brands are also upping their game to challenge for the Gold medal positions as well. Nissan is now seeing the fruits of their labours in all categories while Toyota can also see reward for their consistent effort in the Passenger Car Servicing and both Sales and Servicing for Light Commercials.”

“These latest results underline the fact the custodians of these brands are certainly not sitting back and resting on their laurels but rather use the customer feedback from our ongoing surveys as well as other sources to improve areas of weakness.”

Confidence under pressure

Consumer confidence is under severe pressure from rapidly escalating prices, political uncertainty and an economy that has not kicked into the higher gear anticipated when Cyril Ramaphosa became President.

Left_Mark Dommisse_Chairperson_NADA_Right Ghana Msibi_Executive Head_SalesandMarketing_WesBank

Mark Domisse (left) and Ghana Msibi

This was the underlying sentiment that emerged from the comments at the recent (23rd) annual National Automobile Dealer’s Association (NADA) awards function for Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) results.

“The DSI survey forms a vital link in the relationship between dealers and manufacturers. This year’s survey showed a high completion percentage rate of more than 80% in the passenger vehicle section,” says Mark Dommisse, National Chairperson of NADA. “We also had one of the highest completion ratios in DSI history this year, which is extremely encouraging.

“The DSI survey provides the dealer body with a platform to provide robust feedback to manufacturers and importers. In most cases, the findings are used to benefit the working relationship for both parties.”

Over the years, the results of the survey have been used by dealer councils and manufacturers as an effective management tool to address areas of concern and thereby improve service delivery throughout the entire value chain to the ultimate benefit of the consumer.

“Political uncertainty has had a major effect on investment appetites, as well as consumer spending on large ticket items,” he says.

“While consumer confidence is relatively high, the rest of the underlying metrics such as household debt, inflation, fuel, and increased consumer taxes are putting our businesses under pressure. Apart from a very slow economy that has not quite manifested in the Ramaphoria everyone had hoped for, the retail motor industry is facing frightening pressures.

“We need to embrace the ever-growing presence of digital disruptors in our game. They are competitors to the traditional dealer model, used car supply and our F&I departments and we are being challenged. We need to evolve and continue to align with this new generation of customer.”

Paul de Vantier, Managing Director, Lightstone Consumer, noted when it comes to online marketing and dealing, this industry has seen a growing number of people who will transact the whole deal online, from start to finish, with the dealer simply being a delivery and service point.

disruptors

“This is not something that’s coming, he says, “it is something that is already happening – and this trend will grow.”

De Vantier also made note of South Africa’s ageing car parc. In 2015 it was 9,6 years, but now it has aged to 9,9 years. He attributes this to rising vehicle prices, affordability and general consumer confidence.

“Consumers either cannot afford to replace their vehicles or lack the confidence to commit to long term financing deals,” he says.

Ghana Msibi, the Executive Head of Sales and Marketing at WesBank, says: “We cannot ignore the largest disruptor out there – the new generation of customers. As an industry, we cannot continue to offer them solutions on the same basis as we have done before.

“Our traditional approach has given us a superior footing in the industry, but if we do not meet them halfway, they will ultimately find alternatives that suit them.”