Amid fierce competition in the used car market, BMW SA has re-launched its Approved Used division, re-branded it Premium Selection and added additional services to its pre-owned vehicle programme.

By Mike Fourie, News Ed.

Amid fierce competition in the used car market, BMW SA has re-launched its Approved Used division, re-branded it Premium Selection, and added additional services to its pre-owned vehicle programme. But will incentives such as guaranteed trade-ins and offering attractive terms on finance deals discourage buyers from buying cars privately (at lower cost) - or, in many cases, buying new cars (at a small or moderate premium) - instead? recently quoted McCarthy Motor Holdings chairman Brand Pretorius as saying that although a recent upturn in used vehicle sales was "most encouraging", there had not been any improvements in the upper end of the second-hand market, which remained heavily biased towards new vehicles.

In the light of favourable interest rates, low pricing inflation, strong business confidence and added-value deals on an ever-expanding new vehicles market, Wesbank chief exectuive Ronnie Watson added that there had been no real shift in the ratio of new to old vehicles sold: "We're close to parity at one new for every 1,3 used, compared to the heady days of four used to one new".

Speaking at the Western Cape introduction of BMW Premium Selection - Approved Used Cars, BMW SA national sales manger Neil Fiorentinos said that the used market was undergoing "a difficult time, with tough trading conditions across the brands and resale values under pressure" as pre-owned dealers tried to keep up with the boom in sales recorded in the new car market.

With the launch of BMW Premium Selection, the Munich-based brand's used cars will be marketed separately from pre-owned Minis, which will be branded Mini Next in coming months. BMW SA Premium Selection manager Pavla Benguric said the programme sought to provide motorists with "peace of mind motoring, reassurance of the manufacturer Motorplan and the same confidence when purchasing a used vehicle as when purchasing a new vehicle".

Benguric added that Premium Selection "would (have) a positive impact on the resale values of approved used BMWs" and that the manufacturer hoped to attract current BMW owners, new entrants to the brand and motorists who would traditionally buy non-premium marques as prospective customers".

Motorplan a victim of its own success?

Apart from newer Premium Selection cars, which are sold with the balance of their BMW-backed Motorplan maintenance contracts, older vehicles have a minimum balance of 1-year/25 000 km, which can be extended to 200 000 km or seven years. As opposed to other types of maintenance plans offered in South Africa, all services (including changes of oils, brake fluid and other lubricants) stipulated in the BMW vehicle booklet, fitment of faulty parts and repairs of normal wear and tear items are carried out at no cost to the owner by Motorplan.

However, Motorplan also makes the private purchase of a used BMW an attractive option. If valid, the balance of a Motorplan contract is directly transferable when a BMW owner sells his or her vehicle to another person, and, because the provisions of the plan are stringent (all services need to be carried out on time by BMW and body repairs completed by accredited panel beaters), buyers can reportedly check the history of a Motorplan-covered vehicle by phoning a BMW dealer and quoting the car's body number to find out what particular repairs had been carried out.

Thus, would the efficiency of Motorplan not tempt motorists to buy privately, at lower cost than from a dealer, we asked...

"Premium Selection vehicles undergo a series of checks, including mileage and vehicle history verification and are subjected to a comprehensive preparation and reconditioning process," Fiorentinos said. "In other words, vehicles can be bought from the Premium Selection dealers with complete peace of mind".

BMW Accident Management and Group On Call emergency service are also included with the purchase of a BMW Premium Selection vehicle. The former serves to provide a managed response to an accidental vehicle immobilisation and includes BMW Approved Repair Centre services and overall co-ordination by the BMW Customer Contact Centre. The latter provides customers with assistance in the case of breakdown, collision or medical emergency - including 24-hour roadside assistance, tow-in service to the nearest BMW Dealer, accommodation, car hire or transport to your destination, if stranded, and emergency medical assistance.Assured tyre tread depth and finance deals

Although customers become Owner's Circle members and receive a complimentary subscription to the BMW Magazine when purchasing an approved used BMW, there are more significant incentives (e

Original article from Car