THERE’S a new showroom stoush and buyers are the winners in the warranty war.
Kia is seriously considering extending its five-year warranty in Australia to seven years, two ahead of most mainstream brands, as other minor makers look to push into fresh territory.
Citroen brought in a sixyear deal covering all but its baby Berlingo van. Renault has extended its five-year parachute to the highperformance models it sells in Australia.
That’s good news for anyone looking at a Renault Megane RS or Clio RS, as well as the Megane GT200 hatch and wagon that have become mainstream models and not just a limited-edition deal.
The extra warranty efforts reflect not only the growing quality and reliability of all sorts of cars but also the earnest efforts of what are known as “challenger brands” to convince Australian buyers that they can be trusted. Renault says its warranty costs in Australia are about a third of what they were six year ago.
AROUND the world, cars are getting better and buyers are getting a bulletproof bonus. Warranty costs and claims are falling dramatically at most major makers and that’s a reflection of improved quality from the first computer strokes through to the final assembly.
There are still flaws, and risk-averse management is rushing to recalls at the first signs of potential trouble, but the overall trend is very positive for most new-car buyers.
Renault says its warranty costs in Australia have fallen by a whopping 68 per cent over the past six years, a result that has justified a five-year unlimitedkilometre warranty that’s even been extended to its Renault Sport performance cars.
At Kia, warranty costs since 2005 have dropped by nearly three-quarters. And that’s despite the number of cars covered by the company’s fiveyear warranty umbrella more than doubling.
“Using 2005 as the baseline, costs per unit in June this year were down by 71.2 per cent,” says Kia spokesman Kevin Hepworth.
“At that time, in 2005, the Kia carpark was roughly 60,000 cars under warranty. Now there are more than 140,000 under warranty. So numbers have doubled and costs have more than halved.” There was a time when Suzuki boasted that the warranty cost on its Vitara was just $12 for each car sold in Australia. That’s an incredibly low figure and illustrates the benefits to buyers.
The trend at Suzuki is continuing a similar downward path to most of the majors, with a double-digit improvement since 2010.
“Our warranty costs have dropped 11.9 per cent over the past three years,” says spokesman Andrew Ellis. He won’t go into details but a Suzuki service chief contacted by Carsguide confirms the warranty cost in 2013 was little more than $20 for each car sold. This is probably an industryleading result.
“The longer-term trend is greater reliability and less cost for the consumer. We see this trend being maintained,” Ellis says.
But not every brand is driving its claims down, as Hyundai says a vastly bigger pool of cars and more costly cars has led to a slight increase in its warranty costs over the past three years.
“Marginally increased warranty costs are to be expected with this shift,” Hyundai spokesman Bill Thomas says.
“We may see slightly increased warranty costs per unit as we sell more premium vehicles, because people have correspondingly higher expectations of those vehicles. It’s not to do with diminished reliability. Ultimately, the customer is the winner.”