Ex­cit­ing times, new chal­lenges

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - FROM THE EDITOR -

A new face ap­pears briefly in the ed­i­tor’s chair, but not new to the in­dus­try. I have to thank pub­lisher Cathy Parker for the op­por­tu­nity to guest-edit this is­sue. The chance came about be­cause this month we farewell Damien O’car­roll, who is off to pur­sue his love of car launches, tak­ing over from the re­doubtable Rob Maet­zig who has re­tired. It means a shift in gear to the fast-paced world of news­pa­pers and more on­line ac­tiv­ity, both chal­lenges I know Damien is keen to meet head-on. It’s ex­cit­ing to watch the global auto in­dus­try adapt­ing to rapid change and to then see what works here in New Zealand – one of the small­est western au­to­mo­tive mar­kets with a set of unique chal­lenges for car brands. In­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy wait for no­body, and the pace of change is in­creas­ing. The lap­top on your desk now has more com­put­ing power and speed than the rocket that took us to the moon – and yet it lags far be­hind the pro­cess­ing ca­pa­bil­ity of most medium sa­loons. New innovations pour down from the lux­ury end of the mar­ket, mak­ing mid-range ve­hi­cles safer and more en­joy­able to drive with­out adding ap­pre­cia­bly to their cost. While au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing or lane de­par­ture as­sist might seem like an­swers to ques­tions none of us were ask­ing, no­body who has been saved ex­pense, in­con­ve­nience or in­jury by one of these sys­tems ques­tions its worth. For all these rea­sons and more, now is a good time to take a close look at how telematics is help­ing Kiwi com­pa­nies and mo­torists get the best value from their ve­hi­cle pur­chase and use. Hy­brids and pure plug-in elec­tric cars are com­mon enough on our roads that they evoke no par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est from other mo­torists. The tech­nolo­gies are prob­a­bly not quite ‘there’ yet – de­cent range per charge is still pretty ex­pen­sive – but I’m with Toy­ota New Zealand CE Alis­tair Davis who said a year ago that we are re­ally only one tech­nol­ogy step away from ‘democra­tised’ EVS that are truly cost-ef­fec­tive, prac­ti­cal no­brain­ers for ev­ery­day mo­tor­ing. The same is true of cus­tomer re­la­tion­ships. Even those of us who run small one or two per­son SMES – and they make up most of our busi­ness sec­tor – have to make de­ci­sions about what ve­hi­cle to buy from time to time. Did the sales­per­son make the ex­pe­ri­ence easy? En­joy­able? Did they ask enough ques­tions to work out what you were af­ter, or was it more a case of fit­ting you into what they had on the floor? When a mar­ket heavy­weight like Toy­ota takes a rad­i­cal step that changes cus­tomer re­la­tion­ship mar­ket­ing across its dealer net­work, you bet we should stop, look and lis­ten. Drive Happy takes the angst out of the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween sales­per­son and cus­tomer by of­fer­ing the prod­uct at a set price with a no-hag­gle guar­an­tee. They sup­port this by pay­ing sales staff on a dif­fer­ent model that eases the pres­sure to max­imise com­mis­sion on a sale. The Drive Happy ini­tia­tive is go­ing to trans­form tra­di­tional re­la­tion­ships be­tween the sales force and the cus­tomer. It may put a tem­po­rary dent in the com­pany’s mar­ket share, but I am sure that too has been taken into ac­count. What con­vinced Toy­ota as a global en­tity to roll out Drive Happy here? It’s a small mar­ket, and Toy­ota New Zealand is ag­ile enough to re­spond quickly to trends and is­sues with its new way of do­ing busi­ness. It will be an in­ter­est­ing 12 months as Drive Happy beds in. Fi­nally, with SUV and ute buy­ers now mak­ing up the bet­ter part of the new ve­hi­cle buy­ing pub­lic, we’re go­ing through the de­tail of that mas­sive part of the mar­ket. En­joy!

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