Service packages for premium cars to boom

Audi is the latest prestige car manufacturer to help buyers fix their monthly outgoings with a pay-monthly service plan – and according to one expert it won't be the last.

German firm Audi has launched a three-year service, maintenance and tyre replacement package which takes car of ownership in exchange for a one-off fee or fixed monthly payments. It includes the firm's five-year/90,000 mile warranty and the first MOT – and it's even transferable between owners.
With monthly payments starting from £27, the scheme helps owners fix their costs so they're not stung for huge bills when they least expect it.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt told Autoblog that the move was a consequence of the recession. With less cars being sold, many makers are focusing on getting service and repair business into their garages instead – and these schemes help.

"2011 was always going to be a tough year with a five per cent reduction in new car registrations and greater fluctuations in the used car market," explained Everitt. "These have placed an even greater emphasis on maintaining service and repair work for the longer-term sustainability of the franchise dealer network.

"Motorists are facing a significant cost-of-living squeeze. By providing greater certainty on monthly expenditure and removing the shock of unexpected service and repair bills manufacturers and dealers are doing their best to help support family and business finances."

The Audi Complete package is claimed to be the "most inclusive and all encompassing package for the premium sector". For an A4, the service and maintenance package with a five-year warranty starts from £32, based on 30,000 miles and a fixed service regime. Audi Complete service, maintenance and tyres with a five-year warranty starts from £47 for the same model.

Mercedes has also launched a similar offer, but for servicing only. Starting at £23 a month, buyers cover all parts and labour for their next two or three services.

And BMW offers a scheme called Service Inclusive. This lasts for five years or 60,000 miles and fixes service prices for that entire period – buyers can then guarantee exactly what check-ups will cost. BMW 1 Series services can be fixed at £300 or M cars at £1,000 and it includes most service items, but not brake discs/pads or clutches.

Service packages are of course nothing new. MINI's tlc scheme has been one of the best for years taking care of all services for five years for just £249. It's one of the most popular packages any manufacturer offers.

But if the car maker you're buying from can't help ask the dealer instead, as many offer their own schemes.

Everitt added: "A number of dealer groups offer service plans – it helps to retain custom and help motorists smooth the annual running costs of their cars."
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