If it is appropriate I would like to guage members feedback on the subject of the Fiat International Warranty. Looking through this forum the topic has certainly been the subject of much conjecture over recent times. There is certainly a great deal of misunderstanding and misinformation about how International Warranty operates.
The reason for asking for such feedback is that there are unprecedented numbers of Fiat based campers arriving in New Zealand through a variety of sources. Last year 800 arrived and this year the number could eclipse 1000 units. This huge increase in volume has prompted a discussion between Fiat Dealers and the NZ Fiat importer, Ateco Ltd about the servicing and warranty requirements to support these vehicles. Your input will assist towards the formulation of a comprehensive policy which will then be issued to all Fiat owners who are inside warranty and to the importers who are bringing these vehicles into New Zealand.
New Vehicle Warranty. Most people probably understand the industry norm for new vehicle warranty for a new vehicle purchased from a franchised new vehicle dealership in New Zealand. There are two components of such a warranty which will meet the cost of a legitimate new vehicle warranty claim. There is the claim that the dealer can make back on the manufacturer for performing a repair that is deemed necessary due to a faulty part or faulty assembly while the vehicle is within the new vehicle warranty period. Typically the dealer will recover a reasonable portion of the cost incurred in performing the repair, but often there is a shortfall which the dealer will absorb as a matter of goodwill towards his customer. The second part of the new vehicle warranty is made up of less straightforward claims where the manufacturer does not accept the warranty claim but the dealer decides to complete the repair as a matter of 'goodwill' or 'policy' to maintain the relationship with the new vehicle customer. This is a straight out cost to the selling dealer and is usually funded by a provision that the dealer makes from the profit generated by selling the car in the first place.
So typically any franchised new vehicle dealer will be incurring a cost performing new vehicle warranty which results from a shortfall between the cost of the repair and the amount recovered from the factory, and secondly from goodwill repairs where no claim on the factory is possible.
Transient New Vehicle Warranty. From time to time a vehicle may be purchased in Dunedin but be relocated to Auckland while it is still within the new vehicle warranty period. Of course the new vehicle warranty remains valid and a claim can be made at any dealer holding the same franchise throughout New Zealand. The repairing dealer can claim on the factory for a legitimate warranty claim. In the case of a 'goodwill' claim the repairing dealer will invoice the selling dealer if the selling dealer agrees to meet the cost of the claim.
International Warranty. Some brands offer an International Warranty which provides some degree of cover for owners of vehicles which are within the specified warranty period who move from one country to another. There are several very distinct differences between an International Warranty and a routine New Vehicle Warranty.
1. The vehicle must be registered for International Warranty so that it can be clearly identified by the manufacturer. This is an onerous process and a cost to the person completing the registration.
2. International Warranty claims are difficult to make and also require a raft of time consuming paperwork. Reimbursement of International Warranty takes months.
3. Generally the International Warranty conditions are less generous and more stringent than a new vehicle warranty.
4. The selling dealer is often on the other side of the world, and therefore a 'goodwill' claim is nearly impossible to make. The repairing dealer has not benefitted from the sale of the vehicle and does not have any provision to draw upon to fund goodwill claims.
5. The repair times given by the factory are almost impossible to meet and therefore the repairing dealer will almost certainly lose time completing the repair. Specialist technicians are very hard to find, very expensive to employ, and generally are booked out well in advance creating a significant opportunity cost when loosing time doing warranty repairs.
There are some Fiat motorhomes being built in New Zealand onto chassis or vans supplied by a Fiat dealer. These vehicles are fully covered by the terms of the Fiat new vehicle warranty as described above which includes roadside assistance and emergency towing benefits etc.
There are also a great number of Fiat based motorhomes being imported by the official agent of an overseas motorhome builder, such as AMH's relationship with AutoTrail.
There are Fiat based motorhomes being purchased from dealers overseas and being imported by private individuals for their own use, and Fiat based motorhomes being imported by private individuals in order to profit from the resale of these vehicles in New Zealand. Increasingly there are rental operators importing built up motorhomes in bulk to capitalise on the tourist boom.
Some of these vehicles have the benefit of a Fiat International Warranty.
Most Fiat dealers in New Zealand will support an owner who has a Fiat vehicle within International Warranty and try to assist wherever possible. This is often done at a significant cost to the New Zealand dealer without any offset or income from having sold the vehicle, and in the knowledge that they may only recover a portion of their cost for providing such assistance. There may be some offset from an ongoing service relationship with the customer, but not always. The commercial reality of this situation differs from the expectations of many of the motorhome owners, some of whom display a "drop everything and fix my vehicle now for nothing" expectation when presenting at the New Zealand Fiat dealer, even when the customer purchased the vehicle from a UK dealer in order to "beat the system and save $10 grand". I have seen threads in this forum where owners have purchased an AutoTrail from a dealer in the UK to by-pass AMH, and then had an expectation that AMH would fix habitation faults for nothing under warranty. The situation is the same, and again is this commercially realistic? If you act to "beat the system" then can you expect the system to support you when things go wrong?
There is also certainly an issue with the terms of the International Warranty being oversold by Motorhome sellers in New Zealand and overseas. The International Warranty is being portrayed as the equivalent of a New Zealand New Vehicle Warranty when it is not. The key component that is missing is the role that the selling new vehicle dealer plays in meeting the cost of goodwill claims, and meeting the cost of the shortfall between what the manufacturer pays out and what the repair actually costs to perform. This goodwill cost beyond what Fiat will pay for as the manufacturer either lies with the motorhome reseller (who has profitted from the sale) or with the vehicle owner (who has the benefit of the usage of the vehicle). This issue is becoming prevalent because of the increased numbers of these vehicles entering New Zealand. There is a bigger issue between AutoTrail UK and Fiat if the end users perceive that the International Warranty is inadequate, we have no influence on this from New Zealand. Very soon Ateco NZ will advise owners and the resellers what the terms of the International Warranty are, which should at least reduce the degree of overselling.
Misconceptions about International Warranty are common to all European brands, most of whom operate on a cost recovery basis - ie. the customer pays and the proportion recovered from the manufacturer (if any) is then refunded upon recovery. So if you buy a $300 000 Maserati in London and import it to New Zealand, then this is what you would expect if you were making an International Warranty claim.
Those privately importing new or near-new vehicles themselves should consider the savings achieved versus the after-sales support surrendered in terms of both the vehicle and the habitation fit-out, and make their decision with their eyes open.
I would be very pleased to read the opinions of AutoTrail owners to guage their expectations in respect to the Fiat International Warranty for:
1. New AutoTrails purchased from the authorised importer (AMH)
2. New or near new AutoTrails privately imported from the UK for your own use.
3. New or near new AutoTrails purchased in NZ from a 'grey' importer.
Thank you. All feedback will be very valuable