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  • China’s BAIC to double stake in Daimler, win a board seat and unseat Geely as top shareholder – report

    Daimler’s joint venture partner in China is the BAIC Group. Daimler’s biggest shareholder is a Chinese carmaker. However, that Chinese carmaker is not BAIC but Geely. BAIC sees this as a sore point and is looking to remedy the situation by doubling its stake in the Mercedes-Benz maker to around 10%, according to a Reuters report quoting two sources.

    The state-owned Beijing Automobile Group (BAIC) is also aiming for a board seat at Daimler, which Geely – currently holding 9.69% of the German company – does not have. The report says that BAIC, which at present holds a 5% stake that it bought in July, has started buying more Daimler shares from the open market. Should it achieve 10%, BAIC would surpass Geely and become Daimler’s largest shareholder.

    Daimler said in a stock market filing last month that HSBC held 5.23% in Daimler’s voting rights directly as well as through instruments such as equity swaps as of November 15. The bank, which advised BAIC on its 5% stake purchase earlier this year, is helping the Chinese carmaker in the new investment, one of the sources told Reuters.

    When queried, Daimler said that it has no knowledge of BAIC’s move. Daimler’s China boss Hubertus Troska however said “we welcome long-term investors in Daimler.” Asked about BAIC and Daimler, he added: “We like each other. Let us see how things develop.” Both BAIC and Geely declined to comment.

    Daimler AG’s shareholder structure as of October 31, 2019

    Here’s the background. BAIC has been Daimler’s long-time partner in China and the JV company (Beijing Benz Automotive) produces Mercedes-Benz models in the world’s biggest car market. Both parties also have plans to produce Mercedes Benz trucks via their commercial vehicle joint venture Foton Daimler Automotive.

    All was fine before Geely chairman Li Shufu built a 9.69% stake in Daimler in early 2018. According to the newswire, by using Hong Kong-registered shell companies, derivatives, bank financing and structured share options, Li kept his Daimler plan under wraps until he was able to become Daimler’s single largest shareholder, at one stroke.

    Since then, the owner of Volvo has sought to get close to Daimler, and in March, both parties announced the formation of a 50:50 joint venture for the ownership, operation and development of the Smart brand’s family of small urban vehicles. The new JV will see next-gen Smart EVs assembled at a new purpose-built plant in China, with global sales set to commence in 2022. Geely and Daimler are also working on a ride-hailing business together.

    If this sounds like a love triangle between two Chinese suitors and the trophy called Daimler in the middle, it probably is.

     
  • VIDEO: 2020 Proton X70 CKD – here’s what to expect

    The Proton X70 arrived as a fully-imported (CBU) model at the tail end of 2018, and has proven to be a hit among car buyers in Malaysia. A year later, production of the locally-assembled (CKD) version of the SUV has started at the national carmaker’s Tanjung Malim plant, which received an investment of RM1.2 billion to facilitate these efforts.

    There’s certainly a lot of buzz surrounding the upcoming CKD SUV, and while full details aren’t out yet, there is some preliminary information that we know of, which we’re sharing with you in this video that focuses on what to expect.

    Set to be launched very soon, the X70 is expected to retain a 1.8 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 181 hp, but with an extra 15 Nm of torque at 300 Nm. Other changes include the use of the new Proton badge, a powered tailgate, and possibly even a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in place of the six-speed automatic.

    Currently, the X70 is offered in four variants – Standard 2WD, Executive, 2WD, Executive AWD and Premium 2WD – with prices starting at RM99,800 (OTR without insurance) and peaking at RM123,800. How much are you expecting the CKD X70 to go for? Let us know in the comments below.

    GALLERY: Proton X70 CKD rollout

     
  • Darkened front windows and windshield – JPJ to issue individual summons for each panel in tint offences

    If you’ve darkened your vehicle windscreen and front windows past the permissible level, you could be in for a triple whammy when caught. The road transport department (JPJ) has warned that motorists who commit tint offences will be issued a summons for each glass panel that flouts the law, meaning that up to three summonses can be issued.

    The fun doesn’t end there. According to Terengganu JPJ director Zulkarnain Yasin, summonses will be issued to the owner of the vehicle even if the car is being driven by another person during the time of the offence, as Harian Metro reports.

    “For window tint offences, we will issue a summons based on each offence. For example, if the driver commits three misdemeanors, having tint levels beyond that allowed by the law for the driver’s side window, the front passenger side windowr and the windshield, three summonses will be issued to the driver.”

    “If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, then the owner will also be penalised, making for six summonses in all, three for the driver and three for the owner,” he said following the conclusion of a special window tint enforcement operation in the state.

    A total of 781 notices were issued, including 338 summonses, during the two-day operation. Five vehicles were also seized during the exercise, which was carried out in three locations in collaboration with the police and immigration departments. He said that most of the window tint offences involved private vehicles, especially luxury cars.

    The current regulations stipulate that the front windscreen and front side windows need to have a minimum visible light transmission (VLT) of 70% and 50% respectively, while the rear side windows and rear windscreen are not restricted, effectively allowing 0% VLT. Motorists looking to darken their vehicle completely will be able to lower the VLT levels of the front windscreen and front driver/passenger side windows but need to specifically apply for this, and there is cost involved.

     
  • Volkswagen to use GTX name for performance EVs

    Volkswagen ID. Crozz spied in production body

    Volkswagen will have a high-performance line-up within its fully-electric ID. model range, and it is set to wear the GTX badge, sources at the German automaker have confirmed to Autocar.

    The new name has already been trademarked by Volkswagen for a number of ID. models; this includes a production version of the ID. Crozz coupe which will likely be named the ID. 5 GTX in its most powerful guise, the magazine noted. This also follows naming convention for Volkswagen’s performance models, which bear the GTI, GTD and GTE badges for its higher-performance petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid models, respectively.

    Volkswagen remains tight-lipped on the debut of the first GTX model, however development for a performance version of the ID.5 – known in concept form as the ID. Vizzion and ID. Space Vizzion – is ongoing at Volkswagen’s R&D centre in Braunschweig, Germany, and is set to make its debut in 2021, the magazine reported.

    A performance version of the ID. 5 (ID. Vizzion and Space Vizzion) is currently being developed.

    The ‘X’ in the GTX name is claimed to denote all-wheel-drive, says Autocar, which suggests that these forthcoming, performance-oriented ID. models will feature dual electric motors – one for each axle. The ID. 3 electric hatchback is powered by a rear-axle mounted motor producing 204 PS and 310 Nm of torque, therefore the dual-motor performance versions will be considerably more powerful.

    The Volkswagen ID. Crozz has been spotted testing in production guise, and it is set to use a dual-motor setup with 306 hp and a battery range of approximately 500 km from tis 83 kWh battery pack. In concept guise, the ID. Crozz measures 4,625 mm long with a 2,773 mm wheelbase, 1,891 mm wide and 1,609 mm tall, with 515 litres of luggage capacity.

    Beyond the GTX performance range, Volkswagen is also considering an even more potent ID. range of electric models under its R division. In its present concept form, the ID. Space Vizzion packs an 82 kWh battery for a range of up to 590 km, producing 335 hp and 659 Nm of torque sent to all four wheels in its most potent guise, propelling it from 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds.

    GALLERY: Volkswagen ID. Crozz spyshots

     
  • Cyan Racing Lynk & Co clinches WTCR championship at Sepang, Hyundai’s Michelisz takes driver’s title

    A stunning first season has seen fledgling carmaker Lynk & Co secure the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) at the Sepang finale, together with its race partner and former Volvo motorsports arm Cyan Racing. The team managed to win the teams’ championship with its new 03 TCR racer despite a difficult race in which the title bids for both its drivers fizzled out.

    Coming into the series’ first event to cross into the night, Cyan Racing held a commanding 72-point lead over its closest rival BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse. Meanwhile, its drivers Yvan Muller and Thed Björk were locked in a tight battle with BRC’s championship leader Norbert Michelisz, along with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri.

    The changing conditions made for plenty of action, and Michelisz took full advantage of his pole position by winning Race 1 in dominant fashion in his i30 N TCR. This enabled him to extend his lead in the standings, and while Guerrieri and Muller kept their title hopes alive by fighting back to fourth and sixth respectively, Björk finished 27th after gambling on a switch to slick tyres mid-race, dropping him out of contention.

    But it was in Race 2 where the gloves really came off. Guerrieri shot up from ninth to first within the first lap, whilst further back, Muller managed to climb to fifth – right before another BRC driver Nicky Catsburg skidded into him. The crash, which caused Catsburg’s car to catch fire, also brought out the red flag.

    Michelisz ended up 17th in the ensuing melee, but upon restart the Hungarian managed to claw his way back to eighth to limit the damage as Guerrieri cruised to victory in his Honda Civic Type R TCR; Muller, on the other hand, dropped down to sixth and ended his own title bid. Back at the top, the gap between Michelisz and Guerrieri had whittled down to just 10 points.

    That set up an enticing fight for the trophy, with the two occupying the front row on Race 3. At the start, Guerrieri overhauled the Hyundai, as did PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona and SLR Volkswagen’s Johan Kristofferson. In the ensuing four-way battle, Azcona punted Guerrieri into the grass, causing a suspected radiator blockage on the Civic – and with that, a loss of power.

    Unable to defend his lead, Guerrieri dropped all the way down to 22nd (despite setting the fastest lap once the blockage had cleared), so even though Michelisz slipped back himself, his fifth place was still more than enough to secure his place as “King of WTCR”.

    Up in front, Kristofferson capped off a dramatic race with a sensational victory from 22nd on the grid, enabling Volkswagen to sign off its factory involvement in style. Further back, Björk’s ninth place and Muller’s 11th allowed Cyan Racing to seal the team’s title, said to be the first for a Chinese brand on an international stage.

    “This has been one of the toughest race weekends the team has ever experienced. Everyone really pulled together when we needed it the most. I am proud of all in the team that we for the third year in succession are the champions of the world,” said Cyan Racing team principal Fredrik Wahlén.

     
  • VinFast aiming to sell electric vehicles in the US, Europe, Russia by 2021 – founder to invest US$2 bil

    Vietnam’s first national automaker – VinFast – is looking to make big strides in the automotive industry, as it is aiming to export electric vehicles to the United States in 2021. The decision is a bold one, and even involves company founder Pham Nhat Vuong investing as much as US$2 billion of his own fortune to attain that goal, Bloomberg reports.

    “Our ultimate goal is to create an international brand. It will be a very difficult road and we will have to put in a lot of effort. But there’s only one road ahead,” said Vuong, who also owns 49% of VinFast, while the parent, Vingroup, holds 51%.

    According to Vuong, the automaker won’t be profitable for as many as five years, and will require overseas sales to see green as the local Vietnamese market is “too small.” This won’t be easy, as the company will have to win over customers in the United States and other developed market, which have strict emissions and safety standards.

    Currently, VinFast offers the Fadil hatchback, the LUX A2.0 sedan, LUX SA2.0 SUV and electric scooters in its home market, with production of these vehicles taking place at a 335-hectare factory in the northern port city of Haiphong. Its first EV won’t enter production until late next year, but Vuong plans to export those vehicles to the U.S. as well as Europe and Russia in 2021.

    “We have the desire to build a Vietnamese brand that has a world-class reputation. Our biggest challenge is that Vietnamese products do not have an international brand. To many international friends, Vietnam is still a poor, backward country. We will have to find a way to market and prove our products represent a dynamic and developing Vietnam that has reached the highest standards of the world,” Vuong said.

     
  • Aston Martin confirms discussions with potential investors – Stroll, Middle East, India, China in the mix

    Last week, news broke that billionaire Lawrence Stroll was preparing a bid to buy a major stake in Aston Martin. Now, the British carmaker has confirmed that it is in talks with potential investors, disclosed via a statement to the stock exchange, reported by Autocar.

    “The company confirms that is reviewing its funding requirements and various funding options. It is also engaged in early stage discussions with potential strategic investors in relation to building longer term relationships which may or may not involve an equity investment. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate,” the statement read.

    This confirmation comes after Autocar and RaceFans.net revealed interest in the Gaydon firm from Stroll last week. More recently, the Financial Times reported that investors – including rival carmakers and firms based in the Middle East, India and China – were also interested to buy into Aston Martin.

    Stroll – father of F1 driver Lance and owner of the Racing Point F1 team – is estimated to be worth in excess of £2 billion (RM11 billion). He is said to have made his money investing and building up fashion brands including Pierre Cardin, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Asprey. The Canadian is also famed for his Ferrari collection, which many regard as the most valuable collection of classic Ferraris in the world.

    According to Autocar, both Stroll’s business interests and car collection are reported to have given him the contacts to head a consortium looking to take control of the British carmaker, in the belief they can take advantage of its current low stock price and lower than expected sales. The plan is to build the brand up, fuelled by sales of the recently launched Aston Martin DBX SUV.

    As of early this month, Aston Martin’s share price was around £5 (RM27.40), up from a low of just above £4 but well below its high of around £17 (RM93). The price has tumbled 75% this year on weaker-than-expected sales – AM made a pre-tax loss of 92.3 million pounds (RM505.1 million) for the first nine months of the year.

    The company was floated in October 2018. Currently, the biggest shareholder is Strategic European Investment Group – part of the Italian private equity group Investindustrial – which holds around a one-third of shares. The Kuwait-based Adeem/Primewagon group is also a major stakeholder. Daimler, parent of Mercedes-Benz and engine supplier to Stroll’s Racing Point F1 team, owns 4% of the firm.

    The maker of the DB series of sports cars has just opened a second plant in St Athan, near Cardiff in Wales. The new factory will produce the DBX, its first foray into the luxury SUV market.

    Built on a dedicated platform utilising a bonded aluminium construction that has been made famous in Aston’s sports cars, the DBX is powered by AMG’s proven M177 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8. Here, it makes 550 PS and 700 Nm of torque, and features cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy. Linked to Mercedes’ nine-speed 9G-Tronic auto, the DBX does 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 291 km/h. Full details here.

    GALLERY: Aston Martin DBX at St Athan

     
  • Honda S2000 20th Anniversary Prototype and custom EK9 Civic Type R coming to 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon

    Honda’s Modulo division has announced its line-up for the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon, and it looks like visitors will be in for a treat, as the carmaker will present two vehicles that are rather special to enthusiasts – the S2000 and the first-generation, EK9 Civic Type R.

    The roadster isn’t just any regular example, as it is called the S2000 20th Anniversary Prototype, which serves as a testbed to showcase custom parts that reflect customer feedback. The show car is based on the AP1 iteration of the S2000, and is powered by a F20C 2.0 litre NA VTEC four-cylinder that serves up 250 PS and 217.7 Nm of torque.

    While it may look largely stock, the car sports a unique aero bumper that follows the 20th anniversary specification, along with original side skirts and a ducktail spoiler. The entire bodywork is finished in Grand Prix White, with black applied on the window frame, mirrors and the 17-inch Yokohama Advan RZ2 wheels.

    Other items include a pair of red bucket seats, revised suspension and a new lid for the audio system. It’s not known if this parts will become available to S2000 customers, but there’s a likelihood given that Prototype-badged Honda products do sometimes make it to production.

    Alongside the S2000, the company will also display a custom EK9 Civic Type R called the Civic Cyber Night Japan (CNJ) Cruiser 2020. The show car represents a modern reinterpretation of the original, and features a prominent bodykit, new headlamps, a large rear spoiler and 17-inch wheels from the latest Insight.

    We’ll only have more information and photos when the Tokyo Auto Salon kicks off on January 10, so in the meantime, let the nostalgia slowly sink in.

     
  • Over 200 bookings received for Proton X70 on Shopee

    Proton has announced that more than 200 bookings have been received for the X70 on Shopee since the start of the e-commerce platform’s 12.12 Birthday Sale period. The online campaign – which runs till the end of the month – is offering customers the chance to book an X70 1.8 TGDI Premium 2WD with a booking fee of just RM99 instead of the usual RM1,000.

    Customers who successfully register their X70 purchase before December 31, 2019 will also receive RM2,000 of Shopee vouchers and enjoy additional ongoing promotions for the month from the automaker. It said its partnership with Shopee is one of the steps being taken to explore new avenues of connecting with customers.

    “Commerce today has changed drastically from what it was even as recently as just five to 10 years ago. Proton has to keep up with these changes to remain relevant and while we are pursuing our strategy to increase customer touch points via the growth of 3S/4S outlets, we must also utilise technology to drive mobility for the business,” said Proton CEO Li Chunrong.

    This isn’t the first time the national carmaker is using the Internet for vehicle bookings. A similar campaign was also utilised for other Proton models in 2019, and prior to its launch last year, the X70 could be booked online from September, which helped to push the pre-launch order book to over 10,000 units. The success of these campaigns is highlighting the growing importance of the medium.

    “We started to enable online bookings of our cars since late 2018, and over the next few years we could expand the use of this as a sales platform. With improved online security and transaction platforms becoming widely accepted, there could be a time when financing could be applied for and approved online, so Proton aims to be at the forefront of adopting these new technologies,” Li said.

     
  • Renault Subscription in Malaysia – why this new ownership plan is the way forward for TC Euro Cars

    If we can subscribe to music and TV, why not mobility? That’s the question car subscription schemes are asking. A pioneer in car subs in Malaysia is TC Euro Cars (TCEC), the Renault distributor. The idea of car subscription taps into humans’ desire for freedom, specifically the freedom from commitment. Think of it as dating, versus marriage.

    As opposed to the traditional way to have a car in your porch – which is the classic hire purchase loan with you as the “owner” – Renault Subscription allows you to essentially “rent” the car full time. The promise is no downpayment, no long-term commitment, no worries about depreciation and no servicing costs to think of. Just pay and drive. Freedom is the buzzword.

    Ride hailing (Grab) and on-demand car rental (Socar) are also alternatives to traditional car ownership. While those services are great and fit some lifestyles to a tee, you’re always at the mercy of driver availability for the former, and car availability/location for the latter. When you want to achieve maximum time efficiency and have full control of your schedule, nothing beats having your own set of wheels on standby, 24/7. That’s something even the biggest ride hailing fan cannot disagree with, surely.

    Some of us might not realise it, but many in the younger generation are not as hung up on owning things such as a car and house, preferring instead to spend money on experiences and learning. With car subscription, Renault and TCEC are catering to such lifestyles.

    “Our principal Renault believes that moving forward, this (car subs) is definitely an area of growth. In a lot of developed countries, the market is getting very saturated. People spend their money on experiences, to enjoy the things that they really want to enjoy,” said Wong Hoe Mun, CEO of TCEC.

    “They don’t want to be bogged down by long term commitments, and worry about depreciation, and in the West, the depreciation rate is even worse. Moving forward, we definitely believe that this is an area of growth. Eventually more and more players will be coming, so we want to ensure that we’re first in this space,” Wong added.

    Just drive, that’s the promise

    Here’s how Renault Subscription works. There are two plans – Fixed and Switch – and all models in TCEC’s local range can be had via subscription, including the Renault Megane RS hot hatch. The Fixed plan is pretty straightforward. Sign up for a one-year or two-year plan, with the longer term plan costing you less per month, naturally. For the Captur, it’s RM1,499 per month for a year vs RM1,299 for two years, for instance.

    The Koleos SUV is available from RM2,299 to RM2,899 per month, depending on tenure and spec, while the Megane RS will cost you anything from RM3,999 to RM6,299 per month. There’s a three-year package for the RS hot hatch, in addition to the one- and two-year packages available across the board.

    Fixed plans – click to enlarge

    Unlike buying a car, there’s no downpayment involved here, just a refundable security deposit (RM2,500 for the Captur). Every subscriber will get a newly-registered car and the annual mileage cap is 20,000 km, which works out to 1,667 km per month. That should be fine for most urban commuters, but should you need more miles, TCEC sells a “top up” of 10,000 km per year for an additional RM200 monthly. At the end of your subscription term, any excess mileage will be charged 50 sen per km.

    Subscribers need not worry about road tax, insurance or service costs – all are included in the package and the real owner of the car – remember, it’s not you, but TCEC – will take care of those.

    What’s not included in the Fixed package are wear and tear items. Wong believes that wear and tear costs will be minimal, given that all subscribers will be given brand new cars. However, if you want ultimate peace of mind, two-year plan customers can top up RM100 per month for full coverage, which includes brake pads, wiper blades, tyres and alignment/balancing. (excluding Megane RS).

    No extras, just the monthly fee. “For a lot of customers, when they own a car, they forget, they don’t budget (the extras), they just think ‘every month I need to pay RM1,200’ and they have just enough money for that. All of a sudden they realise that road tax and insurance is due, and more funds are needed,” Wong said, stressing on the no-hassle, just drive part of subscription.

    Subscription would also work well for those who need a car full time, but for a short term. Say you’re being posted somewhere within Malaysia for work and need a car for a year or two – subscribing would then be more convenient than buying a car just to use it for a short period.

    Switch plans – click to enlarge

    Adding spice into the garage

    Another novel thing about Renault Subscription is the ability to call upon another Renault model when you need it. The Switch Plan is a single year plan offering you a Captur, but with access to the Koleos SUV and Megane RS.

    Say, you need to balik kampung with the family during the festive period, the tall and roomy Koleos would do a much better job than your daily ride. Clearing annual leave and have some “me time” to burn? Go somewhere and reignite your passion for driving with the Megane RS. A car for every occasion? With a compact daily runabout, a big SUV and a fun driving machine to call upon, this comes pretty close.

    There are two one-year Switch plans – Base and Prime, priced at RM1,999 and RM2,199 per month, respectively. Everyone gets a Captur – the Base subscriber gets two months of “Renault family access”, and from there, the Megane RS can be yours for two weeks. Pay for Prime and the time away from the Captur increases to four months, with four weeks of those being Megane RS days.

    Usage of the Koleos and Megane RS are in 14-day blocks, and bookings have to be made minimum 30 days in advance. Availability of these fleet cars are on a first come, first served basis, so it’s best to submit preferred dates early. Subscribers can start tapping into the Koleos/Megane RS fleet one month after the subscription start date.

    Access to other models aside, the benefits of Switch over Fixed include unlimited mileage and the freedom to cancel anytime, as long as 30 days notice is given. The monthly fee difference between Switch Base and a one-year Fixed plan is RM500, and so far, 10% of Renault Subscription members have opted for the extra flexibility.

    So, if car subscription is akin to dating without the obligation of marriage, then is the Switch plan that, plus two part-time lovers on the side? This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but those who enjoy a bit of variety every now and then would surely appreciate the change of scene. Before you censure this writer for suggesting immorality, isn’t this the Tinder era we’re living in?

    Try first, commit later

    Staying on the theme, Renault Subscription could be a good way to sample Continental cars in general and Renault in particular, without taking the plunge and buying one. Generally, Malaysian car buyers are a conservative lot, often putting their money in what’s perceived as safer bets, the supposedly tried and tested known quantities. Renault definitely isn’t in this category.

    As with other “cold door” cars (direct translation from a Cantonese term that means not high in demand), common worries include low resale value and perceived poor reliability. Wong concurs, but points out that the RV issue isn’t as one sided as before.

    “True, I’m sure you would have noticed comments from customers – especially when it comes to Continental brands – that they’re worried about resale value. But these days, other brands – Japanese and Korean – also have this same problem, because OEMs are giving off huge discounts. That affects resale value. It’s the same for Renault; we have the same problem, maybe greater.

    “By doing subscription, we allow customers to come in at a lower barrier so they dont need to be worried about RV at the end of the two, three years. That issue of ‘what do I do, I would like to change cars but I still owe the bank more than the car’s RV’ will be eliminated,” he declared.

    The TCEC boss revealed that Renault cars, with their expressive French design, draw in many interested parties at roadshows and events. “The crowds are there, the customers are keen, they like the design, people are emotionally attracted to these cars.” However, it’s when the head takes over from the heart – so to speak – when the rational side asks a few questions, the case for a Renault usually gets weaker. Often, feedback from family and friends serve as the final blow to kill off the idea.

    “By having subscription, it allows customers to drive for up to two years with no strings attached, just enjoy. Only when you’re happy with it – really love owning a Continental car, a Renault – then you can choose to buy a new one, or continue subscribing. Maybe you’re emotionally attached to the car after two years, you can even buy the same unit. We’ll work out a price for you based on the market value at that time, or the new car price minus what you’ve paid in fees, whichever is lower,” Wong said.

    Click to enlarge

    Sounds like a no-lose deal, right? Which led us to ask: in pure ringgit and sen terms, which is better value for money – purchasing or subscribing?

    “Purely money, and if you utilise all the programmes we have for the Captur – trade-ins and the Renault Honour Programme with its guaranteed future value – it’s actually more worthwhile to buy,” Wong said.

    However, he pointed out that the Honour programme has conditions (must upgrade to another Renault) and there are many plus points for subscription that can’t be valued in numbers, such as the all-included convenience and the ability to just walk away at the end of the tenure. Also, Renault Subscription allows one to choose a price that suits his/her usage. If you buy a car, you’ll be paying a fixed amount every month, regardless of how much you use it.

    “For subscription, the consumer needs to determine what he actually wants, what’s his usage and for how long. Say he wants to use the car for two years, doesn’t travel a lot, and is not a heavy user, then he can opt for the no frills package with a basic 20,000 km limit for a better price. But if a customer is undecided – let’s say he’s in sales and travels a lot, or can’t commit to a fixed period, maybe gets relocated by the company – if you’re that, Switch is for you.

    “Of course, if you can plan what you want upfront, then you get to enjoy lower rates. With this mix and match type of system, you can enjoy a price that suits your requirements – not more not less. If you buy a car, whether you use it only once a week, you still pay the full amount; with subs, we’re more flexible in terms of usage,” he said.

    To each his own

    Interestingly, despite the innovation behind this newfangled form of car ownership, the profile of the customer opting for Renault Subscription isn’t significantly younger than the brand’s regular clientele. For sure, it’s not the typical Netflix/Spotify crowd that TCEC first envisioned.

    “People who are into subscription services are generally younger, but what we’ve seen over the last four months, which has surprised us, is the traditional carbuyer that you see everyday. Slightly younger, with a median age about five years lower, but overall, still the same profile, those in their 50s, families above 40,” Wong shared.

    Which begs the question: will subscription eat into Renault’s normal sales? The TCEC boss admitted that cannibalisation was a serious concern when they launched the programme.

    “When we started this, we were very worried that it might affect our normal sales, but actually it didn’t. The customers who wanted to buy – and there are a lot of old school, traditional mindset people who want to own the car, to say ‘it’s mine, I have the asset’ – this group of people is still there.

    “But subscription allows us to lower the barrier. We get to attract more people to come to Renault, and now they have a different way of ownership, a different way of enjoying the car without full commitment. We get more people and a larger pool,” Wong said, while maintaining that the hire purchase route remains worthwhile thanks to good overtrade value, guaranteed future value and five years of free maintenance.

    This is not a drill

    It’s pretty clear that TCEC is serious about subscription – this is not an experiment and will be a permanent fixture for the company moving forward. In fact, Wong expects more brands to join the fray in the future. New features and packages are on the cards, but for now, the Renault distributor’s challenge is awareness and education.

    “We believe that once the customer is familiar with these benefits and they start to enjoy it, it’ll be quite difficult to go back to the traditional business model (of buying cars). In short, subscription is like a long term trial. You pay for usage, which is fair because you’re using the car. It’s like being in a relationship, followed by a (marriage) registration with a proper tea ceremony. Isn’t that a good deal?” Wong joked.

    We both laughed, but there’s nothing funny about car subscription, which is a serious proposition.

     
 

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Latest Fuel Prices

PETROL
RON 95 RM2.08 (0.00)
RON 97 RM2.64 (0.00)
RON 100 RM3.16
VPR RM3.50
DIESEL
EURO 2M RM2.18 (0.00)
EURO 5 RM2.28 (0.00)
Last Updated 14 Dec 2019



 

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