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VW to tempt miners with Amarok

Yes, we serve miners: Volkswagen is setting up outback service centres to help convince mining fleets to buy its rugged Amarok ute.

Amarok service centres in remote locations to help VW tap lucrative mining market

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Volkswagen logo12 Jul 2012

VOLKSWAGEN is targeting lucrative mining fleet contracts with its rugged Amarok one-tonne ute range by setting up special service centres in remote areas of Western Australia and Queensland that cannot support a full dealership.

Mining giant BHP Billiton recently announced it has joined the growing number of fleets that will only buy vehicles with a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and VW wants to capitalise on this opportunity for the Amarok by reducing potential objections about servicing costs and convenience.

Speaking at this week’s launch of single-cab and automatic Amarok variants, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia national aftersales manager Phil West said a number of service centres will be operating in remote areas of WA such as Newman, Karratha and Broome by the end of this year.

VW is also holding a dealer event at Kununurra in northern WA this week to showcase the Amarok’s suitability to harsh environments.

Mr West said that for the past two years VW has been working with rural dealers to make sure they are “ready and positioned well to meet the market”.

“What we need to do is make sure that we have the capability in the network to support us… but clearly some of this market is clearly within an area that wouldn’t normally support a dealership,” he said.

Instead of establishing dealerships, Mr West said VW will “look at other opportunities to provide a service network” and “working with existing suppliers” to provide regular servicing and warranty support.

“By the end of this year we will have a number of locations up and running,” he said.

“This is an on-going program that we intend to run as long as customers keep looking at us for where we can service these products.”

As GoAuto reported last month, Holden is also hoping to increase its share in the mining market with the new Colorado that is also expected to score five ANCAP stars.

Holden believes restricted supplies of utes caused by last year's floods in Thailand opened the minds of mining fleet managers by forcing them to consider alternative productsinstead of defaulting to ordering HiLuxes.

VW Commercial Vehicles Australia product manager Ben Wilks agreed there were opportunities arising from the situation as well as the five-star safety requirement.

Mr West said the move by mining fleets towards a requirement for five-star safety was “an interesting development” because, rather than fitting their own aftermarket safety equipment, mining firms are now expecting manufacturers to “take on some of the responsibility” for providing safe all-terrain vehicles.

In addition to the Amarok’s safety, drivability and fuel economy credentials, VW is keen to make sure potential customers understand the servicing costs of an Amarok are not necessarily higher than its competitors.

For example, the Amarok’s service intervals are 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, which is matched by the Mitsubishi Triton, Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50, but is longer than the Holden Colorado (9 months/15,000km), Nissan Navara and Toyota HiLux (both 6 months/10,000km).

Mr West provided a table showing average retail costs for servicing an Amarok 420TDI, the most powerful engine variant that comes exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Over the first 60 months or 75,000km, prices averaged from a survey of Australian VW Commercial Vehicles dealers ranged from $418 for a minor 15,000km service to $794 for a major 60,000km service.

“Parts and servicing costs are two areas we are always looking at what we need to do to make sure we meet the expectations of our customers,” said Mr West.

Asked if capped-price servicing was on the agenda, Mr West said it was something VW is “always highly aware of and always monitoring”, but he would not commit to its introduction.

The Amarok’s three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty covers the same term as competitors except the Triton, which extends to five years if the vehicle has covered 100,000km or less after three years and servicing is up-to-date.

However, whereas the warranties of the Ranger, BT-50, Colorado, HiLux and Navara are limited to 100,000km (130,000km for the Triton), Volkswagen’s warranty covers unlimited kilometres within the three-year term.

Amarok’s six-year corrosion and perforation warranty is also a year longer than most competitors.

Mr Wilks told GoAuto special warranty and servicing arrangements would be organised for fleet customers, such as mine sites, intending to subject the Amarok to heavy use.

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