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28 November 2014

Joel Thiébaud VFAS General Secretary interviewed by EUROCOC

28 November 2014 4 min read
Joel 1 | Joel Thiébaud VFAS General Secretary interviewed by EUROCOC | EUROCOC

“We try to make automotive commerce as easy as possible”:
Joel Thiébaud VFAS General Secretary interviewed by EUROCOC

VFAS – is a Swiss association for the independent automobile trade. VFAS is fighting for a free and open automobile market, and it supports all discussions which might be useful for consumers. It defends the interests of automobile dealers and consumers in the territory of Switzerland. In VFAS, EUROCOC has Partner status.

How many members does your association unite and what are the basic goals of VFAS?

Over 100 members throughout Switzerland
The basic goal is to assure that the interests of independent traders are respected in every aspect. This means that we fight against any forms of bureaucracy and try to make automotive commerce as easy as possible.

What is the biggest trouble for your members arising from the fact that Switzerland is not part of EU, but is bordered by EU countries?

No troubles at all! =)
What might be bothersome for some is that European Laws and regulations are not valid in Switzerland. So there are special rules to, for example, set a car in traffic. This cannot be done just with a COC like in the EU because we have to fulfil Swiss law requirements.

Swiss dealers have for a very long time been viewed as successful and trustworthy partners. Where do you think this reputation is from? Is there something other countries could learn?

It’s important to prove reliability in everyday work: Don’t just say that you will buy cars, that you will pay or that you will pick the car up – say when and where and finally, DO IT! Set random terms and responsibilities with every contract you sign, and think of the possible struggles related to the purchase before they become reality! Be honest to your partners and act like you want to work with them for the next 100 Years – sustainable!

What is currently the biggest challenge for Swiss car traders? Is it the recent environment tax? Or maybe appreciation of the Swiss franc?

All of them are a challenge, although none of them will make them collapse. We’ve also been successful as the Swiss franc’s exchange rate was about 1.60 CHF/EUR – and we’re still working successfully also with our CO2-tax. The biggest struggle would be a combination of negative impacts: So to say the new CO2-tax, together with a high exchange rate and maybe some other, still upcoming obstacles. But we would have to be quite unlucky if this would become reality…!

Which country is the biggest commercial partner for Swiss car traders? Is there any development in this area?

We can’t give you any numbers on this subject, as Suppliers change really quick. Our members act fast and are able to buy all the requested cars for the cheapest available rates. At the moment, countries from Northern and Eastern Europe are favoured – because they are the cheapest. This can be due to different tax charges or cheaper list prices from the manufacturers themselves. Countries where an economic crisis is expected or ongoing – like Greek or Cyprus at the moment– are also interesting. This does not only help us obtain good prices, it can also increase turnover for companies which are maybe in trouble due to less internal trade.

In countries like Belgium or The Netherlands, we see a lot of export activity within car traders, while Swiss traders seem more likely to fill the Swiss market with cars. Can you confirm?

Absolutely. It’s maybe also in the nature of the Benelux countries with their ports and lively commercial activities to export a lot. That we don’t export has one main reason in my view: The price level in Switzerland is, compared to every EU-state, very high. The reason for those high prices is the expensive factors of production: labour and ground have extremely high prices around here. Because of this, it just can’t be interesting for anyone outside of Switzerland to pay those high quotes.

This article will be seen by many Swiss dealers. What would be a particular benefit if they decided to join VFAS?

They help themselves make their own life easier: They benefit in their daily business from every improvement to the framework of independent commerce that we reach. Furthermore, we also care about individual problems and questions which we treat with a high priority – we will always be able to suggest solutions! And, last but not least, all of them can benefit from the special products of our partners, such as EUROCOC! =)

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