Departing the Armed Services leads to a raft of “I’ll bet you didn’t know” scenarios, of which personal transport is but one

No matter in which branch of the Armed Forces you served, civvy street can confound your expectations, with its confusing combination of choice, desire and need, states motoring journalist, Iain Robertson, but he offers both sympathy and a positive solution.

Serving the needs of your country is an admirable role but is also one that should be more deeply-appreciated. When Steve Thornton, the former soldier behind the establishment of Forces Cars Direct (FCD), was demobbed and sought work, he was subjected to all manner of excuses ‘not’ to be supported as a civilian, some of which related to his lack of a mortgage, much of which related to a negligible credit history.

He felt ‘ripped off’, as he was paying through the eye teeth for access to finance that even made him question his decision to leave the services. From the outset, seventeen years ago, he determined that a fairer way ought to be formulated. Today, Forces Cars Direct (FCD), is the leading provider of vehicles and support packages to both serving and former services personnel and even operates a ‘Friends & Family’ package. The business premise is surprisingly simple, although it does take an immense amount of effort to maintain it and to ensure that the best deals are possible, in order to establish the best discounts from all carmakers and pass them on to the end-users.

Despite saving ex-soldiers, ex-sailors, ex-airmen, veterans and reservists many millions of Pounds (just over £60m at last count), FCD is not a ‘charity’, even though it supports actively SSAFA, RAFA and the Forces Pension Society, among others. Instead, it works to a straightforward remit: If You Serve, You Save.

Maintaining mobility
Despite an air of antipathy being shown towards certain types of transport, the fact remains that personal mobility, whether fuelled by petrol, or diesel, is essential. Not all of us live in the well-supported south-east of England (notably London), where taxis, buses, trains and waterbuses are in abundance and where ‘car-share’ programmes proliferate. Even so, with ‘Clean Air Zones’ and Congestion Charges to contend with, it is still not a bed of roses and personal transportation remains high on the list of consumer priorities.

We live in a time of tremendous change. Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are in great demand, mostly arising from consumer taxation issues but also from genuine environmental concerns. Yet, the SUV and Crossover sectors are also vibrantly competitive. To be expected to know about every single vehicle that meets both local and broader demands, also means possessing encyclopaedic knowledge about the motor industry. Even so-called ‘expert commentators’ can be bamboozled, when presented with the choices available. It is little wonder that marching fatigue sets in and an ‘it’ll do’ attitude prevails for many car buyers.

FCD works closely with its customers to ensure that they obtain precisely the vehicles that they need and hopefully that they desire most. More importantly, the company has no solitary brand preference, because FCD works closely with ALL carmakers. Therefore, instead of receiving a brand-biased focus, which every single carmaker’s dealership will provide understandably, FCD removes it and emphasises more succinctly the qualities and benefits relevant to the individual customer, mainly because the list price is no longer the precursor.

Through being ‘brand neutral’, personal needs and desires can be managed more judiciously and the inevitable forcefulness and salesmanship that can be applied at dealer level is eradicated, thus making ownership of the final decision that of the customer and not the retailer. Every element of FCD’s business remit is geared towards satisfying a personal choice of personal transport.

Dealing with ‘salesmanship’
If FCD is all about serving consumer choice, it is vital to note that it is not about criticising the various dealer networks that exist. Without the support of the dealers, FCD’s business would not be as vibrant as it is. After all, you need a place to have your new vehicle serviced. However, with various bonuses, discount programmes, allowances and post-sales support exercises, the emphasis on obtaining the best deal for the dealership is always going to be pursued at dealer level. Dealing with FCD removes those complications from the exercise.

FCD is an online supplier. The process is intentionally upfront and occupies THREE EASY STEPS. Firstly, browse the FCD website ( You will find a comprehensive range of makes and models, with relevant savings. If you do not locate the car you want, then call us and a member of our team will provide practical help. Secondly, place your order. Working with your Sales Advisor, tailor your requirements, including any extra-cost items, paint choices and specific needs for your vehicle of choice. Finally, receive your car. We shall notify you of a delivery date and time to suit you, either direct to your door, or at the premises of the local participating dealer.

We know that it is a system that works. TrustPilot, the review site, gives us a top FIVE-STAR rating and the amount of repeat business we obtain, three, four, or more years down the line, highlights that our customers love dealing with us. It is also worth noting that we can work with you to obtain not only the best outright purchase price but also whichever lease, rental, or finance arrangement meets both your budgetary and personal requirements. Acquiring personal transport is not about FCD but it is about you.

Keeping it simple
To many car buyers, entering the manufacturer’s dealer showroom can present an immense challenge. Dealing with FCD removes the barriers, yet encourages freedom of choice and ease of communication. FCD employs real people, who understand the demands of Armed Forces personnel, whether serving, or retired…it employs them because of their innate skills.

In many ways, FCD has presaged the future shape of the vehicle acquisition scene, a factor that can be noticed by the number of car manufacturers now opening shop fronts in shopping malls. Yet, by representing ALL brands, FCD provides the consumer with the essential aspect of total freedom.

Websites are websites…under normal circumstances. Yet, thanks to an attractive and readily accessible layout, the clicking and locating process is not just fun but is very engaging too. While some vital tabulations are present, the site also provides a magazine-format that is entertainingly readable and highly informative. FCD is not afraid of courting opinion, while also encouraging the maximum choice.

Carry out the non-committal exercise yourself and you will soon understand why FCD’s customers describe its service as ‘easy’ and ‘confidence-inspiring’. From Abarth to Volvo, the range of available makes and models is extensive and may even encourage choice away from the conventions of mainstream anonimity. Just remember that FCD is there to help…the rest of the process is yours to direct.

Looking at the Lease option
With personal finances being placed under daily strains, spreading the load, by using another organisation’s money, not only makes economic sense but also reduces the risks inherent to conventional vehicle acquisition. As FCD applies its know-how to generate the up-front savings, one of the great killers of buying outright, depreciation, can be removed effectively from the equation, while also enhancing financial flexibility.

However, an added bonus arises in the form of ‘Friends and Family’ support. The FCD Leasing range of services can be extended to any UK-based motorist, whom is referred to the company by a current, or former, member of the armed services. The beauty of fixed payments is that they allow even greater financial freedom to the individual, allowing them to budget more transparently, full in the knowledge of their monthly outgoings.

FCD can even offer a ‘Drive Now, Pay Later’ programme, in partnership with Hitachi Finance (on an HP agreement), which means that you can acquire a new car today but defer the first monthly payment for up to six months after collection. However, Hire Purchase (HP), Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) and Personal Contract Hire (PCH) and Leasing are all available choices that your Sales Advisor at FCD will be happy to discuss with you, when you make direct contact. Helping you to take the maximum advantage from your motor vehicle is intrinsic to the FCD remit.

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