Fleet News

Vehicle imports: A good year for ‘New World’ cars?

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by Steve Whitmarsh, managing director, Run Your Fleet

We are in a ‘pre-Article 50 triggering’ twilight zone. What effects are we likely to see in the UK’s fleet industry? 

With exports cheaper, and some sectors booming, even the latest forecasts from the International Monetary Fund indicate that the UK economy is set to grow faster than any other economy in Europe. Of course, for every positive forecast, one can find a negative one, which only serves to demonstrate that no one really knows yet.

However, aside from the arguments over the economy, it is worth pausing to consider what effect Brexit will have on our vehicle parc over the next five-10 years.

Could the costs of European vehicles increase dramatically as exchange rates change and we apply tariffs on a tit for tat basis with the EU? Could the barriers of entry to the UK come down for manufacturers from nations we don’t currently consider mainstream?

Whatever happens, it is highly likely we will see some very different brands start to explore our market from America, Japan, China and even the Indian sub-continent.

Looking to the East, we may well see some of the many Chinese manufacturers make an entry to our market. Brands like Geely, Chery, Hafei, Jianghuai and Roewe could be joining Great Wall on the drives of our leafy suburbs.

Not so long ago, Chinese manufacturers were not considered a threat, and often treated with ridicule. 

However, the tide is changing. They have established modern, credible manufacturing bases, and ownership of some European brands.

There is capacity in the Chinese market, but as it starts to mature, manufacturers will need to look further afield, and post-Brexit Britain is likely to be attractive to them.

While our manufacturers are already foreign owned, we still need to be careful they are not pushed to extinction with the influx of non-native species. After all we don’t want the automotive equivalent of the grey squirrel.

It may not be all bad though. After all, many of us enjoy a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – who knows, we might well see some good ‘new world’ cars too.

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