Fleet News

New plate changes could hit residuals

FLEETS have been urged to look more closely at when they buy and sell their company cars to ensure they maximise residual values with the imminent introduction of a new registration plate system. The Government will shortly announce the abolition of the present August 1 plate change and the introduction, from March 1, 1999, of a new twice-yearly system. The second plate change will take place on September 1.

The expectation is that instead of 25% of all new cars sold in Britain being bought in August, sales will be more evenly spread with March, September and January - with fleets and private buyers buying vehicles to benefit from the year change - expected to be the peak months.

But David Lee, fleet administration manager in charge of the 2,500-strong solus fleet of construction company John Laing and a counsel member of the Institute of Car Fleet Management, believes the Government and the motor industry should have opted for plate changes in April and October.

Under the present registration system few fleets buy cars in June, July, November and December and Lee believes the introduction of the new system will limit the attractiveness to fleets of buying cars in January.

'If the industry wants to even out new car supplies and have three changepoints a year surely January, April and October would be better,' said Lee. 'The way it has been decided closes the door on January as a vehicle buying date. We would be barmy to buy cars in January when by waiting eight weeks we can buy cars in March which feature both a new plate and a new year. However, if the change was in April it would be much less attractive to postpone buying in January.'

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