Fleet News

Manufacturers attack grey imports

TWO Japanese manufacturers have urged the Government not to relax the limits on grey imports, without considering the impact on the industry and environment and safety considerations. Subaru UK's managing director Ed Swatman and Stephen Dixon, managing director of the Colt Car Company, importer of Mitsubishi cars to the UK, took advantage of the glare of publicity surrounding the British International Motor Show to speak out.

Dixon launched an attack on the Government's new proposals for an enhanced Single Vehicle Type Approval (SVA) which would see the 50-car quota on grey imports removed, while safety, security and environmental standards would be tightened to be broadly equivalent to EU type approval levels. Parallel imports, or those cars sold in other European countries, will still have to be Whole Vehicle Type Approved (WVTA) to safety and pollution standards agreed throughout the Continent.

He said: 'It seems to me quite ridiculous that having established criteria which all legitimate importers have to meet, you can then allow a different group of people to bring in vehicles which may look similar, but have no need to comply with the same rules. I suspect this is the beginning of the end of WVTA in the UK as I can see no reason why anyone should bother with those regulations when Enhanced SVA is so much less onerous. The Government may like to believe the Enhanced SVA regulations will ensure that grey imports are as safe and as non-polluting as WVTA vehicles. They would be wrong.'

Dixon predicts a national outcry should a serious accident be 'remotely attributable' to a deficiency in a grey import and questioned who would be held liable if that accident was caused by a defect of manufacture or vehicle repair. 'And what about insurance? We have talked to those in the business and it is very likely that people who do not declare the fact that their vehicle is a grey import will not be covered in the event of making a claim,' Dixon warned.

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