Fleet News

Pre-registration price inquiry shock

THE Competition Commission is investigating the pre-registration of cars as part of its New Cars Inquiry. The surprise announcement came in an unexpected addition to the remedies statement that was issued by the inquiry three weeks ago.

The commission has now invited views on: 'whether suppliers and dealers should no longer be permitted to register cars in their own names unless they are for use in the business, e.g. by employees or as demonstrator cars, and for a minimum period of time, say three months. This would prevent the practice of pre-registering cars in order to window-dress sales figures, bringing additional transparency to the market.'

Pre-registered vehicles appear as fleet registrations in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' official sales records, leading some fleet commentators to argue that the figures misrepresent the health of the company car market in the eyes of the Government. Industry sources suggested that as many as 90,000 September 'V' registrations had no home to go to but were still registered by dealers. Adrian Rushmore, chief car editor of Glass's Guide, put 'true' September sales figures at no more than 310,000 units compared with a final total of 386,999 units, adding: 'The difference is largely accounted for through self-registration exercises, which amounted to over 20% of the monthly total.'

A spokesman for the SMMT questioned whether the October 29 deadline for replies gave the industry adequate time to respond. He added: 'If dealers register vehicles themselves it's a marketing initiative they have taken, and we are very puzzled how that will link with the price of new cars in the UK.' The Consumers Association, however, has argued that the price of pre-registered, nearly new cars with no miles on the clock better reflects the 'real' market price of new cars in the UK, rather than official manufacturer list prices.

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