Fleet News

Fleets hold out for new year price cuts

FLEETS are postponing the replacement of non-essential cars in anticipation of lower new car prices in the new year. As the new millennium dawns, the biggest buyers of new cars in the UK have reported a drop-off in orders as the motor industry awaits the publication of the long-awaited report by the Competition Commission's New Cars Inquiry.

The report has been delayed, with the Commission saying it needed to assess 'substantial new evidence and arguments' submitted by car makers in response to October's remedies statement. The Commission is now expected to submit its findings to the Department of Trade and Industry by January 31, 2000, and Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers, warned: 'There must be no further delay. I want the uncertainty about the market to be resolved quickly.'

News of the delay prompted an angry response from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, whose chief executive Christopher Macgowan said: 'This last minute announcement flies in the face of all the efforts made by the motor industry since March to assist the Competition Commission with its inquiry and its rigid timetable. This latest news can only add to the uncertainty in consumers' minds, and we call on the Government to act now and reassure customers that there will be no ill-considered quick fix to its concerns over pricing.'

This uncertainty has seen new car buyers hold off their acquisitions pending the publication of the Commission's report, and City stockbroker Charterhouse Securities has estimated that 75,000 new vehicle purchases had been deferred in the four months to the end of December.

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