Fleet News

DTI backs off call to 'name and shame' fleets over discounts

THE Department of Trade and Industry has shied away from calls to 'name and shame' fleets which achieve huge discounts on new car supply deals. Responding this week to the House of Commons' Trade and Industry Select Committee's 'Vehicle Pricing' report, the Government focused on the Office of Fair Trading's enquiry into a complex monopoly in the motor industry which is due to conclude in April.

The Select Committee had reported in December that private new car buyers subsidised fleet discounts. Two of the committee's Labour members, Martin O'Neil (Ochil) and Bob Laxton (Derby North), then made the shock demand that the Government should 'name and shame' fleets which, they claimed, obtained discounts of about 40%.

But the DTI has adopted a 'wait and see' policy, saying: 'Although discounts for bulk purposes are a normal feature of markets, the OFT in its complex monopoly enquiry is investigating whether the discounts given by manufacturers to fleet purchasers give rise to any competition concerns.'

On the issue of new vehicle pricing, the DTI dismissed arguments that the UK has the highest new car prices in Europe because right-hand-drive models are more expensive to produce, and said the European Commission and manufacturers must strive to ensure buyers can source cars abroad without hindrance. Looking further ahead, the DTI said the EC's review of the Block Exemption in 2000, along with new powers for the director general of the OFT would be used to combat any anti-competitive practice in the new car market.

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