Fleet News

Steer clear of greys, fleets warned

FLEETS are being advised to 'steer clear of grey imports' without lengthy checks on warranties, servicing and residuals in the light of a Government decision to abandon import restrictions from the end of next year. The warning, from the Association of Car Fleet Operators, adds to an atmosphere of uncertainty in the fleet market over the effect of an expected flood of grey imports coming into the country. Some official importers and manufacturers have said their networks will not service, repair or supply spares for such vehicles.

Grey imports - vehicles imported from outside the EU which by-pass the appointed 'official' import and distribution network - are currently subject to a 50-vehicle quota limit for any particular model. From March 2000, the limit will be taken off in stages, starting with a raised limit of 1,000, rising to 3,000 in April, 6,000 in May and so on up to more than 50,000 at the end of the year until it is abandoned altogether at the start of 2001.

Vehicles will have to pass an enhanced Single Vehicle Approval test, which the Government claims will match the emissions and safety demands of the Whole Vehicle Type Approval test imposed on official imports. The move coincides with the expected removal this year of a 'gentleman's agreement' with Far Eastern manufacturers which limited imports to about 7% of the UK market. The combined effect of the two changes to allow a larger number of cheaper vehicles into the UK could, it is thought, create massive downward pressure on new car prices.

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