Commenting on the current scrutiny by the Competition Commission of the UK's new car market and the glaring discrepancies between prices in this country and abroad, fleet managers at the Bradford meeting said manufacturers had little to fear from losing their custom to foreign dealers. Their views reinforce those highlighted in a Lease Plan survey which showed that, of 100 finance directors questioned, 63% said the administrative burden ruled out sourcing vehicles overseas.
Barry Lingard, fleet manager of Leisure Link in Burton-on-Trent, told the ACFO meeting of about 40 fleet chiefs: 'The lead time for vehicles is so great because you have to go over there and establish a contact willing to sell you cars and not mess you about. If you have a small fleet and want to save £2,000-£3,000 you can do it. But because of the time involved I can only see imports of this kind being of any serious appeal to retail customers.'
Lingard also revealed evidence of the falsehood that fleets were benefiting from discounts denied to the private buyer and therefore going abroad was not always necessary to get bargain cars. ACFO north-east branch secretary Vic Barnes warned, however, that the issue of the European sourcing of vehicles was not going to rest yet, claiming: 'All across ACFO's regions this is a hot potato.'