Fleet News

Fleets in call to lead new 'buy British' campaign

FLEETS are being called upon to become the driving force behind a 'buy British' campaign to protect the UK motor industry and the 790,000 workers who depend on it. The Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union is hoping to give the UK car industry a boost by persuading a switch to home-grown vehicles.

But this comes after several years of similar appeals which have fallen on deaf ears in the fleet market, resulting in the percentage of UK-built cars continuing to fall, now amounting to just 28% of new cars bought, compared to 33% in 1997. And the proportion of UK-built new cars sold in Britain is now almost equalled by the French manufacturing trio of Peugeot, Renault and Citroen, who between them control in excess of 20% of the UK new car market. Fleets also face the confusion of having to work out exactly what a UK-built car is, ranging from Japanese brands Honda and Toyota to American-owned Ford and Vauxhall.

And the confusion does not end there - despite the Vauxhall Vectra being identified as a British-built model, only the estate and hatchback are built at Luton with the saloon being assembled in Belgium. The only major manufacturers to build their entire ranges in the UK are Rover and Jaguar.

However, Association of Car Fleet Operators director Stewart Whyte says fleets will continue to look for the best deal, rather than adopt national loyalty. He said: 'Fleets are no longer interested in buying British. Just 10 years ago it was a major concern for a fleet to be seen to be buying home-grown vehicles. We no longer care about the source of vehicles, purely about value for money. The desire to cut costs and save money has pulled down all the borders.'

But Sir Ken Jackson, the AEEU's general secretary, says things have to change if the £40 billion UK car and component manufacturing industry is to survive. He said: 'If fleet buying policies reflect a buy-British policy this could really tip the balance for the UK motor industry, which accounts for 5.5% of the total UK gross domestic product. There are too many foreign-built cars on our roads. We should back our own workers and buy the cars they produce.'

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