Fleet News

Forget price cuts, say top car chiefs

THE top two men in the world's automotive industry have quashed speculation that UK new car prices are set to tumble. In a special interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford chairman and chief executive Jac Nasser dismissed lower UK prices as 'highly unlikely' despite the bandwagon of fleet and consumer expectation.

He told Fleet NewsNet: 'I would love to be able to say that price cuts are a solution to the situation that exists in Britain, but they are not. If you look at the financial strength of all the motor companies in Europe, you will see there is not much room to move in this direction. I'm a firm believer in having transparency across the markets, but for that to happen, the UK needs to go through tax reform.'

Nasser said that just two years ago, Britain was one of Europe's lowest priced markets but a culmination of exchange rates and different tax levels had changed that situation 'very dramatically'. With less than three weeks to go before the Competition Commission inquiry into UK new car pricing is due to report, Nasser's view was backed General Motors.

Rick Wagoner, president and chief operating officer of General Motors, said: 'The strength of the Pound is exacerbating the price situation. Ideally we would like price harmony throughout Europe, but there are tax differences which must be overcome. It is net transaction price which is important and there is not a big difference in that between the UK and the rest of Europe.' Vauxhall chairman and managing director Nick Reilly said: 'The expectation of price cuts has been built up by the media. I do not expect any change in list price.'

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