David Kemp, EMU director at ABN AMRO Bank, which owns LeasePlan/Dial, said fleet managers running UK-only fleets should not make the mistake of thinking that EMU was none of their business.
Kemp predicted there would be a referendum in the UK on joining the Eurozone towards the end of 2001 with the country likely to join in 2002.
'The English Channel is not a boundary. It is already possible for European companies to come into the UK with a lower cost base because of the currency position and the volume of car fleets they can manage and support because it is a mature marketplace and therefore there are economies of scale,' he said. 'The currency issue is 'in your face' and it is a major issue. But all fiscal, legal, monetary and commercial aspects of European competition can come into this country and fleet managers cannot sit still. Competition will increase as borders come down and the Euro will accelerate competition.
Professor Peter Cooke, head of automotive industries management at Nottingham Trent University, agreed: 'Companies from Europe will come into the UK fleet market and offer very attractive deals and e-commerce players will offer total packages. Cost transparency will become more important as the market widens and organisations look to reduce costs.'
Embracing of EMU and the single currency will further aid the development of e-commerce, accelerate web exchanges, standardise contracts with less national distinction, lead to the movement of vehicles across borders, particularly to boost secondhand values and will speed up the ability of companies to do business as there will be no requirement to 'hedge' on interest rates and currency movements.