Fleet News

SMMT backs fleet operators' attack on Government

THE Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has defended fleets with a blistering attack on the Government for interfering in the car market without understanding the consequences of its actions. Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the SMMT, has warned that there could be 'unintended consequences' of Government attempts to give consumers cheaper car prices.

Already some of the signs are showing as UK-based car manufacturers and suppliers report losses caused by drivers holding off car buying as they expected new car prices to fall.

Macgowan also rounded on the Government's current anti-diesel stance, arguing the Government should be treating the fuel as the key to keeping Britain moving: 'Whatever Government is in power, one of the messages that must be stressed is that you tamper with fleet at your peril. The fleet market is enormous and it is all very well to say how things need to be changed, but there are consequences.'

He added there was a lack of Government understanding of the fleet industry and its importance to the country. More than half the new cars sold each year go to the fleet market and many more are bought with business cheques.

Meanwhile, the one area where it could show some support for the work of fleets at the coalface of providing the cleanest, 'greenest' technology was being ignored through its anti-diesel stance, he added.

He said: 'Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown addressed this partly in the Pre-Budget report by announcing that ultra-low sulphur diesel would be charged the same as ultra-low sulphur petrol, but it still does not address the fact that diesel should have a benefit.

'In 1994, diesel was 23% of the market, but that has slumped to less than 15%, while in Europe the market is more than 30%. It is poor Government thinking that diesel should have a disadvantage.'

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