Fleet News

Alchemy's cut price offer fails to woo fleet managers

THE offer by Rover's new owner Alchemy Partners of cut price cars is failing to tempt fleet managers - although some fleet chiefs are staying loyal to the brand. Alchemy Partners has taken ownership of five months' worth of unsold Rover stock at depots as part of the buyout of the brand from BMW.

Powergen UK's car scheme manager Karen Stewart, who runs a user-chooser fleet of 500 vehicles - about 12 of which are Rovers - said: 'Rover has never been a strong favourite and the present situation will do nothing to improve its image. The news that there are fields full of unsold Rovers makes a joke of the fact we had to wait up to four months for cars. I won't be tempted by Moulton's offer.' However, BMWs remain a strong favourite. 'Politics gives way to badge prestige and brand quality and no-one is about to give their BMW back,' Stewart said.

Paul Dyke, fleet administrator for venture capitalist 3i, which has a fleet of 232 cars, said it was unlikely Rover would win any new friends. 'Rover's weak RVs have pushed up leasing rates in the past and what has happened is unlikely to strengthen them. I don't think my drivers will be interested in cheap Rovers,' he said.

But some fleet managers are standing by Rover, including David Lee, fleet manager of John Laing Construction, which has about 60 Rovers among its 2,500-strong fleet. He said: 'As long as the RVs remain underwritten, I'm not worried.' Martin Street, head of procurement for brewing giant Scottish & Newcastle, which has been buying Rovers for more than six years and has 46% of its 2,500-vehicle fleet made up of the brand, said: 'It is a dilemma for us, because we bought Rovers in fairly large numbers and it has been a good supplier with good cars, but we have to think of the good of our business and if residual values fall, then we will have to rethink.'

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