Professor Garel Rhys told delegates at the Fleet News UK Congress that one potential outcome of a new block exemption could see fleets that buy large numbers of vehicles and have their own service and repair workshops go into vehicle sales.
Rhys, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University, said that an opportunity was available to some larger fleets - thanks to a precedent set in the truck industry - to sell vehicles, a move which had not been challenged by Brussels. 'There will be more outlets for selling cars, and in the long term most will still be sold through the dealer network - they have completed the learning curve and it's up to others to prove they are better,' said Rhys. 'But there will be outlets other than dealers which have contracts to sell new cars - supermarkets, dotcom companies and very large fleets. Many of the bigger truck fleets that deal direct with manufacturers and service their own fleets did not have to prove that their mechanics were trained by the factory. Bigger car fleet operators could be allowed to do the same.'
He added that there was likely to be a split between sales and servicing, with more companies providing service facilities and fewer larger companies involved in vehicle sales.
The European Commission would allow retailers to choose whether to provide one or both of the services to customers, and large fleets managing their own workshops could deal direct with parts suppliers rather than buying from the manufacturer.