The Fleet News Facing the Future conference offers fleet decision-makers the chance to hear expert opinion on key fleet issues, ranging from block exemption and green alternatives to Government transport policy.
There's a quiet revolution about to take place in the way leasing companies and fleets buy and service their cars. The issue is being driven by changes to the European competition rules that govern the way the motor industry operates.
Under the heading of block exemption, the EC wants to see greater competition in the new car market and in the service, maintenance and repair market, and its new rules aim to strengthen the hand of car dealers and independent garages in their negotiations with car manufacturers.
The immediate corollary of this has been the termination of franchise agreements by manufacturers who are now reformatting their contracts to comply with the new EC rules.
However, the way will also be open for new players to enter the market, with supermarket chains and internet operators tipped to start selling new cars. Moreover, dealers will no longer have to offer servicing, but will be able to sub-contract this work to approved garages.
This means fleets could buy their cars from different sources and maintain them in different garages within just a few months.
So how will manufacturers react, how will dealer groups respond, and how will this affect fleets?
The answers to these questions will be addressed at the Fleet News Industry Conference 'Facing the Future' by Dr John Wormold, a founding partner of Autopolis, a consulting firm which provides strategic analysis and advice to companies in the world automotive industry, will begin the session briefing delegates on the impact of the changes to block exemption and how they affect fleets.
Political and motor industry expert Malcolm Harbour MEP will address the key questions surrounding the issue. Rick Yarrow, managing director of Eurocarprice, will present new data that spells out the impact of the single currency for new and used cars on the continent, drawing conclusions for what is likely to happen in the UK should this country join the Euro.
These are essential issues for any fleet executive with a strategic outlook, and will lead to a comprehensive question and answer session and debate.
SOMEWHERE on the horizon there's a hydrogen economy waiting to happen where everyone will drive around in zero emission cars producing nothing but water from their exhaust pipes.
But in the meantime green-focused employers still need their staff to be mobile and their goods to be delivered in a viable and cost effective fashion that minimises pollution and environmental damage.
The new company car tax system has driven fleet demand for diesel-powered cars because of their lower emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the principal greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
But diesel cars also emit particulates that are blamed for damaging air quality and causing respiratory diseases, particularly in urban areas.
The 'green' alternative to diesel is liquefied petroleum gas which produces lower and cleaner tailpipe emissions, but which also emits higher levels of CO2 than diesel. So what fuel policies should environmentally-conscious fleets adopt?
And will these policies satisfy the operational, human resource and budgetary requirements of fleets in the real world?
To debate this future fuel issue, two of the most influential figures in the UK motor industry, Robin Woolcock, managing director of Volkswagen Group UK, and Jonathan Murray, director of TransportEnergy (which oversees the PowerShift programme designed to encourage the uptake of alternatively-fuelled vehicles) will present at the Fleet News Facing the Future conference.
The structure of the conference, under the chairmanship of BBC2 Newsnight's Jeremy Vine, will also give delegates the opportunity to contribute to the debate via vigorous question and answer sessions.
Fleet's role in the UK's transport and congestion challenge
WHAT should be done to combat congestion and pollution on UK roads? Should local or central Government impose road tolls to reduce traffic volumes? Should employers be taxed on the number of workplace parking charges available to staff? Do clean fuel vehicles powered by liquefied petroleum gas have a future? And what steps should employers be taking to meet their health and safety responsibilities towards at-work drivers?
The answers to these questions will determine fleet strategy for the next decade and beyond, and fleet executives will have the opportunity to hear the answers from the heart of Government at the Fleet News industry conference, Facing the Future, on November 6.
Transport Minister David Jamieson will lay out the Government's transport policy, how the Government hopes to work with fleets to combat gridlock and pollution, and the actions that Government would like to see employers undertake to ensure cleaner, safer roads.
Conference delegates will also have the chance to put questions to the Minister, to clarify their understanding of official policy and to have their own opinions heard by one of the key influencers in the Labour administration.
They will also hear a radical vision for the future of transport in the UK from Professor David Begg, chair of the Commission for Integrated Transport, one of the most respected and influential transport professionals in the UK, and a speaker guaranteed not to pull his punches.
There is no doubt that the problems, difficulties and inefficiencies facing travellers in the UK seem to be intensifying.
Many major routes are severely congested for hours every day, affecting commuters, employees driving to clients, and businesses trying to make deliveries. The alternatives, however, are no less appealing with strikes stalling the London Underground, and high cost and uncertain reliability undermining the appeal of the railways.
Facing the Future is an ideal opportunity for fleet executives to get face-to-face with a Government minister, hear first hand official Government policy and timescales, and then to factor this information into future corporate strategies.
ACCURATE residual value forecasting is the lifeblood of the leasing industry, dictating both the commercial success or failure of contracts and the profitability of contract hire firms.
Yet forecasting has become far more complex in recent years as model cycles have shortened, new niches appeared, and consumer demand for once popular cars completely vanished. Add into the mix two years of record new car sales, burgeoning double-digit growth for sales of diesel cars, and the new registration plate system, and the outlook for used car values has never looked so uncertain or precarious.
But what will the impact of these be on used car prices next year, in 2004 and 2005? What do the professional forecasters and industry market influencers think will happen to used car values? Are your projections in line with their forecasts?
The conference will address the residual value debate head-on, identifying the model sectors more likely to prove popular to used car buyers in 2005 and 2006, and therefore more likely to retain their value. Experts will also highlight areas of higher risk, the red zones for depreciation, and the safe havens for predictable used car prices.
Ramesh Notra, chief economist at CAP, and Adrian Rushmore, managing editor of Glass's Information Services, will present their own companies' views of the future used car market, while John Lewis, director general of the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association will represent the industry's views on how best to maximise future residual values.
Book your place
Facing the Future, the Fleet News industry conference sponsored by Manheim Auctions and Kwik-Fit Fleet, takes place on November 6 at the Hilton London Metropole, Edgware Road, London, from 10am until 4.30pm.
Tickets cost £195 +VAT.
Otherwise email firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01733 468123.