Fleet News

Parallel imports are no longer a great bargain

'IT is almost impossible to get parallel import registration figures but it does seem that the numbers are at last slowing down. There are a couple of reasons for this. UK cars now represent much better value, therefore making the trip abroad less financially beneficial, while the drop in value of Sterling against the Euro has made European cars relatively more expensive.

One importer told me that a drop from 64 euro to 55 euro makes the average car almost £500 more expensive to import and too close in price to a 'proper' UK car. Migration is slowing down.

I was in Northern Ireland last week and dealers there are seeing a marked reduction in the numbers going from the south to the north. The used car market is still fairly buoyant in Northern Ireland, but the real demand is for diesels.

This is mainly due to a lack of ex-company cars available, as the fleet market is considerably smaller than on the mainland.

Also with Eire being so accessible and diesel at half Northern Ireland prices then the diesel engine option is very attractive so very few leave the island. In fact the opposite is happening with diesels going from England, Wales and Scotland to Ireland.

Sad that safety doesn't sell

Road safety is at the forefront of every driver's mind – or is it? Buyers of new cars love all the visible toys but safety features, tending to be out of sight, are less of an attraction.

However, cars have become safer over the years, thanks to manufacturers' research teams, engineers and designers. Evidence is found in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' Motor Industry FACTS – 2002 leaflet.

This tells us that back in 1970 there were almost 12.5 million cars on the roads and 7,500 fatalities.

In 2000 the number of cars had more than doubled to more than 27 million, but road deaths almost halved to 3,400.

Although we all know someone who forms part of the accident statistics and one person killed on our roads is one too many, it is reassuring to know that safety is improving all the time.

It is sad therefore that safety doesn't sell cars, either new or, especially, used. The fact is that the used car buyer will not pay extra for safety features, but will for a CD player.

All quiet on our motorways

Is it me or have our roads, particularly away from built-up areas, suddenly become much quieter in the past few weeks? OK, near city centres they are just as bad, but your regular out-of-town motorway is currently moving quite freely. It would be nice to think that the changes in company car taxation, removing the need to do massive amounts of mileage to save some tax, has caused this phenomenon.

Does anyone else out there have similar experiences of being able to move around the country more easily? Are petrol retailers noticing a slump in fuel sales, are the breakdown services keeping their vans in lay-bys for longer?

I would really like to know why you can suddenly do 70mph instead of the usual stop-start. Am I going to wake up soon and return to a nightmare?'

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