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Car crime figures are falling

SIR – Your article ‘Thieves target fleets as car crime rockets’ (Fleet NewsNet, October 27) suggests that car crime is on the rise.
In fact, car crime is at its lowest level for 20 years. Latest figures from the Government’s British Crime Survey (BCS), the most authoritative survey of its kind, show a 12% fall in the number of people saying they have experienced vehicle theft in the year to June 2004.
Police statistics show an 18% drop in thefts from and of vehicles between April and June 2004. Added to this, BCS figures show that those with a high level of worry about car crime fell from 22% in 1998 down to 15% in 2003/4.
When official statistics show such a clear drop in vehicle crime it is irresponsible for others such as Autoglass to suggest otherwise.
Surveys such as theirs only contribute to an unfounded fear of vehicle crime amongst the public.
The reductions in vehicle crime we have seen to date have been achieved by a lot of hard work by a range of people and organisations – by Government in changing the law where it has been needed and modernising the vehicle registration system, manufacturers with improved security on cars, police and of course motorists themselves.

Hazel Blears
Home Office Minister

The busy remarketing period is shifting

SIR – I read with interest Adrian Rushmore’s article concerning the fourth quarter 2004 used vehicle sales (Fleet NewsNet, October 28).
I concur with him entirely regarding volumes and the balance of supply and demand. However, our research has shown a further interesting new trend in return vehicle volumes, predominantly in the car market but also evident in the light commercial sector too.
Following issue of a new registration plate, this quarter being the 54 plate, volume returns are normally expected back to the market in the month following issue of the new plate.
So September and March are usually thought to be busy periods for used vehicle returns, with subsequent imbalance of supply and demand following either late on in those months or the month after. As he said, the negotiation advantage turns towards the buyer rather than the seller in these periods.
The trend we have been seeing this year is that this whole de-fleet cycle is now taking a month longer than before. The reason for this, we believe, is that many large fleets now have alternative disposal methods in place, operating on a cascade principle.
So the first method of sale would involve direct selling, either through owned internet sites or through specialist remarketing companies. Any vehicles not sold in that way would then return to the ‘open market’, ie auction. But by operating in that way, at least another month has been put into the disposal cycle outlined above, thus the busy months are now November and April, following new plate changes. Indeed, this principle applies at all other times of the year, but is hidden from view without the plate change.
This makes good remarketing sense, as fleets are taking advantage of specialised routes to market, eventually selling at auction as a last resort.
However, the shift in busy period by one month could have quite a dramatic effect on residual values and, equally as important in the time it will take to sell the vehicle. In this quarter for example, such large volumes of used stock entering the open market in November will inevitably mean that many vehicles will stay unsold until after Christmas.
The market remains strong at the moment, but seasonal decline will begin towards the middle of this month.
April too will cause similar issues, with Easter causing a slow down in sales. As ever, this new trend has created a vacuum in supply in the month’s leading up to plate change, when the market will buy almost anything, in any condition! I would be interested to know if this view is supported by other fleet operators.

D J Woods
Managing director, XBG Fleet Remarketing

Hogging solution

SIR – One solution to the problem of middle-lane hoggers might be to restrict all vehicles to the national speed limit.
As lorries are restricted to 58mph, they can carry on as they are. Most car drivers drive at least 60mph to 65mph so the urgency to overtake will decrease.

Ricky Hobson
IT Manager, Fittleworth Medical

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