MULTI-NATIONAL fleets are not doing enough to explore the opportunities presented by remarketing end-of-contract cars across borders.
Taking hundreds of vehicles into account and disposing of them in a country where they will achieve better used values can generate significant extra income.
Delegates at the conference heard how the used car industry operated differently in individual European countries.
While five countries stand out in terms of the highest new car sales in Europe - Germany, the UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands - only three, Germany, the UK and France, stand out for their used car sales volume. These are known as the Big Three.
Lars-Erik Aaroy, sales director, mainland Europe for BCA Europe, said Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Austria were effectively closed markets due to high taxation, which meant fleets would not export to these countries where taxation was high, while Belgium, Spain and Italy mainly exported their used cars to other markets.
In 2002, Germany sold 6.8 million used cars, the UK 6.6 million units and France 5.5 million units. Aaroy told delegates: 'A number of companies are looking at cross-border remarketing opportunities but more could do so.'
He also noted several trends showing how used car sales performed in different countries. These included:
Germany - facing major economic challenges, there is a relatively low operational lease (called contract hire in the UK) penetration, the majority of ex-lease volume is exported and ex-rental and manufacturer buyback is excessive.
France - strong diesel market dominated by domestic manufacturers, an oversupply of rental volume continues, it has an extensive auction industry controlled by Commissaries Priseurs, which would manage antiques and art alongside cars.
Italy - change of ownership of cars is expensive and slow, so they are usually passed down through family generations, many grey importers take advantage of lax VAT controls, there are high rental volumes and there is a strong growth in lease returns.
Spain - the change of ownership process is slow and bureaucratic, there are high rental volumes, registration taxes hamper cross-border business and there is a strong growth in lease returns.
The Netherlands - there are closed borders for passenger cars (BPM luxury tax), a high operational lease penetration, a dynamic used car market to absorb ex-lease vehicles, limited ex-rental business, mainly dealer buyback.
Norway - import of two to three-year-old well-specified vehicles, big country with few people offers e-sales prospects.
Denmark - tax-free rentals exported, otherwise a closed market due to 180% tax.
Belgium - traditionally a trading hub, historical clocking now cleared up.
Austria - duty limits exports of domestic vehicles.
Portugal - high taxes, but not quite closed. Auctions have taken off.
For full copies of the Fleet News Europe Conference 2004 presentations in Powerpoint and pdf format click here.