Fleet News

Fleets urged to kick the habit

A BAN on smoking in company cars could net fleets thousands of pounds in savings from improved vehicle prices at defleeting time.

Exclusive research carried out for Fleet News by Manheim Auctions has revealed that used car buyers are shunning cars used by smokers in favour of smoke-free alternatives.

In-depth interviews with a large number of professional vehicle buyers, who between them purchase thousands of cars per year, revealed that up to £200 could be wiped off a vehicle’s value if it had been used by a heavy smoker.

Worse still, the vehicle could simply be left standing without a buyer, as 48% said they would not even consider buying a vehicle tainted by tobacco, leading to further depreciation and increased stocking charges.

A significant number of those who would boycott smokers’ cars (52%) said it was because of the cost involved in bringing them back to showroom condition for their own customers. Of those that would still bid, 79% said they would reduce the price target to reflect the work they expected to have to carry out on the vehicle.

More than half put the cost at more than £50, with 10% saying £200 or more. However, 40% of buyers said no matter how much work was carried out, you could never get rid of smoke contamination, which could affect the chances of the car finding a seller on the open market.

Rob Barr, Manheim’s group planning and communication director, said: ‘We knew that smoke contamination negatively affected a buyer’s interest but this research, conducted for Fleet News, actually puts cost on it for the first time.

‘As well as talking to our buyers, we also asked our auctioneers for their views. They recognised this as very material and also raised the problem of more damage caused where smokers have accidently burned holes in upholstery and carpets, further wiping off hundreds of pounds in value.’

The company said that research into all vehicles valeted over a two-month period found that more than 20% had some form of smoke contamination, with half of them classed as having ‘serious impregnation or discolouration’ to upholstery and head lining.

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