Fleets may face delays to new vehicle deliveries because some leasing companies are not complying with revised regulations that allow cars and vans to be driven for up to 14 days without displaying a tax disc.
The two-week ‘grace period’ was among a range of changes governing the automated first registration and licensing of fleet vehicles that came into effect more than three months ago.
They were introduced after the Government announced the phased closure of 39 regional DVLA offices to modernise the service.
At the same time, the DVLA also made advance vehicle registration possible throughout the year and extended it from four to 14 days prior to the vehicle registration date.
However, Fleet News has discovered that some leasing companies are asking franchised dealers not to deliver vehicles until they have received the appropriate tax disc.
Jay Parmar, director of legal and policy at the BVRLA, said: “Some of them are adopting a cautious stance to ensure that drivers are not left without a tax disc for their vehicle.”
14-day grace period is ‘useful’
He added: “A 14-day grace period is useful, but problems can still emerge if there is a postal strike, someone goes on holiday or a fleet manager is trying to track down a salesperson that is travelling up and down the country.
“Some leasing companies would prefer to ensure they are compliant by building in extra lead-time before delivering the vehicle to make sure it arrives with a tax disc. Other leasing companies are happy to send vehicles out without tax discs.”
However, Parmar says if a fleet manager is unhappy about delays they should raise it with their leasing company.
He added: “They may be asked to sign a disclaimer that they have taken delivery of the vehicle without a disc and are responsible for ensuring that it finds its way into the vehicle.”
ACFO chairman Damian James recently experienced first hand a delayed delivery. The head of operations at Bracknell Forest Council said a minibus was two weeks late in joining the fleet because a leasing company declined permission for a dealer to release it pending the arrival of a tax disc.
He said: “The reason for the delay became apparent only after the vehicle joined the fleet. Had I known the reason, I could have spoken to the leasing company and perhaps taken delivery sooner.”
A selection of leasing companies spoken to by Fleet News found that most would deliver vehicles only with tax discs.
They included GE Capital Fleet Services, Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, LeasePlan and Venson Automotive Solutions.
A GE spokesman said: “It is GE policy for a valid tax disc to always be displayed in new vehicles at handover to the customer.
“Consequently, dealers will still need to obtain valid tax discs prior to delivery.”
However, he told Fleet News that it is working with dealers to ensure taxation and delivery procedures accommodate this change without incurring unnecessary delays in the delivery of vehicles.
Matt Cranny, head of fleet support at LeasePlan, said its policy of delivering vehicles only with a valid tax disc would reduce reliance on third party understanding of the new rules, while it was factoring potential delays into its delivery schedule.
Valid disc must be displayed
“Dealers are not permitted to proceed with the delivery of the vehicle unless a valid disc is displayed,” he said.
“Customers are also required to sign a delivery satisfaction note which will confirm the display of a valid tax disc.”
Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions told Fleet News that the delivery of a car or van complete with a valid tax disc was integral to its service delivery agreement with its approved new vehicle supplying dealers.
“This ensures that the vehicle is compliant from day one, as we want to avoid the potential risk of non-compliance due to any delays in subsequent receipt of the tax disc by the driver beyond the 14-day grace period,” said head of operations Tim Bowden.
However, Lex Autolease and Ogilvie Fleet said they would deliver a vehicle without a tax disc in certain circumstances.
Lex Autolease stressed that its policy is to deliver the vehicle and the tax disc at the same time, due to what it describes as liability issues that could occur after the 14-day grace period ends.
But Janette Richardson, senior manager purchasing and SMR, said there will be circumstances when a customer needs to take urgent delivery of a vehicle, particularly if they operate a business critical fleet.
She said: “Where possible in these situations we would look to support the customer by delivering the vehicle and sending the tax disc at a later date.”
Jill Stephen, customer services director at Ogilvie Fleet, said: “Our policy is always to try and deliver vehicles with a valid tax disc.
“However, a handful of vehicles have been delivered without a tax disc, typically at the request of a fleet manager or driver.”
Meanwhile, the phased closure of DVLA regional offices started last week, with 14 of the 39 offices closing on Friday. A further 12 will closure on November 22 and the final 13 will shut their doors for the last time on December 13.