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FLEET SPEAK: Confusing sympathy, and needing more from Ford

Date: 20 April 2010

Paul Barker is editor of BusinessCar

It's really not very often that I get a single pang of sympathy for the Government, but some of the criticism I've heard regarding the BIK reduction for vehicles at 75g/km or below is a bit harsh.

One of the most regular criticisms the fleet industry has historically levelled at those in power is that it doesn't give the market enough warning to adjust to changes in taxation. Here's a clear policy, set out for the next five years, and it's branded as irrelevant because you can't yet buy a car that is eligible. Give it two years, when the first models start filtering through, and we'll all be grateful that the tax position on the likes of the plug-in Prius and Vauxhall Ampera have been clarified - provided there's no back-tracking from whoever is making the decisions post-election.

On a separate matter, Ford's announcement about cutting pricing on its larger models is a welcome first step, but it will be interesting to see what happens with its most popular fleet model, the Focus, during 2010. Currently, Ford is saying it won't cut Focus prices until its replacement arrives around a year from now.

Admittedly anecdotal, I know of people who have seen the Focus move out of their choice list because of the soaring cost. And for those that can still choose, or are still allocated a Focus, their BIK payments will be hit by the raft of P11D increases, no matter what the transaction price actually is. Ford's price rises may not be impacting upon what fleets and leasing companies actually pay for vehicles, but that doesn't mean the end user isn't feeling the pinch.

Paul Barker