Fiat's foreign fleet orders
03 July 2009
Author: Richard Yarrow
It's only a matter of time before foreign fleet operators are sourcing their cars here, Fiat UK bosses are warning. The weakness of the Pound against the Euro means the just-launched 500C is ?16,600 in Italy, but is only £11,300 (?13,250) in Britain.
Andrew Sproston, sales director of Fiat UK, explained: "We have requests from customers wanting 300, 400, 500 cars - obviously in left hand drive - and EU law says we have to supply them. It's hysterical because it's the exact opposite of where we were a few years ago with UK customers traveling abroad to buy."
Sproston said this was not business Fiat UK was actively seeking, and acknowledged he could do without it because of the logistics involved. The cars, built in a factory in Poland, come to the UK and physically have to go to a dealership to be handed over to the customer, who immediately exports them.
"It's problematic for us because the customers want the cars to be in the exact spec of the foreign market, which may be different to UK spec. It means our systems can't deal with it, so stuff has to be inputted manual. My logistics director is looking at me woefully at the moment."
One of the biggest problems is in the Republic of Ireland where the 500C is priced just under ?20,000. Sproston said, not surprisingly, customers were crossing the border to buy in Belfast. "The Irish dealers are asking for our help but there's not much we can do," he added.