Top fleet executives slam rivals over pre-registration activity
13 November 2012
The ongoing industry worries over manufacturers pre-registering cars and its potential impact on the fleet market and residual values has caused senior executives from two manufacturers to speak out against those it accuses of being involved in the practice.
Peugeot's fleet boss Phil Robson raised serious concern about the behaviour of some rivals.
"The retail market is [officially] 9.2% up, and to be honest I don't think retail is 9.2% up - it's pre-registration, and that sort of growth in retail will cause us a problem," he said. "A number of manufacturers are overcooking their position at this time, and manufacturers you wouldn't expect to overcook.
"We don't often credit rivals, but what Ford has done over the past four years is similar to us, and Vauxhall should be commended - they have held onto the change in strategy as much as possible," continued Robson.
"It has highlighted a number of others that are overcooking the market and it could have serious ramifications over the next 12-24 months."
Audi's UK boss Martin Sander agreed that pre-registering cars is a tactic other brands are employing.
"If you end up where self-registration becomes part of the sales planning then you run into problems," he said. "I'm very confident in saying we have by far the highest percentage of genuine customers [of the premium brands]."
Sander also questioned the pricing actions of at least one of the firm's prestige rivals, claiming they are no longer acting as a premium brand in what is an increasingly competitive marketplace.
"My question is, when I see the actions of competitors in the marketplace, what is premium and what is not?" he told BusinessCar.
"The textbook definition of premium is outstanding product for consumers, outstanding service and charging a premium price."
Sander claimed some of the deals on offer for rival product breach his definition. "One of the key rules of premium is broken, so you are no longer premium any more," he asserted.
The short-term measures being employed have the potential to destabilise the corporate marketplace, according to fleet solutions firm Motiva Group.
"Self-registration has introduced more volatility and a lot of deals are being done on an ad-hoc basis by dealerships and brokers," said Motiva chief executive Peter Davenport.
"There's very little stability in pricing, which makes things difficult from a fleet manager's point of view. If the headline cost of a vehicle can go up or down by 30% from one day to the next, longer-term budgeting and investment decisions become harder."
However, residual values expert Cap is unconcerned about the potential impact of pre-registered models, claiming there is currently demand coming through the system and three-year old vehicles are sufficiently distant from pre-registrations to be unaffected.
"Of course, if pre-registration leads to a return to the old norms of structured oversupply, then in time that balance of supply and demand in the used fleet sector will be overturned fleet values will significantly weaken again," said a Cap spokesman.
"But, so far, that is not happening and we aren't currently expecting it to during 2013."
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