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Watch out for cars lacking safety kit due to production problems, AFP warns

Date: 13 September 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Fleets need to think carefully before buying cars that might have had safety equipment removed from their specification due to motor industry supply shortages, according to the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

The organisation has issued the warning amid the continuing global shortage of semiconductors - a crucial component in modern car making - which in some cases has led carmakers to make alterations to standard specs.

According to the AFP, this creates a number of issues to be considered, including ethics, risk management responsibilities, and also future residual values. 

AFP chair Paul Hollick said: "We appreciate that the semiconductor shortage is leaving manufacturers with some tough production decisions to make and some have decided to delete what might be described as non-core safety equipment such as lane departure warning and rear parking sensors.

"Our view is that fleets should think carefully before buying these vehicles. From a risk management point of view, there is a moral and potentially also a legal issue in terms of operating some vehicles that are known to be potentially less safe than would normally be the case.

"Similarly, although safety equipment has not historically had a significant effect on vehicle residual values, the trade will know that these are 'de-contented' cars and are likely to price them according in three or four years at disposal time. The impact on overall operating costs is difficult to assess."

Hollick added that ongoing vehicle shortages caused by the semiconductor shortage were prompting a range of issues for fleets, including impacting on planned adoptions of greater numbers of EVs.

He said: "There are predictable problems such as ensuring that cars and vans that are being operated for longer are maintained to a level that ensures they remain fit for purpose. This is relatively simple but can be expensive and does require a lot of attention to detail.

"However, probably the most frustrating issues are the delays that are being caused to fleet electrification programmes. There are relatively large numbers of drivers with an EV on order who are facing the prospect of driving their existing diesel for another 6-12 months.

"Not only is there annoyance at the enthusiasm for EV adoption that exists being hindered but the practical fact that much higher benefit-in-kind taxation bills are being paid for much longer than expected. Additionally, many of these new EVs will now have life cycles that end beyond the current BIK taxation tables, which adds a further layer of uncertainty."