Thursday 19 July 2018

Potential flood of 'ex-fleet' imports from the UK could spell disaster for the value of your secondhand car - expert

Consumer law verdict could be 'disastrous', warns expert

A wave of 'business cars' could be coming our way
A wave of 'business cars' could be coming our way
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

A potential flood of 'ex-fleet' imports from the UK could spell disaster for the value of your secondhand car, an expert warns.

He says that a decision by the UK's Trading Standards Authority could spark a wave of so-called 'business' cars coming on to our market.

According to Cartell.ie chief Jeff Aherne, that would be "disastrous" for used-car values in particular.

Mr Aherne, who is a Cartell.ie director, says we may be facing an influx of such imports.

The vehicle-history-and-data expert is concerned about the fallout from a recent UK interpretation of its consumer protection laws.

Here's the background to it: Up to one million UK car buyers unknowingly purchased an ex-rental or company car in the past 12 months.

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled late last year that the buyers should have been told the vehicles were ex-fleet.

The issue arose after ASA criticised Fiat Chrysler Automobiles UK and Glyn Hopkin in October for advertising two ex-fleet cars for sale without disclosing they had previously been used for business purposes.

In its ruling, ASA said knowledge of a car's history as an ex-fleet vehicle was "likely to influence a consumer's decision to purchase it".

The authority also said a dealer should disclose if an ex-fleet vehicle was driven by multiple users. That, ASA claimed, was material information which could help consumers make a more informed decision on whether or not to purchase.

Separately, Peugeot Citroen Retail UK was, in January, fined £5,000 for telling a customer the car had one previous owner when, in reality, it was owned by an international car-hire firm.

Mr Aherne says the problem lies with UK dealers' difficulties in getting relevant background information on a vehicle they wish to sell.

Such information is "readily available" on the Irish market, he says, through car-history checks etc, but it isn't as easily gleaned in the UK apparently. Exactly why is not clear.

The twist in the story is that fleet vehicles are seen as good used-car purchases here in the Republic as they are usually well maintained and in good overall condition.

All of that has led to the concern that the UK decisions may prompt dealers to pump a lot more ex-fleet UK vehicles into our receptive market.

Mr Aherne says: "Our biggest fear is that if the UK motor industry fails to prevent this situation escalating it will be the courts and other regulatory bodies setting the value of second-hand cars rather than the marketplace."

He adds: "The levels of compensation for loss in value potentially awarded in the wake of (the two cases) could be on a scale which would make it financially attractive to move ex-fleet vehicles out of a developing two-tier UK market and into Ireland."

Indo Motoring

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Also in Life