A combination of the general election in May, the possibility of tax rises and VAT rising to 20 per cent could mean the second half of 2010 is as hard as before the scrappage scheme came into effect.
‘The second half of this year will be very tough,’ said Humberstone, at the launch of the new Alfa Romeo MultiAir last night.
‘Alfa has a very good retail network but we need to concentrate on sustainability this year. I predict the market will be between 1.7 and 1.75m units, but there is part of me that thinks it could be as bad as 1.65m.’
Humberstone said the Fiat Group will re-enter the fleet market to offset sales lost to the end of scrappage, but promised he would still ‘protect residuals’.
‘We’ll enter fleet in the long term rental, not daily rental market,’ he said. ‘We’ve been out of these channels for two years now and have been able to protect residuals, so we want to re-enter in a way that makes sense.’
Currently the Alfa Romeo network stands at 50 dealers and Humberstone said he was looking to push this up to 55. Open points include Birmingham and Leeds, but a troublesome Manchester location is soon to be filled.
‘I want to work with dealers to come up with ideas and to fix things,’ added Humberstone. ‘We need to look at our standings in JD Power and address these problems – these are, after all, our customers speaking.
‘It’s a difficult pill to swallow because we have to take it sideways, but I don’t want to beat dealers up about it, I want to help and support them.
‘These are exciting times, and times for change. I am desperately hopeful about this year and want to do my bit, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it will be tough.’
by JAMES BAGGOTT