In a stinging attack, the outspoken boss of SsangYong’s UK importer and former Kia UK chief, blasts the government over its lack of action.
Here – in an exclusive blog for Car Dealer Magazine – he backs our campaign and calls for a Scrap Scheme Now!
I’VE just noticed that Lord Mandelson is off on a trade jaunt to Brazil for a few days.
It’s a shame he couldn’t make a decision on the proposed scrappage scheme before he went, but no surprise there… he probably had to think about what to wear.
It’s rumoured of course, that Alistair Darling might use the announcement of a scrappage scheme to add a bit of interest and lustre to what will otherwise surely be a grim Budget on April 22.
If that’s the case, why wait?
The obvious answer is that a Budget announcement is politically preferable, especially if it means the government might be able to grab a favourable headline among the inevitable misery.
The chancellor must be scrabbling for anything even half encouraging, but it doesn’t help the auto industry.
In the past I’ve suggested many times that people only come to car showrooms if they are genuinely interested – or they’re lost. Now it’s truer than ever.
If there’s even a remote possibility of being able to take advantage of a few grand to chop in my nine or 10 year-old car for a new one, why wouldn’t I hold out to see what’s on offer?
If the scrappage scheme does come in for late April, it could be argued that we have nothing to worry about. Sales will simply be delayed for another month or so, and we can expect a stampede of showroom traffic over the May Day bank holiday. If only!
Any uncertainty puts people off of making a purchase decision, and the dithering of the government must be causing people to sit tight.
At the same time, none of us in the business know whether we should be spending time and money on preparing to implement such a scheme, or whether we would be better employed doing something that might or might not be more productive.
This uncertainty builds on the lack of confidence that exists right now. People are losing their jobs in vast numbers. And those of us in employment have seen our investments and pension funds devastated.
Our savings are earning next to nothing and our homes lose value every day. Okay, mortgage payments for many of us have been reduced, but none of this is conducive to spending money, especially on big ticket items like a car or LCV.
Manufacturers, distributors and dealers need to know well in advance about the major decisions and changes in legislation that affect their businesses – even those that are likely to be welcomed.
At the same time, consumers need to have the confidence to commit large sums of money, even when there seems little point in saving it. The miserable reduction in VAT wasn’t enough.
People need to see more money in their pay packets especially as they won’t see anything from savings and investments. That means tax cuts.
They also need incentives. The carrot of a scrappage allowance seems to have worked in other countries, and of course, there are environmental benefits too.
The government – Brown, Mandelson and Darling – should stop grandstanding in Strasbourg, New York and Rio, and get on with it – now!
Paul Williams, Managing Director, Koelliker UK Ltd
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