Asked why it mattered who sold new Fords, the company's UK boss said: “We and our dealers have a set of values and I have no way of controlling how the dotcoms operate. But if people buying a Ford through them have a bad experience, it reflects on us.
“Companies such as Virgin have their own values which may or may not be the same as ours. Some of the dotcoms demand sizeable deposits and take three to four months to deliver. There can be hidden charges, too.”
At the show Virgin Cars chief executive Ian Lancaster said their success had forced Ford into launching online. Ford announced FordJourney. com which enables people to buy direct over the internet, with a discount of 5% to 6%. Vauxhall is cutting prices and also putting all its derivatives online.
Mr McAllister said of internet sales: “I don't know how many cars we'll sell but if online sales take off, we'll have the mechanism in place.”