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OFT targets pre-reg cars

The growing practice of retailers pre-registering cars on behalf of manufacturers in an end of month ‘sales’ flurry is set to come under the spotlight after a complaint by the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI).

The Office of Fair Trading has written to all vehicle manufacturers which have a market share of at least 1% in the UK, reminding them of their obligations under the Supply of New Cars Order (SNCO), introduced in 2000. But while carmakers have to reveal figures pre-registered by themselves, the RMI believes they are exploiting a loophole that enables cars to be pre-registered by retailers without the numbers being published.

“Our concern is to ensure there is an accurate understanding of what is happening in the new car market at the moment. Since the Order was introduced, the number of manufacturers who own their own dealerships has increased significantly,” says Alistair Manson, RMI director. “An influx of pre-registered cars distorts our analysis of the retail content of the market.”

The SMMT declined to get drawn into the argument, and simply stated its official stance: “Each month we publish the figures that are required under the Supply of New Cars Order.”

Under the SNCO, cars pre-registered by retailers must be retained for six months before they can be sold on. AM understands that a number of companies are in breach of these rules, selling cars to supermarkets and private buyers.

Failure to comply with the SNCO can lead to court action to obtain a court order. Further infringments could result in unlimited fines.

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