Members across the industry body are reporting everything from late cancelled orders to simply not being able to get hold of representatives from major car and van makers, alongside a suspicion that large fleets are often being placed last when it comes to allocating stock.
Paul Hollick, chair at the AFP, said: “There’s a general perception that this issue is getting worse rather than better. Everyone knows and understands that there are ongoing production issues affecting almost every manufacturer but no-one can comprehend why this has seemingly caused a complete breakdown in responsibility and communication.
“With a couple of possible exceptions, the story appears to be consistent for almost every manufacturer across all of our fleets. Placing orders is difficult because you can’t get hold of the right people to do so, getting subsequent updates on those orders is often impossible and finally, these orders are often pulled at the last minute with no explanation.
“We are hearing regular stories from across our membership about orders for dozens or even hundreds of cars and vans being cancelled more than a year after they were first made and within weeks of when they were due. This leaves fleets high and dry. It’s having a direct impact on businesses that need transport and, on a personal basis, potentially damages the perception of the fleet manager within their business.”
Paul said that the situation was causing high degrees of ill feeling and there was even talk of organising boycotts of some manufacturers.
“As an organisation, we don’t think any form of boycott would be an effective strategy but the fact that such an idea is being raised just shows the strength of feeling. A refrain we hear time and again from fleets is that, once supply returns to some kind of normality, the worst-offending manufacturers will not be easily forgiven and our members will not work with them in the future where a choice exists. Relationships feel at an all-time low.”
A further point of contention, Paul said, was that manufacturers appeared to be giving priority to retail customers and small fleets over large scale buyers of vehicles.
“Especially for certain types of more fashionable vehicle, it seems that it is easier to get hold of supply if you a private individual or if you run 10 vehicles rather than if you run a thousand. This is something that makes no sense whatsoever – especially at a time when fleets are often paying something very close to retail prices.
“It’s a common complaint that before the pandemic, fleet managers were pursued by manufacturer reps on a daily basis and now, they haven’t heard from any in years. That’s not a basis for responsible, long-term partnerships. Manufacturers should realise the damage they are doing and change their approach as quickly as possible.”