Let’s hope the coalition works

  25 May 2010


Cosying-up into comfy coalitions seems to be the order of the day. The SMMT and the RMIF have never previously demonstrated much love for each other. They clashed over the adoption of the original Block Exemption and, more recently, over the code of practice for the service and repair sector.
But this week they proved they are in tune with the times and announced a coalition of their own. They are now working together to ensure that auto retailers are fully aware of, and fulfil their responsibilities to the mandatory government Carbon Reduction Commitment.
The scheme incentivises dealerships to reduce their energy use and effectively cut their costs. Vehicle manufacturers and franchised dealers will have to work closely over the next 12-months to improve their energy efficiency. Like any coalition, if it lasts, it can only result in better working relationships within the industry.
And I think it will last. I recall Paul Everitt – soon after he joined the SMMT to take over from Christopher Macgowan as chief executive – saying that he was hoping to work closely with the RMIF on franchise issues. In fact, with hindsight, Everitt got the coalition message in before either David or Nick.
My notes going back to February 2008, record him as saying: ‘It is time for a new start’. He went on to say: “I’m from a completely different generation. We’re trying to create something newer and fresher. I am looking to work closely with the RMIF on franchise issues. We have the chance to create a positive relationship between franchise dealers and car manufacturers – we can collaborate.”
Who does that sound like?
The mandatory legislation effectively introduces a credit trading scheme which benefits dealerships which reduce their energy consumption and penalises those which don’t. The scheme applies to any business that uses over £500,000 of electricity each year. That means the largest dealerships will qualify directly for the CRC regardless of any relationships with vehicle manufacturers.
Other franchised dealerships could be affected but the criteria defining how franchised businesses are dealt with is complex. It was covered in some detail in the latest issue of Auto Retail Bulletin. So it is to be hoped that there is not space for a cigarette paper between the workings of both trade bodies on this particular issue. Check-out SMMT.co.uk for the latest news on the issue.
Barry Hook

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