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Bangers for cash

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Carmaker scrappage schemes could prove a useful way to dispose of ageing pool cars or get non company car employees out of their old polluters.  Curtis Hutchinson, editor of Motor Trader, reports.

Curtis Hutchinson

Curtis Hutchinson

The Ford Mondeo in the underground car park had seen better days. And they were a long time ago. The paint work’s sheen had been rendered a dull matt by a layer of sap from one of its regular driver’s favourite parking spots, the interior bore the tell tale signs of smoking with a cigarette burn on the front passenger seat and the unmistakable smell of stale tobacco.

This second generation Mondeo was built as a company car workhorse, in the days when upper-medium was the default fleet choice and diesel was the most cost-effective fuel. This particular car was powered by Ford’s hard-wearing 2.0-litre Duratorq diesel engine – expediently borrowed from the Transit – and had a seamless ability to pile on the miles while delivering reasonable performance and economy. Although it was not the cleanest of engines. Once a year this eight year old car visited the local Ford main dealer for MoT and servicing and a cursory valet rather than the much needed deep clean.

Against all odds it sailed through its MoT and the service provided a clean bill of health for the next 12 months. However, the sweet smell of liberally squirted air freshener in the cabin failed to mask the lingering smell of the cigarettes that accompanied many of its 160,000 miles. But then such is the life of a pool car; uncared for by its users and unused by its designated manager who enjoyed the benefit of a company car on a three year replacement cycle.

This scenario is pretty much a rarity today with fleet managers more in tune with their duty of care responsibilities by providing and monitoring pool cars that are fit for purpose. However, if you still have one of these undesirables on your fleet then now is a good time to chop it in for a new model under one of the scrappage schemes being offered by a growing number of car makers. Also, if you have members of staff outside of the company car scheme using old polluters for business then this could be an opportunity for them to source an affordable new car.

In the days leading up to the introduction of the new 67-registration plate on 1 September most of the mainstream carmakers launched scrappage schemes. They were prompted by market leader Ford who announced it was offering £2,000 off any make of car if the customer had a pre-2010 model to trade-in; a handy way to take EU4 and older vehicles off the road.

Furthermore, the scheme can be combined with existing retail promotions being offered by Ford dealers which means £4,950 can be knocked off the price of a new Focus.

The offer also applies to vans which means the £2,000 can be bundled with a £5,000 dealer offer to reduce the price of a new Transit by £7,000. This could prove to be particularly welcome to small businesses running ageing light commercials.

Ford was rapidly followed by Hyundai, the Volkswagen Group brands, Toyota, Kia, Renault, Nissan, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep. The amounts vary but the concept is pretty much the same. Meanwhile, Vauxhall had been offering a £2,000 trade-in since May.

It’s not just the mainstream players who are engaging in eye-catching marketing exercises which generate sales whilst taking old polluters off the road. This summer BMW launched a scheme for retail customers running EU4 or older diesel models the opportunity to claim £2,000 off the price of a new EU6 BMW or MINI with emissions under 130g/km, including hybrid and EV models. Mercedes is also offering customers a similar scheme.

Scrappage schemes are not new. Indeed, the government-backed programme of 2009-2010 helped keep the motor industry ticking over during the depths of the recession by offering retail customers £2,000 off the price of a new car if they traded-in their old cars. And they did, in their thousands.

While not all the schemes will be applicable for pool car trade-ins they can offer a viable alternative for employees using older vehicles for business. Ensuring staff are running safe and reliable cars which comply with a company’s duty of care policy is a notoriously difficult area for employers to police. However, with all these brands opening up their ranges to trade-ins, while also allowing owners to maximise on current retail offers, a solution might be on hand.

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Curtis Hutchinson

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