UK truck dealers do not want the EU bloc exemption that permits exclusive distribution contracts between manufacturers and dealers to be relaxed as planned in 2002 because trucks are “highly complex”.

Speaking at the Retail Motor Industry Federation’s annual truck conference, chief executive David Evans said the truck sector is a ‘specialist area’.

“Trucks are assets rather than consumer durables, purchased by companies, not individuals, and often tailor-made in several stages. They are technically highly complex, with their own set of requirements and specifications, and sales staff must know their subject inside-out.

“There is an intimate link between the product and its servicing, with highly skilled technicians required and “whole life costing” to take into consideration.

“It’s imperative that the industry’s truck sector continues to make its voice heard on the subject of bloc exemption,” Evans added at the conference timed to coincide with an annual commercial vehicle show.

RMI truck division director Alistair Manson said that the UK has the toughest maintenance requirements in Europe, with massive responsibility for public and driver safety, and “a plethora of technical issues, illustrated by the complexity of on-board diagnostics”. The capital-intensive industry requires “robust staff training and specialist facilities, tools and equipment”.

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‘With regard to doing business, cross-border sales and price-differentials are not an issue, as the market – through progressive restructuring – is the most sophisticated in Europe,” Manson said.

“We conclude that the relationship between the customer, dealer and manufacturer is such that it is unlikely that alternative forms of distribution would be able to offer a similar degree of customer service.”

RMI national truck council chairman Keith Sayfritz said that representations had already been made to the UK government’s Department of Trade and Industry and to the European Commission through the dealer organisation CECRA.

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