Remember ‘Rip-Off Britain?’ It’s not many years since the tabloids were filled with rabid headlines accusing British retailers – and especially car manufacturers – of profiteering on the back of prices that were substantially higher than elsewhere in Europe. The newspapers even coined a phrase for the way these profit-hungry multinationals saw the UK - ‘Treasure Island.’
In car prices, the differences were big enough to create a substantial market in ‘parallel imports’, right-hand drive cars sourced from abroad and imported for substantial savings. The number of middle-aged Vauxhalls you see wearing Opel badges is testament to how widespread the practice was.But now the pound/euro exchange rate has slid to the other end of the scale, and we’ve suddenly got the cheapest cars in Europe. Last week I blogged about Ford’s imminent price rises and I got contacted by an expat friend who lives in Germany and who – despite the price increase – is now seriously contemplating trying to source a left-hook Focus RS from Blighty.