The scale is genuinely not known, but having a calculated guess is a bit easier than trying to get true figures from the relevant bodies that are in a position to know. However, lack of information from Government and industry bodies means actual figures still remain a mystery.
Having spent some time recently going to different outlets for imports, the scale of the problem - as some would call it - is clear to be seen. Some of these cars are being delivered straight from the supplying country on car transporters. These transporters are coming from France, Germany and Southern Ireland on a regular basis, not just as one-offs.
The variety of cars on offer is immense. All the cars for sale are lined up, clean, with the full specification on the screen, the price clearly displayed, and all ready to go. All that is needed is an insurance certificate to enable them to be taxed and within a day they can be on the road, with no need to wait months for delivery direct from the factory.
But the story doesn't end there. When you dig deeper, it transpires that some of these cars are not actually imports but pre-registered UK cars supplied by a tiny minority of UK dealers. Eager to meet their new car sales targets, offloading these surplus vehicles to the supermarkets is, to them, the best route to market.
Many of us can accept that imports are here to stay and that they are part of life, regardless of the negative effects on UK dealers and the potential impact on residual values caused by such high volumes. But what could really damage the market are all the delivery mileage cars, both Y and 51 reg, that are now an increasingly familiar sight on these huge forecourts.
Surely the time must come when this practice is looked at more closely and those guilty of registering unsold cars must put their hands up and give the industry some exact, transparent sales figures. What our industry needs is a month's 'amnesty' when everyone comes clean and registers only sold vehicles.
Repossessions are up
THE leasing industry is reporting an increase in the number of repossessions it is having to deal with as business takes a downturn, with some customers getting into difficulties and finding the monthly payment a problem.
Despite numerous letters and phone calls, the only way to resolve the non-payment is simply to go and collect the vehicle from the customer.
The other difficulty is the rising number of early terminations. Again, as the customers face problems and have to make staff either redundant or reduce their fleet size, it creates even more cars for the disposal staff to cope with. These two issues highlight the continuing problems being encountered by the leasing industry in an already tough and overcrowded used car market.
However, according to CAP's senior Red Book editor David Hill, the market for used vans is steady and should continue in this vein until things peter out for Christmas. And the signs are that business will be buoyant into the new year. But it is important people do not panic about the economy and financial institutions do not get jittery and flood the marketplace with vehicles.
Despite this buoyancy, there is some concern over high-mileage Mercedes-Benz Vito vans, as used examples which have covered 80-100,000 miles can look tired and values are suffering accordingly. However, regular DaimlerChrysler sales are helping sustain buyer interest in the product.
Some daily rental and leasing companies are also building up a strong following by using special sections at commercial vehicle auctions. Buyers will target vehicles from particular companies because they will be in a known condition and the disposer will assess provisional bids on the day; then their reputation builds, as the word soon spreads in this industry.
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