Fleet News

Just how did we get into this mess?

##CAPsml--left####Martin Ward--right##WITH the new format number plate just around the corner, confusion over how it will work is still rife within the trade. When people in our industry do get to grips with it, they always ask how we got into twice a year plate changes in the first place. Nobody seems to know, but it did seem to get steam-rollered through legislation with little thought being given to its effect on the motor trade.

Looking purely at the effect on used cars and forgetting manufacturer model year changes and all other logistical problems, March and September changes have done nothing to help residuals. In fact it probably did more harm than all the hype over new car prices last year. So where is the logic in two plate changes in March and September? If we have to continue with twice a year, then surely the most sensible timing would be in January and July.

The retail motor trade may argue that it would be impossible to prepare new cars in December ready for January 1 deliveries. But many service managers would be delighted to have more service business in what has become for them a very quiet period. Indeed, the argument about not being able to prepare cars could be extended to August, ready for September 1 deliveries, as most dealership staff take holidays at this time.

If we went to July as the second change, all the part-exchanges and ex-fleet cars would hit the used car market ready for the summer selling season and not for September when demand starts to weaken. Every way you look at this issue points to the fact that a re-think may be in order by those who know very little about our complex industry. The trade would like to see more business being done in January and July, when demand is at its highest.

Weathering the low demand

RETAILERS have been disappointed recently by the unseasonably low demand from the public for used cars, which is probably down to the unseasonable weather.

Prices have consequently slipped a little, making them seem even better value. As this happens, as we have seen many times before, there will be a sudden boost for sales. The public does its homework and realises that prices are down, and starts buying again - thankfully!

Mega response to new Mini

THE new Mini, which has only been on the market for a few weeks, has probably been a bigger success than most thought. Even the people at BMW must be pleasantly surprised by the positive response.

But the enthusiasm doesn't stop with the UK. There are many reports that Japanese importers are trying to buy as many Minis as they can to ship back home. This is the grey market in reverse and is caused by huge demand in Japan for the new Mini ahead of the official launch next year.

Some UK buyers are also not prepared to wait and there are reports that up to £3,000 over list is being offered to buy dealer demos, which they are not allowed to sell, or to buy other customers' cars directly.

Buybacks dry up used supply

THERE are now fewer disposals direct from rental companies, as more vehicles are returned to manufacturers or dealers on guaranteed buybacks.

The Toyota Avensis, which has been on free supply for months, has now all but dried up - 'there are no more', is how one rental disposer put it. Retailers do get used to selling one type of car, they get geared up for it and when supply stops they feel like they have had an arm cut off.

But other models are always following on. Fiat Punto and Mitsubishi Carisma are taking the place of the Avensis. The trade will just have to find different customers for different cars, and it will.

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