Fleet News

New plates fail to affect August sales

##CAPsml--left####Martin Ward--right##ALMOST all new car dealers are saying that the run-up to the expected rush for the numberplate change on September 1 simply hasn't happened.

With order take down on the same time last year, there are some worried faces in sales managers' offices.

It is not that sales really are down, just that customers are taking their new vehicles now and not waiting. Either they don't know about the new format registration plate or just can't be bothered to wait for it. Whatever the reason, salespeople are rubbing their hands as it means they get paid earlier than expected.

The thought in many people's minds is that when the public begin to see the new numberplates on the roads, this may stir some interest, and a second wave of buyers may well be in the market. The fleet market, however, does have many cars on order for the beginning of September and is waiting until then, which is a sensible move as this will have benefits to residual values at disposal time.

Demand begins to slow down

THE disposers at rental companies have seen a marked increase in the number of cars they have to offer the trade over the past couple of weeks.

Demand is beginning to slow and the phones that were ringing on a Monday morning with dealers pleading for stock to replenish the empty forecourts from a good weekend's sales have now stopped. Once again, after quite some time, it is back to the rental industry to pick up the phones. As stock begins to build up in the rental companies' compounds with 'risk' vehicles, then we can only assume that the same is happening at manufacturers with buy-backs, and that their stock too is increasing.

It is true that the holiday season will peak and salespeople will become lethargic, but once it does get busier on the forecourts it could be back to normality on the dealing front.

Prestige models doing well

SOME large prestige cars seem to have made a bit of a comeback recently, notably the Jaguar XJ8 and Mercedes-Benz S-class. Nobody knows why, but it can only be down to money, as they are now looking good value.

The Jag is good up to £25,000, and the Merc is best in S320 CDI although all models are doing OK. But like most other cars they have to be CAP Clean and have history to make decent money.

More dealers look to Europe

MANY used car dealers are turning to stocking new cars sourced from Europe. This is a growing trend as more and more entrepreneurs within the used car industry are trying their hand at it.

The mark-up on these imports is small, as competition is increasing, but to make a couple of hundred pounds is better than nothing. It also invariably generates a nice part-exchange, which can be retailed to generate another profit.

These imports generally come from Southern Ireland, Belgium or Holland, but the smaller used car dealers tend to stick with the cheaper-end stuff and leave the BMWs and Mercedes to the larger retailers.

There is no pattern as to what models they will stock, as it all depends on price and availability, but one such dealer last week had a selection of 'new' Peugeot 206s, various Fords, and some Volkswagen Lupos.

Next week it could be a completely different variety. The danger, as he put it, is that when he has nearly-new vehicles on the forecourt next to these imports, they suddenly look very expensive. He had an X-reg Fiesta on sale at more than a new import, so he is being extremely careful in what he buys, and is actively staying clear of Jersey ex-rental cars for the time being.

These imports are not registered and the first name in the log-book is that of the first buyer, not the dealer. So to all intents and purposes the customer is buying a brand new car from a local dealer and saving many hundreds of pounds without having to go abroad, or do all the paperwork involved.

If this trend continues, then pressure could once again be put on late plate cars.

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