Fleet News

Show time always gets me thinking

##CAPsml--left####Martin Ward--right##EVERY time I go to a motor show, I sit and ponder over every new car's position in the market - and last week's Frankfurt Motor Show was no exception.

All the new offerings, the new innovations, the latest technology, the giant leaps forward in design and safety, economy and everything revolving around green issues, on these new cars, will very soon be on used cars.

A new car is only new for a very short time but remains a used car for a very long time. Manufacturers are at long last beginning to realise this and some of them are creating not only good new cars, but desirable used ones as well.

Frankfurt offered a large number of new cars, most of which will be available for customers to buy in the near future and some that are still concepts. I always look at any new car with my 'used buyer's head' on - how will this car fare in three years, having covered over 60,000 miles? Some come out shining while others leave you wondering 'why?'

Manufacturers make bold decisions. Somebody within the organisation actually signs off a design and then millions of Euros are spent on research and development. The public throughout the world decides if a car is good or bad and if people think the latter they don't buy it, especially on the used market.

Some cars at Frankfurt did attract plenty of attention, although that is no guarantee that they will become instant successes. The new Nissan Primera was there and so was the new Skoda Superb - named after a large 1934 model Skoda. It seems strange to use an old name that to most is unheard of, albeit one with heritage and a certain class.

It is a bit similar to Ford bringing out a new car and calling it a 'Model T'. The Superb is a great car - but shame about the name.

The quality is as good as you'd get in any German-built car, but with much higher spec and a lower price tag. There are limited numbers destined for the UK and I would expect Skoda to have no problems in what is for it a new market.

The Peugeot 307 Station Wagon, or estate as we will know it, is a very pretty looking load-lugger, and will be good used stock in years to come.

Concept cars such as the Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabriolet, and SEAT Tango Convertible, if they go into full production, will be instantly desirable motors, both new and used.

Two cars that will succeed in the used car market are the new Fiesta and new Polo, which are set to continue their long-standing battle for years to come in these latest excellent guises.

There were many examples of both models at the show and anybody with an ounce of trade knowledge would have been able to spot them from a great distance.

Lack of sales people is cause for concern

THERE is great disquiet in the industry at the moment over what appears to be a shortage of car sales people. They are the last in the chain when it comes to vehicle disposal and although you can have the most sophisticated system for disposing of vehicles, if there aren't enough sales people out there on a weekend then the job will come to a grinding halt.

The problem is that sales people are required to work the most undesirable and unsociable hours, causing many to burn out early and suffer grief from their loved ones at home - or in many cases, their ex-loved ones - at home.

Supermarkets stay open for exceptional hours with a constant stream of shelf-fillers and checkout operators ready for the new shift, but as the public expects car showrooms to be open longer then the problems start.

Anybody who has recently been to try to buy a car on a Saturday or Sunday will know how difficult it is not only to speak to a salesman, but to try to do a deal and organise collection of a vehicle. There has to be a way forward where, like supermarkets, when it gets busy there is some form of back-up within a dealership to cope with unexpected demand. After all, the fleet industry does depend on these people - even if it doesn't know it.

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