Fleet News

September 11 fears hit used car trade

##CAPsml--left####Martin Ward--right##IT has been a difficult couple of weeks for everyone, including most businesses and industries, the motor trade being no exception. The tragedy in America on September 11 is having a knock-on effect on our own industry.

Going around the trade over the past two weeks, it has been difficult to find a good news story. Most dealers are reporting that more or less immediately after the eleventh, showroom traffic was noticeably reduced, as members of the public had other things on their minds.

Speaking to other retailers, be it clothes or washing machines or computers, they have felt the same effects - it has gone very quiet. As with any event, either locally, nationally, or globally, the motor industry always suffers. As the world gathers its thoughts and things start getting back to some sort of normality - and it will - then all in the trade have to work even harder to sell the products, rather than bury heads in the sand and make it even worse than it could be.

The rental industry is also having to take stock of events. With the downturn in commercial flights, both transatlantic and throughout Europe, then the amount of business and tourist travel also reduces, creating less demand for rental cars.

This was felt immediately at all airport locations and bookings are believed to be down by about 20%, which simply means that 20 cars out of a hundred are sat around with nothing to do. This could potentially cause rental companies to dispose of more cars in the short term and cancel new ones to reduce their fleets, to be more in line with demand. Some tough decisions will have to be made very quickly.

Rethinking new reg plates

YOU cannot legislate for any disaster or world event, but the question must be raised again about our twice-yearly plate change in March and September. When things start to go wrong at this time of year, there really is no way out for the trade.

But if registration dates were changed to January and July then at least there is more time to dispose of part exchanges from July through to the autumn, which the current system does not allow for. After such an enormous disaster, it seems cruel to bring our industry into the equation, but lessons have to be learnt and action taken.

Supercars slide into surplus

THE exotic end of the market has taken a bit of a knock in the past week, with a number of used Ferraris around.

In the early summer, there just weren't any around, but now there is no shortage. Some would say this is seasonal, but dealers are reporting that the number is more noticeable this year than in any other. Some dealers are having to do sale or return deals with customers as their stocking levels are getting towards the upper limit.

The majority of these cars are coming from business people who are unsure of the future and are trying to offload their expensive toys, just in case. The pop stars and footballers are carrying on regardless and are not considering disposal. It is a sign of the times when this end of the market, that has been so buoyant for so long, begins to wobble.

Diesel provides the bright spot

SO now the good news. Most diesels are holding their own in the current market. Virtually anything from the VW Group is making good money: the Audi A3, any A4, and the estates in particular, are doing really well.

The Skoda Octavia is in demand, but again it must be diesel. From BMW the 3-series is doing well, particularly the coupes and convertibles, as are X5 3.0 petrol and diesel. But high mileage 5-series are becoming hard work and in BMW dealer terms, anything over 55,000 miles is regarded as high.

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