Fleet News

Cross-border sales trend

THE trend of moving certain used cars around Europe is growing. Specialist dealers are buying cars from one country and moving them to another, in order to increase profits by transforming unwanted cars into saleable items.

These dealers are very entrepreneurial, knowing exactly what is required and where to place it. The cost of transportation has to be taken into account as some vehicles have to be moved many hundreds of kilometres.

In addition, the paperwork involved can be time-consuming, aggravating and frustrating. But to these knowledgeable, experienced multilingual traders getting around the red tape is an art, and relatively easy. But the uncommitted should stick to what they are doing, and leave this highly tactical trading to the more adventurous because it is a minefield with dangers every step of the way for the inexperienced.

In Spain, for example, small people-carriers based on vans such as the Berlingo car, Kangoo car and Fiesta Courier (Kombi) are popular, and the locals are happy to use these vehicles on a daily basis, whereas in some other European countries they are far less popular. It seems they leave drivers feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed because their image is not so good.

This means the variance of used values on these vehicles between Spain and other territories is huge. On the other hand, in Spain the larger Japanese cars, so popular in some European markets, are almost unwanted. The Spanish seem to have little time for the likes of Xedos, Lexus and Nissan Infiniti Q45. On the other hand Japanese 4x4s are as well liked, accepted and enjoyed as the local built SEAT and cars from other European manufacturers.

Every market is governed by local likes and dislikes, and trying to force, or keep used values high on unwanted cars is impossible, so it's back to seeking out those international dealers who will try and make a few Euros profit by transporting vehicles around Europe and North Africa.

The UK trade frequently claims that it operates in one of the most sophisticated car markets in the world. Strange then that it is almost impossible to dig up accurate figures on annual used car sales. New car registration figures are fairly accurate, but trying to ascertain how many used cars change hands is nigh on impossible. Many experts will take a guess, but real numbers always remain unclear.

Conversely in some European countries it is a requirement by law to register every change of owner, or number plate change.

This gives a clear picture of the used car market, not only of how many vehicles change owners, but how many of a certain model were sold. Under scrutiny some of these official figures reveal a definite pattern among some manufacturers who appear to be selling more used or nearly-new cars than new - for example Daewoo and Nissan in Spain. (August 2000)

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