Fleet News

Backlog of used cars as buyers' confidence falls

THE knock-on effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US continue with the situation for the European motor industry going from bad to worse, particularly in terms of new and used car sales.

Every market has been affected, some more so than others. Prices throughout all countries are unstable to say the least, with many private buyers reluctant to part with their money.

This is causing a backlog of used cars and international traders are seeking out the best and most lucrative markets, something that is not too straightforward at this time.

Finding the right home never was easy, but at the moment it is almost impossible. When a market is found that will accept certain cars, by the time the vehicle arrives the market may have gone into reverse, leaving the trader with an unwanted car in a strange place and a lot of money in the balance.

Austria is seeing a change in the way it buys its cars as more and more of the public are opting for personal contract plans. This in turn is causing the change rate of cars to shorten.

Whereas not long ago a car would be owned for up to 10 years this has now been reduced to three or four years, resulting in a greater number of younger cars on the forecourts.

These generally remain in Austria while the older cars go off to the East. There is also a growing demand for people-carriers (MPVs) such as the Ford Galaxy, Volkswagen Sharan and the Austrian-built Chrysler Voyager, which is proving popular both new and on the used market.

Kia is making inroads with its MPV, the Carnival, which is better known in some countries as the Sedona. Volkswagen remains the market leader, but its other group company, Skoda, is gaining ground and moving up the sales charts.

The 4x4 market is very steady, although despite all the hills and snow there are not as many sold in Austria as most people would imagine. The cost of fuel is important and with diesel costing 25% less than petrol, the demand for large petrol cars is diminishing almost daily. Nearly-new cars are holding their own, especially dealer demonstrators and ex-rental vehicles.

Austria's neighbour Slovenia was once inundated with Zastavas, or, as they are more likely to be known, Yugos. They have now all but disappeared; these workhorses of the former Yugoslavia have either fallen from grace, or simply fallen to bits. The Slovenians can now easily buy cars from the major manufacturers of Europe locally and are happy to do so.

  • AS more people become aware of the importance of the colour of used cars it has been interesting to see the development of various techniques throughout Europe to help cars that have traditionally had problems on the used market. These include taxis, police cars and cars used for mobile advertising. But now there is an answer in the form of a special type of foil that is placed over the natural colour and can make the car any colour required without painting. However this foil only really works on silver cars and although it can be removed, returning the car to its natural colour, you can never really hide the fact that it was used as a taxi or a police car. (November 2001)
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