Fleet News

Used car preferences across Europe vary enormously

By Martin Ward

Spring is in the air, and this is traditionally the best part of the year for used car sales across Europe, whether in the Northern Hemisphere or way down south, near the Mediterranean.

But it is interesting to see what is selling best in different countries and this does vary more than most people think.

The age of cars also varies widely in importance around the continent as different markets have their own views on what is acceptable and what is too old. It is certainly true that the further east you go, then the more acceptable older cars become.

This has fuelled an increasing traffic in used cars between the east and west of Europe.

But looking at two countries right next to each other, Holland and Belgium, the differences here are also quite noticeable. The Dutch do not like old cars and the norm is to change cars when they are three years old.

Over the border, or what was a border, the Belgians tend to run their cars much longer.

There, 10-year-old cars are not an unusual sight. This may have something to do with a much wider mix of nationalities in Belgium, compared with Holland, which mean wider variations in taste, acceptability, personal wealth and disposable income.

The types of cars favoured by consumers also differ between countries. Differences in perception vary widely from country to country.

Take Ford, for example. These tend to be much more sought after, both new and used, in the UK or Germany, than in France and Italy.

There they are seen much more as a novelty or quirky choice than a high volume car.

In Spain you are much more likely to see the home-built SEAT than most other vehicles but Renault are also popular here as well as other French-built cars from Peugeot and Citroen.

But the real star throughout Europe is Volkswagen. It seems that whatever Volkswagen builds, it brings success in almost every market.

Furthermore, that success does not diminish with the age of the car. The so-called Eurofighter has been a thorn in the side of governments across the continent for years.

Maybe the contract should have simply gone to Volkswagen as the masters of pleasing everyone in Europe.

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