Fleet News

This overcrowded isle is full to bursting point

'We live on an island with no room left for more roads but an ever increasing amount of vehicles constantly going on to them. We will soon run out of space for them all - unlike, it seems, our friends over the Channel,' writes Martin Ward, national research manager, CAP Network

'France has plenty of space for more new cars and when it has finished with them, then the world is their oyster. Used cars in Europe can be moved anywhere, as they do not face the same problem as we do with cars being right-hand drive.

There are many dealers buying and selling used vehicles, and moving them from one country to another. They know the various markets and will achieve the best prices by understanding what is needed where.

For example, older cars that are almost past their sell-by-date in Germany or France will still be highly desirable with many years' use left in them in Eastern Europe, and large diesel-engined cars are sought after in Spain.

But it isn't all confined to Europe. Any diesel Mercedes-Benzes, at any age, will often be shipped to north or west Africa. Some ex-rental cars from southern Spain, or 'half new' as they are affectionately called, often head north to a more lucrative market.

These traders are switched on and understand, almost as second nature, all the European markets.

As we head towards saturation point in the UK then not only will our roads get more clogged up, but so will the used car distribution system.

Some say we have already reached the point where there are more cars than drivers, and this gap is set to increase as time goes on. The Europeans seem to have got this one right and on the Continent used cars will always find a home, even if they have to travel thousands of miles, by train, transporter or under their own steam.

Given the unique position of Britain it seems doubtful we will ever enjoy such a luxury.

Dealers feel like spare parts

ONE common problem that appears to be occuring with more regularity is the shortage of spare parts from franchised dealers and a backlog at the manufacturers and importers.

Thanks to these shortages, service departments have to source parts from anywhere they can to keep a vehicle on the road.

These are often similar parts from other manufacturers, for example where they share a common drive train, but there is also a temptation to buy replica parts from other unofficial suppliers.

There is often very little wrong with these bits and, indeed, they can be every bit as good as original parts. But if they are not, then problems are likely to occur in later life, either when the car is still on the fleet or when it hits the used market.

It is worth noting that a car will be more desirable if it has had nothing but approved parts from day one. But with the increasing supply problem this is not always possible.

The trade and, more importantly, the buying public can be put off a vehicle if it has all sorts of different labels on parts around the engine bay. At the very least it does not inspire confidence and therefore it is worth making every effort to get the right parts if you are to maximise tomorrow's residual values.

The long and quiet weekend

The Bank Holiday last week did turn out to be quiet for car salespeople, as predicted and most were in their showrooms, kicking their heels waiting for a customer to appear.

Some waited a long time.

One salesman said he had had the quietest day in his 17 years in the motor industry, with not one single person going through the door, not even to ask the way to somewhere. Things now can only get better.'

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