Fleet News

Air con is a must to avoid cold shoulder

'I WAS unfortunate enough a couple of weeks ago to be driving a small black car, without air-conditioning, at the time when we were having a mini-heat wave. Although the heat didn't last long, it was bad planning on my part to find myself in this particular car, at this particular time. After using cars with air conditioning for so long it is a real culture shock.

Within a few days of this trauma, purely by coincidence, the trade was getting all twitchy about non-air con cars and the complete lack of interest in them. I can understand that now.

Even the smallest basic cars are now struggling without an A/C button on the dash. Another example, this time from the lower- medium sector, is the Ford Focus. Without the Climate Pack, it is difficult to sell, as good as the car is, and its previous demand from the trade, even without much spec, is beginning to wane.

Other manufacturers are also suffering from the same phenomenon and experiencing a lack of buyers for cars without air conditioning.

The trade now affectionately calls these 'poverty models'. As time goes by the warning has to be that cars going on to fleet now should be equipped with the right 'must have' items. If not, then don't expect them to sell easily.

Prestige prevalence

THERE is a definite shift in the used car market to the prestige end as many of these cars become more readily available and affordable.

People are finding they can get into a higher image car for not much more than a regular ex-fleet car, and by taking finance over a slightly longer period the monthly payments remain nearly the same.

Impressing the neighbours has never been more affordable. But again, spec is important and they must have the minimum requirements, such as air-con and metallic.

The engine size is not really an issue, but the smaller it is, the better. Diesel is better still.

The large gas-guzzlers still struggle to find a new home and the time is coming when the old value relationship between big and small engines is reversed. With the ongoing rise in fuel costs and insurance premiums the public wants the luxury without the power.

A new temptation

MANUFACTURER and dealer-led offers on new cars continue to have an adverse effect on used sales.

Looking at some of these deals it is impossible to think of a good reason for buying used. Whether it is 0% finance, 50/50 deals, free insurance or any of the many other amazing offers, the temptation to buy new is increasing daily.

Now Hyundai have introduced the UK's first five-year warranty from September 1. This is bound to drag people into the new car showrooms and you have to admire the company's confidence in its product. But will it again be at the expense of the used car department?'

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