Fleet News

Weather puts dampers on secondhand demand

'Retail demand at dealers is slowing, so the demand from the trade is also declining.

The run of poor weather, for what is laughingly called summer, has put the dampers on used car sales, but new cars continue to do well, with many dealers reporting a high order take for the September '52' plate.

With a lack of customers on the used car forecourt, this has not necessarily forced prices down as a temporary lack of nice stock is keeping prices steady, for the right vehicle.

This is mainly due to low numbers of new vehicles registered in August 1999 as this was the first year the plate change moved from August to the twice yearly March and September.

However, this will all change come the first of next month, when all the part exchanges start hitting the market.

With this expected increase in new car sales then naturally, more used cars will be generated and pressure could be put on values.

The trade is already bidding low in expectation of buying cheap cars - some they are buying and others they are not. The trying time is just around the corner and the fun starts all over again at the beginning of next month.

The trade will again be taking advantage of the situation and the battle will commence - and that battle is the battle of wits between the sellers and the buyers.

Chaos at servicing time

It is a strange thing, but as service intervals get longer on new cars - and have been doing so for some time - you would expect service departments to be getting very quiet, as they see less and less of cars.

But this is not the case - they are either getting busier with more customers, or less efficient, or cars are requiring more repairs, as they need less servicing.

The growing trend at most dealers is to have longer and longer waiting times to get a simple service and if you want a courtesy car, you may as well book your next service while you are in having the current one.

This may be a slight exaggeration, but it is something company car drivers have to consider. The other problem many dealers are experiencing is the lack of parts.

When something goes wrong, some can be on 'back order' for many weeks, so this means the customer has to be given a courtesy car, if they have one.

Either that or the dealer has to rob another car, be it a new one or off the used car forecourt, or use parts from a non-recognised supplier, more commonly known as spurious parts.

There is probably nothing wrong with them, but original parts tend to be the more favoured by dealers.

This lack of parts seems to be a growing problem and there are very few manufacturers who have the perfect system.

However, there are some who realise they have a problem and tackle it head-on, while others seem to just bury their head in the sand and hope it will go away.

Traders getting more picky

I was at a 'Top Car Sale' and the entries were some of the best I have seen for a long time - all well presented, ranging from some quite niche sports car, through to very late, even 02 registered, expensive executive saloons.

But what was evident was how selective the trade is getting, whether it is because there is so much choice or just a lack of retail activity. Not long ago dealers would have bought just about anything, but at sales like this, the enthusiasts who attend are like kids in a sweetshop.'

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