Fleet News

Spec levels rule for supermini models

'SMALL cars have never been such good value. They carry kit once found only on luxury barges, come with low rate finance, free insurance and so on. They are even safer than ever before.

You might expect the lure of these offers and the desirability and low costs of owning a new car to dramatically impact on this sector of the used car business, but it doesn't seem to.

The demand for small used cars is still buoyant and, in fact, this is the best performing sector.

But – and there always has to be a but – the specification has to be right. There are many bog standard models about and these are having a difficult time.

They are failing to drag the better cars down with them – a phenomenon which does happen elsewhere around the trade when people don't really understand the difference between the good and poor versions.

So the gap between those with the toys and those without is increasing. Low-spec versions will continue to struggle and the situation will never be helped by all those base models coming from courtesy car operators.

February: the breaking point?

FEBRUARY 2003 is looming fast. Before then we have autumn and Christmas, possibly some bad weather and a likely slowdown in business.

But I think February 03 is the one to warrant most concern. Why? Because for disposers and the trade it will be a major event, and something that could change the way cars are traded forever.

From that point everyone will have to have an original V5 (logbook) to be able to tax a vehicle. Gone will be the days of applying for a replacement from the Post Office. Gone will be the days of the trade trusting disposers to supply the V5 later. Those who already know about this new rule are saying that they will actively avoid buying potential problems.

Without a V5 they will not be able to trade the vehicle on, or retail the vehicle because getting it taxed for a new owner will be impossible. You can understand the logic and why the Government wants to tighten up on any scams that may be carried on by a tiny proportion of the trade.

In the short term, the whole of the trade is going to have to get its act together and, in some cases, change its policies to make sure the V5 is available at the time of sale. If it is not available, has been lost, destroyed or mislaid, you can kiss goodbye to an early sale.'

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