Fleet News

New 03 plate to spark action in auction halls

'DEMAND for used vehicles is such that a real shortage of quality cars is developing. As one disposal manager said to me last week: 'This only happens once in a blue moon'. He can't put a foot wrong at the moment.

But – and isn't there always a 'but' – March and the 03 plate are just a few days away and the influx of used cars will be quite dramatic over the coming weeks.

Back in March 2000, just three years ago, 401,996 new cars were registered, along with 35,803 light commercials – a huge month. In first place in the sales charts, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, was the Ford Fiesta with a total of 19,020 registrations. Second was the Ford Focus with 17,545 and third was Peugeot's 206 with 15,442. Further down the sales chart, in ninth place was the Ford Mondeo, selling 10,583, and in 10th position the BMW 3-series with 10,510 sales.

Many of these vehicles will be coming back on to the used market very soon and, although many of them will have changed hands already, a large number will have been on three-year contracts and the time is now up, which means a lot of 'W' registration vehicles hitting the market.

This is good news for the trade, as choice will be increased many times over. The half-empty auction halls we have been seeing over the past few weeks will suddenly change with more entries than we have seen for some time. The negative side to this great news is the impact of the old 'supply and demand' issue.

As cars have been scarce, so prices have been holding and, in some cases, even rising. Almost anything has been selling of late, regardless of high mileage or less-than-great condition.

The sudden increased availability of fresh cars will put the trade back in the position it likes best, where it can go cherry-picking.

The trick for disposers to make the most of the situation over the coming weeks will be to get their cars or vans back into the market as soon as possible – in fact the earlier the better. But they will have to be prepared to take sensible bids. This is no time to be greedy because there is going to be a lot of competition out there and the moon won't stay blue forever.

An essential car option

As we all become used to the technology in new cars, we seem to have forgotten an important feature that every vehicle should have, whatever its age.

Some technological features were supposed to do away with the need for this item but there is nothing quite so reliable as a good old-fashioned map.

But it is amazing how many people don't bother with them now, even though it makes getting to meetings on time much more likely. In traffic jams, alternative routes can be found and I suggest that every fleet manager ensures all their drivers have a map on-board.

Even a quick refresher on how to use one would be useful. I have personal experience of the value of maps as a back-up even when you have satellite navigation. Spec your cars up with all the options known to man – but don't forget that £2.99 map.

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