To turn this information round quickly and back out to our customers in the industry is a huge job but thanks to the manufacturers who are getting us involved earlier and providing information faster, it can be done.
Looking at the first three months of 2002 there were 292 new models or derivatives entered on to the car database. This year, during the same period, that number has jumped to 534 (up 82.87%) – and this does not include price changes, specification alterations or deletions to ranges, just the amount of new cars being introduced on to the UK market.
Some commentators feel that this increase in models is a trend that will continue and as time goes on, there will be more and more choice, potentially making it very confusing for the customer. In contrast, some manufacturers have rationalised their model ranges and therefore reduced the models available, but this action will be by the minority, and the majority will continue to expand their price lists.
Key to the manufacturer' success will be clear communication and many are working hard to make it easier to follow for the industry and consumer alike. One thing is certain – more choice is wanted by the customer and we as an industry are once again delivering.
Is white the new 'in' colour?
One of the first things anyone notices about a car is its colour and many columns have been written about the effect of colour on residual values and even insurance claims. It may be a co-incidence, but in the past week, during a regular conversation with two different manufacturers, they have both sought opinion on how well white cars would be received, in both the new market and the used.
White has not been popular for a number of years, so the fact that they are thinking about re-introducing it is a bit of a conundrum. It is also a fact that white is desirable in other countries, particularly in Southern Europe and across the Atlantic in North America. We all go to Europe and see white cars – and some can look very attractive, as they look bright and have moved away from the dirty white that we had a few years ago, giving the colour a bad name. So is the time right for a concerted effort to re-introduce it?
It probably is on some models, such as convertibles or coupes, which would suit it more so than the regular four-door saloon or hatch. So if the car makers and colour designers are trying to find an alternative, maybe they could sell some white cars, as the public want to be seen in something unusual or different.
Although white is currently offered by a number of manufacturers, there is no real push forward. But things may change if bright whites become more available, and more importantly – acceptable.
Double-cabs: still storming ahead
Since the change in the benefit-in-kind tax treatment for pick-ups with rear seats – King-Cabs or Double-Cabs – I have noticed a huge amount of these on the roads – almost an explosion in their popularity.
They do offer the driver some benefits, such as a low tax bill, a good vehicle for recreation purposes or moving loads around – be it for personal or company use – and also a full five-seater with loads of specification all thrown into one vehicle.
This is one reason why there is more interest in commercial vehicles these days as manufacturers, leasing companies and others have spotted that this market is by no means saturated or mature. It will be an interesting area to follow.