However, this does not mean it is a poor system, nor that confusion automatically has a negative effect on business. Salespeople are more easily able to concentrate on a vehicle's qualities, suitability and features, as opposed to the plate, when dealing with a customer in this situation.
A skilled salesperson may be able to avoid the question of age for as long as possible, until the customer falls in love with the car. Air conditioning, parking sensors, good colour and acceptable mileage can make their mark and render the presence of a 51, 02, 52 or 03 on the plate almost irrelevant in the customer's mind.
What will be interesting in another year's time is how much interest there will be in a three-year-old 51 plate. When they are moving from an S or T-reg car to a 51 plate, how much more 'street cred' will they feel they gain from owning such a plate?
The answer was given by CAP Monitor in late 2001 with three-year forecasts that took account of the shift from one system to another in the three-year-old market.
By virtue of being different and representing something of a new era, the current plate type will indeed be favoured over the old and people will stretch beyond an S or T plate to reach it wherever they can.