Fleet News

Convertibles rule,come rain or shine

'My observations last week on the growth in our convertibles market prompted further thoughts on the subject while attending the Mercedes Benz new SLK launch. It's a truly inclusive market when you consider that prices range from £8,420 for the smart, right up to £118,000 for a Ferrari 360M.

In the core two-seater sector prices range from £16-20,000 and four-seaters – like top-of-the-range Audi A4, Mercedes CLK and BMW 3-Series – occupy the mid-20s to mid-£40,000 bracket. Only recently has it become apparent through research that just as demand for 4x4s is not a winter phenomenon, demand for convertibles is spread across the calendar more evenly than once assumed. Take the SLK as an example. It has been on the market for around eight years, without any major surgery, and looks today as it did in 1996.

These types of vehicle tend to have a longer lifecycle than saloons and demand tends to remain strong long after they cease production. Looking at the current SLK, a three-year-old car is worth £13,900 CAP Clean, with 60,000 miles, against a cost new back in 2001 of £23,850. The MG-F was launched in 1995, followed with the facelift in February 2002, when it was re-badged as an MG-TF.

A new 2001X cost £16,815 and today a 60,000-mile car is worth £6,950. These are good residual value performances and reflect the high image enjoyed by all convertible price bands overall.

They tend not to age, in terms of style, as quickly as their mainstream counterparts, which ensures a good used performance at all ages. This makes them good performers for fleets and disposal managers can always sleep easier when they know a warm reception will greet just about any convertible they have to move on, even with high mileage.

Three months' notice

The latest regulations relating to vehicle documentation and, in particular, SORN declarations, are still causing some confusion in the used car industry of late. This relates to fleets as well as dealers or traders because of course if ownership is not transferred, problems can come back to haunt the original keeper.

The confusion relates to the three-month period of grace, during which a vehicle need not be reported as stolen or off the road. Questions have been raised all around the industry circles I move in, over the status of a car if it moves around the trade for longer than three months.

I put this to the DVLA this week and they did have to do some checking before returning with a definitive answer. The position is, in their words, that the three-month period of grace applies to each trader should the vehicle be passed between the trade. However, DVLA is taking a relaxed approach to enforcement in this respect so long as the vehicle has been notified as being in the trade.

If a vehicle trader applies for a registration certificate (by way of a V62 application form or by completing the relevant section of the registration certificate) they will be recorded as the registered keeper of that vehicle, and as such, normal licensing/SORN requirements apply.'

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