Fleet News

Used car dealers caught out by downturn

Dealers have been caught by surprise by a sharp downturn in the used car market.

A downturn in activity is expected as winter approaches, but the usual seasonal weakening in trade demand and prices was more sudden and ferocious than many anticipated.

Adrian Rushmore, managing editor at EurotaxGlass’s, said: “Following an encouraging summer for used car prices, October’s sudden slowdown has quickly transformed this into a buyers’ market.

While in reality the decline is probably no worse than in previous years, many vehicle retailers appear to be surprised and disappointed by its speed and magnitude.”

Several factors are blamed for the decline. For a start, there was a frenzy of new car registrations in September as dealers clamoured to hit their manufacturer-imposed sales targets.

“New car deals have been irresistibly attractive, and September marked as big a ‘giveaway’ as we can remember,” Mr Rushmore said.

Great deals on new cars inevitably affect the saleability and therefore price of equivalent nearly-new models.

And the situation was made worse by the influx of pre-registered dealer demonstrator cars that were moved to the used car forecourt within just a few months.

Mr Rushmore said: “It is concerning to see 57-plated cars on sale in appreciable numbers, many being offered outside the franchised networks.”

“Franchised dealers have their hands full reducing their stock inventories of nearly-new cars, requiring some high-profile retail promotions,” Mr Rushmore said.

“This means that during this period, many dealers are unlikely to be active buyers of cars in the trade.”

Mr Rushmore believes values will continue to be affected until mid-November at the earliest.

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