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Fleet wholesale performance impacted by policy uncertainty, says Cox Automotive

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While first time conversion rates continued to hold their own in December at 85.5%, data from Manheim highlights the impact of supply and demand on average prices achieved at auction.

The final month of the year was also marked by marginally older, higher mileage vehicles, with average mileage up 9% year-on-year and 0.2% month-on-month to 38,406 miles.  

With wholesale volumes in the fleet sector up, this has had significant impact on the figures as it closed 2019, with average prices down 4.8% year-on-year and 8.6% on November.

Always a quieter month, December was particularly impacted by the decision of several vendors to hold onto stock until the new year; however, seasonal demand has also reduced in line with supply, said Cox Automotive. 

Philip Nothard, customer insight and strategy director for Cox Automotive, explained: “The past 12-months has provided fleet operators with a slightly strange business environment in which replacement cycles have been shifted, policy has been fluid and taxation unclear.

“Without clarity as to the future direction of company car tax, for example, many fleets have been loath to make decisions about replacement fleets.

“More so than ever before, the consumer market has been impacted by politics, policy and legislation, with buying patterns disrupted significantly across the High Street as well as for big ticket items like vehicles and housing.

“Until more is known about the impact of the new UK Government’s decisions on savings, investments, asset values and disposable incomes, we can expect retail to remain volatile.”

While the headline figure from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) for 2019 was a 2.4% decline in new car registrations for the year; December, traditionally the quietest month, saw significant levels of activity, up 3.4% overall and with several brands marking 20-40% growth.

Nothard continued: “While several announcements have been made over recent months to minimise the uncertainty in the markets, it remains to be seen what impact the new Government will have on the business environment. However, we can be fairly certain that further change is coming.” 

Looking ahead to 2020, Nothard expects the recent implementation of the CAFE legislation and Regulation (EU) 2019/631 to play a significant role in the behaviour of manufacturers, who have to develop on a global scale, with increased emphasis on reducing carbon emissions and a focus on meeting stringent 2021 targets.

He said: “Understandably, many manufacturers are putting significant investment behind the development and launch of their electric vehicle (EV) models over the coming months and years.

“However, taking the eye off the ball of the current line-up, coupled with lack of supply for some of the newer hybrid and pure EV models, will no doubt cause further uncertainty and lack of clarity.”

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