“Clouds on the horizon of new plate registration figures”, says Glass’s

According to Glass’s, publishers of the motor trade bible Guide, a falsely buoyant picture is likely to be painted by September’s new plate change – despite the probability that it will show the 42nd consecutive monthly increase in new car registrations. Glass’s add that the situation is being complicated by record levels of pre-registrations and there are some worrying factors about to come into play.

Rupert Pontin, Head of Valuations, said: “The new car market is 6.5 per cent up on the year and this is clearly good news. However, there are some clouds on the horizon. Notably, the volume of sub-one-year-old cars is also up by 43 per cent, indicating a huge rise in dealer and manufacturer pre-registrations.

“Pre-regs are not a bad thing in themselves but they do create a growing distortion in the market. Customers need to see a sensible pricing difference between new cars, nearly new pre-regs and older vehicles. The flood of pre-regs creates substantial downward pressure on older vehicle values, which are falling.

“The more pre-regs that enter the market, the stronger these distortions become, especially bearing in mind that many new vehicles are currently being sold at nowhere near their official list price in the first place.”

Pontin said that PCPs and other highly attractive finance deals continued to fuel sales of new and nearly new cars but that no-one knew what the saturation point for these kinds of sales would lie.

“We have seen an ongoing explosion in PCPs but manufacturers are having to make them ever more attractive in order to continue to sustain growth in the market. At some point, we will reach a situation where no matter how much manufacturers provide support in terms finance, customers will stop signing new leases. How will manufacturers then cope with huge volumes of cars leaving their factories?

“Also, it could be that in the final quarter of this year, we start to see the new Government’s austerity policies take effect. There was some interesting sleight of hand in the Chancellor’s Summer Budget but most people will find themselves with less disposable income, which could affect their next car choice.”

Pontin added that, for those who could afford to buy new and nearly cars, the market remained a very attractive place in which to go shopping.

“This is especially the case if you are happy to drive one of the models that are around in large quantities as pre-registrations. These are not hard to identify just by looking at a few dealer forecourts. There are some excellent deals to be had.”

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