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Stock clear-out saves month

Carmakers rescued the November new car market from collapse by clearing unsold stocks of old model year cars at bargain basement prices. Both Ford and Vauxhall intervened to offer extra sales bonuses to dealers registering 1999 model year cars in an effort to clear the parking lots.

The official Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' registration figures for November show the market down by 5.9% for the month at 143,323, with the year-to-date total down 1.8% to 2,113,303 units.

Christopher Macgowan, SMMT chief executive, described this as “in line with expectations” and said the industry was “optimistic” about prospects for the new year.

Ford, though, felt compelled to cut the price of a batch of around 2,000 Focus models offered to fleet customers by £1,000. It justified its action by claiming the action was part of “a standard marketing programme applying to a particular batch of cars”.

It may now have to defend itself to the Advertising Standards Authority which is investigating whether the company broke its widely-advertised price promise.

Meanwhile Vauxhall offered dealers “packs” of old model year cars across the range with up to £1,500 of additional bonus paid after the cars were registered. Vauxhall fleet and business customers were offered straight price cuts of up to £1,250 on selected old model year Vectras and Omegas.

For December, the 'under the counter' offers have been replaced by consumer cashback payments of up to £2,000 for selected Vauxhalls delivered before the end of January. The cashback offers replace other finance incentives such as 0% and deposit allowances.

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