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'Tough' end to 2000

The job for most dealers seems to be difficult at the moment, with retail interest for both new and used cars extremely quiet.

Something we have mentioned in the past and which is now becoming increasingly evident is cherry picking by the trade.

More and more vehicles seem to be languishing without buyers, while the retailers are only willing to look at cars that stand out as the right spec, right colour, right mileage examples.

Anything not matching this description will only be bought at cheap money in an attempt to win over consumer interest through pricing. This is a factor that has been reported to us by auction houses, leasing companies, traders and used car sales managers alike – so it can safely be said that it is trade-wide.

Many anticipate a tough couple of months ahead with retail demand this month looking sporadic and December historically slow. Values, then, should bottom out by the end of the year.

This will only happen, however, if retail demand fires up again in January as expected. January is a crucial period and a strong retail month is vital if next year is to be better than this one.

Cars that do seem to be performing well at the moment are diesels – both saloons and estates. Examples include the Ford Mondeo, Peugeot 406, Vauxhall Vectra and Volkswagen Passat. Many of the equivalent petrol derivatives are under pressure from over-supply, with the Mondeo and Vectra hardest hit. Small cars, well-specced executive cars and small MPVs are delivering acceptable performance.

Historically, many of the larger buyers look forward to snapping up some cheap stock in December, in anticipation of increased retail demand in January. Whether the pattern will be repeated this year is anybody's guess.

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