AM Online

Year 2000: 'hard and confusing'

It has been one of the hardest and most confusing years in the used car industry, yet there remains an air of optimism as many look forward to the start of a new year.

We have seen public pressure allied to a government body having a major effect on manufacturers' new car pricing - something we suggested would happen a year ago. This has left us in a position where people have had to seriously re-think the way they retail and remarket used cars.

The irrevocable fact is that used car prices have been driven to their lowest levels for many years which at least allows the trade to offer retail prices lower than they have for some time.

Recently I have seen a 98R Vauxhall Vectra 1.6 Envoy with 80,000 miles offered for a screen price of £3,995. Ford Escorts on an M plate with a sensible colour and mileage are regularly fetching £1,500-1,700. It strikes me that cars have never been such good value.

However high mileage cars are becoming less and less acceptable. The price gap between an 'above average' mileage car and a 'very high' mileage car is widening considerably and in most cases anything with more than 120,000 miles on the clock is now unwanted.

The optimists are making the most of the situation and forging ahead with a strong start to the new year in mind while the pessimists are already winding down, but are also looking forward to a positive start to 2001.

The realists, though, have resigned themselves to the fact that this year is best forgotten and most are actively buying cars in anticipation of strengthening residual values in the early part of next year.

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