Carmakers have been hesitant to change their finance marketing plans following a successful third quarter and uncertainty about the months ahead. New car registrations in September finished well ahead of expectations and stock shortages mean many orders will have been postponed until October.
But there is plenty of evidence that most of the transactions had already been started before the full impact of the US terrorist atrocities was felt and new enquiry levels have dropped away since then. With eyes already turning towards the first quarter of 2002 and a plate change in March, there is a temptation to hold back until the new year.
Several of the major players – Ford, Peugeot, Toyota – have basically rolled their programmes forward into the final quarter without any significant changes though Ford has taken 2% off its Focus rates in response to base rate cuts. Ford and Vauxhall have both introduced 'finance allowances' which are essentially cashbacks only available if the vehicle is financed through the captive finance house.
These can be as high as £1,000 on selected Fiestas and £1,500 on Frontera, making an already attractive deal from the 'captive' look even better value and, effectively, freezing independent financiers out of the market entirely. Vauxhall still offers 'customer savings' on selected models but they are less than the available finance allowances.
The continuing fall in base rates is reflected across the market. BMW has brought its rates down once again and 0% deals remain common, although some of the longer terms are being trimmed back. A 12-month, 0% rate is the 'norm' and Fiat, usually a big player in this market, is opting instead for a low 4.8% across 48 months.
Finance remains cheap but medium term prospects do not look so certain.
|HIGH STREET LENDERS (36-MONTH LOANS)|
|Loan Amount||Lender||APR||Monthly Repayment
|Source: Automotive Management**|