New car sales hit record levels in October and it now looks certain the year will end on an all-time high, beating 1989, the previous best year on record. The SMMT is predicting 2.38m new car registrations but, in the present bullish conditions, many people believe even that figure may prove conservative.
At first glance, the continuing demand for new cars is difficult to explain given the underlying economic picture.
The constant talk of job cuts, the recent downturn in British manufacturing and the cooling of the housing market should be starting to have an effect.
However, while mortgage demand fell, consumer credit remains buoyant with borrowing by individuals, including bank loans and credit cards, increasing by £1.5bn or 1.1%, during September.
So, it seems customers are still quite happy to take on debt and, judging by the growth, appear to believe new cars are a good place to spend it. Some of this may be due to pent-up demand after poor sales in 2000, but analysts are warning spending will eventually go off the boil when, and if, consumers start worrying about their jobs.
The effect on used car business is much harder to judge, not least because of the lack of any reliable and topical data. Good value deals on new cars are certainly putting a great deal of pressure on the so-called nearly-new market which has also seen volumes drop because of government pressure to cut back (but certainly not eradicate) preregistration.
Trade prices are low and tradition dictates the customers will come back in late-January. But trying to second guess how strong the market will be, and what retail prices can be achieved, is difficult.
In times of uncertainty everybody is looking for a magic wand but there are strong business reasons for holding onto well established business relationships: sticking with suppliers you can trust and who can offer you support through the rough and the smooth. There are also strong business reasons for offering your customers a finance brand they will recognise.
Through the merger of Lloyds UDT and Chartered Trust earlier this year, Black Horse has consolidated its position as the largest motor finance provider in the UK. We have the resources and experience to offer you full support, training and advice. We have a brand name that is instantly recognisable and whose strong message is reinforced constantly through national advertising and promotion.
We have been at the forefront of technical development with our Equips web-enabled proposal system which offers rapid, accurate quotes and virtually instant acceptances. We have a highly experienced and sympathetic account management team. We have a comprehensive training programme which can be tailored to suit your needs.
However, we are not prepared to rest on our laurels. We continually strive to be the best provider of finance services and adapt our products to complement the changes that are happening all around us. We at Black Horse have a fresh attitude to finance, which we hope is reflected in our product offerings and our enthusiasm to help our dealers succeed.