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Analysts: manufacturers are 'massaging' figures

Vehicle manufacturers have found a loophole in the Supply of New Cars Order and are once more massaging sales figures to mask what is now claimed to be a substantial tail-off in consumer demand, according to leading analysts.

The accusation by Black I Vehicle Management managing director Nick Brown in the last issue of AM is supported by car price monitor CarPriceCheck.

Brown claims carmakers are so eager to move stock – particularly the shunned upper medium examples and run-out models – that they have been busy registering and storing vehicles.

These are fed into the dealer network as new or nearly-new when they are just over three months old – the limit at which they would have to be declared as pre-registration under the Order.

CarPriceCheck says the vehicles, which are now hitting showrooms at much-reduced prices, are exacerbating the downturn in what was an already weakening market for new cars.

Chief executive Steve Evans claims car transaction prices have now fallen for three months in a row – in October they were down 1.95 per cent year-on-year – as retailers and car manufacturers attempt to clear forecourts of thousands of unsold September plate-change vehicles.

“This is perhaps the clearest sign yet that the new car market is under increasing pressure from falling consumer confidence,” he says.

The claims are supported by the Finance and Leasing Association. Although Society of Motor Manufacturer figures pointed to a mere 2.4 per cent year-on-year drop in September, the FLA says the number of cars purchased on finance decreased by 18 per cent that month.

“The fall in demand in September may be a sign that the prestige of driving the latest model is wearing a bit thin,” says a spokesman for the FLA.

But while new car transaction prices are dropping, CAP Network says new car list prices rose 3.3 per cent last month, casting a negative light on the UK motor industry compared to mainland European new car prices.

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