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New plates to end stock complaints?

Recent weeks have brought repeated complaints over the shortage of good quality stock in the trade and at the auction halls.

This is expected to change this month with the new registration plate - provided it encourages retail buyers back into the showrooms to generate the good quality part-exchanges necessary to fill empty forecourt spaces. That said, franchised dealers have also reported a lack of retail interest.

Many blame the fact that the new plate system is still not fully understood. Because of this, the latest plate doesn't instantly stand out on the drive to impress the Joneses. The loss of a familiar old system may well be having a detrimental impact on sales and therefore the generation of retailable part-exchanges.

There will be an injection of stock from other areas, such as ex-daily rental cars, as hire firms replace stock with the latest plate. But these cars are only enough to satisfy a small portion of the market.

However, Motability cars are now offering opportunities once enjoyed only by the supplying dealer. These cars are of a reasonable age, with sensible mileage and a service history. These are starting to have an impact on ex-fleet cars, as buyers would always prefer a more retailable car than a high-mileage one. Good CAP clean ex-fleet cars will always find buyers - the rest are becoming hard work.

Over the years, the instability of the mainstream market and the risks it poses has led to some diversifying into the more prestige end, such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Although values tend to remain more stable, even these cars are now harder work.

BMWs and Mercedes today must have leather and climate control and Audis must be SE spec or above. This all shows just how far the retail customer has squeezed into the driving seat of the used market. Those who don't understand this will not survive.

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