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Analysts at odds over used prices

Leading players in the used car market have attacked new research that claims secondhand car prices have collapsed in the past 12 months. The report, by What Car? and the Alliance & Leicester, says used car prices have hit record lows with the values of one-year-old cars dropping by 11.4 per cent.

But Darren Wiseman, managing editor at CAP, says the research contradicts its own figures showing general used car prices are down about two per cent year-on-year. Some models, including Saabs and Vauxhall Zafiras, are up.

“Prices for three-year-old cars are down about 2.3% – and that figure includes a large amount of very different vehicles representing the whole market,” he says. “These are real trade values and show the market is doing quite well.” That opinion is supported by rival Glass's, whose editorial consultant Alan Cole says: “The average trade value of a one-year-old car was just four per cent lower than it was in July 2002. Values of three-year-old cars have fallen only 3.8 per cent faster.”

However, analyst Douglas McWilliams, who compiles the report for Alliance & Leicester, insists: “Secondhand prices have collapsed following steady falls over the last couple of years. Used prices are 21 per cent lower than they were two years ago.”

The study claims that prices for three-year-old models fell by 13.5 per cent compared to last year with values for Vauxhall Vectras and Ford Mondeos crashing by 22 per cent. Last year, more than seven million second hand cars were sold compared to about 2.5m new cars.

Andy Bayes, head of motor finance at Alliance & Leicester, says: “Those prepared to haggle can get a great bargain as dealers desperately try to move the huge volumes of cars found on the forecourt.”

The large number of cars on the used market follows two consecutive years of record new car sales, says the survey. Company cars, in particular, had been pushed on to the market in quantity.

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