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View from the top: Demand for nearly-new stays strong

This year has seen a steady rather than spectacular start to both the new and used car market, but with the consumer still king in the industry demand is still high for quality nearly-new cars.

Consequently one of the biggest issues is a shortage of the right vehicles.

“There seems to be a lack of quality used stock, but we’re lucky in that we seem to be bucking that trend,” says Stuart Harris, manager of Ford Direct, which has a national stock of around 4,000 cars – not surprisingly all Fords.

The norm at this time of year, just after the March plate change, is for there to be a wave of fresh stock coming into the used car market as both private motorists and fleets trade in their cars for new models, with used values consequently dipping, but Ford Direct says it has not witnessed that to date.

“The successful launch of the new Focus and the equally successful sell down of the old model means there is insufficient stock nationally, but also that there are strong residual values,” says Harris. As Ford Direct handles only Ford badged products, it says it is able to ensure very high standards on all vehicles.

The operation has positioned itself as a premium, manufacturer-backed used car programme, and this, says Harris, is paying real dividends in attracting customers.

“It comes down to brand image. Customers want trust and reassurance but the used car industry doesn’t always have the best reputation. We want our customers to be able to buy with total confidence,” he says.

All Ford Direct cars are younger than four years old and have a maximum of 50,000 miles on the clock. The company offers a two-year unlimited mileage warranty and two years’ RAC cover along with an independent RAC approved inspection – all designed to give buyers reassurance.

“Our greatest challenge is to ensure that all of our potential customers understand the benefits of the Ford Direct proposition when they are in the market to buy a used Ford,” says Harris.

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