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Parker's forecourt focus: The canny consumer

It’s a tough market predicted for 2006 and all eyes are on the spending power of consumers.

What will encourage them into dealers is the increasing pressure on used values from the great deals on new cars and the number of pre-registration offers.

However, prices are unlikely to fall much further as profit margins for dealers are increasingly squeezed and some well-known names like Virgin Cars has closed its doors due to poor profit margins. So for the canny consumer the key is to be selective in their choice and go for maximum value.

One way to ensure that is to spot the car that has been overtaken by the competition. The Citroën Picasso is a point in case. It’s a useful people carrier but has been left behind by the likes of the new Vauxhall Zafira, Renault Scenic and Volkswagen Touran. This means that values have fallen, particularly on the petrol versions, with an early 1.6 LX going for around £3,000.

When a new version is launched, then used values of the predecessor usually fall. It’s true of the Honda Civic with a private 1.6 VTEC S starting at mid-£3,000 for a 2001 model, with dealers looking to take four grand. The cars are well equipped, are extremely reliable and still look thoroughly modern.

The flip side to these great deals is that car buyers won’t get as much on their part-ex. As ever, it’s the cost to change that counts and consumers are increasingly aware of this.

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