AM Online

The big picture: Many ways to sell more cars

Are manufacturers using internet retail sites and car supermarkets to offload surplus stock of new cars? That’s the allegation made by some retailers who have spotted large quantities of cars appearing on websites in recent months.

New-car-discount.com recently had a number of 06-plate Rav4, Avensis and Yaris models for sale – Toyota blamed oversupply at the end of the first quarter for cars appearing online, which it says has now been rectified.

New-car-discount backs these claims, saying Toyota has no need to pre-register cars. It also says that the discounts it offers are the same as those available to dealers through the retail programme – although dealers who have invested millions in facilities and who meet operational and franchise standards are unhappy that a rival meeting none of these requirements is able to source cars on similar terms.

Also under fire on the AM Dealerforum website is Hyundai after several car supermarkets were spotted offering 55-plate models, in particular Tucson, at huge discounts. Dealers, who are also complaining about Lloyds TSB’s involvement in new cars, blame over-ordering by head office. It’s a problem the newly-created dealer council should be looking to address.

The problem is widespread. Just one search found VW (15% discounts on Golf), Fiat (28% off Punto), Ford (up to 30% off Focus), even Honda (23% off Accord – albeit just a handful for sale).

Internet operators are finding it easier to source new cars, either from franchised dealers looking to hit volume bonuses or, more often, from a carmaker looking to maintain monthly market share.

Some carmakers are also accused of bulk supplying cars at discount to internet operators which are masquerading as leasing companies. “The manufacturers don’t bother checking these companies out - they are happy to give them higher discounts that the dealers can get,” one chief executive tells AM. “The OFT should take a look.”

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