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Used car market focus: Expect a long wait for good news

Most dealers will be feeling the pinch at the moment. A handful of car manufacturers have posted significant improvements over last year, while most have fallen close to where the market is or have done worse.

We know that to encourage footfall in these bleak times, used car prices are the most attractive they have ever been, and the customers brave enough to buy at the moment will probably think they’re getting a good deal.

However, it might not be obvious to them that the offer they get on their part-exchange would be perhaps £1,000 lower than if they were attempting a similar swap a year ago.So while a deal on a replacement car might seem to favour the consumer, they’re not really gaining much when the cost of the entire deal is calculated.

Small cars seem to be more resilient to the present financial difficulties. With the cost of fuel still more than £1 a litre, cars capable of about 50mpg or more are beginning to strike a chord with buyers and these are also the likeliest candidates for a fairly rapid turnover off the forecourt.

New car registration figures for September showed that only the city car sector posted an increase compared with the same month last year.

While this might seem like grounds for modest optimism, I don’t think they tell the full story.

There is far more choice of good cars in that sector now, with the Fiat 500 becoming a resounding success, and some competent new models in the shape of the Vauxhall Agila/Suzuki Splash, and Hyundai i10, while the sector favourite, the Ford Ka, is replaced in January.

However, the so-called ‘supermini’ sector – an area of the market where there is genuine volume – fell by about 20%.
It looks like it could be some time before there is any real good news for car sales.

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