Retailers are reporting a slight improvement in business performance for the first few weeks of the year, buoyed mostly by an upturn in demand for nearly new and pre-registered cars.
Dash Gupta, chief executive of Marshall Motor Group, told AM: “We are seeing record levels of interest, especially for 1-2 year old cars.
"Some of the deals available on pre-registered cars are unbelievable.
"We’re selling delivery mileage Vectras for £10,000, which is less than they went on sale for new 11 years ago.”
Gupta has thrown his weight behind the AM Buy A Car campaign.
He was interviewed last week on Radio BBC Cambridgeshire with AM about the focus of the initiative: the fact that there’s never been a better time to buy a car.
“Cars are fantastic value at the moment but these deals won’t be around in 12-18 months’ time,” Gupta said.
He is one of a growing number of retailers, manufacturers and industry suppliers who are helping AM to champion the cause with national and local media.
Robert Forrester, Vertu chief executive, said he had distributed a press release about the AM Buy A Car campaign to all his general managers to be issued to their local media.
At a time when the headlines are full of gloom and redundancies, getting a more upbeat message out was “to be applauded”, he said.
East Midlands based Sandicliffe is working hard to keep its staff upbeat.
Marketing director Nigel Falkiner told AM: “I completely agree with the campaign. The deals for the consumer are so good.
"Disposable income that’s sitting in banks and ISAs is doing nothing at the moment, it’s better to invest in something like a new car or property.
“Dealers are slowing down with advertising at the moment too, but it’s definitely the wrong time to be cutting back in that area.”
Falkiner and Gupta believe that dealer staff need to be encouraged to think more positively.
They are both running internal campaigns which include putting up posters to point out the reasons why staff should feel positive about selling cars to customers.
AM has now produced a poster which points out all the key reasons why customers should consider buying a car now.
It is available for download from the AM website – www.am-online.com/files/ambuyacar.pdf - and can be printed and displayed in the showroom and in staff rooms.
Dealers can also download the Buy A Car campaign press release - www.am-online.com/files/BuyACarcampaignpress.doc - to distribute to their local media.
The National Franchised Dealers Association is also backing the initiative.
Director Sue Robinson said: “There has rarely been a better time to buy a car, and consumers will see real value for money.
"Prices are competitive in the used car market too.
“When you buy a new car from an RMIF member dealer, you should be able to get a fair part exchange deal on your traded-in car and a dealer should also provide efficient and reliable service and repair facilities.”
Meanwhile, Citroen, Jaguar and Kia (waiting for confirmation) are among the manufacturers to add their support.
Xavier Duchemin, Citroen UK managing director, said: “Well done to Automotive Management for spelling out all the positives associated with buying a new car from a franchise dealer, to the general media.
“Buyers can cut their running costs, buy a low CO2 vehicle and enjoy all the benefits of owning and running a brand new car at affordable prices.
"There are some fabulous deals to be had, and anything that spreads that message and gets consumers back into showrooms has to be a good thing."
Suppliers, including Justgoodcars.com which has sent out its own message of support to the media and added the Buy A Car logo to its website, are also on board, but some are critical about perceived inaction of industry bodies.
Matt Thompson, Auto Trader marketing director, said: “Doing nothing and waiting for good times to return is dangerous for all businesses that serve the sector.
"We believe that the confidence of the motorist sits at the core of the issue, i.e. action focused at the trade or individual action will not have sufficient scale or cut through to make a difference.
“Combined we believe there is a strong and compelling story.
"We are happy to work with AM to begin to combine resources but believe it is also the job of organisations like the SMMT to play a more active role here on behalf of its members.”
Add your weight to the campaign – go to www.am-online.com to show your support and add your own views about how AM can support your business.