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Car dealers ‘will compete on finance in 2014’

By Tony Willard

Higher levels of customer care, the future of manufacturer-supported car loans and changes in consumer credit rules are the key priorities on this year’s motor retail agenda, according to senior motor finance executives.

Gerald Grimes, Hitachi Consumer Capital Finance managing director, expects UK new car demand to level off with growth of about 1%: “We predict savvy dealers will compete on finance rather than the price on the windscreen.

“Opportunities are clear for those who embrace a more flexible approach to sales practices, affordability, appropriateness of funding and how lending is facilitated.”

Hitachi Consumer Capital, which claims more than 42% of UK retail lending, wants a rising share of motor loans. Grimes said: “We believe some High Street funding concepts, such as zero interest and deferred payments, can be applied to motor retail to develop sales.”

MotoNovo Finance has arranged new borrowing to finance product launches over the next 12 months. Karl Werner, head of sales and marketing, said: “Sustaining growth is unlikely to be delivered with more of the same. The growing influence of technology and increasingly confident and empowered consumers will make 2014 a year of unprecedented change.”

James Broadhead, Close Motor Finance managing director, said growth in new car sales and consumer motor finance driven by manufacturer-sponsored low APR finance deposit allowances and service plans may become permanent.

“They help increase growth in profitable aftersales and encourage a customer perception that dealers offer competitive finance and specialist funding packages,” he said. “Dealers and lenders should ensure retail digital platforms promote expertise in providing personalised funding for customers.”

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