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Stocking the right used vehicles for your market

By Richard Yarrow

The SMMT figures for 2013 have been published and, broadly speaking, it’s a positive picture. New car registrations of 2,264,000 were up 10.8% on 2012, beat the industry’s forecast and provided the highest annual total since 2007.

Digging a little deeper into the detail – particularly about what type of new cars UK customers are actually buying – provides interesting insight, not least about what used stock should be on a retailer’s forecourt.

  NEED TO KNOW

        
  Market share rises for new city cars, but falls for new superminis  
  Exec, luxury and sports cars held steady, but dual-purpose cars grew  
  Definite trend towards lower fuel usage in some areas’

Looking at new car market share, in the city car segment it has risen from 3.2% to 3.5% in just 12 months. Compare that with 2004, when it was only 1.4% and it’s clear that small footprint/highly efficient urban runabouts – the likes of the Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Up! – are the talk of the town.

You may think superminis such as the Fiesta or Corsa would be equally buoyant. True, they account for more than a third of all UK new car registrations so are hardly struggling, but, perhaps surprisingly, they dropped from 36.4% in 2012 to 35.9% last year.

The lower medium segment rose from 24.9 to 26%, with models such as the Focus and Astra selling well. But upper-medium – where the SMMT groups models such as the  3 Series, Insignia and Passat – reduced from 11.6% to 9.2%.

The executive, luxury and sports car sectors held steady, but there was notable growth in dual-purpose cars, such as the Sportage and Evoque, and MPVs such as Zafira and C-Max. The data reveals low-CO2 cars with affordable running costs are more popular than ever.

But does that mean dealers should be clearing their used stock of large petrol saloons and inefficient seven-seater SUVs? Or do these cars represent an opportunity to some of the more entrepreneurial dealers because their falling values makes them an apparent bargain to the customer?

Dan Daly, head of brand and communications at Auto Trader, said national trends in new car sales were interesting, but adopting a broad-brush approach to stocking wasn’t right.

“For dealers, what counts is the ability to source vehicles that are in demand locally,” he said. “That means using intelligence tools that are underpinned by the wealth of available data. It allows them to identify which models are desirable and will therefore sell more quickly, and which have less appeal and that will prove harder to retail.”

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