The latest registration plate is no longer worth waiting for say three quarters of new car buyers.
The findings of a study into new car buying habits suggest that ongoing spikes in new car registration activity in March and September are fleet, dealer and manufacturer-led – and not due to consumer demand.
Almost 1,000 consumers were questioned by the online motor retailer BuyaCar.co.uk to understand the biggest motivations for choosing a new car.
Despite March and September typically accounting for about a third of any annual total of new cars registered, 77.5% of buyers say they would not delay their purchase of a new car to have the latest number plate.
Growing consumer scepticism over the desirability of the very latest plate is borne out by the new car purchase activity of online customers for BuyaCar.co.uk, which has seen steady growth throughout the year without the spikes associated with dealer registration activity.
Although BuyaCar.co.uk saw a large increase in September new car sales online, even more rapid growth was seen for used cars across a wide range of ages.
October then saw further growth, rather than any falling back after the usual headline-grabbing September surge.
This has been the pattern throughout 2015 and 2016, said BuyaCar.co.uk managing director Austin Collins (pictured).
“Our survey reflects all car buyers and not just the growing number of online customers who perhaps see the car purchase process as similar to any other transaction," he said.
“So our findings support all the other evidence emerging that buying a car is a practical process, driven by need rather than vanity.
“The fact that a third of cars are registered in just two months of the year, while more than three quarters of people say they pay little or no heed to the latest plate, reveals a widening gap between registration activity and patterns of demand in the market.
“This has been a tremendous year for motor retail in Britain and we believe the steady growth shown by our own results reflect the true underlying market dynamic, rather than the artificial peaks created by fleet purchasers and manufacturer target-led dealer registrations.”
‘Would you delay the purchase of a new car to have the latest number plate?’
BuyaCar.co.uk asked consumers ‘would you delay the purchase of a new car to have the latest number plate’ – and 77.5% said they would not.
Among those who said they would wait for a new plate, most saw it as a practical step rather than image-led – citing a higher future trade-in or sale value as the best reason for choosing the latest plate.
Only 37 people in the survey cared about owning – or being seen to have – the latest plate.
Among those who no longer see the latest plate as important enough to wait for, half reported that they simply buy a car when they need one.
Just over a quarter said they don’t care because they believe the best deals are often available just ahead of a new plate, while 22% agreed with the statement ‘the number plate doesn’t matter anymore’.