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Car dealers adopt ‘guerrilla tactics’ to sell diesel vehicles

Coachworks Consulting’s managing director, Karl Davis

Coachworks Consulting has suggested that car dealers will be forced to adopt “guerrilla tactics” to sell new diesel-engined cars when the new 19-plate is introduced in March.

With demand for new diesels falling 29.6% in 2018 and the SMMT forecasting a further drop of 16.9% this year, Coachworks Consulting said some manufacturers are still encouraging their networks to achieve ambitious diesel targets.

Coachworks Consulting’s managing director, Karl Davis, said: “We’re seeing a lot of guerrilla tactics around diesel with dealers pre-registering these vehicles, selling them with heavy support - often at a loss - all in the hope that they eventually make some money from their back-end standards or volume bonuses from their brand partner.”

Davis believes these activities will be ramped up especially in March as dealers focus on hitting their Q1 targets.

“With diesel demand down across Europe last year many manufactures took steps to rebalance their engine mix.

"However, for those who have not, these distress actions are likely to remain in play over the course of March and the foreseeable future, particularly for those brands lacking in viable petrol, hybrid or EV alternatives,” said Davis.

Davis said some brands have already addressed the issue with fast start bonuses aimed at incentivising diesel sales during the earlier part of the Q1 trading period.

“The switched on OEMs and their retailers will be entering this all-important sales period with their eyes open and fast start bonuses in place to get the job done early in the month, as an overly conservative approach is likely to cost a great deal more if action is delayed until the end of the period.

“At times like this it is best to take a hit on the chassis profit and then try and claw back the difference through other trading options.

"There is a place for guerrilla tactics and fast start bonuses are certainly a tried and tested way to incentivise dealers and hopefully alleviate some of the pain being felt by OEMs and retailers due to the falling demand for new diesels,” said Davis. 

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