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Part-exchange price rise boosted car retail in challenging March, says Cox Automotive

Philip Nothard, Cox Automotive

Part-exchange vehicles posted strong performance at auction during March to deliver a boost to car dealers at the end of Q1, according to new figures from Cox Automotive.

Showing a similar trend to that experienced by remarketing rival BCA – as identified in its recent Pulse report, Cox Automotive's online and physical auction business, Manheim, saw double-digit growth in month-on-month part-exchange volumes at 17.5% during the month.

The average price for vehicles going under the hammer in March through Manheim’s auction houses dropped 8.9% to £6,529 on February's average, but remained 10% ahead of March 2017.

Philip Nothard, Cox Automotive’s head of external relations, said: "The strong rise in part-exchange volumes led to an overall increase of 3.3% in auction volume month-on-month.

"As expected, volume levels remained below the numbers seen in March 2017, which were higher than average due to changes in vehicle excise duty. 

“The popularity of manufacturer scrappage schemes also impacted volume figures, with a fall of almost 20% year-on-year in the number of vehicles in the £0 - £5,000 bracket."

Figures from Cox Automotive's trade-to-trade online auction platform, Dealer Auction, showed a similar picture, with volumes remaining static year-on-year, but up 5% on February 2018.

Dealer Auction also reported double-digit growth in volume for hybrid (45.3%), diesel (18.7%) and petrol (18.3%) vehicles compared to February 2018.

NextGear Capital, Cox Automotive's wholesale stock funding business, saw the average cost per unit remain steady at £7,042 in March (£7,002 in February) and the number of dealers using NextGear Capital increase from 1,427 to 1,454 in the month.

In the retail sector,, Cox Automotive's car search platform, confirmed that the average sold price increased by 5% (£13,018 in March 2018 v £12,425 in February 2018), up on the slight dip in February. also revealed that while average prices for petrol vehicles sold on the site, remain steady year-on-year (£32,273 in March 2017 vs £32,055 in March 2018), the average price of diesel vehicles fell by 2% (£27,942 in March 2017 vs £27,349 in March 2018).

Nothard said that there remained “cause for optimisim” in the car retail sector, despite an on-going reduction in new car registrations.

He added: "The usual seasonal effect of Easter and adverse weather conditions at the beginning of the month undoubtedly had an impact on results in March, but many dealers reported strong weeks in the latter part of the month, suggesting healthy levels of consumer demand.

"We must however consider this alongside the growing trend for dealers to shift their focus to used cars, which we believe will continue in the months ahead.

“We also expect a strong focus on aftersales to remain crucial to dealers as they seek to overcome margin pressures." 

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