Thursday 21 September 2017

How motorists are winning - and losing - at the imports game

*Trade-in values of used cars could face drop as supply soars
* Study highlights savings and losses after costs factored in

The high volume of used imports could have a knock-on effect
The high volume of used imports could have a knock-on effect
Opel's new Insignia is here next year
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Thousands of motorists are benefiting from lower-price imports.

Thousands of others could be in for a rude awakening when they find their cars are worth less to trade in against new models.

That could be the knock-on effect of the high volume of used imports. The big numbers coming in at lower prices are threatening to deflate values across the board.

It is certain to drive down values if the market continues to expand with such a heavy supply of fresh used cars.

There is no hiding from the fact that the pace of importing has quickened significantly as sterling has plunged over the past few months (an 80pc increase in registrations for September).

Some owners have claimed to Motors they saved between €4,000 and €6,000 on cars they bought up north or across the water.

While there is no reason to doubt them, a new set of figures would suggest the average saving could be lower when everything is taken into account.

Many people are buying imports from dealers too, just like they would in the case of an ordinary 'Irish' secondhand, due to proximity and the security of warranties.

A study of the top 10 models imported here last month shows that while savings were made, the price gaps were not as large as you might expect when VRT, transport/travel costs etc were taken into account.

Surprisingly a couple of models ended up 'losing' money while some saved just a few hundred euro.

MyVehicle.ie evaluated the cars' market value here and the UK, factored in the cost of the sterling/euro exchange, estimated the VRT and put in €500 for travelling expenses.

Here's a sample of what they reckoned were the 'retail savings' on the cars: 2012 VW Golf 'Match' diesel 1.6 TDI (estimated retail savings €936), 2013 Ford Focus 1.6 diesel (€2,568 saving), 2013 Golf diesel 1.6 TDI SE (€615); 2012 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion (€195), 2013 Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi (LOST €1,594), 2012 Opel Insignia 2.0CDTi (€641), 2013 Audi A4 2.0TDi (€3,375) and another Golf (2010) 1.6TDI (LOST €378).

There are so many variants it is important that buyers should be careful, cautious and clinical with their figures.

However, importing is clearly an avenue that will be increasingly exploited by buyers and sellers - north and south - if the exchange rates continue or narrow.

Levels of supply and demand will likely mean, however, that the value of trade-ins against new cars will not be as strong as they were. The cost of change will rise.

If it does, so will monthly repayments; and that could mean lower guaranteed future minimum values for those renewing Personal Contract Plans (PCPs).

So, there are winners and losers in the import game.

Just how much will be won and lost remains to be seen but the shadow of Brexit hangs over the shape of next year's car market in a big way.

Your views: ecunningham@independent.ie

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