Tuesday 16 January 2018

Buyers slow purchases of new cars but speed imports

The market for used imports from the UK is growing. Photo: PA
The market for used imports from the UK is growing. Photo: PA
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

It is far too early to be talking about a major slump in new-car sales as such - but there is no doubt buyers appear to be in short supply at the moment.

By contrast, there seems to be a growing market for used imports from the UK due to the euro's post-Brexit strength against sterling.

Both trends are not necessarily 100pc interlinked. But it seems there are more people buying second-hand now who might ordinarily have opted to purchase a new vehicle.

More importantly on the new-car front is the level of uncertainty over Brexit.

As several motoring executives told Motors over the past week, people don't like committing to major outlay when there is uncertainty.

It can be assumed too that a proportion of potential buyers are kicking the decision to purchase down the road to the 172-reg plate in July, in the hope the outlook will be clearer.

All of which in some way goes to explain why, up to Monday night last, just 3,618 new cars had been officially registered so far this month.

With a little over two weeks left to go in the month, it would seem a tall order to expect that last year's total of 21,529 for March will be reached.

Usually there is a spate of second-half-of-month and late, late registrations, but there is still likely to be a shortfall.

However, as I report elsewhere, bridging the gap to any great extent is likely to lead to some more appetising deals. Buyers could be tempted with real bargains to buy now rather than wait, as dealers and distributors vie for first-quarter sales targets and important market share.

It could be well worth a mid-month shop-around, especially for anyone who can dispose of their trade-in separately.

On the used-imports front, there is little indication of any slow-down at the moment, with latest official figures indicating a 24pc increase on 2016 thus far.

The number of used imports tends to spread evenly over the 12 months, so 19,014 to date suggests a year-end total substantially ahead of the 72,000 or so for 2016.

Indo Motoring

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