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Data released today by car search website Motors.co.uk highlights the importance of used car sales to dealers, with growth in vehicle sales – supported by dealers stocking more used cars, and selling each used car more quickly.
The September analysis, which looked at consumer and retail trends from more than 500,000 vehicles listed through the platform, potentially indicates that dealers are anticipating a shift in consumer demand from new to used.
Phill Jones, MD of Motors.co.uk said: “Looking at the data, it would appear that dealers are anticipating higher levels of interest from consumers than this time last year, and therefore keeping stock levels high on forecourts in preparation. At present, it does appear to be paying off. Used vehicles are selling more quickly than a year ago, in contrast to the new car data we saw from the SMMT recently.”
In terms of the vehicles held by dealers, the data shows that while there were more diesels available for consumers searching online (56% of all vehicles advertised were diesel – an increase of 4% year-on-year), they remained on forecourts for longer – up from 39 to 40 days year-on-year.
In contrast, while there were proportionally fewer petrol vehicles advertised (42% of total advertised – down 5% year-on-year) consumer demand was higher, with petrol vehicles generating 48% of vehicle views and selling four days faster than the same period last year (34 days compared to 38).
Jones said: “Although diesels are still in demand, and we can expect them to be the dominant fuel type for many months to come, there is evidence that the on-going negative media attention, as well as increased taxes and road charges for diesel vehicles compared to petrol are slowly having an impact on buyer behaviour. In terms of reacting to this emerging change, we advise dealers to use data to understand the right mix of stock to match demand.”
The Motors.co.uk data also revealed that while hybrid vehicles equated to a small proportion of overall sales in September, when available, they sold in just 21 days on average. This is eight days faster than in August, and 59 days faster than in September 2016.
“This time last year hybrid models were taking 80 days to sell. The drop to 21, compared to diesel and petrol cars, signals a significant change in consumer desire for these models, albeit from a relatively small segment of the overall market. Electric cars are also selling faster month on month, so this shift to alternative fuel types will be interesting to monitor over the coming months,” said Phill.
In terms of models, the data revealed on-going interest in smaller, supermini and convertible vehicles, which all saw a reduced stock turn during September.
Superminis in particular, such as the Fiat 500X (the top selling model in September) and MINIs were selling six days faster on average, buoyed by the milder weather as we move through Autumn. In contrast however, larger models and 4x4s were defying traditional sales trends.
Phill continued: “Affordable, lower asset risk vehicles continue to maintain interest, but larger vehicle segments are not evoking the levels of interest we usually see at this time of year. 4x4s in particular, although in demand, are taking two days longer to sell than in September 2016, although there were widespread thunderstorms and floods last year which we didn’t see this year.
“As we move into the wetter, winter quarter ahead, we expect demand for 4x4s and cross overs to pick up, but for the month ahead in particular, we would encourage dealerships to adopt the necessary marketing and display tactics for their smaller vehicles to ensure consumers are aware of the models they have on offer.”