Car dealers are having to resort to extreme measures in order to kick-start their poor sales figures and balance the books, insiders have revealed.
With new-vehicle registrations slumping in the last year, mounting pressure has forced some dealers pre-register the latest models on 18 number plates launched at the beginning of March – and then sell those barely-driven vehicles as used cars with huge discounts.
As a result, buyers can get their hands on a raft of discounted unused motors, including a family saloon with 18 per cent knocked off the retail price.
18-plate bargains: Dealers have pre-registered new cars to cover up reduced showroom activity, meaning ‘used’ cars that have covered very few miles displaying the new ’18’ number plate can be bought with huge discounts
The desperate bid to camouflage poor new car sales has appeared on the radar of online motor retail specialist BuyaCar.co.uk that lists new and used models available in showrooms and dealer forecourts up and down the country.
Speaking about the surge of pre-registered vehicles hitting the market in recent days, a spokesman for the site said it was ‘unusual to see the very latest plate offered on used cars just three weeks after it was launched’.
While it’s unquestionably a rare sight to see a supposed second-hand car displaying the latest plate in the same month the new number was made available for new models, it means consumers can get their mitts on one of latest cars for much less.
BuyaCar.co.uk identified 10 models with the most money slashed off the retail price.
The average saving across the cars featured is 13 per cent.
These are the 10 models available on March ’18’ plates with the biggest discounts, according to BuyaCar.co.uk
The biggest discount is available on the Audi A3 saloon (left), with almost 18% knocked off the RRP. The Mazda2 supermini (right) is the next best off, with more than 15% off
The biggest discount is on the Audi A3 Saloon 1.6 TDI Sport S Tronic diesel automatic.
Dealers are willing to sell pre-registered 18-plate versions with an 18 per cent discount, knocking the price down from £27,325 to £22,500 – a saving of £4,825.
The next best offer on the table is for the Mazda2 city car.
Dealerships will give you the keys to a pre-registered 1.5 SE-L Nav 90 petrol version with a discount of more than 15 per cent, dropping the new price from £14,795 to £12,000, even for models with a new 18 plate.
Other brands featured in the top 10 include Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Seat, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.
BuyaCar.co.uk said the quick-fire discounts on 18-plate models was a ‘sign of the mounting pressure on dealers to beat a forecast drop in new car sales’.
So far in the first two months of the year, new model registrations are down by 5.6 per cent. In total, sales took a bruising dive of 5.7 per cent in 2017.
Vauxhall’s Grandland X has only just hit the market, but plenty appear to have been pre-registered already and offered as second-hand cars with discounts of up to 14%
Another SUV with substantial savings in the Audi Q5. A barely driven pre-registered car can be bought with almost £6,000 off the price of a new one
‘This year is unusually good for buyers because dealers do not typically make such cars available until the dash to pre-register cars right at the end of the month so they can hit manufacturer targets,’ said Austin Collins, managing director of BuyaCar.co.uk.
‘But we have been able to offer the brand new plate with big discounts much earlier than we’ve seen before.
‘It isn’t just the big cash savings that make this a remarkable month for anyone wanting to show off the latest plate, because these cars are available immediately. That means there’s no waiting for delivery after placing an order.’
Collins also highlighted that these 18-plate models would also have close to a full warranty, give or take the few days they were first registered.
WHAT IS A PRE-REGISTERED CAR?
A pre-registered car is a new vehicle purchased by the dealer and registered in their name, making it the first owner on the V5 registration document.
Delivered in the same way as a new unregistered vehicle, they arrive on a transporter and barely turn a wheel between the time they arrive on the forecourt and are sold to a buyer.
It’s a method used by dealers so it appears they are hitting sales targets and therefore receive a bonus from the manufacturer who in turn is then able to report a high number of sales.
Not only does this make it appear that the car maker is selling more vehicles than it actually is, it also means customers who normally buy a new car can get one for much lower prices. So everyone wins, right?
Not necessarily, as there are some cons.
While it’s a new vehicle you don’t get a choice to customise the car, the resale value can be affected because it’s not had just ‘one owner from new’ and both warranty and breakdown cover can be reduced if the vehicle was pre-registered weeks or months before you bought it.
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