Agents of change: how car buying is changing

“If you look at the history of car buying, there has always been a surge in used car prices. Prices rise until they’re the same as new, so people start buying new cars with incentivised finance and used car prices fall. The big change as far as I’m concerned will be the increase in the number of leasing companies selling their cars at fixed prices with no buyer’s fee direct to buyers like us, who buy 2000 cars at a time. It means fewer cars will be bought at auction. These leasing companies are disrupting the market. 

“Our online Carzam business has exceeded our expectations, but buyers will always like to touch and try a car before they buy. It’s why our used car supermarket sites are having a fantastic year, and by the end of 2022, we will have 10 of them.”

Robert Forrester: CEO, Vertu Motors

“Our financial results show what happens when there isn’t oversupply in a market. I’ve always said manufacturers should produce one less car than the market demands. That said, it’s always tempting for a car maker with high fixed production costs to make just one more car and, with the removal of tariffs from Korean and Japanese cars, we could see oversupply return. 

“Regarding used cars, dealers will be more open to stocking older ones. Our average preparation cost has risen from £450 to £650, which shows you how much deeper we’re going into them. For younger used cars, we will face competition from retailers such as Cazoo. But if, thanks to the sales agency model, fewer quality used cars leave the network, we won’t suffer. 

“As for the threat from online retailers, we have a customer conversion rate at our showrooms of 30%, while a fully online, e-commerce retailer has one of just 0.8%. We have an online offering, but four out of five of our customers want to have test drives, and you can’t do that online.” 

Daksh Gupta: Group CEO, Marshall Motor Holdings

“For a lot of people, buying a car and negotiating the price is an uncomfortable process. The sales agency model will provide a level of transparency, because everyone will get the same deal. Dealers may offer different part-exchange valuations, but not by much, since customers will check prices and check they’re getting a good deal. 


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