March and the VED changes

  23 January 2017

There has been a lot of talk in the mainstream media in the past week about the impact of the changes to VED rates, and how the new fees which come into play at the start of April will cause a rush of registrations in March.

While several senior automotive industry executives have told Auto Retail Agenda that the new 17-plate month could be the biggest March ever, this is not the bad thing the national newspapers make out.

For starters, the change is only likely to be the concern of customers looking to buy in April, or possibly May, as it won’t be feasible to speed up, or bring forward, a purchase that’s further off. This, as Volvo’s managing director Jon Wakefield told Agenda this week, is because most manufacturers can’t simply bring forward supply that easily. He did say Volvo “will help as many customers as possible”. And I suspect this is the situation for many other brands.

The good news is that the press coverage, which may have a negative slant, is free marketing and will drive more customers to websites and showrooms. The sensible retailer will then be converting those enquiries with an attractive deal and good service, no matter when the car is eventually registered.

On top of this, if there is a pull forward from April, at least it’s into a month where the industry is geared up for the volume rather than, for instance, a January change pushing cars into December.

Record March or not, the VED changes are unlikely to impact the 2017 overall total. Let’s just hope that when retailers exceed their targets, due to any pull forward, manufacturers don’t see it as a trend and are understanding about the next quarter.

Tristan Young

Editorial Director

Auto Retail Network

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