Staring into a political black hole

  13 March 2017

At a time when consumers might be thinking twice about buying a new diesel car, the mainstream media’s focus on emissions, air quality and the price of fuel at the pump conveniently omits one very important link in the car buying chain: the auto retailer.

So what if your latest prospective buyer – be it a business customer or individual – is getting cold feet over committing to diesel? You can always steer him or her towards a shiny new petrol model. Problem solved.

If only the situation on the used forecourt was as simple.

It’s fair to say that there’s a lot more uncertainty surrounding the fate of used values in the current climate. The Chancellor may not have explicitly signalled that new legislation is coming to favour petrol and low emissions alternative fuelled cars, but if you read between the lines and countless post-Budget analysis stories in the media it’s implied that something is being formulated. 

And it’s this level of uncertainty that’s possibly worse than seeing something in black and white. Consumers hate uncertainty. Retailers hate it even more. The inability to forecast, plan and budget for the next month, quarter or year ahead is just One More Thing you can do without.

The harsh reality is that you could be watching the value slowly draining away from your diesel-powered used stock, purely based on media speculation and the enthusiastic noises of London’s scrappage-happy mayor. Ah yes, the ’s’ word. Westminster’s so far kept quiet on that hot topic, but don’t expect its silence to last for long.

There are parallels with the April VED change here. A government announcement designed to influence consumer behaviour, but lacking the all-important details, leading to consumer and retailer confusion. You’ve got admit, successive governments are certainly consistent when it comes such actions.

Iain Dooley

Editor, Agenda

Auto Retail Network

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