It’s time for the 72-reg plate change. Traditionally, September has been one of the two months (along with March) when car sales peak. And the more new cars sold, the more used models are freed up for buyers to get their hands on.
But since the dark days of the pandemic, the supply of new cars has slowed dramatically. The knock-on is a shortage of used cars with the models that are available costing more. We look at how to get a good buy for the 72-reg plate change.
Go for existing stock
If you have your heart set on a 72-reg plate car, and you want to choose the model of your dreams, you could have a long wait. And we’re talking many months. But bigger dealerships may well have a stock of cars. These will have already been specified and might be on order, but they’ll be available sooner than ordering from scratch.
If you’re willing to compromise, perhaps on colour or equipment, you could be driving a new car sooner than you think.
Ex-demo EVs make a great buy
Before they were constrained by supply shortages, car dealerships used to buy models themselves. This was so they could register them to hit manufacturer targets. The car makers then rewarded them with a bonus. This enabled the dealer to sell the car for less without making a loss. The big winner was the canny buyer.
This discount on pre-registered cars was usually between 5 and 15 per cent and cars were often described as demonstrators. These days, pre-registered cars can be thin on the ground. But that’s not so much the case if you buy an electric vehicle (EV).
Car makers are desperate to sell as many EVs as they can. This is because they lower the car maker’s average exhaust emissions – important if they’re not to be hit with a big fine.
Remember when you buy an ex-demo or pre-registered car, it will be worth less when you sell it. And the warranty will have run from when the car was first registered, not when you buy it.
Think of buying through your company
New cars are so expensive these days that most are bought using finance. If you’re going down this route, think about buying a car through your employer.
Increasing numbers of businesses offer salary sacrifice car schemes. These allow the employee to give up a portion of their pre-tax pay for the company to put towards a car for them. There are many benefits to this.
The company will be paying for the cars via a leasing specialist. The bulk-buying power of these companies means cars owned through salary sacrifice schemes tend to be much cheaper than the identical model owned using private finance.
And as demand from leasing companies is more reliable than private buyers, they frequently have access to cars when dealerships don’t. On top of that, because your salary is reduced, you pay less income tax and lower national insurance contributions too. It’s a win-win!
Remember your current car is worth more
Car dealers basically hold all the cards at the moment. But presuming you’ve got a car to trade in or sell prior to taking delivery of your new model, it’ll be worth more than it would have been two years ago.
Before you approach a dealership, find out how much your existing motor is worth. Research car sales websites and manufacturer’s approved used models to see exactly what a car like yours would make second-hand. That way you’ll know if the dealer is trying to hoodwink you into accepting less than the current market value.
If you’ve bought a car on finance such as a PCP (personal contract purchase), and the term is coming to an end, consider buying the car yourself rather than putting any equity in it directly towards a new model. Bearing in mind the increased price of used models now, you’re likely to be better off selling the car yourself.
Last but not least…
Buy the car you want to buy. If you’re desperate just to have a car wearing the latest 72-reg number plate, there’s a good chance you might end up with a motor that doesn’t fit your needs. Sadly, getting one that does tick all your boxes might take time and patience.