Peter Vosper: It’s good to see busy showrooms in March again

Torbay Weekly

Once again we are in March, traditionally the biggest month in the year for new vehicle registrations.

From the first lockdown in the second half of 2020 numbers have suffered as a result of the Covid pandemic but it was hoped we would return to more normal times at the beginning of 2022.

Unfortunately, after a series of unexpected events, a massive shortage of chips has meant vehicle supplies have been severely restricted but there are vehicles arriving for delivery to customers, as well as customers visiting to order their new cars for delivery later in the year.

Additionally, the improvement in the weather has contributed to a feeling that spring has finally arrived and in spite of the desperate situation in the Ukraine, we will see some return of customers to many businesses throughout the South West.

This month is likely to see the highest number of new vehicle sales since September 2020 providing the manufacturers deliver all they hope to and their dealers turn them around quickly to satisfy their long-suffering and frustrated customers.

On several occasions their cars have been programmed for building only to be delayed by the chip problem or disruption as a result of Covid.

There has also been a priority given to commercial vehicle production in order to satisfy demand from small businesses and the increase in online shopping, pushing van sales close to record levels.

It seems that we start to recover from one crisis only for another to arrive.

The price of petrol has risen to record levels but it is hoped this has now reached it’s peak and the fall of prices at the start of the week is a positive sign.

Used car prices have also stabilised and although new cars numbers will take time to recover to pre-covid levels there are now more used cars available and the March market will help with part-exchanges over the immediate future.

The move to electric vehicles will also continue to grow as more product comes to the market and it becomes easier to charge your vehicle as the infrastructure receives more government support encouraging increased investment outside the large cities.

The resilience of customers and their enthusiasm for new product has been amazing and the motor industry has fared better than many during the pandemic in site of the fall in volumes.

Will we see a return to dealers holding stocks of vehicles in the future?

This is one of the largest costs for manufacturers and dealers so if we keep stocks to a minimum it should mean the ability to reduce costs or at least absorb some of the increases we face in the future.

There is still a major hike in energy costs to cope with and raw materials will inevitably rise if the war in the Ukraine lasts for any length of time.

This is still a good time to change your car.