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REMARKETING: Emissions - low on priority list?

Date: 10 December 2013   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Despite growing numbers of low-CO2 models in the market, auction experts says used car buyers are not interested in emissions but instead choose to focus on fuel economy and cheap road tax.
Buyers prefer vehicles that represent the best overall value-for-money, rather than focusing on efficiency and CO2

The fact that a lot of fleet policies are governed by emissions levels goes to show how crucial they are to new car fleets, and if you're reading this magazine, specifically this issue, chances are you're well aware. 

But used car buyers are a different breed, and CO2 levels, while important, haven't traditionally been as crucial a factor in their purchase decision. Even so, they're intrinsically linked to lower running costs - so has the used car market caught up with the new one, to the extent where buyers are seeking out models based on their emissions? 

According to BCA's operations director, Simon Henstock, second-hand buyers are paying plenty of attention to clean and economical cars, but they still look at the bigger picture and bag as good a vehicle as they can for the money, rather than buying solely on efficiency qualities.

"All car buyers seem mindful of increasing costs and this is impacting on the decisions they are making," says Henstock. "However, while the focus for. fleet managers may be to minimise emissions, the reality for most used car buyers is a lot more pragmatic - it often comes down to 'what's the best car I can buy with the budget I have available?'"

It's the same story from Duncan Metcalfe, head of remarketing and logistics at Alphabet, who claims that rising costs aren't having that much of an effect on used car buyers, and that they're willing to foot the bills for less economical vehicles in many cases.

"We're not seeing the poor state of the economy, fuel prices or tax rules having much of an impact on the attractiveness of low-emission cars.

"Most second-hand buyers would still rather have a better car and pay the higher road fund licence than opt for a low-tax, low-emission vehicle. A lot of the final buying decision depends on the intended use of the vehicle." 

Low fuel economy; high sales

Even though the bigger picture approach seems to be most popular with used car buyers, cutting their overheads is a massive consideration. BCA's used car report shows that a vehicle with lower fuel economy than its predecessor is the main criteria for a sale, followed by lower road tax.

This tallies with the opinion of Jon Mitchell, UK sales director at Autorola, which is that buyers aren't concerned with a vehicle's environmental impact per se, but they are bothered about the amount of VED they have to pay, and will buy a cleaner car based on a favourable rate.

"Used car buyers are far more concerned about the amount of VED they will have to pay and a vehicle's mpg than they are about purchasing a low-emitting vehicle. However, it stands to reason that these three elements will combine in the majority of used car vehicles that come to market.

"Largely, it won't be the CO2 figure itself that determines a used car buyer's choice of vehicle, but it follows suit because they are worried about keeping fuel and road tax costs as low as possible."