‘Pre-registration of new cars in UK nearly doubles’ - Glass’s

Published: 12 May 2015

► Pre-registration rife in Britain, claims Glass’s
► Volume of nearly new cars soars by 91%
► Practice of fake sales alive and well

The UK new-car market is awash with pre-registrations, according to pricing experts at Glass’s, the vehicle valuation and data experts.

It claims that the number of new cars on the market less than a year old and with next-to-no miles on the clock has soared by 91% in the past six months.

What is a pre-registered car?

The art of pre-registering new cars is as old as the hills - it’s an established practice to notch up a sale, whereby a franchised dealer registers a new car despite it not having an actual retail buyer. It is, in effect, a fake sale. 

Manufacturers support the ruse, as it means their factories are kept busy and they can force more volume into individual markets. Dealers accept it, as they can qualify for chunky manufacturer bonus schemes for hitting lofty targets.

And it’s not all bad for customers, either. Retail punters benefit from nearly new cars that are to all intents and purposes unused, save for somebody else’s name on the V5 vehicle registration document. Prices for pre-reg cars are typically thousands lower than the list price.

Why pre-reg cars are flooding the UK 

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations at Glass’s, said: ‘While you would generally see an increase in sales of this type between October and March, this is much higher than we would expect. While some of these are early PCP returns, the unavoidable conclusion, based on what we are seeing in the market, is that the vast majority of these are pre-registrations.

‘It is no secret that most manufacturers have set some very ambitious new car sales targets for this year and, while the market remains strong, there is simply not enough demand to make them attainable in many cases. Hence the number of pre-regs that we are seeing.’

Pontin predicted that pre-registering would remain rampant - and ultimately that it would force down prices. Great news for consumers buying, less good for existing owners whose residual values would erode. And it makes you question the health of the UK market, which keeps registering record sales…

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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