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Credit crunch car deals

**FILE** In this June 4, 2008 file photo, Chrysler and Dodge vehicles are lined up at a Chrysler dealership in Portland, Ore. Daimler AG's books show that Chrysler LLC lost about $772.5 million in the second quarter, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file)

When the recession began in spring 2008 it was expected that the car market would be one of the worst affected throughout the UK with an estimated terrifying £2billion lost by the second hand market alone.  But for buyers there hasn’t been a better time to pick up a shiny new set of wheels with reports of lucky spenders even picking up two cars for the price of one.

Online car dealerships such as Broadspeed have recently been seen selling, among others, the Kia Magentis saloon on two for the price of one deals – the kind of thing more often seen on the freezer aisle of your local supermarket – that’s £15,220 for two large family cars which normally cost over £15,800 apiece.  Meanwhile those out there who have yet to feel the financial squeeze and have a spare £85,000 can add not just a brand spanking new Aston Martin V8 Vantage to their garage but, at no extra cost whatsoever, a rather lovely Mercedes SLK worth £30,000 too.

The catastrophe which, as predicted, has hit car manufacturers and dealerships hard, has forced plant closures and seen sales drop by over 30% for some marques.  But the downturn has made car dealers fight for business for the first time in years, offering the most ridiculous discounts to anyone willing to stump up enough cash to drive away a brand new motor.  And even if your local dealership isn’t willing to make a substantial discount there’s plenty of extras to be had by savvy buyers and it should be remembered that the 2.5% drop in VAT will also represent a hefty saving.

Among those cars representing the best value at the moment are Land Rovers.  The once sturdy British brand has been among the worst affected by the credit crunch with sales dropping by almost 60% since the recession began last year.  It has also been recently reported that Indian owned Jaguar-Land Rover are to close their flagship West Midlands factory making the manufacturers more desperate than ever to shift cars from factory to forecourt and, in turn, dealers eager to sell to you the public at knock down prices.

And while the best bargains to be had are on basics, family hatchbacks such as the Audi A3, Peugeot 206 and Ford Focus, there are also fantastic deals to be done on higher spec cars which have been neglected as those who need a new motor opt to save cash on no-frills models without extras such as air conditioning, DVD players or parking sensors.

But if you’re thinking about taking advantage of the car dealers’ bad luck don’t leave it too long.  Many wrongly assume that prices will keep going down, not at all the case.  As evidenced by the Jaguar-Land Rover plant closure manufacturers are now cutting back on production.  Bargains are found where dealers or manufacturers have too much stock on their hands but they just won’t be as keen to sell at knock down prices when the showrooms aren’t as over crowded.  So strike now while the iron is hot and you can enjoy that new-car smell without the whiff of wasted money.

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