La Revolution

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The French new car market remained static in 2014 with sales at 1.79m, just below the 1.8m mark for the second year running. Short-term rental and company car sales rose 7% and 6% respectively, while private sales fell 2% to 939,000.

The market is still dominated by Renault, Peugeot and Citroën who all reported sales increases in 2014, but Dacia also made its mark rising to the third biggest car brand in France with 9.3% market share, outselling Volkswagen into the bargain.

The Dacia success story also shows signs of a quiet revolution among French car buyers as they are showing signs of evaluating which brand of new car they want to buy, but also reviewing the most effective route to sell their used car.

In 2014 there were three major We Buy Any Car (WBAC) type businesses set up to encourage the private used car seller to dispose of their car directly to a third party trade provider. Autorola has also entered this market. Country volumes of this sector are an estimated 30/40,000 in 2014, well down on the WBAC volumes of 500,000 in the UK, but this remarketing channel is set to grow quickly in France as French used car buyers look to optimise the price for their used car without taking the route of classifieds that doesn’t involve just selling it to a local franchised dealer.

Typically Autorola, in partnership with French automotive valuation leader and media business L’Argus is charging €30 for a detailed car valuation, and selling a consumer’s car through its online tender portal in just three days. Just as importantly, Autorola manage all the paperwork and the collection and delivery of the car to its new owner which is helping the appeal of online selling.

What this signals is an increased confidence by the French buyer in selling used cars online. The seven day, 24 hour approach that comes with online remarketing fits into a busy lifestyle of a driver that does not have the time to spend travelling round dealers trying to secure the best price.

French buyers are also looking at an alternative to selling their used car through the classified sections of magazines or newspapers and with online providers like Autorola they are able to tap into a pan-European buyer base which helps with the speed at which the car is sold and the price.

In 2014 70% of used car sold by Autorola France were exported and 19% of those volumes went to Portugal and Spain. Those two markets were hit hard by the 2009 recession and new car sales reached rock bottom for a number of years, but the improvement in the economy and available finance to private buyers has saw a huge and continuing demand for used cars in this region from early 2013 that the country could not meet.

Autorola is seeing the Portuguese and Spanish market buy predominantly two to four year old used cars from 80-150,000km. Station wagons are popular and the Megane size of car is in high demand with this market, set to be big for Autorola in the coming two years as the availability of used cars starts to improve. Other popular export destinations include Poland, Austria, Germany, Holland and Italy.

While the consumer market is predicted as one for growth in 2015, the short-term and long-term rental market are both enjoying increased prices in France caused by a general shortage of used cars. The major manufacturers who are supplying cars into the short-term market are reporting as many as 90-95% of stock going back directly into their franchised dealer network such is the demand for good quality used cars.

The increased interest in selling used cars online is prevalent with many OEMs now selling their used cars directly to their dealer networks, generally bypassing physical auction. Online gives the control and the prices that the OEMs require, and with a reduction in used stock car makers and their dealer networks are only using physical auction as a means to dispose of part exchange stock that they cannot sell within the network.

Keep an eye on the French market as its mini revolution sets to continue in 2015 and beyond.

Autorola 2014 sales

Split by country

France

30%

Portugal

12%

Germany

9%

Netherlands

7%

Spain  

7%

Italy   

6%

Poland

6%

Austria           

4%

Slovakia

3%

Belgium

3%

Hungary

3%

Romania

3%

Czech Republic

2%

Denmark

2%

Others            

4%

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