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VRA: Tipping point edges closer for EVs on price and buyer interest

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A tipping point is close to being reached where there will be widespread dealer and buyer acceptance of electric vehicles (EVs), with price parity within sight.

That’s what members of the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) were told at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) last week, with Dale Wyatt, Director of Automobile at Suzuki GB – who presented on issues currently facing motor manufacturers – saying that getting to that place would require a concerted effort on the part of the remarketing sector as well as a range of customer incentives.

“It looks as though used ICE and EV cars will start to reach some kind of price parity over the next year and I expect that trend to equally apply to new cars as we edge towards 2024, Wyatt said. “Price parity will be a key moment as there is still going to be customer resistance to EVs and there will need to be incentives to overcome that.

“Those incentives could take several forms which will depend on where cash is available and what motivates buyers, but it does feel now as though a tipping point is not far away where EVs will just become an everyday part of the car market.”

Peter Smyth, Director at Swansway Motor Group, provided a dealer perspective on current issues. He backed the idea of incentives but said that simply getting better at selling EVs would be crucial.

“It’s not something that is much discussed but what the retail motor industry is really good at, is selling. We have great sales skills and using them will be crucial to making EVs a success, with salespeople in dealerships making the right deal, matching the right customer to the right electric car and the right finance product.

“Of course, there will probably need to be incentives and ‘cash on the bonnet’ in the form of manufacturers’ subsidies will also form part of this story.”

A panel discussion on mental health and wellbeing in the remarketing sector featured Rachel Clift, health and wellbeing director at motor industry benevolent charity BEN; Stephen Whitton, founder of [M]enable, which is the VRA’s mental health partner organisation; and Danielle Grant, training officer at Compass, which provides wellbeing consultancy and training solutions.

The AGM, hosted by British Car Auctions in Perry Barr, Birmingham was attended by 50 delegates in person and more online, making it the organisation’s largest ever event of its kind.

Philip Nothard, chair at the VRA, said: “As every year, we work to make the AGM something of a showcase for the quality of insight that exists within the VRA and we were pleased to see such an excellent turnout and such vibrant discussion.

“Our membership has risen by around 25% in the last year and there is a real sense of momentum around the organisation. We’re now planning our annual VRA Seminar in November, which promises to be a fascinating day.”

Image by Qubes Pictures from Pixabay

More focus required on reconditioning as fleet stock ages

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The ageing of the UK’s cars and vans caused by new stock shortages means more resources need to be invested in reconditioning.

That’s according to the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA), with the organisation’s Chair Philip Nothard saying that it’s not just a question of dealers and others in the remarketing industry spending more money on bringing vehicles up to the expected retail standard, but allocating additional time and enforcing new standards.

He said: “Post-pandemic production issues mean we’re in a situation where used car and van buyers are being asked to pay more for older vehicles, and the remarketing sector needs to respond accordingly.

“Much is being asked of suppliers in our sector who valet and recondition vehicles and our advice is that resources need to be built into used car and van processes that allow these experts to do the best possible job.

“It’s not just a question of deciding to spend more money on bringing vehicles up to scratch in a mechanical, electrical and cosmetic sense but acknowledging current customer expectations and allowing time to ensure they are met.”

He was speaking following the VRA’s latest member meeting, which looked at what the remarketing sector needs to do to make older vehicles as appealing as possible to used car and van buyers.

Speakers included Derren Martin of cap hpi, on the factors causing the vehicle parc to age; Jon Butler of Geldards on the legal implications of selling older vehicles; James Hopkins of ASKE Consulting on the latest trends in vehicle preparation and reconditioning; and Lee Coomber of Assurant and the RAC Dealer Network on trends in warranties and wider dealer propositions.

Nothard added: “The ageing vehicle parc presents a range of remarketing conundrums. These are cars and vans that are likely to reach retailers with higher mileage, more faults and an increased propensity to break down in future.

“The remarketing sector is working hard to ensure that these vehicles retain maximum appeal for used buyers and are presented in such a way that might minimise future problems. It’s a question of developing processes and propositions that meet these changing conditions, something which our meeting suggested is underway. Certainly, the trend towards the industry having to retail ever older stock is unlikely to reverse anytime soon.”