Shortage of quality used cars puts pressure on vehicle prep

When there are fewer good-quality used cars available to put on garage forecourts, it becomes especially important to make sure that cars are presented as well as they can be.

An increasing shortage of good quality stock this year means that there is a growing emphasis being placed on vehicle preparation for sale, according to the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA), which represents businesses that between them handle, sell, inspect, transport or manage more than 1.5 million used vehicles every year.

VRA chair Sam Watkins said: "While there is a quite a lot of stock in the market, comparatively little of it is of the highest 'retail ready' quality and can be put on sale with minimum preparation.

"This is something that has become increasingly apparent over recent months. It is also likely to become more of a factor because it is being exacerbated by the fact that fleets -- probably still the main source of good stock -- are hanging on to cars for longer thanks to ongoing confusion over vehicle taxation and generally lower economic confidence.

"The outcome is that many used car retailers are increasingly having to buy stock that is of a lower quality than they would like and then spend time and money bringing it up to standard. This puts resources under pressure and creates quite a lot of additional work."

Further complicating the issue is the fact that dealers have been responding to under-pressure margins by selling stock more quickly.

"This makes the issue of having to prepare vehicles for sale more thoroughly much more of a pressing issue," Watkins explained.

"Also exacerbating the problem is the fact that an increasing number of cars are being fitted with items that are not easy to repair quickly, such as diamond-cut alloy wheels or a variety of ADAS systems."

Vehicle preparation companies from valeting providers to repairers are coming under pressure from used car retailers to process cars faster, but the remarketing industry "seems to be rising to that challenge", Watkins added.

"It does very much underline the key role that vehicle preparation services play when it comes to supporting used car retailer strategies -- and this situation is likely to become even more acute over coming months."

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