One in Three new car registrations not real, says CAP

CAP, the car valuation experts, reckons every third new car is actually being pre-registered by a dealer rather than being sold to a genuine customer.

That is the highest figure ever claimed, but CAP says it knows of one dealer group offered £500,000 to put more discounted cars on the road this summer, another manufacturer subsidising discounts of up to 40% in return for self-registering cars and a dealer group who reported an increase in new cars registered which masked an underlying 6% fall in actual new car sales. CAP also identified 80,000 tactical registrations by just 2 dealers in July.

Philip Nothard of CAP said: “The pressure on dealers to register new cars, regardless of whether or not there are immediate customers for them, is not universally popular. In fact 70% of dealers we polled said the main ‘winners’ are the manufacturers. But the rest say they could not survive in the current retail environment without that kind of support.

“One dealer described the current situation as “hiding behind bushes and continually looking over your shoulder whilst registering pre-reg cars for customers, so they can benefit from a discount, and we can make some money””.

However, there is a good argument for allowing pre-registrations, according to Nothard: “When you consider how many manufacturer and supplier jobs depend on new car production, who would seriously argue that a better option is to lay off hundreds or even thousands of workers and take away the opportunity for a consumer to afford a new car just to keep the registration figures ‘clean’?

“My own view is that this is an already open secret and there is no longer any purpose served by not reporting accurate and honest statistics. The industry can mount strong arguments that not pre-registering cars would hurt many people far more than doing so. It is time for everyone to acknowledge reality.”