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  • Writer's pictureRoss Blevins

Where are the opportunities in these unprecedented times?

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

The new car market is expected to shrink by an incredible 18% by the end of the year. Diesel powered cars have been incorrectly labelled as dirty (as new cars at least) and electric powered vehicles remain expensive for most with driving range and recharging points still a concern for most buyers. Although electric still only counts for 2% of the retail registrations, that's sure to grow but in my mind, small petrol hybrids seem to make the most sense to most drivers. For me however, diesel still delivers the best value for my 24,000 miles per year and they're so clean, particularly the Euro VI engines, that some buyers are missing out. The new Mercedes-Benz unit actually produces zero NOx emissions. But can the image the media have portrayed of diesel power ever be reversed?

Car Dealer Expo 2019
Car Dealer Expo 2019 Expert Panel.

A few weeks ago, Danny Wadsworth (Rockfield Media Account Manager) and I took a trip to Farnham to attend CDX19. Always interesting to see the latest technology and software available to us and our clients, catch up with some familiar faces from the likes of GForces, Motor Trader, InAutomotive and BEN, however after our visit to CDX18 in Manchester, we found it was the Key Note Speaker sessions where the real value lies.

Perhaps the most enlightening session was with John Tordoff CEO of JCT600, Daksh Gupta CEO of Marshall Motor Group plc and John O'Hanlon CEO of Waylands Automotive Group. In my opinion, three of the finest leaders in the automotive industry today.

John O'Hanlon spoke of his current and ever growing success with the Volvo brand. With the incredible advertising and marketing strategy currently employed, footfall into each of this three operations is seeing quarter-on-quarter growth. It's the technology, environmental credentials and finance offers with deposit contributions that are driving the enquires. Even though the diesel powered models are often cheaper and are a better drive than their hybrid equivalents, Hybrid is where it's at for the majority of his retail registrations.

Although Mr. Tordoff & Mr. Gupta spoke positively of their many brand partners, they recognised the need to focus on used cars and Aftersales a couple of years ago. They saw the shortfalls of new car stock due to WLTP on the horizon with some manufacturers. They further increased their focus on used cars, new customer-centric sales processes and ensured that the customers online experience matched their physical experience when visiting the dealerships. As the team here at Rockfield Media appreciate too, a fantastic impression built online though the websites and social media channels we manage can evaporate in seconds with the wrong kind of visit. Equally, the correct process can build the trust just waiting to happen. JCT600 moved to the customer-centric process for just that reason although interesting to hear the panels thoughts on e-commerce.

They found 88% of buyers wanting to drive the car before purchasing and they felt online car sales in any significant volumes will be 10-15 years away. That certainly differs to GForces and others opinions of buying trends. Perhaps the ability to reserve online with a finance proposal remains the best customer proposition for the short to medium term? We recently launched a new Group website for Corkills Motor Group where that functionality is available, but not to purchase the car outright. It'll be interesting to see how many deposits are taken over the coming quarter and beyond.

So for Quarter 3, we'll be focussing our client's communications on used cars with one eye on the new car campaigns. As well as building momentum with the Aftersales teams and fighting the fight for new diesel powered cars.

Having said that, and to assist those researching electric power in any of it's forms, we're adding dedicated EV explanation sections to everyone's websites as a matter of urgency.

Perhaps I'll even talk myself out of a diesel in time?

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