A great time to buy a new car – would you believe a motoring PR person?

I’ve just put my money where my PR mouth is, in buying a new car (replacing my runaround Peugeot 107 for a sexy turbo-diesel Peugeot 207).   I wonder how many other PR practitioners are directly supporting the industry in which they earn their living.

Hearing the latest sales figures showed a 30.5% drop over March 2008, I also wondered why more people aren’t recognising now is a great time to buy.

They may be waiting for the introduction of the type of scrappage scheme that has been adopted elsewhere in Europe, which is mentioned in Gordon Brown’s budget plans alongside investment in electric vehicles (very last century).

At the start of the year, trade publication, Automotive Management, launched a Buy a Car campaign.  This undoubtedly appeals to its dealer readership, who can download a poster detailing 10 reasons why “there’s never been a better time to buy a new car” and a letter to send to a local MP.  The AM site also  and a press release which it intended dealers to send to their local paper, but this hasn’t been updated and is three-pages long.

If you are financially in a position to buy a new car, I agree you should act now.  Here are my reasons – any PR or dealer reading this is free to adopt these as sales messages:

  1. As there will be fewer cars sold this year, the residual value of a 09 model should be strong.
  2. The current VAT level of 15% is set to return to 17.5% at the end of the year – and who knows to what figure after the election in 2010.
  3. Car manufacturers and dealers have stock to sell – the best times to negotiate are towards the end of the month, or even better the end of a quarter (hence my buy at end of March), when dealers want to hit their targets and may be prepared to offer you their bonus too.
  4. Buyers are rare and your custom should be valued and the buying experience more of a pleasure (if a scrappage scheme is brought in, more buyers means you’ll be less valued – and that extra government kick will probably come off the negotiable price).
  5. The figures stack up right now – if you are realistic, you’ll get a good price for any trade-in, the retail price is negotiable, interest rates are low and finance is starting to improve, from the car companies if not the banks.
  6. If you are in a stable job (which many people are), remember the cost of living has actually decreased and it is likely your mortgage payment has decreased by the amount you could pay out for a spanking new model on monthly finance.
  7. There’s little point in keeping your money in the bank at the moment when using it can get you a better deal – if you put off buying a new car for 12 or 18 months, what will you have gained compared to the deal available now?
  8. You can save money on the cost of ownership – many cars are more economical to run, you can drop into a lower road tax band, reduce insurance costs, avoid the service and MoT costs that you have with older models and benefit from breakdown cover included in the car cost.
  9. There are a lot of really good cars out there – my new model is much better specified, has better safety equipment and looks great.
  10. . My new car makes me feel good – it is cute and fun to drive – I like to see it parked outside my house and it makes me smile to know it is mine.  With all the recession talk, it is great to have something (even if it is just shiny metal) to feel positive about.

Well do you believe me?  Yes, I am an automotive PR person, but I’ve spent my own hard-earned money here.  I haven’t benefited from any discount that you couldn’t negotiate yourself and I’m genuine in believing this is a great time to buy a new car.

Maybe it’s because I was born in the year of the Ox under the sign of Taurus, but I really feel that being bullish is the right strategy. 

So much of life is a matter of confidence and I’d rather see my glass as half full, with the opportunity for a top up.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

3 thoughts on “A great time to buy a new car – would you believe a motoring PR person?”

  1. You simply have to be able say ‘no, thanks at that price’ at least once to the dealer. This gives them a strong message that you are serious about your research.

    You should also bring a piece of paper to the dealership and make sure you do all the math of the finance calculations yourself. The point is not that they will do the math wrong. The point is you will see exactly how the deal is structured. Do not be afraid to take the time to do this or look like a fool for mapping out your car deal in the dealership.

    My dad swears by this process, http://tinyurl.com/knflt6

  2. You are right Jaxon – I understand from dealers that more and more customers come in fully informed with facts and figures. Good news being they are higher up the decision making ladder – but they know their stuff and like you say, will be equipped to challenge the deal.

    I actually remember buying a Ford Fiesta, my first ever new car – and after over-coming all the patronising stuff by the salesmen over speaking to a young woman, the guy did the sums and got it wrong. I pointed this out (I didn’t need a piece of paper or a calculator to work it out) and he said “oh it’s near enough”.

    Not sure they’re much better 20 years on. Mind you, I notice that an entry level car today costs about the same as my Ford Fiesta Popular Plus did back then. And, they are much better spec’ed. I had to pay extra for a radio – no airbags, but I did get a model just after rear seatbelts became law.

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