Retailers are attracting buyers with up to 20% savings ahead of March plate-change

This is the latest report in a series of weekly updates for industry colleagues from Rachael Prasher, managing director of What Car? and Haymarket Automotive. Quoted poll data is from more than 2894 whatcar.com users. 

Last week, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed the UK new car market to be down by 39.5% in January – the worst start for the year since 1984 and a clear sign the showroom closures are impacting sales, despite the industry’s best efforts to satisfy demand through online selling.

Our own weekly industry study of 2894 in-market buyers found that 9% of new car buyers are looking to buy a car in the next four weeks, while 20% are aiming to purchase within one to three months. While these purchase intentions are down compared to pre-lockdown, they show that demand exists in the market.

Retailers are keen to play their part in stimulating demand and analysis of our latest Target Price mystery shopper data that shows that dealers are continuing to attract buyers with discounts, especially as we move closer to March plate change.

Analysis of the Target Price data shows that the average cash discount in the first week of February stood at 6.78% or £2773. Although this is down compared to February 2020, which saw average discounts of 8.87% and £3205, this year’s February discounts are the highest we’ve witnessed since November last year.

Buyers opting for a new diesel model stand to save more than 7%, while new petrol models are offered with 6.78% savings on average. Despite their growing popularity, electric vehicles attract an average discount from retailers of 4.27% , up significantly from February last year where discounts stood at just 2.92%.

With an average cash discount of 13.78% across the model line-up, Seat was the only manufacturer found to offer savings that exceed 10%. It was followed by Renault (9.94%) and Volkswagen (9.66%). Premium manufacturers, including Volvo (7.77%) and Audi (7.38%), were also among the top 10 brands for new car discounts.

Retailers were found to offer savings exceeding 20% on some models, with the top 12 new car discounts, ranked by percentage, listed below.

Make / Model / Trim / OTR / % Cash Saving / TP Cash Saving

BMW / 5 Series / 530d MHT xDrive M Sport 4dr Auto / £54,260 / 21.4% / £11,385

Volkswagen / Passat / 1.5 TSI R Line 4dr / £30,515 / 20.5% / £6,073

Renault / Kadjar / 1.3 TCE Iconic 5dr / £24,695 / 19.5% / £4,637

Nissan / Qashqai / 1.3 DiG-T N-Connecta [Glass Roof Pack] 5dr / £25,425 / 19.2% / £4,824

Citroen / C1 / 1.0 VTi 72 Sense 3dr / £12,095 / 17.3% / £1,923

Seat / Ibiza / 1.0 SE [EZ] 5dr / £16,445 / 16.6% / £2,689

Citroen / Grand C4 Spacetourer / 1.2 PureTech 130 Live 5dr EAT8 / £28,105 / 16.5% / £4,417

Volkswagen / Golf Estate / 1.5 TSI Life 5dr / £25,175 / 16.0% / £3,891

Citroën / C3 Aircross / 1.2 PureTech 110 Rip Curl 5dr / £20,550 / 15.8% / £3,078

Vauxhall / Grandland X / 1.6 Hybrid4 300 Elite Nav 5dr Auto / £44,370 / 15.3% / £6,681

Suzuki / Sx4 S-Cross / 1.4 Boosterjet 48V Hybrid SZ-T 5dr / £24,249 / 13.8% / £3,250

Renault / Clio / 1.0 TCe 90 Play 5dr / £16,595 / 13.5% / £2,122

For further insight from whatcar.com’s unique website data, please contact insights@haymarket.com