Back­log on the back lots

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Showroom - PAUL GOVER CHIEF REPORTER

THE next time you head into a new-car show room there is a key­word you can use to get the bar­gain­ing started. The word for the day is “pre-reg­is­tered”.

It’s a tag ap­plied to cars that are al­ready plated and paid-up mem­bers of the new-car fleet, but have yet to find an owner.

There have al­ways been pre­reg­is­tered cars, mostly for use as new-car demon­stra­tors and for com­pany ex­ec­u­tives. But the num­bers have blown out as many makes ar­ti­fi­cially in­flate their suc­cess in the of­fi­cial show room tally com­piled each month by VFacts through the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries.

Some will re­call the take-no­pris­on­ers sales bat­tles be­tween Ford and Holden through to the 1970s, when the two brands rou­tinely paid to reg­is­ter ev­ery­thing in deal­er­ships to boost their De­cem­ber num­bers to win the an­nual sales race.

Nowit’s a month-by-month bat­tle as more than 60 brands force-feed cus­tomers with im­pres­sive new cars and equally-im­pres­sive value. New cars have never been more af­ford­able and it’s a buyer’s mar­ket— es­pe­cially if you’re pre­pared to go pre-reg­is­tered.

That might mean a com­pro­mise on colour or equip­ment, but a pre-reg­is­tered car is cer­tain to be a bar­gain, fromthe sub-$15,000 cheap­ies through to pres­tige brands in­clud­ing Audi and BMW. Pre­vi­ously a demo fleet of 10-15 per cent of monthly sales was con­sid­ered nor­mal, but some com­pa­nies are now pump­ing the num­bers up to more than half of their VFacts to­tal.

Deal­ers need to­move them on and out be­cause their next month’s stock is on the­way, or has ar­rived. Not all brands are play­ing the pre-reg­is­tered game, but it’s more com­mon than not.

“So far as I know, the only peo­ple not do­ing it are Mercedes-Benz and Toy­ota, be­cause they don’t have to,” one car com­pany says. “The demo fleet should be about 10-15 per cent of monthly sales. But our num­bers have blown out to more like 60 per cent.”

So as 2013 winds down there’s even more pres­sure to clear back­logs of “aged stock” be­fore the 2014-plated new­bies ar­rive. Alot of them will be pre­reg­is­tered to get them off the books, mak­ing them prime tar­gets for bar­gain buy­ers.

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