Market days’ supply sees double-digit decline as demand for used cars increases
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Car buyers switching from buying new cars to used cars across Europe are pushing down market days’ supply (MDS) for online business to consumer (B2C) used cars of all types, according to the latest data from INDICATA.
MDS measures the amount of used stock available across retailers in a country and compares that to the volume of sales. Therefore, if demand increases but stock levels stay the same the MDS falls because traders will sell out of their stock over a shorter timeframe.
Since the start of 2019 MDS in Spain has fallen 25.6% as supply for used vehicles is failing to keep up with demand. Despite online B2C used stock levels rising by 41.9% between January to July 2019, it is still not enough to meet the increasing demand from used car buyers looking for a more cost-effective way to change their cars.
Stock levels static whilst used demand increases
The increase in used car sales is having a similar effect across the major European used car markets with the remaining four markets all seeing total stock levels remain relatively static whilst used car demand increased. The highest and lowest stock movements for the big five markets, excluding Spain, were in Italy where online B2C used car stock levels rose by just 4.2% from January to July this year whilst the UK saw levels drop by 0.7% over the same period.
MDS fell 19% in Germany for all fuel types with the decline much sharper for used diesels. This indicates that dealers could be destocking diesel and switching their focus to selling used petrol cars a bit faster than used car buyers are changing their buying habits.
Germany and France impacted by transition from diesel to petrol
Online B2C used diesel car MDS in Germany stood at just 62.78 days in July this year which is the lowest level in the market since INDICATA started tracking MDS in this way and well below the average 78.61 days seen for 2018. In contrast MDS for online B2C used petrol cars stood at 77.31 days in July 2019 compared to a similar 76.81 days 2018 average.
France has seen MDS fall by 17.7% between January and June this year with MDS dropping from 61.77 days in January for the whole market to just 50.84 days by July 2019. Drilling down further into INDICATA’s data shows the French used dealer market seems to be handling the move to petrol from diesel in a more controlled fashion than Germany. Used petrol car MDS in France has increased by 4.2% since January 2019 and 12.4% since July 2018. In July 2019 it stood at 54.78 days whilst used diesel car MDS has dropped 28.7% since January and 22.8% down over the previous year and now stands at 47.09 days – a gap of just over seven days between both fuel types compared to over 14 days’ worth of stock in Germany.
UK limited by scale of right-hand drive markets
With the UK being the largest right-hand drive market in Europe it doesn’t have the flexibility to import and export used cars as freely as most of mainland Europe. Germany has increased its used diesel exports which is resulting in much lower MDS for used diesel cars, but the UK is limited due its scale over other right-hand drive markets. This limitation means it is only able to export around three per cent of all online B2C used car sales to countries like Ireland and Malta. Despite this MDS for both used petrol and used diesel vehicles have been on a par with each other since the end of 2017, standing at 42.47 days for used diesel cars and 42.0 days for used petrol cars.
Much of the 24 months to 48-month-old used stock comes from fleet and retail finance defleets many of which are diesel. Only recently INDICATA confirmed that petrol powertrains are proving to be “the UK’s top selling used cars during 2019” which might indicate concerns of a possible major disparity in supply and demand.
The fact is that whilst used car market demand is changing and becoming more petrol focused, the change is happening at a slower rate compared to the new car market, lagging behind by two to three years at the moment according to INDICATA’s database.