How to: explore other routes to a good deal.
While a great many people don’t consider anyone other than their local dealer to supply a brand new car, there are alternatives that are worth exploring.
Certainly there is some value in establishing a relationship with the garage that’s likely to be servicing the car, but this needs to be weighed against potential savings elsewhere.
The main options are importing the car from abroad and sourcing it from a car broker.Importing cars was big business a few years ago when substantial savings could be made. It’s now much less attractive, in the main, as dealer prices in the UK and Europe have come closer together. In some cases a UK dealer will now be able to match or even beat the import price of certain models. Much depends upon prevailing exchange rates.
But if you do your research and believe there is a substantial saving to be had on the new car of your dreams, you can either talk direct to a dealer or use an import specialist company to do it for you.
A web search will reveal dealers in other European countries who are geared up to supplying UK customers. Ireland and The Netherlands are good bets, especially as you generally won’t face any language problems. You do need to do your homework though, ensuring you’re getting a car with the UK specification, and managing the paperwork.
Remember too that your purchase will be covered by the consumer legislation in the relevant country, and the warranty will be the one that applies there too. It may be different to the three-year cover available in the UK.
There are specialist UK firms that will manage the whole business for you, if you prefer. One advantage is that if that company imports the car and it is then first registered here, you have full British consumer law protection with the potential to claim against the supplier if things go wrong.
European competition laws mean there should be no problem getting a right-hand-drive car anywhere, but remember that when you come to sell the car later in its life, the fact that it’s an import will probably reduce its value.
An increasingly popular method of obtaining a discount new car is through a broker. Some of these businesses, which are easily findable from car magazines or via the web, started out as importers – some still sell imports as well as UK sourced cars. Others began by harnessing the power of large fleet purchases to force down prices, which they then passed on.
Nowadays, the bulk of brokers deal in UK-sourced stock. Many will have relationships with dealers whereby they effectively take oversupplied stock off their hands. Often showrooms will over-order and pre-register cars to meet sales targets. Rather than be seen giving huge discounts to individuals coming through their doors, just to shift the surplus, they’ll sell at a minimal profit through a broker. In other cases the broker, by virtue of bulk buying, has the muscle to push prices below what a dealer will offer any individual.
The result is pretty much the same, as far as the canny car buyer is concerned. Typically the broker quotes a price at least Â£1,000 below what the showroom’s sticker says. On more expensive cars it can run to thousands of pounds.
It’s simplicity itself in terms of operation for the buyer. Normally, you approach the broker, confirm the reduced price you’ll pay, and will shortly after receive a call from a main dealer somewhere in the UK.
From here in you deal entirely with the dealer, as you would when buying any new car, except that the price has been fixed. You pay your deposit, the car is ordered and, in the fullness of time, it arrives on a transporter outside your house. Delivery is normally included in the price. The commission to the broker is handled by the main dealer.
There are, of course, some disadvantages to dealing with a garage at the other end of the country, but, to be fair, they’re pretty insignificant, if you know exactly what you want. You will need to be sure of what you are buying from a broker. It may be brand new, with you as the first registered owner sourced from a UK main dealer. It may be an import. Or it may be a pre-registered car. In the last of these categories, you will be shown as the second owner, and the price should reflect the reduction in value of the car because of that.
Also, look out for special offers from brokers. They may have a batch of a particular model to shift, which could mean even better discounts. If you are flexible about your choice, or very patient waiting for your chosen car to possibly appear, check the brokers’ websites regularly. You’re likely to regularly see £14,000 cars with £3,000 lopped off the price. That might mean you could end up with more change in your pocket than if you’d bought a year-old second hand version of the same car.Picture caption: A web search will reveal whether the car of your dreams will cost less if you have it imported from overseas.