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in that they appeal to the young at heart and they all exude style. These cars give owners the opportunity to person-alise to individual tastes. Such is their popularity that they all enjoy some of the best residuals in the market. The others enjoy mixed claims to fame: the Impreza has something approaching cult status where a 'go faster' image is all impor-tant for street credibility, the 300C is the 'all mod cons' luxury on wheels, at a bargain basement price, and the Audi A2 offers quirky looks and wears the right badge. It appears that customers do not want to compromise on specification. Generally, the car being exchanged sets the minimum requirement for the newer replace-ment. So while things like air condi-tioning were considered a very desir-able option at the last time of change, now it is a given. This time around cust-omers may well be getting the experience of features like parking sensors, and Bluetooth for the first time. For those selecting younger used cars, dealer sales staff will be extolling the virtues of driver assis-tance systems which would include traffic sign recognition, colour and map display navigation, Xenon and LED lighting, and stop/start. Just how much of a turn-on these things are remains to be seen. In particular, it is uncer-tain whether all these features command an 'add-on' price or whether they are merely recog-nised as selling benefits over similar cars without these items.The other common factor is that this time around customers are returning to the market after a slightly longer period of absence. In other words, the replacement cycle has stretched by several months. The same is true of fleets and busi-ness owners, and the evidence for this can be seen from the auctions. Over the last six months the average age has increased from 75 to 77 months and recorded mileages have increased more significantly from 45,000 to 49,000. Of course, any customer delay is bad news for dealers, but it is a reflection of our times.There is no doubt that the future success of new and used car sales is entirely in the hands of car manufacturers. They must continue to strive to produce innovative, appealing, well differentiated products that excite the full spectrum of customers. In other words, give customers a reason to buy at prices that are irresistible.New car marketNewsDealerprofileUsed car analysisInsight: RecruitmentPeugeot UKNewsdigestNew car news'Give customers a reason to buy at prices that are irresistible'Chrysler 300C is in big demand from customers wanting to be individual

By Christopher Crow, chief editor, CAP It's that time of year when the clocks go back and we benefit from the lighter nights and hope for a sunny Easter to boost the retail market. While the UK was bathed in unseasonably warm tempera­tures for much of March it begs the question whether there is any tangible link between the used car market and good weather?In order to attempt to quantify any potential impact of good weather on used car values I've selected two years - 2002 and 2006 - in which the sunshine hours and average temperatures differed consider­ably, as the chart below highlights.I've picked these two years as the economic climate was similar with both 2002 and 2006 being healthy years for the British economy with GDP growth running strongly for the UK at 2.6%, inflation below 3% and new car registrations north of 2.3 million.However, the weather varied considerably. Both 2002 and 2006 began the year with similar hours of sunshine all the way through to the month of May. But in June 2006 there was an additional 60 hours of sunshine and it proved to be the warmest July since 1976. By July of that year the number had risen to a staggering 115 additional hours of sunshine, over the same period in 2002. That's equivalent of more than three-and-a-half hours per day in the month of July. By September the sunshine hours fell into line with 2002 though it was still the warmest September on record. So by all accounts 2006 was a cracking year for British weather.So it seems the only notable difference between the two years was the good weather. So what was the impact of this good weather on used car values?Used values and the weather Comparing like for like suggests that the sunshine boosts used car salesUsed car analysisFor daily automotive news visit chart below tracks CAP's used car index based on all cars at 36 months and 60,000 miles over a 12 month period and compares 2002 with 2006. As you'll note both years have a similar first quarter, but by April 2002 the used car market dropped off and by September the gap widened further still.Interesting stuff but what was the impact on indi­vidual sectors? Perhaps not surprisingly I've focused on convertibles to see how the good weather impacted on used values. To demonstrate the point I've compared the Black Book used car index covering the whole market against the convertible sector and calculated the difference in performance. This has been undertaken for both 2002 and 2006 and the graph below tracks this differential in performance between the overall used car market and the convertible sector.The good weather started in May 2006 and continued throughout the summer and it appears from the comparative index chart (right) that not only did this provide a boost to the whole used car market, but favoured convertibles in particular.Perhaps that's no surprise but what does this mean for the retailer? The more astute retailers are JanFeb12Index:2Mar20022006AprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecIndex: Jan=1001009692888480767220022006Black Book used car index