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merits of particular product features, finance deals and affordable prices. While these campaigns deliver additional sales in the short term they do not convey enough about the wider ownership experience.The power of the brand should not be under- estimated. Most people would believe that a Mercedes or a BMW is more reliable than a Citroën or a Renault. These people would be surprised to learn that this is not necessarily the case. As we all know, discounting is rife on new cars, but few would realise that similar discounts can be negotiated across manufacturers, premium or otherwise. Neither is there very much difference in the useable life of these cars with a similar life expectancy of around 14 years. Many also believe that high sales volumes would sound the death knell for a high image brand. This has been conspicuously refuted by the success of the 3 Series. In most years since 2006, the 3 Series has outsold the Mondeo.There is one other key competitive benefit that the premium brands enjoy. The halo effect of the brand can be migrated to occupy other segments of the market. The executive and luxury sectors have always been dominated by these manufacturers but they have also made significant inroads into the lower medium and MPV sectors in recent years. Also of note are the advances that have been made in the SUV sector, where for the last six years the premium brands have outsold their mass market counterparts. By contrast, the volume manufacturers have found it increasingly difficult to break-out from their territories of the small, lower medium, and upper medium sectors. Although we have been discussing the impor-tance of the brand in relation to new cars, used car performance is inextricably linked. What should not be underestimated is that the effects of advertising and press coverage designed to create new car appeal also influences used car customers to buy second hand examples. Manu-facturers are keen to measure the success of their new car advertising, but overlook the fact that they are also promoting used sales, and more importantly, key messages about the brand. Put succinctly, positive brand values promote more demand and higher prices. Higher prices - or slower depreciation - results in lower owner-ship costs which encourages more demand for both used and new cars. This is the virtuous circle of success.There is no doubt that branding remains an important part of Western culture in spite of the various austerity measures. Those manufac-turers who successfully communicate added value by the core messages of their brand will prosper. However, it is difficult to imagine the market not suffering casualties in the next 10 years in spite of producing technically very good products. New car marketNewsCV Show newsUsed car analysisNewsRecruitmentdigestDealerprofileShowroom'Positive brand values promote more demand and higher prices'A Citroën is not necessarily any less reliable than a BMW despite perceptions

By Christopher Crow, chief editor, CAP A great deal of trade commentary has been published regarding the historical turmoil the used car market faced over the last five years with the virtual collapse of values in 2008 and the subse-quent strong recovery in 2009, but going from previous recessions in the used car market, that was a fairly typical cycle. Little, however, has been documented on how the market changes throughout the month and whether there were any set patterns the market follows, other than a downturn in the last 10 days of the month ahead of the next month's valuation guide.To explore this point I've tracked the weekly changes in market values during the month of July, in what some have described as, the low point of the 2008 downturn.It revealed that trade values fell by 1% against CAP Clean in the first week of the month, falling further between weeks two and three before benefiting from a market-rallying 2% recovery in trade values. So in July 2008 the month-end was counterintui-tive to what we have become accustomed to expect, namely that market values tail off at the end of the month.Of course, looking at market values as a whole will only ever tell you part of the tale. If we look into the detail behind the market movements we can see that the weekly market changes differ markedly at a sector level. The top chart tracks, over the same period, the changes in the CAP Clean performance of the SUV, convertible, lower and upper medium sectors.The SUV and convertible sectors both rose into The real price dynamics 2012 weekly movement are much less exaggerated despite small movementsUsed car analysisFor daily automotive news visit www.am-online.com/newsweek two and then fell heavily towards week three. In contrast the lower and upper medium sectors fell consistently throughout the first three weeks then recovered slightly in the last week.Accepting that some of this movement will be a reflection of changes in model mix and vehicle condition it nevertheless doesn't explain all the dynamics that are evident in the chart.OK, so that was a turbulent time in the used car market, but what happens when the market is fairly level? To illustrate the point I've selected February 2012 which you can see in the chart above.As you'll no doubt observe, the weekly market movements when compared to July 2008 are much Selected sector % CAP by week - July 2008Selected sector % CAP by week - Feb 2012