Car discounts on way after sales fall

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The Independent Online
THOUSANDS OF pounds could be slashed from car prices in the new year after "real" sales of vehicles last month fell three times as much as the motor industry admitted.

Up to 15 per cent could be cut from prices because of the slump in sales, according to the stockbroker Charterhouse Securities. Even if a report into the industry by the Competition Commission fails to bring an end to price "fixing" through the use of exclusive dealerships, manufacturers will be forced to offer considerable discounts, they say.

While the industry estimated this week that sales were down by 6 per cent ,Charterhouse puts the figure at nearer 18 per cent. It believes manufacturers disguised November sales by registering vehicles themselves, leaving thousands of pre-registered unsold cars "standing in fields".

Charterhouse estimates that dealers lost pounds 100m in gross profits in the last four months because consumers believed "rip off" prices would have to drop to match those on the Continent.

The slump could push the price of a two-litre Ford Mondeo down from pounds 15,400 to pounds 13,090; Honda Civic 1.4i from pounds 12,515 to pounds 10,638; Nissan Primera 1.6E from pounds 14,000 to pounds 11,900; and Vauxhall Astra 1.6i from pounds 12,000 to pounds 10,200.

The Consumers' Association welcomed the analysis, repeating its call to consumers to "hold off buying" because "prices have got to come down".