With 2018 consigned to the history books it is important to remember that the industry learnt some interesting lessons during the course of the year.
With new car registrations down by 6.8%, almost exactly in line with Cazana’s predictions, and used car sales down by 2.1% it is no surprise that for some the full year results were not as expected and the trading conditions flexed in an unexpected and often difficult way as the months passed.
Key events seem to have crashed into the market one after the other and each one presented a fresh set of problems. From GDPR to WLTP and the often overwhelmingly misinformed debate on new diesel car emissions, there was always an opportunity for both discussion and a fresh approach at improving profit.
Such rapid market changes highlighted the importance of quality insight and data provided from observations across the whole market taken from realtime sources and not historical data. Just three years ago many businesses were happy to accept that with a growing new car market and strong used car market, their own historical performance data was adequate on which to base commercial strategy which is by no means acceptable in today’s more complex market.
However, there did appear to be one intrinsically common link between almost every event that took place in the UK automotive sector.
Many will have assumed the answer to be Brexit but whilst that played a significant part in many areas of the automotive sector during the course of 2018, the real common difficulty has come in the form of the government.
Behind just about every key market changing event has been a controversial government decision or intervention that has been either unjustified or often inexplicable.
Indeed, in some cases, just clarification of the decision-making process or of the guidelines issued would make the issues more manageable.
For 2019 the start point needs to look at the greater picture before reviewing key market influencing issues.