30 August 2004

Web retailers are busting the myth that it’s only bargain-basement motors and cut-price superminis changing hands on the internet. The UK’s most popular car retail websites are offering a more exotic and varied choice of new cars, targeting customers with more money to spend and extending their business upmarket.

This week, online car seller Autobytel reveals that its average purchase price has been over £15,000 this year, which compares with a national average classified sales asking price that, according to research specialists Cardata, is well below £5k.

‘When drivers first started to buy cars online they were looking for the best price,’ said Julia Odgers, Autobytel’s marketing manager. ‘These figures suggest the online buyer is now maturing; they’re more adventurous with their purchases, buying higher-spec models.’ Autobytel’s biggest online sale this year was a Mercedes-Benz CLK for just under £38k. It is currently offering nearly £2500 off Jaguar’s new S-type diesel only a few months after launch, as well as other discounted premium cars such as Land Rover’s outgoing Discovery (£4016 off list) and Mercedes’ C220 CDI (a £997 saving).

Well-known internet retailer Fish4.co.uk is also targeting an increasingly lofty buyer with the likes of the Aston Martin Vanquish, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and Maybach 62 on its books. Executive motors can be had with savings as well; £8000 off an Audi A8 4.0-litre TDi (right), £5000 off a Volvo S80, and even £1500 off the traditionally discount-proof BMW 5-series. Virgincars.com’s premium folder is less extensive, but shows signs of growth. The biggest saving to be made here is on a pre-registered Alfa Romeo 166 2.0-litre T Spark Lusso – yours for £20,995, £3200 below Alfa’s sticker price.

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