Currently reading: Growing PCP sales lead to reduced used car values
Depreciating resale values and increasingly attractive PCP deals could lead to an all-contract based UK market

The growing trend to purchase cars using personal contracts (PCPs) in the UK is causing the values of certain high selling models to depreciate faster than normal.

Top sellers like the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa have been bought in record numbers in recent months, but the vast majority of sales have been processed through PCP deals. Insiders are now claiming that this has saturated the used car market with thousands of nearly new cars of the same few models.

According to the Finance Leasing Association (FLA), consumer-used car purchases increased by 34% between the February 2015 and February 2016, amounting to £4.9 billion worth of sales.

But while big sales figures have given the UK motor industry a reason to celebrate, concerns for tumbling resale values mean many owners wanting to trade in their cars could be offered much less than the recommended resale value.

One spokesman told Autocar that his showroom has an unprecedented number of used Ford Fiestas for sale, with most having come to the end of their PCP terms.

“The cars are going for less than they should because of the market conditions. It’s supply and demand,” he said.

“Even the part exchange values customers are being offered aren’t worth what they expected because of the change in the market,” he added. “It means instead of upgrading their cars, they’re often forced to stick with what they’ve got.”

Our source - who has asked to remain nameless - said that this market trend has not only meant customers are being offered less for their cars, it also means dealers are having to sell cars with increasingly small profit margins.

“On some cars there’s no margin; they’re literally going for what they’re worth. And when you’ve got a business to run, that's a problem.”

Autocar contacted Ford for a response to the claims, and the car maker dismissed the impacts of growing PCP sales, claiming that the issue was a local one, rather than national.

It said Liverpool was one of several areas with a particularly high demand for Ford Fiestas, and accepted that dealers in that region might have to trade some of them on to other areas as it wouldn’t be optimal to sell them locally.

But Ford maintained that this is an issue only felt in certain areas, and that nationally, Fiesta values have been largely unaffected.

Our original source continues to dispute this, but does believe that the market will stabilise as everyone switches to PCP sales.

“I don’t think it’s going to cause any long term problems. More people will buy PCP, and they’ll stick with it. Instead of buying their car at the end of the contract, they’ll just start a new contract with a newer model.”

Back to top

This suggests the market will continue to move towards a PCP majority, agreeing with predictions made by the FLA that the new car contract market in the UK will mirror the growth that’s happening elsewhere.

Geraldine Kilkelly, the FLA’s head of research and chief economist, said: “The increase in popularity of personal contract purchase in part reflects changing consumer attitudes towards car ownership.

“With consumer confidence remaining robust, we expect new business volumes in the car finance market to continue to grow in 2016.”

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Supererogation 19 July 2016

PCP is merely the stepping stone...

Initially Ford realised they could sell more cars in the UK by offering PCP and hence the customers preference moved less to ownership and more to usership. Skewed by inflated deposits pushed onto naive customers by target-driven sales staff the reduced rentals allowed customers to purchase more expensive (and hence ultimately more profitable for dealer and manufacturer alike) cars than previously. With virtually all manufacturers now further embroiled in the sharp practice of utilising Section 99 to early terminate the PCP agreement this has proved to be another fillip to car sales in the UK. Clearly, as demand for certain used models lags behind supply, in the medium to long term this is likely to be to the detriment of residual values with the first signs of this already afflicting auction sales on certain high volume, relatively low spec. models. As a PCP must state the purchase price the manufacturers/dealers hands are tied as to how it can distress price the car to retain the rental and hence level of sales (or else risk alienating previous customers). Hence, it is likely we shall see a move towards Personal Contract Hire (PCH) which merely provides a rental for usage and thus does NOT need to show the vehicle purchase price. Furthermore this allows the manufacturer to control disposal as it forces the PCH user to replace the vehicle and not offer them the option to purchase it. PCP and PCH can offer far superior value to outright purchase (or HP) but rentals for both are likely to rise through the aforementioned market forces (and Sterling's fall in value (and the slowdown in the BRIC economies)) going forward so enjoy the good times whilst you can...
gingerdog 18 May 2016

Endebted Society

PCP has nothing to do with customer satisfaction. It was created by the car industry in cahoots with government to keep ordinary people on a treadmill of ever increasing debt.

The main reason cars are so expensive today is tax. The tax the consumer pays is not part of the actual value of the car, and once you've driven it off the forecourt all that tax money is removed from the value of the car.

So - in order to pay the enormous taxes the dealer offers the customer a PCP - which is a financial product that the customer must pay for on top of the cost of the car - and then they must also pay interest on the amount borrowed.

The car manufacturers then bundle up the debt and sell it to the government to get their operating capitol back.

When you buy a car on a PCP you are effectively paying tax, to pay interest on tax - so you can spend your entire working life paying tax for the privilege of getting from A to B.

superstevie 18 May 2016

PCP works for low mileage

PCP works for low mileage more than high. I struggle to get a good deal on PCP as I do 30-35k a year. So my current car is on HP, half way point is coming up soon. I'm debating just handing it back to finance (which you are entitled to do after paying half of the finance back), or to hold on to it for another year as it is cheap as chips to run, and so far, been very reliable. I'm at the 85k point, and I'll be at 100k sooner than I would like, so we will see.