Who benefits from the French used car flight?

But where have our opportunities gone? According to French foreign trade data, they are now being exported massively. In 12 consecutive months (September 2021 to August 2022), 373,289 light vehicles left French territory for, as a general rule, another European country. This is an 82.7% increase over the year 2021. Almost all vehicle categories are affected, but the numbers skyrocket when it comes to used diesel engines.

The fight against air pollution tends to demonize this engine, which now finds its audience outside the French borders. The export of small diesels (less than 1500 cm3) thus increased by 182.6% in one year! The same for fuel oils between 1,500 and 2,500 cm3: +54.4% in exports. Diesels alone represent 75.4% of the cohort of cars shipped far from our cities and countryside… «The same dealers have increased the flight of vehicles abroad, in particular because they pick up the cars without being too fussy. But when they realize that there are too many repair costs, they resell the vehicle abroad, same thing when there are too many kilometers, ”says Yoann Taitz, responsible for resale values ​​​​of the Autovista specialist for France and the Benelux.

Iberian Peninsula in difficulty

Dealerships don’t have many second hand items to sell!©Renault

French merchants, always on the lookout for good deals, would therefore have a share of the responsibility for the “leakage” of our second-hand goods. But it is less than the responsibility of foreign buyers. Indeed, some markets close to France are experiencing a supply crisis situation which is disproportionate to that observed in France. For example, Portugal: “Used cars from abroad are becoming increasingly important here”, analyzed the Portuguese newspaper Eco last August, “at the end of June, 48,863 private used cars had already been imported”. And to mention, in the order of the main suppliers of Lusitania, France, Germany, Belgium and Holland.

Also read: How much does a used car cost in 2022?

Neighboring country Spain is no exception. The Spanish division of BCA, a professional in used vehicle auctions, said that in 2021 “external purchases amounted to 94,410 units, 35% more than in 2020”. The movement would not end given that, according to the car professional associations Faconauto and Ganvam, second-hand imports in the peninsula have “accumulated an increase of 40.4% since the beginning of the year”, even if the phenomenon would now tend to slow down. Finally, in Italy, the shortage of used cars would also be very acute: French car imports increased by 25.2% in 2021, even if France remains a small supplier compared to Germany or even Spain!

Buying a used car online: the French are more and more motivated

Used vehicle dealers obviously need equipment to resell, but they’re not the only ones running out of cars. According to David Rairolle, director of operations of VPN autos, “this year we are in great demand from foreign rental companies who have not received deliveries of new vehicles and who have to guarantee the season with their fleet,” he explains. As a result, these rental companies “fall back on recent used cars or even zero kilometer cars, which accentuates the shortage on the French market”. According to this professional, the appetite of foreign tenants would partly explain the phenomenon of runaways abroad, but it cannot be the only explanation..

Enjoy Europe

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© yayimages

Because there is one last reason for this phenomenon: the influence of the “new” used giants Auto 1, Aramis Auto and Aures Holding (Driverama). If these companies are not really new, on the other, they have taken advantage of Covid and the new vehicle crisis to accelerate their development with private individuals : creation of reconditioning centres, dry buy-back points, sales offices, etc. Aures Holding, which operates mainly in Eastern Europe, thus announces that “70% of our cars are sold in a different place” from where they are purchased. Aramis’ 2021 annual report says no more: “The group’s ambition is to increase the offer for professionals from private individuals, taking advantage of the very large second-hand goods park existing in France and in the United Kingdom, in particular”. specifies this branch of Stellantis. Companies that have become experts at maximizing profits on a European scale: buy cheap in a cheap country, recondition the vehicle, then resell it on the market where it finds a buyer at the highest price !

A very simple equation favored by the current situation: “Manufacturers tend to have a single product line for all of Europe. There are in fact some adaptations for some markets, such as Scandinavia for example, where it is important to have a heated steering wheel But the vehicles are now very close, while three or four years ago, a finish line with the same name had nothing to do with the one offered in France and the one in Spainfor example” emphasizes Yoann Taitz. The semiconductor crisis has in fact forced manufacturers to rationalize the equipment of their different finishing levels: a boon for retailers, who know that the opportunities are now interchangeable from northern Europe to the Mediterranean!

This escape of opportunity in France logically leads to an increase in prices never seen before. According to Eric Champarnaud, of the C-Ways company, “the increase in prices at the end of August is +20%” compared to the end of August 2021, while vehicle stocks among professionals are decreasing dangerously. Yoann Taitz even speaks of a ‘bubble’ for second-hand or third-hand vehicles as prices are so high. The whole question now is to know when and how it will erupt…

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