Used car pricesUsed car prices


Opinion: The price is no longer right in the new car market – and that’s such a shame

Car Dealer associate editor James Batchelor bemoans the exorbitant price of new cars that seems to have happened surreptitiously

Time 6:30 am, August 20, 2023

I drove a £50,000 Kia the other day. It was the large Sorento SUV powered by a rare thing in 2023 – a diesel engine.

An unremarkable statement for a pretty unremarkable car, quite frankly, but I mention it because it was 50 grand – FIFTY!

Kia has been selling a £50,000 car for some time now, but it only really dawned on me when I stepped out of it and into a middle-of-the-range £60,000 Volvo SUV, followed by a £70,000 Volkswagen people-carrier.

Hell, by that afternoon, I felt that the £86,000 Porsche Cayenne I had the keys to was good value for money.

Not wanting to sound like my father here – who, incidentally, still thinks a Porsche 911 costs £60,000 these days – but when on earth did new cars get so expensive?

The new Peugeot e-2008, for instance, now with its fresh face and bigger battery, starts from £36,500.

But if you want one with heated seats, ‘3D’ navigation and an 11kW tri-phase on-board charger, which you probably do, that’ll be a whopping £41,750.

Peugeot is currently offering PCP packages for, wait for it, more than £770 a month. I like the e-2008 a lot, but not £770-a-month-a-lot.

This price hike has probably been a gradual thing and not as sudden as I’m possibly making it out to be – much like how you find yourself gradually spending more time considering buying a pair of elasticated trousers in Marks and Spencer, whereas last week you would have walked straight past them.

FORD_FIESTA_STUDIO_ST-LINE_04 c for Batch's column, CD 186

Have you struggled to buy a Ford Fiesta recently? James Batchelor explains why…

Like so much in our lives at the moment, high new car prices have become the norm.

We all know the reasons why new car prices shot up – chips, Covid, chips and more chips – but even with supply coming back into the market now due to carmakers doing their hardest to get cars off the production lines, I don’t see much evidence of prices being slashed.

But I suppose just like with many other consumer products, it’s easier to quickly jack up prices but harder for manufacturers to suddenly cut them again.

Chips and supply are one thing, but probably the biggest influencer in all of this are electric cars.

I know I picked out the e-2008 deliberately, but it’s far from being a unique example.

With their more expensive batteries, electric cars need to have higher prices (or so we’re told), and they have to sit in the marketplace with their inflated price tags and affect the general picture.

Once batteries and EV components become cheaper, we’re told that prices will come down.

But they really do need to come down.

We’re currently in a transitional phase that’s going to be with us for a while as the market and consumers make the switch to mass electric driving, but my question is at what cost will this be?

At the moment, it’s a very strange new car buying market.

Volvo estate copy

Volvo estates are as rare as hens’ teeth these days when it comes to trying to buy one, writes James Batchelor

This would have seemed unimaginable even at the start of the year, but as I write this you can’t go and buy a Ford Fiesta or a Volvo estate.

And it’s not as if they’ve been taken off sale and been confirmed to be replaced – that’s it.

For many people, forking out £20,000 on a brand-new car is a big thing.

But a quick search reveals that for that kind of money, there are a couple of Dacias, two Hyundais, a pair of Suzukis plus an MG and a Kia.

You can just scrape into a Corsa, a 208, C3 and a Mazda 2 if a dealer can get hold of one, but again, carmakers aren’t producing tons of these models; instead, they’re focusing on building the ones that generate tidy profits, such as SUVs.

It wasn’t that long ago you could have your pick of reasonably priced, efficient and perfectly adequate cars.

Top Gear used to make a thing of slipping a celebrity behind the wheel of just such a car, but I think it’d struggle now.

New cars are becoming a rich man’s game – and that’s a sad thing to say.

This column appears in the latest edition of Car Dealer – issue 186 – along with news, reviews, interviews, features and much more! Read and download it for FREE here!

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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