The sale of second-hand cars is 3.5 times higher than that of new cars
For every new car that has been sold in the province of Tarragona so far this year, 3.5 have been sold second-hand. A figure that is still above the 2020 ratio, although last year it reached 3.7 second-hand vehicles purchased for each new one. The main culprit for this has been the microchip crisis, which began in 2021. It was during the last year when it had the most negative effects and new registrations plummeted. However, and as the numbers show, the shortage of semiconductors persists and, with it, the few sales of newly manufactured cars. In fact, in September, 897 vehicles were registered in the demarcation, with an increase of 9.66% compared to September 2021, although far from the figures for 2019. In September of that year, 11,681 new passenger cars were sold in Catalonia, compared to the 8,686 this past month, 3,000 less.
As a result of all this, last year the demand for second-hand vehicles skyrocketed, an interest that still continues and that has led to an increase in its price of between 10 and 20%. And what is worse, that it possibly increases or at least maintains – the official figures will have to be seen at the end of the year – a very old average age of the Spanish car fleet, which in 2021 reached 13.5 years. The age of the vehicles was 13.1 in 2018, and the Spanish Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers (Anfac) then predicted that it would be reduced to 13 years in 2022. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the current age exceeds by 17.4% the average age of European cars, which in 2021 was around 11.5 years.
Some numbers that do not benefit road safety or the environment. So regrets Emili Beltrán, general secretary of the Business Association of Automotive Repair and Vendor Workshops of the Province of Tarragona (Astave). "Although there are still no data for 2022, this year's enrollment figures are very similar to those of 2021, which will at least maintain the average age of 13.5 years, light years ahead of European countries" , regrets Beltrán, who adds that «of the figure of 3.5 used cars sold for each new one, 54% of second-hand vehicles are more than 10 years old, so it is practically impossible for the car park be rejuvenated this year.
The aging of the car fleet is bad for the environment and safety
On the consequences of having such old vehicles on the road, the general secretary of Astave maintains that "administrations are full of the idea that the environment must be cared for and they must take into account that new cars have ridiculous emission levels in compared to those of five or 10 years. In this sense, he regrets that they focus only on aid to acquire electric vehicles: «The purchase of electric cars is being subsidized and on the other hand they do not provide facilities for the acquisition of fuel vehicles with a very low polluting potential and that would serve to replace those with a very high polluting potential'. At the same time, Beltrán also comments on how the age of vehicles affects road safety. "The safety levels of a new car have nothing to do with the safety conditions that the manufacturer adopted in 2012, for example," he defends.
The strong demand for second-hand cars due to the difficulties in acquiring a new one has also led to a drastic reduction in supply, with an increase in prices and the proliferation, according to Beltrán, of companies that offer to buy vehicles from individuals for then sell them, the typical "We buy your car." "Before there weren't so many, but when there is a shortage of product, these types of companies arise," says the Astave representative. However, it highlights that second-hand vehicles are sold both at official dealerships –they are usually up to four years and with a guarantee–, at dealerships –with ages between four and 10 years old and also with a guarantee– and between individuals. –which are usually more than 10 years old and without any type of guarantee–. In fact, Beltrán also highlights that the increase in the average age of the automobile fleet means more work for the workshops: «The workshops are currently with significant volumes of work, because of course, the older a car is, the more repairs it needs. Last year there was an increase in the turnover of the workshops of around 15% compared to 2020, and we will see what the figure is at the end of this year.
Antonio Teodoro Ruíz is in charge of ATR Vila-seca, a second-hand vehicle dealership that also has a workshop. On the one hand, it confirms the increase in demand for second-hand cars and their price, and also the low supply: «Everyone wants to buy used cars, and the price difference is important, because if they used to cost 1,000 or 1,500 euros, now they are in the 2,000 or 3,000 euros and above", and adds that "we raise the price of those we buy a little more to have stock but we sell them the same". Ruíz has vehicles from between 2005 and 2011. At the same time, in terms of the increase in repairs, he also assures that they have noticed it: «People put up with their old car longer or buy it second-hand and old, with what they spend more often by the workshop because something needs to be repaired».
One year for a new car
Who also has second-hand vehicles is the Pons Group, with five dealers and 17 brands throughout the province. Its CEO, Joaquim Pons, points out that in his case the demand for second-hand cars has grown by 30%. However, the businessman regrets that the market for new car registrations continues without reviving. “This September registrations have grown by 12% in Spain compared to September 2021, but the accumulated number, from January to September, has fallen by 10.6% compared to the same period last year,” says Pons, who nevertheless defends that "the brands that have done well, which are the Japanese, do not suffer from this problem as much". With that he refers to the manufacturers that have been supplied with raw materials and have carried out very clear manufacturing and distribution processes and with a very defined strategic plan to supply the vehicles, among which Pons highlights Toyota. "In his case, the delivery times are between three and six months, but in the European brands they are still between five months and a year," laments the CEO of Grup Pons, who says that they have 1,000 cars to deliver and that the Regularization of registrations will be progressive, as new vehicles arrive: "We have a portfolio with many accumulated orders, and until they arrive, the situation will not normalize."