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Now is the time to buy a new car

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There’s no better time than the present to consider buying a new car, as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is causing bottlenecks at sale points, while the arrival of newer models and the turn to hybrid and electric cars have pushed prices down.

Dealerships aren’t shy about offering deals on their inventory, even on new models. But the pandemic and the easing of restrictions have pushed them to come out with attractive offers in an attempt to make up for lost ground during lockdowns.

With the gradual relaxation of the January 10 lockdown measures, dealerships in Cyprus have come out with brave offers, slashing their prices by a few thousand euros, or offering free equipment of equal value.

Veteran motor journalist Petros Soutzis told the Financial Mirror that the coronavirus and measures imposed to stem its spread, has meant that dealerships were closed for a big part of 2020.

“This has resulted in a significant drop in sales, with bottlenecks being created at local dealerships collaborating with manufacturers. There is a sizeable stock of cars at dealerships which did not reach the market,” said Soutzis.

He explained that the COVID crisis, in combination with the fact that manufacturers have lined up newer models to come out later in the year, has put pressure on dealerships to offload their stock.

“At the same time, although it may not seem to be the case in Cyprus, the future for the automobile industry are the electric cars with zero emissions,” said the seasoned motor journalist and jury member of the Autobest annual car awards.

“This could well be the best time for someone to buy a new car as all of these conjunctures have led dealerships, even of luxury cars, to come out with some attractive offers,” he said.

He argued that combustion engines still have a future in Cyprus, thus buyers will not be risking being told sometime down the line that they will no longer be able to drive their car in town or certain areas, as is the case in some European markets, such as the UK.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Alexis Anninos, Managing Director at Cyprus Import Corporation, importers of Mercedes-Benz, said that importers of new cars were hit viciously by the coronavirus, as they saw their showrooms close down for a good two months in 2020 and almost another two months in 2021.

“Mercedes launched a campaign at the end of 2020, offering attractive prices. A campaign which continued through to 2021 and picked up after the second lockdown with an additional 3,000 euros knocked off the base price of all models,” he said.

 

Interest for SUVs

Anninos noted that interest for new cars is picking up after the drop in 2020, with buyers’ interest for SUVs picking up from where it left off.

Also on offer is the GLA, Mercedes’ entry level SUV, which “has grown, offering more interior space. It has also welcomed its new and larger brother, the GLB”.

The CiC Managing Director said that, while dealerships have every intention of offering attractive offers, people should not get carried away, should do their homework before investing in a vehicle and make their choice based on their needs and budget.

George Rousos, Marketing Manager of Char. Pilakoutas, importers of BMW, Jaguar and Mini, said that his firm has kicked off the year with a dynamic offer, in an attempt to build up confidence and optimism amongst buyers.

“On top of already reduced prices, we’re offering a free package of equipment worth 6,000 euros for any BMW or Mini model, which really adds value to buyers’ investments” said Rousos.

He added that Pilakoutas’ initiave has been welcomed by the public, which has translated into sales picking up after the lockdown.

Rousos said that although 2021 is expected to be a difficult year, nevertheless, the dealership is hoping that its attractive packages will help to make up for lost ground in 2020 and the first months of this year.

He said that the dealership tried, through campaigns to keep in touch with the public, to focus on promoting their brand through online campaigns.

“We have uploaded our virtual showroom on our website, giving users the opportunity to visit our showroom online, without needing to step outside their home during the lockdown. We have now seen this campaign pay off with people coming to our showrooms ready to buy, as they have already done their homework online” said Rousos.

He further said that brands offered by the dealership have all been equipped with top-of-the-line technology.

“The whole pandemic experience has given a push to the project of digitalising the economy and society, with people becoming more technologically savvy, and that is where a number of our brands, especially BMW, have upped their game,” said Rousos.

Dickran Ouzounian, CEO of Dickran Ouzounian & Co Ltd, importers of Japan’s Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus, said that while prices have taken a dive, this will not be the case for newer models as costs have rapidly gone up.

“Manufacturers have put in a lot of money in new technologies which among other things, introduce autonomous driving and smart apps with which you can monitor and control many car functions from your phone. Currently, there is a stock of cars in the market with low prices, but once that is gone prices will increase,” said Ouzounian.

Toyota currently offers free service and maintenance for three years, while also promoting a tempting offer for the Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

Buyers will be benefiting from a special offer worth 2,200 euros, which includes an initial cash discount of 1,800 and 400 euros’ worth of accessories.

If a buyer opts to buy the car on a Toyota Flex leasing scheme, then the buyers will see three instalments paid by Toyota, free insurance policy and 400 euros worth of accessories.

Buyers opting to buy a car from Lexus, will benefit from a 1,100 euro cash discount or see three monthly instalments paid by Lexus.

 

Rebound in 2021

Talking under a different hat as the Treasurer of the Cyprus Association of Car Importers, Ouzounian said that he expects the industry to rebound in 2021.

“In 2020 we saw a drop of 30% in sales of new cars, which is better than we had initially anticipated” said Ouzounian.

Passenger saloon car sales decreased to 30,828 from 37,802 in 2019, a fall of 18.4%, while sales were down 7% the year prior.

Of the total passenger saloon cars, 10,237 or 33.2% were new and 20,591 or 66.8% were used cars.

Ouzounian said that importers expect sales in 2021 to reach the same levels as in 2019, placing their bets on cleaner cars such as electric and hybrid.

“Unfortunately, the lack of a holistic approach by the government, and absence of incentives for people to turn to cleaner cars has paved the way for used cars with high emissions, rejected by other EU countries, to find their way to Cyprus,” he noted.