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Automobile / Health crisis. 2020, a sad year for the automotive market … but not for the occasion!

If you’ve recently put a car up for sale, you probably didn’t have to look for a buyer for long. And for good reason: the used vehicle market has rarely done so well in France as it did last year.

July 2020 was therefore an exceptional month: more than 642,000 used cars were sold, a record over one month in France.

The market that resists the crisis

In 2020, nearly 5.6 million cars found buyers on the French second-hand market, compared to 5.79 million sales in 2019.

But behind this slight decline, there is actually a strong resistance to the health crisis: while sales of new cars plummeted by more than 13%, those of used cars fell only 3.5% from 2019 to 2020.

The Cetelem observatory also predicts a return to the rise in 2021.

Old and often diesel cars

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According to data from the statistician AAA Data, the second-hand market is driven by transactions between individuals.

Often equipped with diesel engines, despite increasing restrictions on them, the vehicles sold are aging. Sales of cars over 15 years old even rose 5.1%, despite the general downward trend.

In Spain too

The strength of the second-hand market is felt throughout Europe.

This is the case, for example, in Spain, where second-hand sales jumped 65% in March.

This increase affects the market as a whole, but especially recent vehicles: sales of vehicles aged 1 to 2 years have increased by 37%, those of vehicles aged 2 to 3 years by 27.5%, and those of vehicles aged between 2 and 3 years old by 27.5%. 3 to 5 years of 21.2%.

Aid: not just for new

How to explain this strength of the second-hand market?

The reason is probably not to look for on the side of financial aid: even if the general public is interested in greener cars, the bonus, the conversion bonus and regional aid have not been a sufficient trigger for the acquisition of new cars.

On the other hand, the conversion bonus affects people who buy, even used, a slightly cleaner vehicle.

New sales methods

This can strengthen the second-hand market, which is also becoming digital thanks to companies such as Autohero or Aramis auto, a subsidiary of PSA.

These new players offer to buy guaranteed used vehicles online, and deliver them to customers. An option which certainly contributes to supporting the market in a context of health crisis.

A symptom of the crisis

But the shift of customers from new cars to used cars actually stems, according to the Cetelem observatory, from hesitation as to which engine to choose when making a relatively heavy investment in new cars, and also from the economic difficulties feared or encountered in cause of the health crisis.

Remember that the average price of a new car increased again last year, and that it is the oldest households who benefit from the highest incomes.

For 69% of French people, the price remains the most important criterion in the purchase.

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