Too many new models causing confusion

Posted on January 20th, 2015 by Rob Marshall

MondeoAt last, a belief that I have held for some years has been confirmed. With carmakers trying to fill every single niche that exists (or even inventing them, in some cases), basic model ranges have become increasingly confusing and confused. The result is affecting used car values negatively.

The self-proclaimed, largest vehicle data provider in Europe, Glass’s, has established that too many poorly-focussed niche models are making a fall in residual values inevitable. Quite rightly, Glass’s questions whether, or not, all of the variations of soft-roaders, cross-overs, coupé-saloons, 4×4 SUV coupés and so on, add to consumer choice, or bamboozle the market with oddball vehicles that are neither useful, nor desirable.

Yet, even Glass’s has to acknowledge the huge successes that have captivated certain segments. The most obvious of which has been Nissan’s bold move, to replace its slow-selling, lacklustre Primera hatchback with the market-leading Qashqai cross-over, eight years ago, and rivals have their own copy-cat versions, ever since.

Somewhat ironically, a reversal of attitudes is on the horizon. Large, non-premium hatchbacks used to flood the used-car market, with auctions being brimmed with ‘ex-rep’ Mondeos, Lagunas, Vectras, Accords and, of course, Primeras, as fleets sought to dispose of their aging stocks. However, now that these Sector D non-premium vehicles have become more unusual, residuals of their successors have improved. For example, CAP Automotive has predicted that the new Ford Mondeo (pictured) will be worth almost £2,000 more than its equivalent German opposition, when it reaches three years of age.

Meanwhile, it is possible that even the German carmakers, singled-out by Glass’s as an exemplar of confusing car ranges, might be having a change of heart. When BMW launched its MINI in 2000, it consisted of one basic model, with three trim variants. Now, the range has grown to eight body styles, and a myriad of special editions and performance versions, but the brand has realised that endless niche-filling is not an appropriate strategy and the MINI range will shrink in the future.