Second-hand car prices to rise in France amid new car part shortages

The supply chain has been disrupted by Covid and the war in Ukraine. We look at tips from an expert when buying a used vehicle

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The price of used cars is set to continue rising in France as a shortage of new cars mean buyers are instead turning to second-hand models.

The production of new cars has been hampered by supply issues of certain parts, caused by the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and prices have therefore risen by 15% over the last three years, according to dealership group Emil Frey.

This year, the demand for second-hand cars continues to grow, as the average wait for a pre-ordered new car rises to five months, compared to a fortnight before the pandemic began. “This has never been seen before,” said Christophe Bourroux, RTL’s car specialist.

More sought-after models including the cheapest electric car model, the Dacia Spring, as well as Land Rovers and Jaguars, are even taking up to a year to be delivered.

Since 2020 and the multiple Covid lockdowns, manufacturers have been struggling to source semiconductor chips, especially from China.

They are therefore trying to stabilise supply by keeping production levels low but consistent, which means that they are having to be more selective about the cars that they make. The result is that there are fewer cheaper cars with smaller profit margins entering the market.

Unable to find a new car to buy, people in France are therefore opting first for newer used cars, which are less than two years old.

Second-hand car prices already reached record levels across Europe in 2021, and France sold 3.6 used vehicles for every new one, compared to 3.5 in 2020, according to automobile data analyst NGC-Data. Prices are now up 13% since the start of the pandemic in 2019.

However, these are also in short supply, considering that the semiconductor scarcity is now into its second year.

In addition, short-term car rental companies, which normally buy new cars and then sell them on when they are a couple of years old, reduced their operations as a result of the pandemic, meaning that there are now fewer cars coming up for sale from this industry.

The newer second-hand cars that do enter the market are therefore subject to significant demand, which pushes their prices up, sometimes higher than that of a new car.

Over the last year, average used car sale prices on the Leboncoin marketplace have risen by €2,200, from €14,100 to €16,300.

The director of Leboncoin’s automobile section, Olivier Flavier, told Challenges that in April, cars under two years old were selling for €30,300 on average – compared to €26,755 in February 2021 – and cars aged between two and five years were going for €23,000, compared to €20,000 a year before.

In the coming months, the war in Ukraine is also expected to have a knock-on effect on European car production. BMW and Volkswagen both source their cable harnesses from a Ukrainian manufacturer, and Ukrainian nickel and aluminium are used in hybrid and electric vehicle batteries.

Things to look out for when buying a second-hand car in France

Motoring journalist Jean-Rémy Maccia has previously shared his advice for people buying a used car in France on RTL.

He recommends that you:

  • Read the warranty offered to you carefully, to ensure that you really will be covered if a problem arises. Often, electronic and other comfort-related functions will not be included

  • Check the inside and the outside of the vehicle for marks and scratches

  • Test everything that could be hiding faults: windows, sun roofs, heated seats, air conditioning, heating, radio etc.

  • When you test drive the car, pay particular attention to the clutch to make sure that it is working well

  • If you are not very knowledgeable about cars, take a friend or family member who knows more with you to see it

  • If the price of the car is abnormally low, you should treat it with suspicion, as it is likely that there is something wrong with it

  • Equally, if the seller is particularly eager to get the car off their hands, you should perhaps question why. It might be worth checking whether the car legally belongs to them by asking to see their carte grise

‘There are some great online dealers now’

Credit: Liz Yates

Connexion reader Liz Yates, who is a semi-retired teacher living in Manche, told us that she bought an 18-month-old Citroën C3 last August through an online dealer.

“There are some great online dealers now,” she said. “The car is fully checked and guaranteed. We bought from Aramis Auto.

“The site was recommended to us by one of our French friends; otherwise I wouldn’t have even thought of looking online!

“We saw the car on the website, but we did visit an Aramis Auto branch to sign the papers and pay for the car.

“They do everything for you paperwork-wise, and you have 30 days to either be happy with the car or return it for a full refund.

“The car is totally checked over before you buy and most have a two year guarantee.

“Ours was like new and we are 100% happy with it.

“The other thing we liked was that, as we were trading in our old car – expect a rubbish price for that but we just wanted to get it sold – the driver came and picked it up and delivered the new one at the same time.”

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