Statistics and city driving

During Quarter 1 the NACFB took 425 enquiries after vehicle finance, of which the average sum requested was £23,374.

There’s a real mix of enquiries here as you would expect; taxi drivers wanting to get out of £15k-per-year loans, large businesses looking for company cars, beauticians who need to drive to see their customers, even a Lincolnshire doctor needing a new motorbike to travel between hospitals. That is how I would like my doctor to arrive – astride a well-laden Norton.

With a little rounding up thrown in, here is how the mean average values break down by region:

region

average value

SOUTH-EAST

46700

NORTH-WEST

28200

SCOTLAND

23200

LONDON

20800

MIDLANDS

16400

SOUTH-WEST

16100

WALES

11600

EAST ANGLIA

11500

NORTH-EAST

8100

 

We’ve run these graphs for a lot of the different finance types we survey, but I’m not at all used to seeing London so far down the list. The city is rarely off the top two steps of the podium. Of course, the city has long been unfriendly to motorised transport, for about a century. But I wonder if the data indicates the capital has now reached something of a tipping point. It’s not just the 10mph average speeds, it’s also the cost of entering, the bait-and-switch approach to junctions, the pop-up cycle paths that cross roads with live traffic, the parking, and then general sense that you are travelling in a giant Lego set, hemmed in by repositionable bricks, down roads that won’t be in the same place, or running in the same direction, or even there at all, the next time you come this way.

I should mention that the sample size for Northern Ireland was too small for inclusion; I could use all-of-2017 data fairly reliably, but not from Q1.

What mean average value gives us is a through-a-keyhole view of the nature of the businesses involved. Where the value is high, the money is likely to be for refrigerated trailer units or high-end personal transport; where it’s low, you’re mainly looking at the smallest small businesses, repair work or short commercial vehicles. I think the scale of the North-East/North-West divide is the most unexpected result here. But there’s also an element of long-term commitment, or lack of it, that gets mixed into these trends. If you don’t know whether your business will be running in two years’ time, you’re more likely to get a vehicle repaired to keep it on the road, rather than invest in a shiny new one on a long lease.

While I would normally question the validity of forecasts based on opinions and gut feeling, there is one occasion when I think such forecasts are worth listening to, and that’s when the people stating the opinion actually have an influence into whether the forecasts come true or not. If your opinion is that a product is no longer suitable for your clients, then you won’t recommend it to those clients and the forecast becomes reality.

That’s how it is with diesel sales. Paragon Car Finance published survey results that demonstrate how brokers expect diesel sales in the UK to decline – and they’re the ones in the position to make this happen. The same applies to these brokers’ expectations that hybrid sales and pure electric sales will surge forwards. These will often turn out to be self-fulfilling predictions, because in some cases the client will say “I know what I want” and in other cases the broker will say “I know what you want”.

By the way, did any Motor Finance readers try out the driverless bus that was running around Greenwich in April? No pedals, no steering wheel, just a stop button like you find on escalators, and a person whose sole job was to press the stop button if things started getting a little bit too Robocop.  It didn’t move much faster than an escalator either, so didn’t really represent a slice of the future in a useful, meaningful sense. Having “a stop button overseen by a trained operator”, as the Huffington Post journalist described it with tongue firmly in cheek, will not be enough. The last thing we want in a city environment is a bunch of trained stop-button operatives earning their salary by pressing the stop button. If traffic jams are what we want, then we might as well just stick with the current system; all the frustration, available right now.