Surge in old car sales sparks safety concerns

Surge in old car sales sparks safety concerns
Still good for a few more miles? Spain's car fleet is getting older and more dangerous. Photo: Marcos Fernandez Diaz
The crisis-driven rise in popularity of old bangers could mean "the difference between life and death", as new figures show one in three cars sold in Spain in 2013 is over ten years old.

The second-hand car market will grow again this year, following a trend that started at the beginning of the crisis and which was interrupted only briefly in 2012, according to a report in finance and economy daily Cinco Días.

Figures from Ganvam, the national association of motor vehicle dealers, suggest that the sale of used cars will rise by 4.1 percent compared with 2012, sparking concerns about road safety from government authorities.

An average of 2.3 used cars will be bought for every new car purchased in 2013 and one in every three cars sold will be over ten years old, representing more than 50 percent of the second-hand market.

Ganvam president Juan Manuel Sánchez Torres believes that the market for older cars has become the "unwitting hero of the crisis" and now represents an important source of business for car dealerships, although he describes the situation as "measurably improvable" due to the ongoing dominance of private sales in the sector.

The market is polarizing between vehicles over ten years old and cars under three years old, with sales of cars between these ages showing steady decline.

This resurgence in the popularity of decade-old vehicles has led to a 17 percent rise in their average price, not including private deals which, in the opinion of Sánchez Torres, represent "unfair competition" because of the lower administrative costs involved.

The director of Spain's Directorate-General of Traffic (DGT), María Seguí, has expressed concern about the safety of Spain's ageing car fleet, noting that age can "make the difference between life and death."

She added:"The fleet's quality in terms of road safety has declined."

The average age of a car on Spain's roads has been calculated as 9.5 by Ganvam and as 10.3 by ANFAC, Spain's national association of carmakers.

Seguí declared that her goal is to reduce the average to seven years old by 2016 and will look to introduce stricter controls on testing and on recording the road history of vehicles.

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