As the fuel price rises to sky-high levels, motorists are changing their shopping patterns. That’s according to Darryl Jacobson, managing director of Burchmore’s, who says that the fuel price has had a number of direct influences on business at Burchmore’s.
“We have seen drastic changes in buying patterns,” he reveals. “It is clear that the fuel price is top of mind for all car buyers.”
The first impact is the most obvious: buyers are more concerned with consumption than ever before. “Typically, customers focused on buying a car that looked good; a vehicle that came with all the bells and whistles. Customers still desire these traits in a vehicle, but now they are carefully considering fuel consumption too. They are also asking about emissions – because a car that emits lower quantities of carbon dioxide is typically more fuel efficient,” he points out.
Because of the perceived economy of diesel-powered vehicles, these are more in demand. “Automotive experts will confirm that this is no longer necessarily the case – some petrol-powered engines are extremely economical. But many motorists, especially more mature buyers, believe that diesel-powered cars are more economical,” says Jacobson.
Smaller cars are also becoming more desirable – because they are not perceived to be gas guzzlers. And there is a greater demand for hybrids than ever before. “We have noticed particular demand for the Honda CR-Z because, while it’s a hybrid it is also a stunning looking vehicle,” Jacobson reveals. “The moment we get one on the floor (which, alas, isn’t nearly often enough) it is snapped up.”
The increase in the fuel price has also resulted in business being brisker than before. “Customers are trading in their vehicles and opting for more efficient cars. As a result, we have a good stock holding of vehicles that we have sourced from companies and private buyers. We are selling these vehicles on auction and also off the floor – at all three of our branches (Cape Town, Durban and Sandton),” says Jacobson.
Of course, the impact of the fuel price has also had a negative impact – for some customers. “It is a sad reality that, as a result of economic pressures, some families have decided that they cannot afford to run two cars – and so they have sold a car to one of the Burchmore’s dealers. This makes financial sense for those motorists – they convert their cars into instant cash and it is a risk-free transaction, because we are part of Bidvest. While we regret the situation that these customers find themselves in, it is good for business at Burchmore’s – because we now have more stock on our floors,” explains Jacobson.
Having said that, Jacobson says he hopes that the fuel price does not continue to rise. “We are faced with the unfortunate situation in South Africa that – with the exception of certain routes and some areas – public transport leaves a lot to be desired. As such, consumers are forced to buy a car, and thus fuel. I hope that the rest of the year brings good news and an easing of financial pressures for the already overburdened motorist,” he concludes.