Plate bragging is so

old hat

Alfa Romeo Giulia, 2017, front

DO you remember the good old days when new car buyers were anxious to be seen driving a car with the latest registration letter?

It carried a one-upmanship that said you had thebulging walletto buy the latest thing on wheels.

But it was all to no avail because it seems it does not matter any more.

In fact, showing off the latest number plate to impress your neighbours is just so yesterday, according to a new study of car buyers' habits.

Drivers are now more interested in the car itself - and they care most about having the latest model updates, personalised paintwork and option combinations, rather than rushing to snap up the newest registration plate.

According to interviews with almost 1,000 motorists, conducted by the specialist online car seller BuyaCar.co.uk, almost four in five drivers now say that they wouldn't delay the purchase of their car for a new number plate.

Dealers used to sell thousands of cars to customers with the promise of delivery on the first day a registration plate was released, so every other driver on the road would know they had a brand new car.

BuyaCar.co.uk's own online sales figures back up the findings, with more new cars sold in October than September - the last time a new number plate was released.

It has been the same story over the past two years, with online car sales steadily growing rather than showing big spikes during March and September, when new registration plates are released.

"Drivers used to love showing off their latest car with a brand new number plate," says Austin Collins, managing director of BuyaCar.co.uk.

"But they are now much more interested in having the latest model and more personalised cars. We see this all the time, such as with the recent surge of interest in deals on the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi Q2 and Toyota C-HR, all of which have just been launched."

BuyaCar.co.uk asked motorists ‘would you delay the purchase of a new car to have the latest number plate?' - with 77.5 per cent saying they would not.

And 22 per cent even agreed with the statement ‘the number plate doesn't matter anymore'.

A new number plate used to be released once a year, prompting a surge in car sales over a short period.

The current system, which introduces two new number plates a year - one in March and one in September - was designed to spread car sales throughout the year.

It's still the case that, nationwide, more cars are registered in March and September, but a large proportion of these are sold to businesses who take advantage of lower prices during both months.

Many more are registered by dealers. This helps them to meet their sales targets and the cars are then slowly sold to the public over the next few months.

BuyaCar.co.uk also found that there is a band of especially savvy car buyers who deliberately time their purchase to the weeks just before a new plate is launched.

Austin Collins said: "Just over a quarter of the people we interviewed only care about the latest plate because they believe the best deals will be available on the new cars that are available just before it appears.

"When you throw in the other significant segment of people - those who just buy a new car when they feel they need it, regardless of any other consideration - it's not surprising that almost a quarter of people think the number plate doesn't matter any more."

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