Cost of used cars in Germany compared to the UK

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Can anyone explain to me why used cars in Germany are so much more expensive than their equivalent in the UK? I have been looking around at various used cars and have been astonished at how much used cars here cost - they really seem to hold their value and in comparison to UK cars, they have more often than not higher "mileage" to boot.

 

For example, a 2001 Mini, 2002 Audi A3 or 2002 BMW 3-Series cost around 5000GBP (source Autotrader), whereas the same model in Germany will cost nearly 9000EUR (source mobile.de)

. Irrespective of the current exchange rate, even when it was 1.4 EUR to 1 GBP, used cars in the UK were still considerably cheaper. Is it because the market in the UK is limited due to it being RHD? With the current strength of the euro against the pound, it really makes you think twice about bringing a UK car to Germany - for the sake of several thousand euros I can live with the "inconvenience" of driving RHD on the continent.

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is it the same for much older cars say well over 10 yrs old?

 

What I really want to know is what happens to these trade ins where you can get €2500 back.

I can see dealers been saddled with a load of crappy trade ins - ...hey -- car dealers -- I'll buy them from you and export to Bulgaria etc.

 

A good Bulgarian friend of mine in UK has just sold a Land Rover Freelander he bought in UK for €5000, it cost 2 and another 1 for changing the steering wheel over + other costs. He drove it there but split the cost with passengers so it didn't amount to much.

 

2K profit...for a bit of faffing about with Autotrader and a road trip!!

 

Nooooow...imagine not having to pay to shift the steering wheel..hmm

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I sold a car once in Germany and nearly every German bloke that came to look at it wanted to know every step of the maintenance schedule. Luckily, I had it dealer maintained and had all the stamps in the owners manual to prove it. This allowed me to get my asking price. So, one could guess that most people in Germany want a dealer maintained car and that this has a premium starting price. I have heard a German guy once lament about how other countries (especially Americans) do not take care of their cars and I'd have to agree that in comparison many Germans keep their cars clean and maintained - although certainly not all of them.

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Look for LHD cars on the UK Autotrader, there are few knocking around. It will be hit and miss what's out there but with the current exchange rate and the cost of doing the TUV and re-registering it in Germany, it could be worth it.

 

It's not just secondhand cars in Germany that seem to have a high price tag either, we have a employees sales board at work which is set up as an Outlook Office folder and the price people ask for secondhand things is laughable. Many of the books and CDs you can find new and cheaper on Amazon for a start and a lot of the items I'd personally give away to charity shops.

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My only basis for comparison is the US, but I can only assume that the UK market is similar.

 

I have a theory that in Germany, the existence of Firmenwagen/Jahreswagen distorts the overall used car market by throwing in a floor for expectations on used car pricing.

 

Also, I would think that parking space considerations, tougher inspection standards and higher insurance/licensing fees mean that the market for (winter)beaters and/or teenager first cars is limited ... so all the old stuff migrates out of the country faster, thus reducing the stock of reasonably-priced old stuff.

 

Both of our cars were low-klic "dealer demo" cars, where I still think we got really good deals in both cases. However, our first car in Germany was a used one we bought before we even thought of moving over here so that my wife would have a car to use when she and the kids would come over to her parents' for extended visits. At the time we bought it (mid-1990s) I felt it was expensive, but my wife reassured me that it was from a dealer of the same brand, and that we were getting someone else's trade-in with full service records, etc. It became my everyday driver for a few years after we moved here. When I took it in to trade it in for another a few years ago, the inspection at a local dealer revealed that it had been repaired after an undisclosed rear-end collision, and they wanted to give us barely anything for a trade-in. I was incandescent, and found an auto export firm who gave me a decent price, and it's doubtless plying the roads somewhere east of Germany or Africa.

 

We were recently thinking of upping the coverage on our homeowner's insurance recently. Around the same time, our kids were playing at a local playground, and found a stolen Mercedes navigation system someone had tossed under the bushes for later retrieval. It turned out it came from a neighbor's car, and the cops were really nice in that they paid a visit to our house to thank them for cracking the case (I kid you not, they had broken out the DNA testing gear and the whole works). They actually said "your crappy cars in the driveway are the best anti-break-in insurance one can have, because everyone assumes that household budgets are FIFO for cars ... and everyone will assume you have nothing in the house."

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Used cars sold through dealers include 19% VAT in Germany, but not in UK. That tends to raise the market value, even in the private sector. It also used to be the case that even though the winters are harsher there is no use of salt on the winter roads, so there are less corrosive affects on the substructure but with better anti-corrosive measures this is less the case these days.

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Good point on the Firmenwagen theory Expaticus. It's one of the reasons I went with the company car. The advantages are all mine. :) The only thing to watch out for is if you live a long way from the office, you get dinged in taxes. But otherwise, the free fuel, insurance and maintenance and the ability to drive the car as much as I want makes the tax burden far lower than the cost of ownership.

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I would support your theorie about the left-hand drive:

 

There is huge demand for used cars in eastern Europe all the way to central asia. But these people are looking for cars that have their steering wheel on the left... The UK-second hand market is isolated because no one else wants a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side.

 

Also the UK had a pretty good time economically in recent years and people had better access to credit. Youd think that would lead to people buying more new cars => less demand for used cars => sealed market because of lhd => too much supply...

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The only thing to watch out for is if you live a long way from the office, you get dinged in taxes. But otherwise, the free fuel, insurance and maintenance and the ability to drive the car as much as I want makes the tax burden far lower than the cost of ownership.

As with many things in life you have to calculate it according to your personal situation coupled with the scheme offered by your employer.

 

I have a Firmenwagen & work from home so thats "nice" from tax situation. However I have to contribute 56 Euros monthly for "private use" (thats calculated on consumption & diesel/petrol - I drive a diesel Golf Plus which qualifies for a "low" rate). Then my employer has a maximum leasing rate - you want a more expensive car you pay the extra. In past years I had a diesel Passat which just fitted inside the rate - but the current Passat would not - but the Golf Plus does & I like driving it.

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HEM: I guess you are referring to the 1% of the list price for private use as a benefit-in-kind tax. I still think that's a pretty good deal considering what it would cost you to maintain the car yourself. My company buys the cars rather than leasing but I have never heard of this maximum rate. Is this something internal to your company? We do have levels and limits but I have had Audis and other higher-end cars with no change in tax except for the 1% value being higher. Never had anything tied to the fuel economy of the car although I have always chosen diesels that were pretty good.

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I still think that's a pretty good deal considering what it would cost you to maintain the car yourself.

Sure.

 

 

My company buys the cars rather than leasing..

I think most employers lease...

 

 

but I have never heard of this maximum rate. Is this something internal to your company?

As I said, you have to "calculate it ... coupled with the scheme offered by your employer". In our case there is an alternative - the employee buys the car & pays for all costs and a certain sum is added monthly to the salary. That is of course taxed - and subject to social insurance etc. deductions just as any "pay rise". I chose the Firmenwagen.

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The UK-second hand market is isolated because no one else wants a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side.

Whaddya mean, "on the wrong side"? Steering wheel on the right side is per se the right side. Here's just a partial list of countries (in no particular order) that also drive on the left as one does in the UK: Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa (full list here)

 

Just one more point: driving on the left is more logical than driving on the right, because when using roundabouts, the motion is clockwise. What's more logical than that?

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I do love the fact that our reasoning for driving on the left is essentially to take on the French in a horse mounted sword fight!!

 

Fantastic! :D

 

In this day in age it is also a smart move. Some poor sods are probably always missing coin toll booths because they can't throw with their left hand. An inter-continental conspiracy to make extra cash from the coins that don't quite make it into the bucket ;)

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I've driven both left and right hand drive cars for a good length of time and for right handed people, it seems to me that shifting with the left hand on a manual transmission always seems unnatural. Even after 3 months of driving. I once heard someone refer to it as like jerking off with the wrong hand although I didn't have that sensation. :)

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I used to be a lifelong advocate of manual boxes but had to accept an automatic box when the missus & I ended up sharing the one car and the experience converted me. I now firmly think everyone should be driving automatic boxes these days to leave more subconscious brain available to concentrate on avoiding the bloody dangerous motorists, cyclists & pedestrians that surround us all in ever increasing numbers, a significant number of whom seem hell bent on suicide (especially in this country and particularly in this city). Anyway our current car has paddles on the steering wheel for those moments when I feel the need to override the box and play at F1.

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@Ancientbrit, surely you don't get many people shipping cars to Singapore or NZ/OZ but you get a lot of cars going to Africa (Nigeria,Ghana and Togo especially) and Eastern Europe and Middle East. Therein lies the problem.

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I accept that argument. I was only reacting to matajari (who comes from India where also they are supposed to drive on the left and so have their steering wheel on the right) having written "no one else wants a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side".

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Is the price difference recent? When I bought my Mini in 2007 I remember looking at a similar spec. in the UK which was muuuuuch more expensive.

 

Mind you - that is the extent of my car research.

 

Nb To the person who pays tax on the drive to work in his company car: ask your employer about establishing a home office.

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