At first glance, 2023 doesn’t look like an appealing prospect. Everyone’s on strike, the weather is permanently mental, and prices are squeezing many of us like a 500-lb gorilla. Wouldn’t it be best just to fast-forward to 2024? Probably, but that hasn’t stopped us looking for some silver linings in the year ahead.
C’mon, let’s give this a shot.
1. Lower inflation
Whether you were in or out of the car, you might just have noticed that inflation hit a 41-year high in November. The costs of just about everything rocketed… or fell victim to shrinkflation, the sneaky downsizing of products.
However, things are starting to get better. Inflation dropped faster than expected in December 2022, and according to the Bank of England, the rate should fall sharply halfway through 2023. According to their experts, this is because:
- Energy prices won’t continue to rise so quickly.
- Imported good prices will stabilise as supply issues ease
- There will be less demand for goods and services in the UK
Let’s hope they’re right.
2. Lower fuel prices… hopefully
OK, we admit that this could go either way. On the one hand, average fuel prices have dropped from their peak in July 2022 (200p a litre for diesel, 191p for petrol) to something high, but less horrific (176p diesel, 153p petrol on 1st December). And with the global market adjusting to the shocks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that could well continue. On the other hand, fuel duty is slated to rise in late March 2023, which could add about 12p a litre. Also, the UK is set to stop importing diesel from Russia in February 2023. Which way will things go?
We’re clinging on to some optimism for two reasons.
Firstly, independent garages are bucking the ‘rocket up, feather down’ policy used by major outlets. Since summer 2023, some garages have managed to offer fuel at pretty significant discounts compared to supermarkets, usually our most economical forecourts. If that continues, then by shopping around, motorists may avoid the worst of any price increases.
Secondly, regarding that hike in fuel duty, the Treasury has emphasised that it’s a provisional target. Given the string of U turns by the government, this might be another one that gets shelved. Fingers crossed!
3. A recovering car market
Back in May, we wrote about how the car market has been absolutely battered by supply chain issues, Covid, and the war in Ukraine. EU and UK manufacturers took a particular strong hit, threatening thousands of industry workers and the wider economy.
Now there are signs that in the UK, recovery has already begun. In December, the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) released figures showing a four-month trend in increased new registrations compared to 2021. In fact, in November 2022, sales were up by 23.5% compared to 2021.
To put this in perspective, UK car sales are still down compared to the pre-Covid levels in 2019. However, it seems pretty likely that things are on the up. The SMMT predicts a 15.4% increase in sales over 2023, and industry leaders are saying that “recovery is within their grasp.” That was a kind-of mad dictator way to express their pleasure, but we’ll take the sentiment.
4. Genuine ICE alternatives
Not everyone is a fan of EVs (electric vehicles), and not everyone is ready to ditch their ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. But there’s a growing sector of the population who are ready to give EVs a try… if only there was something that met their needs. For too long, what’s been on offer are EVs that are stupidly expensive, hopelessly impractical, or both (stand up, Honda E).
However, manufacturers are finally starting to produce something other than oh-my-god-how-much? eurobarges and funky hipster-mobiles. Take the MG4 EV, for example, a family hatchback that looks great, offers a 280 mile range in top-spec and crucially comes in at just under £26,000. And there are plenty more options on the way, as sleepy manufacturers wake up to the idea that Tesla and Volkswagen could be onto something.
High electricity prices and rubbish insfrastructure remain problems for EVs, but at least decent cars are starting to spring up like mushrooms.
5. A buoyant second-hand car market
It’s not only the new car market that’s expected to do well in 2023. Car Dealer Magazine and Autotrader are both predicting a robust year for the second-hand car market. Why should we care? First and foremost, because it’s a massive contributor to the UK economy. And when people are sloshing cash on expensive items like cars, it’s a sign that some are weathering the cost-of-living storm. It’s also good news if you have a car to sell, as prices are likely to remain high. Of course, if you’re looking to buy a second-hand car, then… well, best hibernate until 2024.
And one final thing to look forward to in 2023 — whatever the months ahead hold, WVS will keep providing great, affordable service to customers throughout South Wales.
The WVS blog covers a wide range of automotive topics, from the contentious to the light-hearted. We are an independent garage specialising in the VW group marques, including Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT. WVS provides services, repairs and MOTs, delivering a main dealer level of care at affordable prices. To book your vehicle in, or for any enquiries, get in touch.