Triskaidekaphobia? No sign of it here
FEARS over 'unlucky 13' plates hitting new car sales seem to have been somewhat wide of the mark.
With the 13 plate appearing on new cars since the beginning of this month it seems that triskaidekaphobia - fear of the number 13 - is no longer as prevalent as it once was.
Insurance companies have been reporting brisk business. Aequitas Automotive announced record sales on March 1 for its GapInsurance 123 brand.
Spokesman Mark Connor commented: "The strong lead up to March - and the record result on the first - may indicate a buoyant month ahead in car showrooms."
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One South Devon company expecting to be kept busy is Speedwell Honda, which has branches in Paignton and Newton Abbot.
"I was apprehensive of the 13 plate," admits company boss Martin Richards. "But it shows that even though I've been in the motor trace for about 30-odd years, I still know nothing!
"We were busier than normal in January and February and our sales for this year compared to last year, are ahead of last year.
"You hear more about those who do worry about the number 13 but there are a lot of people out there for whom 13 appears to be their lucky number," said Martin.
"There's been a huge amount of discussion about it but nothing's really changed."
He expects to sell around 350 new cars this year and around 550 used cars.
Honda dealers are feeling particularly confident with the company having introduced the first of its Earth Dreams Technology engines in the Civic.
"Everybody who drives it just can't believe it. It's so quiet. It's so economical.
"From a business or company car user-chooser point of view it's just a no-brainer really because the tax rules change in April 2014 and the emissions bands change but the Civic will still be in the lowest one whereas many of its competitors won't be."
Finding out about a customer's needs is an important issue for Martin and his team when a potential client steps into the showroom.
"The first job is to sit down, have a cup of coffee and really understand what a customer uses a car for.
"Everybody has a different lifestyle. Do they go camping, do they tow, do they have numerous kids to fit in the car
"And you obviously look at what sort of budget they're looking at.
"We talk about what the options are open to them.
"It's not necessarily what they're going to use the car for now as the average change time has gone out to four years.
"For example, some of our customers are older and may be finding driving a little more difficult. They're maybe looking to get a smaller car.
"We might suggest an automatic because they are easier to drive and can extend the driving life of an older driver.
"The car is their independence, so it extends that independence.
"It's all about conversation. Understanding what they want. agreeing a deal with a smile because, at the end of the day it's only money. And looking after them."