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Friday, 31 August, 2001, 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK
New number plates could boost car sales
New number plate
By BBC News Online's Jorn Madslien

This weekend's change to the UK's car registration plates is expected to set off a boom in new car sales, and there are several reasons why.

For one, new cars are about 6% cheaper than last year, though still high compared with other European countries.

And the gap between the prices of new and old cars is the narrowest for more than two years, a survey by the Alliance & Leicester and What Car? magazine reveals.

Then there are interest rates - historically low as well.

But beyond the lure of lower prices, UK car buyers are expected to be taken in by the allure of the new number plates.

Location, location, location

The new plates will look very different from the old ones.

They will still make it easy for onlookers to see how old your car is, though the font will be different.

In addition, it will be easy to see where people come from - or at least where their car was registered.

The price of a second hand car could well be affected by the changes - it might be difficult to sell a car from Newcastle in Manchester, or vice versa.

But then again, it might not. Some number plates could become status symbols and these could boost a car's second hand value.

Great news for sports car owners from Chelsea, perhaps, who could sell their cars at a premium to non-Chelsea residents hoping for added prestige.

Though perhaps too revealing if your off-road luxury car is registered in the centre of Edinburgh and you never leave the Royal Mile for the mud?

Local loyalties

It could be a nice touch, though, parking your locally produced Rover outside your local Brummie pub - a clear signal to your surroundings that your loyalties are, well, local.

But moving from Coventry to Cheddar, and you would instantly be identified as the village newcomer.

While if you commute from the leafy Cotswolds into Swindon, your identity as a member of the Green Wellies brigade could be firmly established by your car number plate.

Similarly, a tourist from Leeds will be easy to spot in Cardiff. And consequently, say some, this system could make car crime easier.

Personal number plates will be different as well: "Prince Naseem Hamed would have to pay a lot of money to persuade Mrs Naseem Hirani from Bristol to part with her new treasure. NA51EEM," the personal number plates provider Registration Transfer said in a statement.

See also:

22 Aug 01 | UK
New number plates for old
23 Jul 01 | Business
EU: Cars cost most in the UK
23 Jul 01 | Business
Q&A: Buying a new car
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