Often regarded as the unluckiest digit, the number thirteen has been feared for hundreds of years although its provenance seems to be somewhat unknown. There are many theories which lend themselves to this superstition but the majority are pure coincidence and the rest are likely fabricated stories to scaremonger – for instance, it is said that the condemned traditionally had to climb thirteen steps to reach the gallows, and Apollo 13 was the only unsuccessful moon mission recorded, although its fate was predetermined prior to launch due to a mechanical error. 13 even has its own specifically recognised phobia called Triskaidekaphobia, and the superstitious try to avoid bad luck by steering clear of anything numbered or labeled thirteen – with number plates being no exception!

Last year CAP received numerous enquiries from dealers about the potential impact of Triskaidekaphobia, on demand for ’13 plate cars and the impact on their depreciation. However, without hard data on the number of truly superstitious people and insight into how seriously they really take the issue, it was to remain a matter of conjecture. The company went on to say that they were unsure as to whether the used values of vehicles bearing these plates would be affected, but stated that it would be highly unlikely. Meanwhile the DVLA were preparing for the dip in registrations, having been set to give new car buyers the option of avoiding the dreaded number for longer by extending the ’52 plate period, although decided against it at the start of this year.

But is there really such a hype surrounding the ’13 plate or has it been blown out of proportion? New car retailers are still managing to entice buyers with their 0% finance deals, five year manufacturer warranty cover and three years free servicing for instance, and there will always be consumers in the market for a new model. The SMMT even reported that new UK car registrations for March had risen for the 13th consecutive month, totalling 394,806 units which was an impressive 5.9% uplift from March 2012. They added that over the past twelve months registrations had increased by 140,000 units, or 7.2%, to 2.086million units.  The Trader Media Group believe that this surge is set to continue, estimating that new car registrations will have risen by 2.7%  this year compared to 2012 with figures expected to reach 2.1million units, which they say will largely be driven by growth in the private sector as well as recovery in fleet registrations.

In the used car parc, soaring retail prices are reflecting the rise in demand for older marques, and more buyers are recognising that older vehicles can represent even better value for money that new over the long term (especially when coupled with a comprehensive warranty and recovery package). But whilst values are currently at an all-time high it is inevitable that they will drop again when the demand settles down, so for the moment buyers are weighing up their options. Shortly the ’13 plate vehicles will be entering the used market, and it will be down to the retailer to present an attractive proposition either by discounting heavily or adding value. In our opinion it would be highly unlikely, especially given the current stock shortage, that buyers in the market for a used car would refuse a nearly-new vehicle just because it beared the ’13 plates.

Motor Trade Insider predict that there is likely to be a short term rise in the amount of personal plates being acquired, as buyers keen to avoid the ’13 plate turn to private registrations in a bid to avoid the perceived bad luck. We believe that consumers will continue to be driven by their financial circumstances and not the numbers on a licence plate, so those dealers offering added-value over and above that of their competitors will be the ones who reap the rewards.

Did you know…

A vehicle’s age identifier is preceded by two letters. The first refers to the region it was registered, e.g. A for Anglia. The second specifics the DVLA office within that region. As such, A to N represents Peterborough, O to U Norwich, and V to Y Ipswich. The final three letters – which appear after the age identifier – are allocated to dealerships. So, AB13 TVD would be a car registered in Anglia at the Peterborough Office between March 1st 2013 and August 31st. Thanks to motoring.co.uk for sharing this.