What the retail sale is to the retail trade, the model change is to the dealership.
Just as ski sweaters and winter jackets have to make room for T-shirts and swimwear, the last copies of a current car also have to leave the yard before a new generation of vehicles rolls into the showroom.
These can be golden times for thrifty car buyers.
It's not just that cars are generally becoming more expensive, generation after generation, because they grow in size, often have more power and are better equipped.
But to promote sales, the last copies of a series are often available as special models with particularly lavish features and an extra low price, says automotive economist Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from the Center Automotive Research.
And dealers usually also grant larger discounts for this.
"Up to 30 percent is easy to get there," says Dudenhöffer.
Arithmetic games on the golf course
The decision is made easier by the fact that the technical leaps in some areas that are important for the customer are often very small, says Jan Burgard of the Berylls strategy consultant.
He takes the VW Golf as an example.
The standard consumption of the Golf VII 1.0 TSI (63 kW / 85 PS) was 4.8 liters at a base price of 19,520 euros.
The generation change has given the similarly motorized Golf VIII 1.0 TSI (66 kW / 90 PS) a standard consumption of 4.5 liters.
The customer saves around 40 cents per 100 kilometers with the new model for at least 19,881 euros, he calculates.
“In terms of price, the generations seem to be close together.
However, shortly before the change to the eighth Golf generation, discounts of up to 7700 euros were to be achieved on the discontinued model. From an economic point of view, buying the older generation was obviously the right decision. "
Auto teething troubles and Co.
When it comes to the question of the discontinued model or the new generation, it's not just about the money, but also about the quality.
Often times, the quality of a car improves over the years, says KÜS spokesman Hans-Georg Marmit: "Production has established itself and teething problems have grown out."
Especially with major technical changes, there are always problems that spoil the fun of the acquisition for buyers of completely new models.
Even bestsellers like the VW Golf are not immune to this.
The new generations do not always differ from their predecessors in a revolutionary way, but a series such as the VW Golf changes noticeably over time
It is not for nothing that Lower Saxony has been asking 26,000 customers in Germany alone in the workshop for software updates since January, because the completely new infotainment system keeps getting stuck and annoying with incomprehensible error messages, confirms VW spokesman Stefan Voswinkel.
“This doesn't happen that often anymore,” says Marmit.
“But when there are such service campaigns, it is more likely to happen with young than with old models.
Because the longer they have been on the market, the more errors have been found and corrected. "
The electric car is an exception
And it doesn't have to come to a defect.
For many interested parties, such radical changes as with the digitized operating system of the VW Golf, the discontinuation of the naturally aspirated engines in the last generation of the Porsche 911 or the abandonment of manual transmissions or six-cylinders, for example, are reason enough to return to the old car, says Burgard.
However, the experts unanimously make one exception: electric cars.
“Technologically not yet as exhausted as the internal combustion engine, when changing models they usually offer significant advances in battery capacity, range, energy consumption or quick charging capability,” says Ferdinand Dudenhöffer.
"You are therefore rather badly advised with an obsolete model, and it makes sense to concentrate on the successor."
In addition to the price and the technology, there is another factor that plays a role in the purchase decision: the delivery time.
"Anyone who wants the new types of lights, the more modern engine, the all-wheel drive or the greater range will end up with the new model and may have to wait a long time for delivery," says Marmit.
"If, on the other hand, you urgently need a new car and do not have such high demands on your vehicle, you can opt for the discontinued model, save a few thousand and leave the yard straight away."
Holding period and traders willing to negotiate
You also have to consider the residual value when reselling, which of course falls faster with discontinued models than with a completely new model, warns Dudenhöffer: “If you change your car every two or three years, you should go for the successor model, otherwise there is a risk of greater losses later .
However, if you are planning for the age of six or more, you can neglect this factor and are well served with the discontinued model. "
Although these notes are helpful, they do not provide any clear advice.
Therefore Burgard tries to compromise and advises to order cars about a year after the market launch.
"Then most of the teething troubles have been cured, all drive and equipment variants are available, the manufacturers have not yet started to cut out individual extras, and the dealers are already ready to negotiate again."
Even if the latest generation shines sparklingly clean in the showroom, the predecessor can still be a good new purchase