Motorists rarely pick the no-frills basic model when they buy a new car nowadays, but how many optional extras people do choose seems clearly linked with regional location.
The findings come from car-selling service Wizzle.co.uk, which helps motorists sell their second-hand cars directly to dealers.
Optional extras have become big business for car makers in recent years, with customers sometimes spending almost as much again on added luxury features as the cost of a basic model.
The number of extras loaded onto a car – such as air conditioning, entertainment system upgrades and heated seats – is generally reflected in the car’s resale value, often adding hundreds or even thousands of pounds compared with a basic model.
Analysts at Wizzle.co.uk looked at the average selling prices of cars on its site across England and found a big gap between the values achieved in the south and the north. Digging deeper, they found that the difference was caused by the number of optional extras added.
And that increased, the further south they were. It means the average car in and around Portsmouth typically commands a price 25% higher than the basic model. In contrast, the average car in Newcastle sells for only 8.5% more than the base model – reflecting fewer optional extras on the vehicle.
Bristol and the surrounding area was found to have the most luxury-loving drivers, with average prices a whopping 44% above the base model. In general, Wizzle.co.uk analysts found a clear pattern with the value added by optional extras rising consistently in every major regional centre, the further south they looked.
Wizzle.co.uk founder, Sébastien Duval, said: “It’s a remarkable example of the famous north-south divide and relative regional economic prosperity is probably the main reason. Luxury or technological extras are nice to have but obviously not essential for getting around. So it makes sense for drivers in the less prosperous areas of the country to reign in their spending on options when they’re buying something as expensive as a car. When we compare basic models sold in different areas of the country the price-difference effects disappear, so the contrasts we found are all down to the extras fitted on the cars. Whether it is a case of tighter economics for northerners, or southerners really being softies, it’s the clearest example of a north-south divide among motorists in England that we have seen.”