New-reg cars: buying guide and latest deals

Save thousands on the latest 71-plate models with great deals on new-reg cars and all you need to know about the new number plate

BuyaCar team
Nov 22, 2021

The new 71-reg number plate is here and so is your chance to pick up the keys to your next car. Under the current number plate system a new batch of plates is released twice a year, in March and September, and many car buyers are keen to acquire a new car with the latest plate attached.

Manufacturers recognise this opportunity for sales, so at the time of a new plate release, you'll often find a barrage of no-deposit or 0% APR finance deals aimed at enticing buyers to their latest models.

The arrival of a new number plate is always a catalyst for new car sales, but buying a brand new car isn't the only way to get your hands on the latest 71-plate models.

With a bit of patience and know-how, anyone in the market for a new car can instead turn towards what are known as pre-registered cars. These are, for all intents and purposes, brand new cars, but because they are not 'technically' new cars, they are often available at vastly reduced prices.

Our explainer will tell you everything you need to know about pre-registered cars, and if you're interested, there are hundreds of great pre-registered deals available right now, with thousands of pounds worth of savings on offer.

When are new reg cars sold in Britain?

New reg cars are released in six-month periods here in the UK. The first six months begins on 1 March and the second on 1 September. Number plates fitted to new cars from March to August feature a two-digit abbreviation of the current year (21 in the latest instance) sandwiched in between five letters. For example, BC21 BAC.

Number plates issued from September to February use the last two numbers of the year plus fifty. As of September 2021, the 71-plate has been attached to all new cars sold in the UK.

Options for buying a new-reg car

Discounts, free equipment, deposit contributions and low-rate finance are all common incentives March and September buyers can enjoy. Fortunately, these apply across the entire market, so it doesn’t matter if you're interested in a small car or a seven-seater, the chances are that you can snaffle a bargain. You can also choose between getting a car straight away or ordering one to your personal specification:

  • In-stock new-reg deals 
    The best way of getting a 71-plate quickly is to buy a car that has already been built and in stock at a dealership. Most manufacturers have plenty of these in-stock vehicles ready for delivery – often at a bargain price.
  • Build a new-reg car to order
    New reg car incentives are available for new car factory orders too, where you can select the exact specification you're looking for. You'll normally need to wait several weeks for the vehicle to arrive though, so it's unlikely that you'll be among the first to have the new registration plate.

71-reg car deals

Following on from 2020, 2021 has been a difficult year for car sales due to the pandemic, so expect the availability of pre-registered and used cars with the latest plates to be significantly lower than in previous years, and all of that at a premium with used car prices at an all-time high. There are currently 45 pre-registered models available on BuyaCar, but this number will include remaining stock from the previous 20-plate release.

0% finance 71-reg car deals

There are always manufacturers offering 0% APR finance on brand new cars, which is great if you have the cash spare to pay what are normally quite bulky deposits, but it'll pay off, in the long run, thanks to that lack of interest.

You may be able to combine a 0% finance deal with other savings, but often you'll find that the biggest discounts are reserved for buyers who take out finance which charges interest.

Every finance quote should include the total amount that's payable, so you can easily compare which offer is best for you, whether you're seeking to pay the least in the long run, or aiming for the lowest monthly payments.

Pre-registered car deals

Dealerships often pre-register their own stock to hit sales targets. Effectively, this means they are buying their own stock, so any customer who buys a pre-reg car is technically the second owner.

Pre-registered cars are sold on as ‘nearly new’ or ‘new-in stock’ and because they technically aren’t brand new, often come with a healthy discount. Buyers who are prepared to look past the fact they aren’t the first owner can save thousands.

It might sound like brands who sell fewer cars would be the only ones to pre-register vehicles, but that isn’t the case. You'll find pre-registered 2021 cars from Audi, Volkswagen, Peugeot and Volvo on BuyaCar and there are many, many more.

Potential savings are at a peak when a new reg comes out. "Despite the deals on brand new cars, it’s usually cheaper to buy a nearly new car with an older number plate, even though they don’t always qualify for the same finance incentives," says Philip Nothard, retail and consumer specialist at cap hpi (which analyses the car market).

"Nearly new cars have to be reduced in price to sit below attractive brand new car finance offers," he says.

The savings you make on a nearly new car won’t be cancelled out by a lower second-hand value, so car finance options should be competitive. Some dealers have a minimum time they are required to keep a pre-registered car in stock for. If you are lucky, they will become sick of the sight of certain cars and drop the price further in an effort to find a buyer quickly.


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