An estimated £1billion of pent-up demand could be unleashed by consumers in the New Year during a winter bonanza of car sales, as UK dealers find themselves able to offer 'fleet sized' discounts to the retail car buyer from this weekend, says Autohit plc - an online motoring information portal (www.autohit.com)

Although dealers will effectively be able to offer discounts of up to 20-25%from 1 December onwards (relating to the final phase of UK trade and industry minister Stephen Byers's legislation to reduce new car prices), many do not feel the consumer will enjoy the real benefits until the New Year.

"Dealers are still unsure how manufacturers will allow them to operate under the new 'free' pricing environment. Once the ground rules have been established, it will be up to the dealer as to what price he charges the buyer," explained Steve Evans, Autohit's CEO.

Manufacturers have less flexibility this time around because the UK government has unilaterally imposed a 1 December deadline by which time they must declare their discount intentions. "December 1 is definitely a key date for the franchised motor dealer and an even more significant date for the UK consumer," added Evans.

"Some manufacturers have continued to drag their heels in responding to the Government's initiative, but the evidence indicates that the consumer is now ready to return and buy British," added Evans.