Fiat UK said on Wednesday a complete overhaul of its used vehicle strategy last year had been “a massive success” with the brand reporting a 42% increase in wholesale business to dealers and trade buyers last year.

Used car sales rose steadily throughout the year and the number of dealers buying online from the Remarketing website quadrupled, supplemented by a more comprehensive auction programme spread more widely across the UK.

This trend has continued this year, with sales in January and February up 150% year on year and demand remaining strong.

The result is that Fiat UK now has a firm grip on its used car stock, with limited availability on most models leading to a significant increase in residual values, the distributor said.

“There is no denying that Fiat had excess used car stock going into 2008.  When I joined the business in February last year the objective was clear; reduce stocks without damaging values in the market place,” said used vehicle remarketing manager Simon Wheeler.

“Following a complete overhaul of our used car strategy we now find ourselves with stock levels that allow us to drive the used market to the benefit of our dealers and customers.

“Some cars, such as Grande Punto, are now in very short supply which has, in turn, pushed up residual values in the used car guides. CAP Black Book has, for example, increased values on 12-18 month old Grande Punto models by as much as 5% from February to March alone this year. Recently our own electronic auctions have seen some Grande Punto derivatives consistently making 120% of CAP trade prices – more than GBP1,200 above guide values. That’s a sign of a car the public really wants.”

Fiat said the reduction of used car stock has also been helped by the used car market moving in its favour. The wholesale demand for sub-GBP8,000 used cars has risen dramatically in the past six months, and its has been well equipped to take advantage of this trend with its model line.

“By offering a regular stock of used cars through all our sales channels, we have built up a strong wholesale following for the product range,” added Wheeler. “The growth in demand for sub-GBP8,000 used cars is massive right now, and dealers and used car traders alike want to buy stock. Grande Punto and Bravo in particular are in demand, but we simply can’t supply them in the volumes required.”