Kilometer Zero Cars: What They Are and Why They Are in High Demand

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Kilometer zero cars is one of the hottest topics in the automotive marketplace. But what exactly is a kilometer zero car and why are they in such high demand? In this article, CARFAX Europe takes a look at the classification of kilometer zero cars and how they differ from other types of new cars, as well as why they are not considered used vehicles.

Defining New and Used Cars

Before getting into the specifics of kilometer zero cars, let's first look at the basic categories of vehicles in the automotive marketplace: new and used. While this may seem obvious, the lines can sometimes blur in today's modern vehicle landscape.

Used Cars: A vehicle is defined as "used" when it has had a registered owner and has been used under normal circumstances on regular streets and highways since the date it was manufactured. This generally implies that the vehicle has some normal "wear-and-tear" from usage, as well as any number of kilometers on the odometer, depending on the driver's usage habits and age of the vehicle.

New Cars: A vehicle is defined as "new" when it has not been used since the date it was manufactured. The usage of the vehicle necessary to transport it from the factory to the where it is sold is not included in this definition. This includes driving the vehicle to the transport vehicle (e.g. train, boat, etc.), moving the car around dealership lots, as well as in preparation for sale (e.g. car wash, service center, etc.). Some new cars will have several kilometers already on the odometer, but this is usually lower than 100km.

Types of Used Cars

There are several types of used cars which can be found in the automotive market. Classifications often times correspond to the type of usage, as well as the age of the car.

Employee cars are vehicles which have been used by employees of the brand, and are owned by a dealership or the manufacturing brand directly. They normally have only been used for a period of 6-12 months, and usually have less than 10,000km. Despite being almost new, employee cars are often sold at a huge discount over a brand-new car.

Pre-Owned cars tend to be used longer (around 1-2 years) and have more kilometers on the odometer, though in many cases no more than 25,000. You will find a lot of pre-owned cars coming from rental companies or companies' business car fleets. Many of these are also sold with a warranty from the dealership.

Second-hand cars effectually cover the entire used car category, because all used cars are second-hand. But the term is normally used to describe a vehicle which has been used for a number of years and has relatively more kilometers on the clock. These vehicles are owned more often than not privately and come in all varieties of wear-and-tear, from gently used to heavily abused.

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Types of New Cars

Despite all new cars essentially being the same, it is still possible to organize them into a few specific categories based on their manufacturing origin.

Built-to-Order cars are only manufactured at the request of a specific customer. Each aspect of the vehicle, be it color, engine size, transmission, optional equipment, etc., is chosen by the buyer. This normally means the wait time before the vehicle is delivered is longer.

Stock cars are those which are produced by the manufacturer and distributed to dealerships around the world. They have a certain model, engine, color, and optional equipment range which was chosen by the manufacturer or the dealer in hopes that it fits the needs of a buyer. More attractive prices, as well as discounts, are often given for these vehicles.

Kilometer zero cars are closely related to stock cars, with one caveat: they have already been registered by the manufacturer or dealer. This means a change of ownership is required when a kilometer zero car is purchased.

Even Though Kilometer Zero Cars Are Already Registered, It Doesn't Mean They're Used

The reason dealers sometimes register kilometer zero cars themselves is to meet their minimum sales quotas. Despite being registered, the vehicle follows all the necessary qualifications to be considered a new vehicle, meaning it has only been "used" for transport from the manufacturer to the dealership, and is parked on the lot like all the rest of the new cars. Despite being technically brand-new, if you purchase a kilometer zero car, you will be the second registered owner and need to transfer the ownership.

Be aware of dealers trying to sell employee cars as a kilometer zero car. If the vehicle you're interested in has a higher number of kilometers (usually anything above 100km), has been used for testing, as a courtesy / loaner vehicle, or is driven by an employee of the dealership, it is no longer a kilometer zero car, but a used car. Be sure to question the seller about this.

The High Demand of Kilometer Zero Cars

The reason kilometer zero cars are in such high demand is the fact that dealerships are aggressively trying to sell them as quickly as possible, normally resulting in large discounts or other attractive pricing offers. Dealers are in a hurry to sell their kilometer zero cars because the longer they hold them in their stock, the more money it costs them in depreciation.

Kilometer zero cars are very popular and can be a good alternative for those searching to buy a new car but don’t want to pay a high price. Though, shopping around is always a good idea. There are times when you can find a better equipped used car (employee or pre-owned, for example) for around the same price. While they may have more kilometers on the odometer, the amount can be negligible or offset by the benefits from added optional equipment.

Check the CARFAX of any used car

If you are considering buying a used car, it's always recommended to learn as much about the vehicle before you buy it. One of the best ways to do this is by checking the CARFAX Vehicle History Report. The CARFAX Report is a detailed, easy-to-read resource which clearly lays out helpful information about a vehicle's past, including the following:

  • Ownership History
  • Vehicle Usage
  • Import / Export History
  • Service History of the Car 
  • Maintenance Records
  • High Mileage Check
  • Odometer Problems
  • And Much More…
CARFAX's ever-expanding database includes over 14 billion records from trusted sources around the globe. Before you buy a used car, check the CARFAX!