Fleet News

Mixed messages on future prospects for the used trade

##CAPsml--left####Martin Ward--right##I SPENT a couple of days last week at an Audi factory in Germany. During that time I was able to discuss with other guests the current state of the market and how the future looks, predominantly from the leasing industry and companies with large fleets.

Many of them, in line with our own research, have had mixed feedback from the trade. They all need stock and the forecourts need to look full and busy, as the worst thing for any garage is for it to be half empty and look like it is about to be shut down.

But the stock needs to be right, at a good price, and importantly, in the right colour. This was brought up in every conversation. Cars that are the wrong specification and colour simply do not sell.

Nigel Fletcher, operations director from ALD Automotive (formerly known as BCH Vehicle Management) says they are currently doing well from both their retail site and through the trade with cars that are under three years-old and with less than 40,000 miles.

Nice stock if the trade can find it, but getting very rare. They are also easily finding homes for cars aged between 12 and 18 months, such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Corsa, KA2 and Punto.

Anything similar in size and price is looking great value. The general feeling is that the acceptable mileage limit is about 80,000, although some put the cut-off point lower than this.

Steve King, from Zenith Vehicle Contracts, says selling high mileage vehicles is very difficult, despite there being plenty of life left in these cars, as reliability and build quality has improved dramatically over the years.

There is, however, a feeling that prices have stabilised this year, as uncertainty over new prices has all but gone. He also says that anything a bit unusual is doing particularly well, such as small 4x4s - Honda CR-V, Land Rover Freelander and Toyota RAV4, but larger petrol-engined 4x4s are getting harder work.

Mike Trebbick, from Geest Plc, which has a fleet of 500 vehicles believes the returning confidence is helping used prices, but that some manufacturers are building in price increases, sometimes by back door methods. Many feel that there is a distinct lack of buzz in the trade, but are all continuing to sell cars either direct to dealers or through auctions.

Future looks bleak for the big petrol beasts

THE future of large petrol engined vehicles is in doubt, particularly in medium sized cars. They really are unnecessary, particularly on the used market.

The main cause for concern is that there has to be a wider selection of vehicles available on the used market, with different mileages and varying ages, to allow the public more choice.

This should, in reality, keep prices stable. High mileage cars are really becoming a problem and this is multiplied when a large number of the same sort of vehicle are in the market at the same time, the age-old problem of supply and demand.

I spend a lot of my time with the buyers of cars coming from the leasing industry, so it has been refreshing to spend a couple of days with disposers. Audi's used car operations manager, Keith Howlett, says that balance is everything, and putting the right cars in front of the right audience.

But the cars need to be presented in the best possible condition. Far too much product is being offered in a 'defleeted' state, requiring work. To optimise returns, attention should be given to the vehicle's cosmetic appearance, regardless of the manufacturer or model.

Germany hand it to England on a plate!

NOW that England are through to the World Cup Finals, it will be interesting to see which manufacturer has a limited edition relating to the event. Will it be a 1.6 Beckham Coupe, or a 2.5 V6 Owen Estate? Of course this sort of connection will be more widespread this time around, since England got through with thanks to the new number plate system - 5-1!

  • FNN allows you to search for REAL prices reached by REAL vehicles sold at the country's leading car auctions. To start your search click here.

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