Fleet News

Car park snobbery, or good sense?

##CAPsml--left####Martin Ward--right##USED cars need badges - it is important to establish exactly what they are, and how to value them correctly.

The trade are masters at undervaluing cars because they are not sure of the model, or the specification. They have an uncanny habit of looking at the cheapest in the book and trying to buy it for that price, simply because they are unsure of the model. If it turns out to be a better model, they feel they have won the lottery.

Badge engineering, as it has been technically called for the past few years, is increasingly a factor in used car values. It is also an issue where vans are sent to auction. If the trade does not know exactly what model it is, or whether it is short, medium or long wheelbase, buyers will again try to buy it for the cheapest possible price.

BMW has been criticised for offering de-badging. Although other manufacturers offer this service, it seems only BMW drivers prefer in some cases to have their cars without boot badges. It is normally the lower-end cars that are de-badged. But BMW is unusual in the fact that the exact specification, date first registered, who supplied the vehicle new, and service history can be obtained by any BMW dealer armed with the PIN number. This openness about a car's history can only help residuals as it gives the confidence that every dealer needs. Until other manufacturers catch up, it is back to sticking badges on cars - not a bad thing when it comes to car park snobbery.

Proton must prove itself

IT appears that Proton is engaged in a concerted effort to attack the fleet market. The recent introduction of the Impian is Proton's best effort so far to target leasing and contract hire companies.

Proton has been in the UK market for more than 10 years and has had a roller-coaster ride. After getting off to a great start, fortunes have been mixed. With no real clear marketing plans, the public was confused, as was the dealer network, at the constant re-organisation of staff and model line-up.

It takes years of consistency to become established with customers, particularly fleet customers. It seemed to take SEAT and Skoda forever to establish themselves in an already crowded corporate market.

For yet another manufacturer to secure orders quickly may not be so easy in the short term. In the longer term, the products have to be better than the rest and offer value for money, with image being another factor. With CAP Monitor predicting mid-20% residual values at three years/60,000 miles for the Impian, Proton has some way to go to prove itself.

High-mileage strugglers

AS nice used cars continue to be sought after, albeit at softening prices, the rest are still on a slide. High mileage cars are now really struggling, with 80,000 miles the ceiling for most dealers.

When it gets to 100,000 miles, there are hardly any bidders. Some auctions are turning away higher mileage cars. The difference in values between cars with up to 60,000 miles and those over 80,000 is getting wider.

The disposal manager with plenty of high mileage cars coming off the fleet must plan where to sell them, as traditional sources of sale may not be the best.

Van sales vary

Business is still a little patchy in the commercial vehicle market, according to the senior editor of Red Book, David Hill. However, there are still some deals to be made.

Astra vans are performing steadily, with the exception of the DTi model, which is not achieving the expected premiums. Renault Kangoos and Vauxhall Combos are steady and although Ford Escorts are still around in numbers they are holding their own.

Bigger high-mileage vans are hard work, with the exception of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, but even 308s have to be tidy. Ford Transit long wheel base high-roofs are coming closer to standard roof values.

  • 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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