Yet forecasting has become far more complex in recent years as model cycles have shortened, new niches appeared, and consumer demand for once popular cars completely vanished. Add into the mix two years of record new car sales, burgeoning double-digit growth for sales of diesel cars, and the new registration plate system, and the outlook for used car values has never looked so uncertain or precarious.
But what will the impact of these be on used car prices next year, in 2004 and 2005? What do the professional forecasters and industry market influencers think will happen to used car values? Are your projections in line with their forecasts?
Fleet News Facing the Future conference will address the residual value debate head-on, identifying the model sectors more likely to prove popular to used car buyers in 2005 and 2006, and therefore more likely to retain their value. Experts will also highlight areas of higher risk, the red zones for depreciation, and the safe havens for predictable used car prices.
Ramesh Notra, chief economist at CAP, and Adrian Rushmore, managing editor of Glass's Information Services, will present their own companies' views of the future used car market, while John Lewis, director general of the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association will represent the industry's views on how best to maximise future residual values.
SOMEWHERE on the horizon there's a hydrogen economy waiting to happen where everyone will drive around in zero emission cars producing nothing but water from their exhaust pipes.
But in the meantime green-focused employers still need their staff to be mobile and their goods to be delivered in a viable and cost effective fashion that minimises pollution and environmental damage.
The new company company car tax has driven fleet demand for diesel-powered cars because of their lower emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the principal greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
But diesel cars also emit particulates that are blamed for damaging air quality and causing respiratory diseases, particularly in urban areas.
The 'green' alternative to diesel is liquefied petroleum gas which produces lower and cleaner tailpipe emissions, but which also emits higher levels of CO2 than diesel. So what fuel policies should environmentally-conscious fleets adopt?
And will these policies satisfy the operational, human resource and budgetary requirements of fleets in the real world?
To debate this future fuel issue, two of the most influential figures in the UK motor industry, Robin Woolcock, managing director of Volkswagen Group UK, and Jonathan Murray, director of TransportEnergy (which oversees the PowerShift programme designed to encourage the uptake of alternatively-fuelled vehicles) will present at the Fleet News Facing the Future conference.
The structure of the conference, under the chairmanship of BBC 2 Newsnight's Jeremy Vine, will also give delegates the opportunity to contribute to the debate via vigorous question and answer sessions.
Fleet's role in the UK's transport and congestion challenge
WHAT should be done to combat congestion and pollution on UK roads? Should local or central Government impose road tolls to reduce traffic volumes? Should employers be taxed on the number of workplace parking charges available to staff? Do clean fuel vehicles powered by liquefied petroleum gas have a future? And what steps should employers be taking to meet their health and safety responsibilities towards at-work drivers?
The answers to these questions will determine fleet strategy for the next decade and beyond, and fleet executives will have the opportunity to hear the answers from the heart of Government at the Fleet News industry conference, Facing the Future, on November 6.
Transport Minister David Jamieson will lay out the Government's transport policy, how the Government hopes to work with fleets to combat gridlock and pollution, and the actions that Government would like to see employers undertake to ensure cleaner, safer roads.
Conference delegates will also have the chance to put questions to the Minister, to clarify their understanding of official policy and to have their own opinions heard by one of the key influencers in the Labour administration.
They will also hear a radical vision for the future of transport in the UK from Professor David Begg, chair of the Commission for Integrated Transport, one of the most respected and influential transport professionals in the UK, and a speaker guaranteed not to pull his punches.
There is no doubt that the problems, difficulties and inefficiencies facing travellers in the UK seem to be intensifying.
Many major routes are severely congested for hours every day, affecting commuters, employees driving to clients, and businesses trying to make deliveries.
The alternatives, however, are no less appealing with strikes stalling the London Underground, and high cost and uncertain reliability undermining the appeal of the railways.
Facing the Future is an ideal opportunity for fleet executives to get face-to-face with a Government minister, hear first hand official Government policy and timescales, and then to factor this information into future corporate strategies.
THE way leasing companies and fleets buy their cars and service them is set for a quiet revolution as manufacturers reorganise their dealer networks to co-operate with the rules of the new block exemption.
The majority of UK dealerships have now been served with franchise termination notices as car makers restructure their agreements to comply with the new rules.
However, the new trading environment also opens opportunities for new players to enter the market both to sell new cars and to service and maintain the fleet parc.
On the continent, the combination of the new block exemption rules and the single currency creates the opportunity for dealers and fleets to acquire cars in low cost pre-tax markets, accelerating the development of price harmonisation, while falling trade barriers are leading to cross-border remarketing opportunities for end of contract hire, lease and company cars.
But what will be the impact of the new block exemption in the UK where dealer groups are considerably stronger than their continental colleagues, and where our right-hand drive market mitigates against cross-border trade?
Will supermarkets and internet sites start to play a key role in new car sales? Will dealers sub-contract service and maintenance work to third party suppliers? And will the European Commission stand by and watch the new rules come into force or will it continue with its determined strategy to create a genuine pan-European single market. Automotive expert and MEP Malcolm Harbour will address the event via a live link from the European Parliament, offering an insider's view of the political situation regarding the EU car market.
And Rick Yarrow, managing director of Eurocarprice, will analyse the new and used car pricing data that his company collates to highlight the impact of the single currency, pricing trends across Europe, and the outlook for price harmonisation.
Book your place
Facing the Future, the Fleet News industry conference sponsored by Manheim Auctions and Kwik-Fit Fleet, takes place on November 6 at the Hilton London Metropole, Edgware Road, London, from 10am until 4.30pm.
Tickets cost £195 +VAT.
Otherwise email firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01733 468123.