Fleet News

Disposals: stock shortage as sellers get wise

'THE summer has started with the used light commercial vehicle market experiencing a shortage in stock throughout Manheim Auctions' eight UK sites. Fleets seem to be changing their strategy of selling vans in the summer months, where prices can be slightly depressed. Minds are more focused on holidays than auction halls!

Instead of selling their vans in the key summer months, they are either holding back until September when the market livens up, or have changed their replacement cycles so vans come back at other times during the year, avoiding these traditional lulls.

This change in tactics has meant there are fewer vans appearing for sale at auction and so vehicles in good condition are selling extremely well at above average prices. At a recent sale at Manheim Auctions Haydock, 199 vans were sold, highlighting the increased interest for ex-fleet commercial vehicles. Vendors included a range of daily rental, contract hire companies, finance houses and major fleets including Consignia and Scottish Power.

As demonstrated by this sale at Haydock, we have attracted a mix of high quality vehicles that have in turn attracted a number of hungry buyers. It shows that offering a good range of stock in a single sale does bring the buyers out in force, as they know that after a single visit to the auction, they can come away with a good range of stock.

The market situation is a big turnaround from recent years when the amount of stock in the market outweighed the number of buyers, resulting in slightly depressed residual values. The prediction is for more vans coming into the auction halls in September and October and pent-up demand, meaning those extra vehicles should find a home with no problems, especially if well prepared and presented.

The biggest shift in marketing prices in the past couple of months is in the area of car- derived vans, the relatively new breed of light commercial that can accommodate around one tonne of payload, but offers car-like driving characteristics.

Prices have shifted downwards simply because of the volume of vans coming into the market. The Berlingo continues its popularity in this sector, but like its close rivals is suffering from slightly reduced values, while the 'jewel in the crown' in this sector, the Vauxhall Astravan, is also seeing a slight fall as more vehicles reach the auctions. There is no real sign of the new breed of the novelty vans such as the Fiat Doblo Cargo coming to the second hand market, so we don't know how these are going to fare.

One seasoned campaigner, the Ford Escort van, is showing that age does not deter buyers from bidding for a van that isn't the latest model. It continually generates bids as its parts are cheap so you can spend only a few pounds on a vehicle to make it presentable. It's worth other van makers taking into account this element in a vehicle's make-up as expensive parts prices will help depress second hand values.

The three to five-year-old bracket of the market has maintained its strength and well- prepared vehicles with about 50,000 miles on the clock can make up to 50% of cost new. This sector is fuelled by self-employed cash buyers with no reliance on financial services, which have to be offered on vehicles under two years old and with under 40,000 miles on the clock. There are never enough three to five-year-old vehicles to keep buyers satisfied, hence the high prices achieved and consistent demand.

This time last year, due to the outbreak of foot and mouth and the huge effects on the tourism industry, the traditional surge in demand for minibuses did not occur. However, demand is back this year, highlighting that the change in this trend was due to unavoidable circumstances and not any inherent change in the market.

All in all, a positive market with no sign of a drop in values, fuelled by fewer vehicles in the market being chased by a number of buyers.'

  • By Alex Wright, Group Commercial Vehicle Manager, Manheim Auctions
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