The tail end of 2002 has seen a shortage of new vehicles and imports as well as reduced numbers of one-year-old vehicles. This has fuelled the 'silly season', sending prices of certain models through the roof. The Vauxhall Astra, for example, has risen by anything up to £1,000, with short wheelbase Ford Transits following suit.
Christmas obviously spells an increase in companies delivering freight and with consumers demanding goods before the festive break, retailers were forced to buy vehicles, no matter what the price, to satisfy demand. At the end of November and beginning of December, this situation did leave something of a dilemma in buyers' minds – buy now and pay premium price, or play the market at its own game, waiting a week or two for the expected shift in the market and prices to drop? Many retailers played the market, buying to order rather than to stock forecourts, but as the market showed no sign of dropping, high prices simply had to be paid.
'The inevitable Christmas shut-down will level out the market,' predicts Wright, 'ensuring more sensible prices as we move into 2003. If we can use the previous couple of years as a benchmark, January and February are likely to be the strongest months of 2003 with high demand, but thanks to an injection of stock we will see more realistic prices.'
With another anticipated strong year for the LCV market, Manheim has invested heavily in innovative technology to ensure residual values are maximised with accurate assessment of wear and tear being made possible.
The CV-specific software is being developed by Manheim Auctions and KAH Systems. The technology will utilise state-of-the-art Windows Pocket PC handhelds, in association with blue tooth and web communication technologies. Accurate identification and appraisals on commercial vehicles are critical to setting and maximising residual values.
Wright said: 'Commercial vehicles can often have a hard life, which can lead to a high degree of wear and tear.
'Our new system allows leasing companies to quickly assess the costs of repairing unacceptably high levels of damage, so they can recoup them from the vehicle user.'