And in the UK the average price fell by 4% over the 12 months to January 2003, according to the latest EurotaxGlass's European Fleet Index of residual values. But there is good news for UK fleets disposing of end-of-contract cars – in the final quarter of last year, prices rose by 2.7%. For Europe as a whole, values also rose by an average of 1.9%.
The EurotaxGlass's European Fleet Index is compiled quarterly by eurocarprice.com. It compares residual values for each country against the average three-year residual value for all the euro currency countries, represented by Index 100. Residual values in the UK are higher than the average for ex-fleet vehicles in the euro currency zone.
Rick Yarrow, managing director of eurocarprice.com, said: 'The outlook for European residual values continues to look poor as the EurotaxGlass's fleet index shows a downward trend, year on year, for the third quarter in succession. Residual values in most countries received a boost as usual at the start of the year. However, this failed to take average values back to the levels of 12 months ago.
'Contrary to trends in previous quarters, diesel model values (-2.1%) are now dropping faster than petrol models (-1.0%).'
Eurocarprice.com found that the Benelux countries experienced some of the strongest annual improvements in fleet residual values, with Belgium leading the way, followed by The Netherlands. Spain is also performing well.
But the UK and Italy continue to lead the downward trends, it said. France and Portugal performed poorly in the last quarter, although Portugal continued to have by far the highest residual values in Europe, the report said, adding that despite Germany still showing positive trends, there were signs of a slow down.
The study also shows that diesels continue to hold their value better than petrol cars. In the UK the average three-year-old diesel model retains 35% of its original value, up 0.6% compared to the previous quarter. Petrol models in the UK are worth 33% of their original price, up 0.6 % compared to the previous quarter.
The study said: 'Across Western Europe as a whole, the average vehicle in the EurotaxGlass's fleet index retains 41% of its original value. This is a rise of 0.7% compared to the previous quarter. Diesels overall retain 44% and petrol variants retain 39%.
'Again, there are wide variations across the 12 markets. The UK suffers the worst depreciation, with three-year-old cars holding on to only 33% of their original price. Poland and Portugal have the lowest depreciation, cars retaining 50% of their value after three years.'
It found that all segments are down with the exception of executive diesels. In the small segment, the Seat Ibiza is the only model to show any increases in petrol and diesel versions. Renault Clio, Opel Corsa and Citroen Saxo are among the worst. Lower medium segment diesels are experiencing a particularly large decline compared to last year, particularly Citroen Xsara, Fiat Brava and VW Golf. Positive performances are led by Audi A3 and Renault Megane.
In the upper medium segment, only the Audi A4 among the 'prestige' models is showing positive trends, with BMW 3-series now performing poorly. At the other end of the spectrum, Mondeo, Primera and VW Passat values are all declining.
In the executive segment the Mercedes E-class is the best performer, the report said.