Fleet News

Buyers iron out seasonal peaks for soft-top cars

CONVERTIBLES are no longer the problem vehicles fleets often assume they are and seasonal changes in demand are becoming less noticeable because of the strength of vehicles and brands available.

According to Manheim Auctions, the second-hand soft-top market is no longer full of seasonal peaks and troughs. In a country renowned for bad winter weather, any change in sales is more likely to be the result of a limited supply of models coming into the secondhand market.

Analysts at Manheim claim that like other cars, soft-top values are affected by colour and specification. Cars with low specification or solid colours like dark blue or green will have comparatively low values.

But most convertibles now only suffer slight declines in used values in winter months, a contrast from the traditional cycle, which meant spring and summer was the best time to sell a convertible when prices were much higher, and winter was the best time to buy.

Andrew Shepherd, senior group auctioneer at Manheim Auctions, said: 'We have one of the biggest convertible markets in Europe, which is ironic bearing in mind the weather in the UK.

'The soft-top market has changed and is less seasonal and I have been to many auctions where two buyers want to buy something like a Porsche Boxster and prices have gone through the roof.'

However, Shepherd warned fleet decision-makers not to be too complacent about convertibles retaining strong residual values. He said high mileage, poorly maintained vehicles can see prices slip dramatically.

Recently, a survey by Lex Vehicle Leasing found the Porsche Boxster had the highest residual value percentage over a three year/ 60,000 mile period. It claimed the Boxster would be worth £18,000, or 57% of its original cost new. Also in its top 10 were the Mercedes-Benz SLK and CLK, Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, and Lexus SC430, which are all convertibles (Fleet NewsNet June 12).

Recent sales at Manheim saw a 1999 Mazda MX-5 1.6 with 27,359 miles go for £8,550, a 2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK200 Elegance with 41,516 miles sell for £16,050 and a 2002 Volkswagen Golf 1.6 SE convertible with 7,929 miles go for £13,850.

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