Fleet News

Fears that LCV values have hit glass ceiling

This year is set to deliver the best value returns seen for light commercial vehicles for many years, although there are some claims that prices may have hit their glass ceiling.

In April the average price paid at BCA for an ex-company van was £6,171 - more than £1,000 or 20.8% up on 12 months ago (£5,108) – partly due to the average age (43.39 months) and average mileage (66,805) falling over the year.

Demand for ex-corporate vehicles has been strong despite, according to BCA, anecdotal evidence from a number of sources suggesting that retail used van activity was slow.

The National Association of Motor Auctions (NAMA) says realistic pricing is critical for sale success and points to the price difference between first time entries compared to subsequent sales closing in recent months.

Alex Wright, chairman of NAMA Commercial Vehicle Group, said that was due to vehicles being more appropriately priced in the first instance as vendors were “pleasantly surprised by the strength of price as bidding in halls goes past the reserve”.

He added: “It likely that few will be able to remember a time when the market for LCVs was so vibrant with demand being so well matched to supply.

“If all vendors continue to price their vehicles to the market value and allow the auctions to have ample time to pre-market their vehicles it is probable that 2013 will deliver the best returns seen for vans in many a year.”

Manheim, which does not publish vehicle data by vendor category, reports that average prices paid for LCVs in April was £4,416 - just £1 below the record price achieved a month earlier but 6% up year-on-year with average rising to a record 63 months and average mileage at 84,536 just below the peak recorded earlier this year.

But James Davis, Manheim’s head of commercial vehicles, warned that “lower de-fleet volumes are playing havoc with overall market headlines”.

He continued: “In some segments we have seen significant double digit percentage variances in volumes sold by age banding. This reflects the changing de-fleet mix from daily rental, flexi-rent and end of lease sources.”

Davis also warned of “a real issue” with duplicate product in the market, notably in the small panel van segment.

Echoing the views of Wright, he said: “If vendors reflect damage and duplicate models when setting reserves, accepting that other vendors are selling this product behind book values, then they will make their own success. Conversion rates for duplicate product will suffer as dealers have no need to replace stock in times of slow retail activity; I therefore believe wholesale van values have hit their glass ceiling.”

He added: “Vendors should stay close to the market, price according to duplicate stock in the market - other vendors’ pricing and disposal activity will set the marketplace - and use reconditioning tactically in the summertime to ensure valeting and mopping is upgraded to make the best of their best stock to help the overall buyer perception.

“Buyers situated around the big towns and cities, and especially London, report a very brisk time on their forecourts. However, as you move further out into the countryside, reports are varied. Dealers can attract the retail buyers, but they have to be more competitive on price, which is obviously causing them a challenge to find appropriate stock. As prices have risen in auction, dealers report that today they often cannot replace a van they bought in auction in January - for what they have just retailed it for.”

Importantly for corporate vendors, both NAMA and Manheim report that the van ‘days to sell’ figure is at a record low level -10.7 days according to NAMA and 5.6 days down on 12 months ago - which is critical for cash flow as vehicles are disposed of more quickly.

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