Used car prices across Europe are beginning to fall again according to a new report, The European Fleet Index, published today by EurotaxGlass's.
Average trade used car values for 3-year-old passenger cars have dropped by 1.3% over the past 12 months.
Based on EurotaxGlass's values in October 2001, an average vehicle has a value of 38.4% of its original price compared to 39.6% in October 2000.
The European Fleet Index monitors trade prices achieved by 3-year-old examples of over 40 models, in 13 countries in the four segments of most relevance to Europe's 18-million-strong company fleet market.
The report is published quarterly on the Internet at www.eurocarprice.com.
The latest edition also shows that diesel models are losing their premium over petrol versions, with average diesel RVs declining twice as fast as petrol cars.
Diesels still depreciate more slowly - retaining an average of 42.0% of their original values compared to 36.5% for petrol - but over the past 12 months, average diesel values declined by 2.3% compared to 0.9% for petrol models. Only four countries have seen an increase in residual values over the last 12 months: Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and The Netherlands.
Of these counties, only Germany saw values increase over the last quarter. Italy, Portugal, Spain and Poland are seeing the largest reductions in values in Europe.
The highly competitive, high-volume, lower and upper medium segments have seen the largest declines. In the lower medium segment, for instance, only the Audi A3 and Opel Astra have achieved increases for both petrol and diesel models.
In the upper medium segment, there is a 'clear divide' between the premium models (Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class), which are nearly all showing increases in values, and the volume models, which are all experiencing declining values, particularly Renault Laguna, Peugeot 406 and Nissan Primera.
In the small car segment, the gap between diesel and petrol models is narrowing the most.
Petrol versions of VW Polo and Citroen Saxo are performing particularly well while diesel versions of the Opel Corsa, Renault Clio and Seat Ibiza are showing some of the biggest declines.
The executive car segment is the only segment where RVs are increasing both for petrol and diesel versions.
The Audi A6 is the strongest performer currently.
David Truempler, key account director at EurotaxGlass's, said: "Any drop in residual values is bad news for the contract hire and leasing businesses who supply the majority of fleet vehicles.
"The fall in diesel values is particularly ominous for countries like the UK where the proportion of new diesels bought by fleets is currently rising in response to high fuel prices and new environmental taxes on company car drivers." (November 20, 2001)