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Van dealers feel the pressure in Q4

The end of this year has seen a sudden and substantial increase in light commercial vehicle stock in the marketplace coinciding with the traditional year-end slowdown for many traders and retailers.

According to BCA, the majority of these vehicles have come to the market well ahead of their planned de-fleet dates due to economic and business pressures on the operators and these additional units are topping up the already high volumes from the corporate and leasing sector.

Duncan Ward BCA’s general manager – commercial vehicles, said: “Following months of short supply in the market we are suddenly faced with an abundance of stock, just at a time when demand is easing ahead of the Christmas break.

“Vendors with high-risk early return product will be trying to strike the best balance between conversion and price performance to maximise returns in the current market, while others will bank on an upturn in the New Year. The fly in the ointment could be if further ‘unscheduled’ volume de-fleets take place - even in an upturning market there will be an over-supply breakpoint.”

Ward said the price guides needed to have their fingers “right on the button” as December books would have been cast weeks ago reflecting an October market.

He said: “If downward adjustments are made for the New Year – when the marketplace is likely to be on the rise – guide prices could be well adrift by mid-January.”

However, according to BCA, there will still be pockets of high demand for the right vehicles.

Ward said: “Even among this over-supply, any two year old vans will be like gold dust to retail buyers and will generate a lot of interest in the trade as a result.

“This long-term legacy of the fall in new van sales during 2008 will continue to affect the market for several years to come – next year we will experience a relative shortage of three-year old vans.”

The effect of a sudden oversupply has thrown a lifeline to buyers who have faced a dearth of stock all year long. However, the change in the market has obviously affected the price and conversion expectations for dealers.


BCA market overview


Few examples around but buyer reaction is unenthusiastic even on the few that appear.

Car sized vans:

Hundreds to choose from and while the very small proportion of clean, low mileage examples continue to do very well, any vehicle carrying a high mileage, damage, a low specification or poor colour will struggle in the current market. Recent examples with sat-nav have stood out from the pack and sold relatively strongly.

Small panel vans:

Still excellent demand for old shape Dispatch and Expert. Mileage, colour and specification appears to be more critical for new shape models.

1 tonne panel van:

Oversupply is the real issue affecting this sector. There are large numbers of Vivaro, Trafic and Primastar up to four years old and this is impacting price as buyers prefer the older 1.9 versions. Clean old shape Transit SWBs remain very desirable and, although new shape Transit is commonplace, very few clean examples are available to buy.

The few high specification Trend, Limited and Sportvans recently seen have performed extremely well confirming yet again that vans with a high spec will really stand out in what is currently a very large crowd.

MWB / LWB panel vans:

As with the smaller panel vans, there is an abundance of supply but unfortunately a lack of quality. Buyers are only confident to bid strongly on the few clean low mileage examples under two years old.


There is still a shortage of Tippers and Lutons and this scarcity is keeping values firm. The minibus market is best described as fragile, with few buyers prepared to speculate, although values can take off when a vehicle is bought to order.


Single-cabs remain a rare breed and will attract plenty of buyer interest, but the market for double-cabs is fickle by comparison and can move either up or down quickly.

Old shape L200, Navara and Hi-Lux are showing their age now although Ranger continues to perform well in this age and price range. For the same models in new shape format, it’s the hard worked examples which are soon left behind as buyers gravitate towards vehicles that have clearly been used as an exotic car rather than a commercial vehicle. Winter weather conditions like last year will again be a critical factor.

Land Rovers

Winter always sees demand rise, and when there are very few around anyway demand is likely to be high. Both SWB and LWB stationwagons are highly desirable at the moment, although ‘working’ LWB hardtop versions are a little less attractive. As always, heavy snow and icy conditions does wonders for this sector.

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