Demand for used commercial vehicles has consistently outstripped supply during January, boosting prices and keeping conversion rates high for medium-sized, good-quality vehicles.
This situation is expected to continue through the first half of the year, as the scarcity of late-plate vans remains an issue for dealers and prices threaten to climb even higher, according to Glass’s, publisher of Glass’s Guide to Commercial Vehicle Values.
“The only cloud on the horizon would be if, in desperation to secure new sales, manufacturers give the green light for significant discounts,” said George Alexander, Glass's chief commercial vehicle editor.
“In one blow, this would undo all the good work done by dealers over some very testing years which have seen prices for used CVs climb to their current highs.
"An increase in registrations is necessary for the long-term health of the market, but if this is achieved by underselling new product, the negative consequences for residual values will be felt over several years as happened in the early 1990s.”
He said dealers will be looking for good-quality examples – especially of higher-power models and 4x4s – to satisfy demand over the coming weeks, together with something that is a little different in order to attract retail buyers.
Hard-used stock will sell, but only at prices that remain "stubbornly low".
Despite the festive period witnessing some slowdown across the marketplace, momentum built steadily over the latter part of January, with few signs of the lacklustre start to used sales of previous New Years.
“By stark contrast, new vehicle sales have yet to find a forward gear and are unlikely to improve much until after the General Election.
"Even then, when a little more business confidence and clarity has returned, franchised dealers are likely to remain sceptical throughout this year in case the economy were to dip again, despite the UK having finally moved out of recession,” said Alexander.
Used CV market – key trends
Used light vans
• Late-plate Ford Fiestas, Peugeot 206/207, Vauxhall Corsa, Renault Clio and Fiat Punto/Grande Punto vans are all performing well.
• Some smart, late-year Renault Kangoos, with sensible, warranted mileages, also hit the right chord with dealers who are keen to acquire attractive stock.
• A recent influx of Vauxhall Combos, without side-loading doors, achieved a commendable rate of conversion.
• Volkswagen’s Caddy continues to attract impressive numbers of trade and retail buyers. SDI and TDI models achieve Guide values with ease.
• Ford’s Transit Connect comes to auction from a wide range of vendor fleets and, as the volumes on offer swell, residual values are vulnerable.
• The first half of 2010 is unlikely to suffer too many hiccups with regards to excessive volume, but by the third quarter new sales growth might presage a change to the balance.
Used panel vans
• Over the first weeks of 2010, a healthy level of retail demand for the latest shape Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Fiat Scudo vans has had trade buyers competing aggressively for ownership of the low number available.
• Well-presented Ford Transit SWB 260/280s on ‘04’ and ‘05’ plates still fetch strong money.
• There is no shortage of late-plate SWB Ford Transits to choose from. Only the best examples and those fitted with extras will achieve Guide Trade.
• Despite Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro being available in ready numbers, all tidy stock is performing strongly.
• As a rule-of-thumb, to achieve the best results, even ‘straight’ vans with sensible mileages need to have full documentation.
• At all years, Volkswagen’s Transporter continues to lead the chasing pack. Volkswagen T5s remain at the top of most trade buyers’ shopping lists, with the 130ps model commanding most attention.
• Prices for Mercedes Benz’s Vito are performing consistently to Guide with the keenest results for 111 and 115 models. Dualiners and Caravelles continue to attract both trade and retail buyers.
• The latest Citroen Relays, Peugeot Boxers and Fiat Ducatos are appearing at auction in greater numbers. Encouragingly, they receive an improved response from retail and trade buyers, who regard them as good value.
• Renault Master and Vauxhall Movano 3.5-tonners are further examples of long-standing model ranges that have previously failed to generate much positive trade sentiment, yet late-plate examples have gained a following.
• For the Iveco range the news is not so good. Unless it is the big and powerful Daily model, vendors struggle to generate healthy returns. Similarly, LDV’s Convoy and Maxus vans fail to set the world alight. To the right buyer, however, they are one of the very few functional 3.5-tonne panel vans currently available at low cost.
• Previous shape MWB and LWB Mercedes-Benz Sprinters remain in high regard with strong money being paid for low-mileage 06/56 plates.
• At this same weight, Ford’s Transit continues to do the business with good four- to five-year-old T350s proving popular. Unfortunately, too many of those on offer do not match up to buyers’ exacting standards and, as a consequence, will underperform.