Average van values increased by 5.5% between December 2013 and 2014, according to the latest Market Analysis from Manheim. Compared with December 2013, the average van value at auction increased by £310 in December 2014, highlighting the ongoing strength of the market.
Manheim believes that demand remains superheated due to the ongoing impact of a chronic shortage of three to five year old used vans. Continuing a trend first observed in 2013, average selling prices rose despite a significantly higher proportion of older vans being sold.
While there has been an increase in the desireable three to five year old stock, as a percentage of the total mix, between December 2013 and December 2014, there is still a large volume of five year old plus vehicles in the market. In December 2014, 35% of car derived vans sold were over 60 months old (and had an average age of 88 months), 51% of small panel vans sold were over 60 months (with an average age of 94 months) and 43% of large panel vans over three tonnes were older than 60 months (having an average age of 88 months).
This confirms that ageing stock still has a large role to play in shaping existing market conditions when demand is growing strongly. It is perhaps of little surprise that the fortunes of new, and thus used, commercial vehicles track the economic performance of UK plc.
Matthew Davock, head of light commercial vehicles at Manheim, said: “As we entered December, trade sentiment was incredibly positive. Vendors were selling right up to Christmas Eve, with many fantastic results being achieved. This is in contrast to the usual seasonal patterns where we’d expect a drop off towards the tail-end of the year; especially with the seasonal de-fleet numbers introducing more volume into the market.
“The first two weeks of January have rallied and surpassed all expectations. The seasonal de-fleet from daily rental and flexirent fleets has introduced a welcome tranche of late and low product. Attendances have broken all historic records, with the first sale at Colchester attracting 257 physical and 285 online buyers. Many corporate sale sections were enjoying between 90% and 100% conversions.”
Davock continues: “Online sales have also been extremely strong, with customers snapping up stock whenever and wherever possible with record breaking physical and online attendances. The only note of caution for vendors is around duplicate and damaged product. No matter how strong the wholesale demand, both factors, if not managed responsibly with a remarketing partner, can cause sale performances to suffer.”
James Davis, head of CV at Manheim comments: “December’s SMMT van registration figures showed that new van sales had grown by 19% year on year to 321,686 units.
"So, while demonstrating a return to pre-recessionary demand in the new market, the first life users of these vans, who are predominantly corporate, lease and utility businesses, will not realistically de-fleet them until the tail end of this decade.
"We believe that the natural, pre-recessionary, equilibrium between age categories will not be ealised until this point. Happily, with a gradual phased return of these used vans into the wholesale market, there is little to destabilise the existing market.”
Davis continues: “Eight years ago the industry experienced a record used van market. Fast forward to 2014. Average selling prices were a staggering 45%, or £1,500 higher than they were in 2006, despite the vans being older with more mileage. No-one could have predicted that. In 2008 we entered the sharpest and most prolonged recession in living memory.
"It is significant to note that, when we reach 2020, the wholesale market is likely to have endured a 12 year ‘shockwave resonance’. It will be the point at which pre-recessionary normality will return, in terms of age and mileage profiles. It’s the most significant scar born from the worst injury to befall the wholesale van market in recent times.”