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Weather and rate rises take their toll on commercial vehicle sales

7th August 2007 Print
Poor weather and interest rate rises have been cited by commercial vehicles dealers as factors contributing to a period of patchy sales over recent weeks.

According to EurotaxGlass’s, publisher of Glass’s Guide to Used Commercial Vehicle Values, sales of used vans and trucks in May and June were particularly slow for many dealers, and are now following the normal pattern of weaker demand during summer.

“The wet weather did little to raise spirits, and a further quarter percent interest rise kept the buyers away as concerns over the economy led to uncertainty,” comments George Alexander, Chief Commercial Vehicle Editor at EurotaxGlass’s. “The fear is that this latest rate rise will prompt a significant slowdown across the entire economy when the aim of managing inflation was already well in hand. As a result, the actions of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee could be viewed as overkill, the consequences of which will not become fully apparent for the van and truck market until well into 2008.”

Used CV market – key trends

George Alexander highlights other key trends in the used CV market:

Used lightweight vans

Over recent weeks, auction venues have started to feel the squeeze, as van numbers have been noticeably down at some sites and prices slipping from their previous highs. For the rest of the summer, trade buyers will choose to be far more selective in what they buy for stock, although they will still be keen to acquire quality vans that can be profitably retailed. The price gap between good and bad vans has grown sharply with dealers becoming very selective.

Unfortunately, fluctuating numbers of car-derived vans at auction has resulted in occasional oversupply. Spoilt for choice, used buyers select the best lots leaving the poorer vans to flounder.

Vauxhall Astravans, including the popular Sportive version, are coming under downwards pressure as too many poor lots with very high miles appear. However, the first sightings of new shape ‘07’-plate CDTi Astras have certainly caught the attention of both trade and retail buyers.

Currently, with too many Peugeot Partners and Citroën Berlingos in the marketplace, it is perhaps not surprising that bids fall below Standard Glass’s Guide levels.

Most of the SWB Ford Connects available at present are well-maintained ex-utility company examples and seen as good stock. However, ready availability has hit their prices. The LWB Connect 230LX is rarely seen on the open market so high bids are guaranteed for any late-year, low-mileage lots that are offered.

Although having become more readily available, Citroën Dispatch, Fiat Scudo and Peugeot Expert continue to attract positive market sentiment and typically achieve prices close to Guide Trade.

Used panel vans

With lengthy lead times on new panel vans, it is the medium-sized used models that are doing particularly well and look set to ride out the slow summer period unscathed. Although preference is given to high power models nowadays, if there isn’t the choice then a lower power rating will do.

260/280TDCi Ford Transits, Mercedes-Benz Vito and Vauxhall Vivaro / Renault Trafic / Nissan Primastar-style vans are making firm money, with the latter design proving especially popular.

Volkswagen T5 Transporters have become more readily available as numbers of late-year low-mileage examples come off fleet. However, there is little difficulty in selling the most desirable vans with the T30 2.5TDI model proving especially popular.

The first new shape 2006 ’56’-plate 3.0t Citroen Relay to be seen at auction was greeted with very positive trade sentiment, which led to strong bidding.

Large panel vans have enjoyed strong market sentiment for the past 18 months and, despite manufacturing capacity having been ramped up, supply difficulties on new 3.5-tonners remain severe.

Given this background, late-year long/high 3.5-tonne variants have become flavour of the month. In fact, with too few ‘maximum volume’ 3.5-tonners coming up for grabs, medium/high vans are benefiting. In a used van marketplace driven by shortages on new, care must be taken to ensure that late-year stock is not exposed should supply improve.

All well-presented large panel vans are proving to be in demand with the power rating taking (temporarily) a back seat. Only LDV’s Maxus appears to be failing to make hay while the sun shines. Currently, the first significant numbers appearing at auction are finding the going hard which is probably a case of the used marketplace having to establish its relationship with this new LDV product.

Older examples of 310 and 312 LWB Mercedes-Benz Sprinters with higher mileages are still finding homes, but condition has to be right. The best examples of late-year Transit 350s, preferably with the higher 115PS engine, easily attract indicated Guide Trade bids. By comparison, where supply is high and condition is poor, older 75PS and 90PS examples will struggle.

Derivative body types across all the marques are proving popular, with the usual clean and tidy stock making the best money. Boxes and lutons are currently to be seen in slightly higher numbers but the preference is still for a longer body and preferably a serviceable tail-lift that will usually attract a price premium. Double cab derivatives of Ford Transit and LDV Convoy have enjoyed a healthy demand of late, with dropsiders and tippers on extended bodies performing strongly. Shorter-bodied luton, box or double cab tippers continue to be more difficult to re-market.

Used trucks

Confronted by a vast array of 7.5-tonners, trade buyers have become particularly selective when considering marque, horsepower, body length, condition and mileage. At this weight, good tippers, dropsiders and skip loaders will stand out and perform best.

Currently, 18-tonne rigids are performing less well as supply has risen and quality slipped. However, any maximum-weight two-axle flat with a sound crane, or offered with other specialised equipment, will always attract willing buyers prepared to part with their cash.

Three-axle chassis remain thin on the ground, with those boxes and curtainsiders that do appear commanding impressive prices. For many months past, the same situation has been even more pronounced for multi-axle tippers and hook loaders.

Most tractor units from one of the top three marques up to four years of age are in high demand, but otherwise prices fall away sharply. Older vehicles attract even less trade interest and, if in a poor state or having covered too many kilometres, are unwanted. The export market previously scooped up the best of these older vehicles but these buyers now seek clean stock up to five years old.

Both for dealers and at auction, the trailer market has slowed. At all ages, tidy tippers, flats and skeletals draw most attention.