August's Light Commercial Vehicle Editorial

Andy Picton

13 Aug 2018, Editorial

LCV Marketplace

Sales of new light commercial vehicles declined -5.9% in July as 23,309 new vans and pickups were registered for the first time. YTD demand has seen in excess of 200,000 units hit UK roads during 2018 however; this figure is down -2.7% on the same point 12 months ago.

Small, medium and large sized vans all saw demand fall in the month, down -2.8%, -28% and -3.8% respectively, whilst the 3,269 pickups registered represented a 13.9% increase on the same period last year and a 2.5% increase YTD.

The decline in registrations for 2018 is attributed to fluctuating fleet buying cycles and ongoing low business confidence.

Ford’s stranglehold on the new market continues with the Transit Custom, Transit, Ranger and Transit Connect holding four of the top seven positions. Their combined 7,786 registrations make up over 33% of July’s overall total. The Toyota Proace appeared in 10th place registering 726 units.

YTD, Ford sit in 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th place registering a combined 69,826 units. The Transit Custom has sold 30,997 units during the first seven months of the year, nearly 18,000 units more than that of the third placed Volkswagen Transporter.

The used market slowed and demand eased during the first half of July as many buyers enjoyed England’s extended run in the World Cup, whilst others took advantage of the beautiful weather and booked a holiday. Now back refreshed and invigorated, the second half of the month saw business improve with vendors reporting steady conversion rates.

Unsurprisingly, July recorded a 9% decrease on June or 1,000 less units sold at auction. This is still 7% up on 12 months ago. Nevertheless, the average sale price increased by a nominal £2 during the month and by 12.8% on July 2017. The average age of sold stock decreased by 1.3 months to 61.8 months whilst first time conversion rates fell for the third month in a row to 76.8%.

These figures should come as no surprise as most buyers are after the cleanest and straightest stock. A1 condition vehicles with the right mileage, colour and history are thin on the ground, resulting in inflated prices as everyone fights over the best stock. Air conditioning now seems to be a prerequisite if best prices are to be achieved, whilst damaged stock and anything poorly repaired is rarely entertained. Anything requiring a little TLC will find a buyer as will unusual stock such as caged tippers often sourced from local authorities or the MOD.

There are a lot of latest shape Transit Connect available at present, with most if showing sensible miles, selling without issue. Greatest demand and best prices are for those Limited models in metallic colours.  The Citroen Berlingo is another regular at auction with the high spec Enterprise as popular as ever. Crew vans in the light van sector are also in demand with examples of Caddy, Connect, Doblo and Citan all performing strongly. Depending which utility company is defleeting at the time, there will always be a selection of older price range stock available, with the best examples of Combo, Corsavan, Bipper/Fiorino and previous generation Transit Connect attracting the trade.

The usual suspects in the medium panel van sector of Vivaro, Trafic and the Transit Custom remain commonplace, with seemingly every other Custom now in Limited spec. This is placing downward pressure on all but the very best examples. Everyone loves a crew van in this sector with huge premiums paid for the best examples from Ford, VW, Renault/Vauxhall and PSA. Expectations are that most will come with extras such as air conditioning, auto gearbox and tailgate.

A lack of stock and quality in the large van sector remains a major issue, with average prices up by £835 on this time last year. Sprinter, Transit, Relay, Boxer, Ducato and Master have all performed well over the month with the high spec Enterprise, Professional and Business + models regularly selling strongly. Chassis based models such as dropside, tipper and Luton if supported with sensible miles have sold quickly and for strong money.

Nearly 140 less 4x4s sold at auction in July as demand softened. There is a general oversupply of stock in this sector with many models labouring to find new homes. The oversupply has meant that only the very best examples have sold. The Ford Ranger Limited, the Mitsubishi Barbarian and the previous generation Nissan Navara Tekna continue to gain little traction, whilst hard worked examples of low spec Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max have been often avoided. Limited or special edition models proved popular as did the rare sighting of a tidy Mitsubushi Shogun van. The small volumes and car-like interior of the Volkswagen Amarok have guaranteed a sale, whilst any 4x4 selling in the region of £8-10k incl VAT has been snapped up without hesitation.

About the author

Andy Picton

Andy PictonChief Commercial Vehicle Editor

Having worked previously for Barclays Asset Finance and LeasePlan in the commercial vehicle sector, Andy joined Glass’s in 2002 as part of the Commercial Vehicle team working closely with manufacturers, leasing and insurance companies, traders, dealers and auction houses. He was promoted to Chief Commercial Vehicle Editor in 2016 and manages our industry-leading team of valuation experts. He loves football, music and obviously commercial vehicles.