September's Light Commercial Vehicle Editorial

Andy Picton

07 Sep 2018, Editorial

LCV Marketplace

Sales of new light commercial vehicles increased for the first time since May as 16,394 new vans and pickups hit UK roads for the first time during August. In what is typically one of the quietest months for new LCV registrations, the increased demand is welcome. The 5% increase has seen year to date demand exceed 220,000 units. However, this figure is down -2.2% on the same point last year, as variations in fleet buying cycles and business confidence continue to affect the market and are likely to for the remainder of 2018. 

During August, small and medium van demand fell by -9.3% and -29.7% respectively, whilst the pickup and large van sectors increased by 21.4% and 14.6%. Demand for vans in the 2.5t-3.5t sector now accounts for 67.2% of all van registrations.

Ford’s lead in new registrations continues with the Transit Custom, Transit, Ranger and Transit Connect in 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th places. Their combined 5,484 registrations make up over 33% of the overall total. However, the summer launch of the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has seen Ford’s big van drop into third position with 1,820 Sprinters registered in August. 

Year to date, it remains a blue oval world as Ford sit in 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th place accounting for 34% of all LCV registrations. The 33,436 Transit Custom registrations is nearly 19,500 units more than the third placed Volkswagen Transporter.

With the summer holiday season over for another year, used traders headed back to the auctions. Sales are busy, both physically in the auction halls and online with vendors reporting steady conversion rates. 

August recorded a 9.2% rise in sales at auction (+1.5% on Aug 2017), with buyers paying 13% more on average than at this time last year. The average age of sold stock in August increased by 1.7 months to 63.5 months whilst first time conversion rates rose for the first time since April to 79.6%.

Used buyers continue to focus on damage and specification and will pay more for the cleanest and straightest stock. Safe in this knowledge, vendors aiming to achieve the best sale prices are encouraged to present their stock in the best possible condition. 

Challenges relating to road restrictions driven by congestion charging, Clean Air Zones and Ultra Low Emission Zones are forcing some traders to concentrate on the newest available stock, with growing premiums paid for the best Euro 6 stock. 

The great looking and reliable Transit Connect Limited commands interest from both trade and end users. There is similar interest in the Mercedes-Benz Citan where the brand means a lot, with the Citan 109 Long van and crew van in metallic colours proving popular. The Citroen Berlingo Enterprise remains as popular as ever with the nicest examples in colour selling well. Older stock has a loyal following, with the best prepared Kangoo, Combo, and Berlingo attracting interest from trade buyers. This popular sector has seen average sales price increasing by more than £500 over the last year. 

The evergreen Volkswagen Transporter performs at its best if fitted with air conditioning, but with relatively small numbers available, any T5 or T6 sells well. Small, but growing numbers of the new Dispatch and Expert are available at auction, but most emanate from ex-rental sources without air conditioning. The Transit Custom is everywhere, resulting in growing downward pressure on values for all but the best examples. 

The demand for crew vans continues unabated with the best examples from Ford, Volkswagen, Renault, Vauxhall and PSA selling quickly, especially when well specified.

The Sprinter, Transit, Relay, Boxer, Ducato and Master have received the attention of buyers this month with most selling strongly. Good condition dropsiders and tippers on Ford chassis have sold quickly, whilst Lutons on any chassis sell if the mileage is sensible. Minibus values have firmed a little of late with plenty of interest for the nicest examples.

Although there remains a general oversupply of 4x4s in this sector, over 1,600 found new homes during August. The nicest examples with plenty of extras coupled to automatic transmissions have proven the most popular. Similarly, a shortage of workhorse 4x2 and 4x4 models in the marketplace resulted in increased demand and strengthening prices. Any limited or special edition lifestyle models were eagerly bought by the trade keen on something a little different whilst at the lower end of the market, clean and tidy 2006-2010 stock, quite often sold as ‘margin’ vehicles 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.