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AUCTIONS: Pick-ups haven't become a taxing problem

Date: 17 April 2007

You'd be forgiven for thinking the recent changes to the BIK tax rules would have a fatal impact on the popularity of double-cab pick ups, but that hasn't been the case.

The four-wheel drive double cab is proving increasingly popular with families looking for a fashionable and funky alternative to a traditional 4x4 or MPV.

That's despite the fact that they are now subject to stricter benefit-in-kind rules, although they are still more cost-effective than cars.

BCA's UK business development manager, commercial vehicles, Duncan Ward, explains: "The pick-up sector has enjoyed relative volume growth in recent years thanks to the lenient BIK taxation for company car drivers. This fuelled the demand for hi-spec double-cab pick-ups that effectively acted as the family car at weekends.

"As a result, this sector has been a consistent performer at auction, but with pick-ups and LCVs now subject to the new BIK rules, some may have expected the interest to falter and demand patterns to change. However, double cab pick-ups remain a growing sector, with new models creating both interest and demand in the used sector. In terms of volume, the most growth is seen in the high-spec 'lightly-worked' sector, as volumes from the utility market have fallen."

High spec, low work

The dual use of these vehicles has resulted in a demand for higher specification usually associated with luxury cars. Leather trim, air conditioning, satellite navigation, good quality sound systems, alloy wheels, metallic paint and running boards are all on the shopping list of the style-conscious 4x4 owner.

"The basic models simply do not attract as many buyers," says Ward. "Colour, too, will also affect desirability and price. A pick-up in white looks utilitarian - the same vehicle in metallic red, black or blue is a more attractive proposition for the used buyer and could make significantly more."

As a rule, 4x4 pick-ups with light use aren't available in the auction halls in any great numbers, therefore those that do appear, especially in mint condition with all of the added extras, are regularly making above CAP average.

"The market differentiates strongly between working and recreational examples," says Ward, "and high spec vehicles that have not been used 'commercially' are most in demand. Damage is costly in this sector and it is recommended that owners should use manufacturer-specified linings to protect the load bay.

"Aside from the specification, how the vehicle has been used and is presented makes a huge difference. If pick-ups come to the market showing signs of heavy wear and use then buyers may well look elsewhere. A full service history will show buyers that the vehicle has been properly maintained, and must be considered essential."

Doing well

According to Manheim, the most popular vehicles are tidy three-year old models, and the early weeks of 2007 have seen high specification Ford Rangers and Nissan Navaras performing well at Manheim's auction sites across the country.

It's been the same at BCA, as Ward says: "BCA recently launched the new '06-registered Ford Ranger models and they made a strong debut, achieving 75% of current list at an average of 2000 miles."

However, according to Ward, the Mitsubishi L200 remains the "benchmark" vehicle, although "with all the manufacturers sporting new or updated models, competition continues to be fierce in both the new and used markets".