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AUCTIONS: Make big vans desirable

Date: 24 June 2008

Duncan Ward, BCA's UK business development manager - CVs, reckons large panel vans only interest a select group

Follow our advice to improve your chances of selling large panel vans in a market where demand is limited

Just who wants a three-metre wheelbase, high-roof van, particularly when buyers can choose their relatively compact SWB cousins instead?

Duncan Ward, BCA's UK business development manager - CVs, reckons they only interest a select group.

"They are specialist tools and unless a MWB/LWB van is really earning its keep - perhaps in courier delivery, window replacement or carpet fitting - many used buyers will plump for the smaller version," he says.

This restricted pool of buyers, coupled with ample availability - "There is plenty of choice in the new van market for any business requiring a large van," says Ward - means supply can far outweigh used demand in the used market.

"These vehicles are very much purchased to satisfy the requirements of first life rather than second," says Ward.

Reflecting the oversupply situation in the marketplace, Manheim's "days in stock" for large panel vans in the first quarter of 2008 has risen by an average of 5.5 days.

What buyers want

"With many vans going into 24/7 delivery work, a powerful and reliable engine is top of many buyers' lists," says Ward. "Even though today's modern engines are designed to give several hundred thousands of miles service, the buyer still likes to know it has been maintained properly. Make sure a full service history is provided at the time of sale, to give buyers peace of mind on the mechanical condition."

Ward continues: "Low-mileage examples are highly prized but exceptionally rare, because transport is their primary job. Similarly, it is unusual to find MWB/LWB vans in clean straight condition free from damage - they require no specific qualification or license to drive and are a big van to the ordinary driver. It's no surprise that many bear the scars of navigating tight areas.

"This being the case, the combination of clean and low mileage means that interest and prices inevitably soar."

Alex Wright, sales director, commercial vehicles at Manheim adds: "When high levels of damage are noted - especially when combined with high mileage - many buyers will exercise choice and select the cleanest or most desirable vehicles. In extreme cases buyers will simply not even bid on these vans, at any price."

According to Ward, versatility is also important for the second user. "One side-loading door is necessary and two is preferable," he says. He also states that increasingly the used buyer expects all the driver comforts, such as remote central locking, electric windows and decent in-van entertainment. "Bearing in mind these vans may end up delivering to all points of the compass, factory-fitted satnav is becoming increasingly desirable too."

Worth the weight?

Manheim's sales figures for the first quarter of 2008 suggest this sector is split into two depending on gross vehicle weight. Medium panel vans (3.0 tonnes and under) have seen average age and mileages at 58 months and 77,500 miles and an average sales value of £2590. Their large panel van cousins (over 3.0 tonnes) had an average age and mileage of 54 months and 95,300 miles respectively with an average sale price of £3960. Therefore the true workhorse is the large panel van over 3.0 tonnes - despite being younger, by four months, than the sub-3.0 tonners, they are travelling on average nearly 20,000 more miles, but taking an additional seven days to sell at remarketing time.

Model behaviour - the vans proving popular at auction

"Due to their dominance as market leader in this sector, the old model Ford Transit 350 is currently in plentiful supply," says Alex Wright of Manheim.

However, according to Eddie Parker, head of LCVs at Masterlease, this will not necessarily affect values, particularly for decent vehicles.

"It is possible that there could be a shortage of quality used large panel vans appearing. The Ford Transit (and Vauxhall Movano) appear to be holding their value over the past few weeks - but only if in clean, low mileage state," he says.

Parker adds: "The traditional 'darlings' of the large panel van sector, the Mercedes Sprinter and VW LT, are still keenly sought, but even these are condition-sensitive."

Where Sprinters are concerned Wright agrees: "Old shape LWB Mercedes Sprinters, when clean, are making book plus, even with high mileage."