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AUCTIONS: Still a benefit in pick-ups

Date: 08 May 2008

The pick-up sector has enjoyed volume growth in recent years thanks to lenient BIK taxation, according to auction firm BCA. This has fuelled the demand for hi-spec double-cabs that are family cars at the weekend.

As a result, the sector has been a consistent performer at auction. But with pick-ups now subject to more car-like BIK rules, and also with higher VED costs due to emissions, some might have expected interest to falter. But that hasn't been the case.

"Recent tax changes have neither dented the demand for used 4x4 pick-ups or impacted auction values negatively," says Alex Wright, Manheim's commercial vehicle sales director. "The re-classification of VAT on one-tonne pick-ups in 1999 actually boosted business usage and popularity within this sector; the most recent changes to BIK taxation in 2007 still see the 4x4 pick-up as a cheaper alternative to a 4x4 estate car."

Duncan Ward, BCA's UK business development manager - CVs, also says demand remains unaffected.

"Double-cabs remain strong, with new models creating both interest and demand in the used sector," he says.

The most growth is in the high-spec 'lightly worked' sector, as volumes from the utility market have fallen, reports BCA.

"The market differentiates strongly between working and recreational examples, and high-spec vehicles that have not been used commercially are most in demand," says Ward.

Manheim reports that the first quarter of 2008 has seen a rise in prices and a reduction in ages and mileages compared to Q3 of 2007. Most vehicles sold were between 36 and 48 months old, although a significant proportion were aged over 60 months.

"This could highlight the difference between a 'lifestyle' pick-up and one used solely as a 'working tool', says Wright. "Lifestyle models actually have a similar profile to a car (38 months/48,000 miles) rather than an LCV (54 months/72,000 miles).

"The difference in age, mileage and usage has an impact on sale prices with a 30 month-old/45,000-mile pick-up selling for an average price of £6700, while a 53 month-old/74,000-mile pick-up sells for an average of £4250."

What specification works best

. Double cabs - "Even considering that most pick-ups will be bought to put back to work, many will go to self-employed business people and may spend the weekends ferrying the family about," explains BCA's Duncan Ward.

. Use manufacturer-specified linings to protect the load bay.

. Basic models do not attract as many buyers - the next owner prefers leather trim, aircon, alloys, metallic paint, running boards, CD player, etc.

. Colour - "A pick-up in white or yellow looks utilitarian - the same vehicle in metallic red, black or blue is a more attractive proposition and could make significantly more," says Ward.

. If pick-ups come to the market showing signs of heavy wear and use then buyers may well look elsewhere. "A1 presentation is of paramount importance. Any tired-looking double-cab, especially high-mileage examples, sporting two-tone paintwork, are less likely to succeed," says George Alexander of EurotaxGlass's.

. A full service history shows the vehicle has been properly maintained, and must be considered essential.