The wholesale van market began the year with a strong and stable start, with record year-on-year price performances and the second highest monthly average sales price on record. That’s according to the latest Commercial Vehicle (CV) tracker released by Cox Automotive, analysing data collected by Manheim, the UK’s number one CV remarketing business.

The tracker shows the average selling price has risen by an unprecedented 36% since the start of 2020, despite all the difficulties the year presented. It is also up month-on-month, by 3% (+£241) from December 2020, with vans sold in January typically 1.3 years younger with 1,880 more miles. The average selling price was the second highest monthly value on record at £8,768, following October 2020’s £8,936 peak.

There are further promising signs the van market is remaining resilient with CV tracker data also revealing:

  • The average year-on-year selling price is 36% higher than the same time last year
  • January’s conversion rate was very strong, falling just 4% from 86.7% to 82.7%
  • The average selling price for Euro 6 vans grew 25% (+£2,443)
  • Euro 5 vans also recorded an average price increase of 32% (+£1,370), both despite increases in average vehicle age.

The findings align with the latest data from the SMMT, which revealed UK van registrations were 2% ahead year-on-year with the most significant reductions in pickups and vans below two tonnes.

Manheim’s experience reports a sensitive January marketplace with early post-Christmas buyer caution becoming further amplified by the nationwide lockdown. This hesitancy lessened as the month progressed, with several dealers buying to order or to fill gaps.

The demand-led LCV market caused significant used van inflation against record supply shortages. Fleets were either cancelling or deferring replacement, and manufacturer lead times were extending due to the first global factory shutdown and subsequent reduced productivity caused by COVID.
Matthew Davock, director of CV at Manheim, said the data paints a picture of strong performance amid challenging times for the market.

Davock commented: “Despite uncertain conditions, these are unprecedented record-breaking performances from the wholesale van market. As we would expect in a seasonal market, it is the older, more damaged and highest mileage vans that typically soften in terms of price and conversion rates. We believe Euro 5 has found its price point, still significantly higher year-on-year, whilst Euro 6 promises to remain in the highest demand.”

Manheim’s January dealer survey indicated that 55% of dealers are enjoying healthy retail activity with the remaining 45% seeing a year-over-year reduction in retail sales and general appetite. Dealers are anticipating de-fleet supply to increase as typically happens in Q1, with reports de-fleet supply is still lacking. Several fleets reported a continued trend for contract extensions: a sign the market is bouncing back quickly, with the additional overlay of lockdown affecting supply and demand.

James Davis, customer insight director, Cox Automotive UK, added: “This year’s new and used van markets will be a year of two halves. New vans registered translate into used de-fleets and part exchanges. We are experiencing unprecedented supply led recessionary pressures where typical de-fleet peak periods and volumes are not going to be seen. With most new vans sold into corporate fleets, we face a considerable period of under supply and continued used Euro 6 price inflation. The value of Euro 5 comes into its own as it offers a good quality alternative price point product.”

Davis concluded: “The second half of 2021 will be determined by vaccine rollout programmes, mutant strains and the phased emergence from lockdown and firing up of our economies. Opinions on the shape and speed of recessionary bounce differs hugely but I’m confident the COVID impact will be felt in the new and used van markets until the middle of the decade.”

More detail on the new and used van markets can be found in the 2020 Cox Automotive Insight report: click here to read