In the first months of 2009, auction houses in the CV sector are
finally seeing signs of recovery after what has been dubbed the
toughest year in a decade for van and truck sales.

Three of the UK’s main players – Manheim
Auctions, British Car Auctions (BCA) and Commercial Vehicle
Auctions (CVA) – have said that despite a challenging 2008, the
first months of 2009 have shown a resurgence in prices and sales
volumes, confirmed by the number of buyers attending their latest

Manheim Auctions, which has seven dedicated
centres in the UK, has monitored trends for the last three years
for the CVs it remarkets from manufacturers, contract hire and
leasing companies.

In terms of trucks, it recorded significant
variances in values and volumes, while average age and days in
stock remained stable.

Used truck values recovered in the fourth
quarter of 2008, after several quarters of decline. They were,
however, still 11 percent lower than the fourth quarter of 2007 and
5 percent lower than in the fourth quarter of 2006.

There was also a 33 percent increase in
volumes of trucks sold in 2008 compared to 2007.

The recovery was already evident in the first
quarter of 2008, with only 8 percent fewer trucks being sold. It
then increased in the next three quarters by 25, 32 and 26

In terms of vans, the average selling price
last year was below the figures registered in 2006, and well below
2007 values.

In particular, in the fourth quarter of 2008,
it declined by over 26 percent compared to the final quarter of
2007 and by 19 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2006.

However, in the first months of 2009,
according to Manheim CV sales director Alex Wright, sales at
several centres reported “strong bidding”, and there was also a 30
percent increase in physical presence.

“The used LCV sector relies on a
strong and confident economy for the small businesses ”

BCA, whose CV operations take place at four
dedicated centres, experienced a similar trend during 2008 and
early 2009.

In 2008, it saw average values of vans – the
main CV asset it remarkets – fall by over 28 percent.

Following growth in 2007, nearly-new vans
struggled to maintain their values, which fell by almost 28 percent
from January 2008’s high point of £11,063 (€11,894).

The fleet-lease sector – the biggest volume
sector at auction – fell uninterrupted during the year, and was
down almost 27 percent from January’s high point of £4,161.

BCA’s Duncan Ward explained: “The used LCV
sector relies on a strong and confident economy for the small
businesses. As the economic turmoil has intensified in 2008, small
business confidence has ebbed away and this is reflected in
van-buying activity.”

He continued: “It is quite possible that last
year we saw the toughest market conditions in over a decade.

“With credit tight, there were plenty of
buyers and lots of activity in the budget sector, but demand slowed
around £5,000.”

However, early 2009 figures showed that the
market kicked off well, with significant attendances and sales.

In February, demand was particularly high,
with buyers “prepared to bid on nearly every vehicle on offer”.

The market has improved this year also for
CVA, which remarkets light and heavy commercial vehicles in its two
auction centres in Doncaster and Belfast.

The company said that in January and February
it saw van prices matching guide prices set by data company CAP for
the first time in many months, adding that customers were demanding
well-maintained direct stock straight from rental fleets.

“All we need is more direct fleet, finance and
leasing stock to come through the gates, as demand is outstripping
supply at the moment,” a company spokesperson said.

CVA saw the market of vehicles for the
building sector struggling prior to Christmas, but said that sales
improved after-wards.

With the euro coming close to the pound in
value, CVA also saw increased sales volumes of tractor units to
buyers from the eurozone, although it said that since last year
there has been a price drop of almost 50 percent.