HGVs waiting for auction at Manheim

Record prices and demand: a story of HGV auctions in lockdown


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Chris Mynott, National HGV & Plant Manager for Manheim Auction Services, tells his story of HGV auctions in lockdown.

Every summer has a story, and ours here at Manheim HGV is certainly one to remember.

The last time I wrote was towards the end of February, the auction market was buoyant and we were all looking forward to another great year. The name COVID-19 was new to us back then and I don’t think many of us could have predicted the impact the virus would have globally over the coming months. 

Once the severity of the virus became clear, Cox Automotive, our parent company, moved instantly upon the first government instructions, and within mere hours we were closing our branches, associated businesses and operations to ensure the safety of our people and customers at the very first opportunity. 

And so, the 19th March was to be our last physical HGV auction for a while. Many colleagues, myself included, were furloughed, giving us enough time to organise, plan and predict just what the job would be like when we returned. 

On the 26th May, I got my answer. The phone rang, and after six weeks without selling a truck I was asked to return. With a sale planned for that very same week, it was all hands to the deck! 

But of course, with physical auction halls and sites remaining closed we had to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of online auctions through Simulcast. Such is our prowess with online selling here at Manheim HGV, with over 80% of our stock selling to online buyers already, it was a challenge that we were probably the best placed in the industry to overcome.

Our complete transparency with vehicle condition, ownership and description is second to none. Buyers have the utmost confidence in buying online because the information on our website is identical to what you would find standing in an auction hall right next to the vehicle in question.

So how has our return been? Simply amazing, unbelievable, superb, there really aren’t enough superlatives to describe it. We learnt early on that our buyers had worked throughout lockdown. Vehicles were being sold, albeit low volumes, but the demand was there. As soon as we re-opened, our vendors and buyers were keen to come straight back and have taken to online-only auctions like ducks to water. 

Whilst we were all expecting a little doom and gloom in the marketplace post-lockdown, it has been completely the opposite. Record breaking in fact.

Buyer numbers are up by over 50% compared to pre-lockdown, with nearly 200 registering for each auction. Even the die-hard and traditional ‘physical only’ buyers have made an appearance, with our dedicated Client Services team doing everything they can to help make it as easy as possible for those who may be a little technology shy. 

Stock levels have also increased and continue to climb. The superb news of the return of Enterprise to the HGV line up at Manheim has been incredibly well received. Another top-quality vendor to add to our portfolio. Any they’re not the only new vendor. Ryder and Fraikin have recently joined our programme; two more blue chip names you’ll see gracing our auction line-up.

Sale prices have been simply eyewatering of late. Such is the appetite of the buyers right now that predicting an auction price or giving a valuation is almost impossible. When comparing like for like vehicles, post-lockdown figures have been thousands more in numerous cases. Even vehicles that may have been viewed as less desirable pre-lockdown are finding new homes with ease now. 

And so, on to the trucks themselves. My usual ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ piece has become very tricky to put together because nearly everything is selling so well. As always, condition remains key so a genuine and tidy truck will always sell for a good price. As for what’s not selling well, in general anything with high mileage will struggle. The vehicle will still sell but expect to see a gulf in the price compared to comparable lower mileage vehicles.

We’ve seen plenty of construction chassis lately with even some of the far eastern manufacturer models seeing renewed demand.  Late haulage chassis with boxes and curtains have been rare which is keeping the prices high, and fridges are seeing a strong demand even though there is a greater supply of these than we’d normally expect to see. Tractor units and municipals are also doing well.

Keep in mind that vehicle spec is key: the right chassis, body, and low mileage equals big money.

So, to conclude. The post-lockdown period has seen lots of activity with stock selling at fantastic prices. As for what the future will bring, we haven’t seen any signs of the market taking a dip or making a significant change any time soon. Supply looks good, demand is strong, long may it continue.

In what has been a truly unprecedented year so far, I must end with a sincere hope that yourselves, your families, your friends and businesses alike are all safe and well.

Chris Mynott

Chris Mynott

National HGV Manager

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