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The Gavel - April 2024

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Wholesale market opinion from our resident car and LCV auction experts, Kevin Blincowe and Stuart Peak.

Kevin Blincowe - cars

Kevin Blincowe on Manheim Rostrum

Q1 has drawn to a close and we couldn’t have asked for more from the market. I’m proud to say that Manheim surpassed all expectations for conversions, numbers of units sold, number of arrivals and new business wins. Hilton, Motability, Rainworth and Burton Kia are just a few of the new vendors we’ve welcomed to our lanes.

There have been some new highlights across our auction programme too. Our new non-runner sale is helping customers dispose of problem vehicles to a captive audience, Mondays at Birmingham have relaunched due to the volume of cars coming into that site and Leeds is now running dual lanes for both its evening sales due to unprecedented volumes there.

Our dealer sales have gone from strength to strength but we have also seen good growth in the fleet sector as many of our customers in this category look to dispose of large volumes. Novuna, Motability, FCA/Leasys have all sent good volumes of cars to us and it has been a welcome boost.

The sheer quantity of stock we have has brought buyers in their droves and I’ve enjoyed seeing busy auction halls up and down the country alongside strong online attendances. I’ve spotted some old faces returning to the lanes as well as some new faces opening accounts to see what all the fuss is about at the largest hybrid auction programme in the UK.

Looking ahead to Q2, we’re seeing the usual post-Easter softening in demand as school holidays and bank holidays influence the retail space. That being said, we are well-placed to ride the wave and make the most of what we have.

Throughout Q1 I have been assessing the auctioneer team to ensure that we are providing the best service to our customers. For me it’s vital that we have a consistent approach to the way we offer cars, share our knowledge with customers and advise on valuations. I am never one to talk the job down and the team is relishing the challenge of maintaining decent conversions in a tougher seasonal marketplace.

While vehicle values have held well since the turn of the year, I suspect a small softening is on the horizon, however there are certainly some good value cars to be found. Speaking from  experience, values are making sense to me again following years of volatility and skyrocketing prices, followed by big book drops. It should come as no surprise to anyone that stability is a good thing for car auctions.

As always, the usual story is playing out in the buyer’s market. Good, clean, honest cars are the order of the day, particularly those grade 1-to-2 with no mechanical issues, a good history and sensible former owners. These cars are commanding good premiums. I encourage our vendors to take a good look at anything that goes unsold through the lanes so that we can get a realistic reserve put on and use our auctioneering expertise to get them sold. 

In summary, it’s been a positive start to 2024 and we have laid the foundations of another great year. Q2 has a lot of promise with plenty of volume about and we are well placed with our people and facilities to maintain steady conversions and maximise  vehicle values for customers.

Stuart Peak - LCVs

Stuart Peak on Manheim rostrum

At this time of year, I like to reflect on Q1 to paint a general picture of how the market is performing. It’s safe to say the quarter was a record-breaker and surpassed all our expectations.

Buyer demand has been strong throughout, coupled with a vendor base that is well-aligned to market conditions. This, alongside higher stock volumes, has led to a 16% increase in our sold volumes compared to Q1 2023.

It was evident from the beginning of the year that buyers were hungry for stock and the vastly improved supply of new LCVs has helped, with more than 53,000 registered in March alone. Year-to-date LCV registrations have improved by 8.6% which is great to see and we expect Q2 to be just as busy.

The commercial vehicle sector is a fantastic barometer for the state of the economy, and with some of the largest brands in the world focusing on commercial vehicles these days, it’s clear there is renewed confidence within the industry.

Looking deeper into market dynamics, we have seen a slight softening of prices as the year continues, which is to be expected given the influx of volume compared to this time last year. As always, condition is key, and as we move into Q2 which is arguably one of the more seasonal periods, I would urge all sellers to pay close attention  to vehicle condition when pricing.

Mileage is another thing that must be considered. We are seeing excellent money being paid for clean, low mileage vehicles including those with less spec. On the flipside, values for higher mileage vehicles are being affected. These “harder worked” vans often need more preparation for retail sale, including servicing and rectifying any potential mechanical issues.

Ultimately, everything at auction is sellable, but getting the price right first is so important. This is when it is paramount to go back to basics where commercial vehicles are concerned. Age, mileage, condition, specification, service history, valid MOT and mechanical condition all need to be considered on every asset. Accuracy of vehicle description is also important and this is something  we take very seriously at Cox Automotive. I have heard a few horror stories recently with vehicles being priced as ‘£X’, and it turns out to be ‘£Y’.

Again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to check that a vehicle’s description is accurate before pricing, whether that’s one coming in as a part-ex or an end-of-contract vehicle coming off lease and going for sale. There is such a wide variety of commercial vehicle specifications and body styles, and with our industry generally reliant on data feeds/look ups, there is always room for error.

Wherever you are reading this, if you are in any way involved in the sale of commercial vehicles, my one piece of advice this month is don’t be the person to let that error happen! Check once, check twice, and if unsure – check again.

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