With many institutions continuing to offer savers interest at below the rate of inflation, buying a used van could provide a better return than putting money in the bank, according to Manheim, the world’s biggest vehicle auction company. Latest figures on September sales of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) at auction show that average values rose by a remarkable £51 (or 1.3 per cent) in the month, despite the age of vans continuing to rise.

Figures from the company’s latest Market Analysis show that the average age of vans at auction rose from 58 to 59 months between August and September, while average month-on-month mileages remained steady at 82,517 (down just 20 miles on August.) The average number of days in stock remained low at just fifteen days, signalling continued strong demand in the market.

James Davis, head of commercial vehicles at Manheim Remarketing, said: “As widely predicted by market analysts, September saw another rise in values as the used market struggles to satisfy the insatiable demand from buyers. Our volume variance tracker, which shows the number of vehicles entering the auction market from the same sample of vendors, continues to highlight the chronic shortage of quality vans that is affecting the market; the volume of vans sold by our basket of vendors fell by eight per cent year on year.

“While I am not seriously advocating people to consider used vans as a long term investment ‘vehicle’, it is still interesting to note that, due to the current remarkable market conditions, many used van segments are outperforming saving rates of interest when it comes to a return on investment.”

Looking at the month-on-month trends in more detail, car derived vans continue to attract strong bids at auction. The average age of this vehicle segment, which accounts for over a quarter of all sales, has remained at 56 months, while mileages have dropped from August’s spike of 74,125 back to 72,299. Compared with September 2011, values have risen by £244, while the age profile has fallen by a month and mileage rates have risen by nine per cent.

While the values of large panel values (both above and below three tonnes) have continued to appreciate month-on-month (£191 for <3.0t and £131 for >3.0t), the average age at auction for both segments has fallen over the last quarter to 53 and 54 months consecutively. The influence of ex-flexi rent product is clear, with many workhorse large panel vans being worked harder and racking up higher annual mileages.

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