CAP: when buying a used van does the badge matter?

Ken Brown, Editor at CAP Red Book, writes:

A van is a motorised metal box with a wheel at each corner with a defined payload and load space volume. So, when buying a used van does the badge on the front really matter? 

You bet it does!

Over the years, light commercial vehicles have gone through a Darwinian-like evolution as vehicle manufacturers have adapted their product designs to meet the demands of operators and the seemingly endless number of vehicle applications. The light CV market is now highly sophisticated and divided into clearly defined sectors. Most manufacturers compete for market share in each of these sectors with models that have very similar attributes and capabilities. Indeed some are exactly the same vehicle – so called ‘badge-engineered’ vehicles where the only significant difference is the badge!

Combination of factors

There is no ‘one size fits all’ and, when it comes to specifying which make and model to buy, each has its own appeal according to a combination of a buyer’s operational requirements, personal preferences and cost.

Some manufacturers have extremely successful products across all sectors while others are stronger in some sectors and weaker in others. However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that those makes and models with the greatest new market share are the most desirable in the used market.

Along with all the other factors that can affect used vehicle prices, such as:

  • over-supply
  • under supply
  • condition
  • colour
  • seasonality

there is something that we refer to at CAP as the desirability pecking order.

When used market prices are stable, a natural pecking order occurs between the various makes and models and this is reflected by the market in terms of the prices that buyers are prepared to pay for one make and model in relation to another.

Knock-on effect

Interestingly, when used light CV market prices fall, models that are higher up the desirability pecking order become more affordable and this has a knock-on effect for those lower down the pecking order. What we often see at the lower end of the desirability scale is the less popular models falling even further out of favour with market prices falling disproportionately.

When setting current used values and residual value forecasts, the desirability pecking order is an important consideration and we constantly analyse the sales research data we collect to identify market trends. The desirability pecking order doesn’t determine a value but it is an invaluable measure that can help us to interpret what is happening in the market at any given point in time.

Vehicle manufacturers often ask us what they can do to improve their ranking in the desirability pecking order. The truth is that brand reputations take many years to establish, so it is no simple matter of introducing new features to gain advantage over competitors in terms of retained value. The car market provides some very good examples of how some badges are just rooted in the market’s psyche as belonging in a certain position, no matter how well engineered they are. There, Ford has arguably ‘over engineered’ its product to easily rival more ‘prestige’ brands, but moving the customer perception dial takes a very long time and the same is true in our market.

Tributes roll in for haulage legend Stan Robinson

Legendary Staffordshire haulage boss Stan Robinson has died aged 70.

Robinson set up the eponymous firm in 1970, which won Haulier of the Year at the 1999 Motor Transport Awards.

In recent years, Robinson developed his own 33.5m longer heavier vehicle, and opened a vehicle testing station at his firm's base in Seighford.
Steve Cope, transport director at Stan Robinson (Stafford) says: "He was like a father to us, he put everyone else at the company before himself.

"We will never forget him and he will be very sadly missed." 

Barry Proctor, director of Stoke-on-Trent haulage firm Barry Proctor Services says Robinson was "straight talking, down to earth, and not afraid to call a spade a spade."

He adds: "This is terrible news, I've known Stan for the best part of 50 years when we were drivers delivering corn.

"He wasn't a shirt and tie man, but always liked to get stuck in with his sleeves rolled up."

Andy Boyle, MD at ABE Ledbury, says: "Stan was physically a big man, and big in stature in the haulage industry.

"He punched above his weight and was never scared to take on the big boys in the industry.

"Stan was a great character, everybody in the industry will miss him."