Data released in BCA’s Quarterly Pulse Report shows the average value of a used car in the first quarter of 2012 was £6114 – the highest ever recorded in the first quarter since Pulse began reporting in 2005. Year on year, Q1 12 was ahead by £215 (3.6%) and significantly ahead of the average values being recorded in the pre-recessionary period.
Values increased in all three sectors. Fleet & lease values increased steadily during the first quarter of 2012, reflecting the structural shortage of supply affecting the market. The part-exchange sector established record monthly and quarterly average values in Q1 12, and nearly-new values improved year-on-year.
BCA’s Tony Gannon commented “There is little doubt the ‘value’ element of the market has recovered despite the on-going economic issues. However, the supply side of the market equation should not be ignored. There have been well reported constraints on supply of the best, retail quality cars and – in a competitive remarketing environment – this is undoubtedly contributing to the general rise in values.”
While values are generally increasing in the used market, the average age and mileage of used cars is also increasing. This is particularly noticeable in the fleet and lease market, where mileage has been rising since Q3 10 (with the exception of Q4 11, where model mix may have had a role to play) and reached an all-time high in the most recent quarter. The average fleet & lease car had covered nearly 3,000 more miles when sold in Q1 12 compared to Q3 10 and a 1,000 more miles, year-on-year. This is consistent with vehicles staying ‘on fleet’ longer and arriving in the wholesale sector having been ‘worked harder’.
The average age of used vehicles is also rising and passed 61 months in Q1 12 – the second highest figure on record. Fleet & lease cars averaged over 41 months for the first time in Quarter 1, which suggests a slightly older profile of fleet cars is reaching the wholesale market. The same is generally true of the PX sector, where average age reached a new peak of 89.44 months.
The relatively strong price performance in the first three months of the year is also highlighted in the BCA Index, which tracks average values. Thanks to a strong price performance in January and February, Q1 12 recorded one of the highest Index figures on record at 128. This is five points ahead year-on-year.
However, these rises mask a certain fragility to market conditions and have been achieved against a backdrop of continuing economic pressures and reduced sold volumes. It may be some time before the market repeats the steady value evolution seen between 2005 and 2007.
Q1 12 figure = 127.9 rounded up.
* The BCA Price Index is based on Q1, 2005 average value across all three sectors of £4780 = 100.