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Alternatively Fuelled Vans – How will they fare at auction?

Alex Wright, MD of Shoreham Vehicle Auctions looks at the future for alternatively fuelled vehicles when they reach their resale at auction.  The future does not look so rosy for electric and hybrid vehicles yet.

Alex Wright, Shoreham Vehicle Auction’s managing director

Alex Wright, Shoreham Vehicle Auction’s managing director

Van drivers will determine the future performance of alternative fuelled and electric LCVs at auction. An increasing number of LCV fleets appear to be prepared to incorporate alternative fuelled and electric vans into their fleets but they are in very small numbers. Used van buyers and the traders who are purchasing at auction to meet the demands of their forecourts are unlikely to buy when these vehicles auction until the technology has been proven in the long term.

Fleets and business, which opt to buy new vans, make their decisions according to reliability, running costs, good fuel consumption and the ability to cover large distances comfortably and quickly. The second user who buys a four-year old van has different expectations and this is what the market traders have in mind when purchasing at auction. Reliability is still important for these end users but they accept maintenance will be required so traders factor in the cost of parts, for example, when deciding which makes and models to purchase. Traders are all too conscious that their own customers are less likely to take a gamble on a vehicle powered in a relatively non-conventional way.

Diesel remains the fuel of choice for van users and it will be difficult to shift the attachment dealers and their own customers have for this fuel. In fact, Toyota, one of the leading exponents of hybrid passenger vehicles, has just launched its new Proace van with a choice of three diesel engines. Perhaps a reflection of the demands of this particular market where hybrids may not be as readily embraced as it has been among car drivers?

Even the likes of Toyota, which has proven hybrid technology in its passenger vehicles, has yet to launch a hybrid van in the UK. This is despite its Prius hybrid car now more than 10 years old and faring well in the used market and at auction. As long as there are no other extenuating factors such as damage or extremely high mileage, Prius cars perform just as well as similar diesel powered cars at auction in our experience.

Other manufacturers, of course, have launched electric LCVs such as Peugeot with its Partner Electric and the Renault Kangoo Z.E., but we have yet to see them appear at auction. My prediction is when they do, the numbers will be relatively small and whilst a niche market such as eco businesses whose proprietors may want used electric vans is probable, traders are likely to source these to order and will be reluctant to simply buy electric vans for their forecourts.

SVA recently sold a batch of ten MODEC truck EVs, which cost £65,000 new, for £1,500 each from a public utility. Sold as non-runners i.e. without batteries which cost £30,000 to replace and have a shelf-life of five years, and the fact they had also sustained drive train damage, the reasons for such low bids become apparent.

Modec are not worth a lot today

Modec are not worth a lot today

In order for electric vehicles to become fully established, a stronger market needs to be formed with future value predictions helping to create confidence that will only come about if industry standards are adapted.

Buyers of electric vehicles need to be able to access short term leasing of batteries because the capital costs are far too high for companies to invest in them. In addition, we need a standardisation of the batteries and connection points within the industry in the same way we have standards for the simple electric plugs. This will strengthen trust and understanding in the products.

About Colin Medwynter (156 Articles)
Colin is a commercial vehicle specialist with 22 years experience in the publishing industry. A fan of trucks and vans he is well known around many delaerships for his involvement in Trucklocator weekly magazine.