Buying used LCVs

Acquiring a new light commercial for your business could make common-sense, suggests Matt Black. However, buying used from the right location and feeling secure about it could be something else altogether

From a personal standpoint, I have never ceased to be amazed at how private and business individuals feel so compelled to throw their cash at motor vehicles, seldom bearing a thought for the one big evil of depreciation. In fact, while private buyers will always justify it to themselves, the business buyer has no excuse and ought to consider his options more carefully.   

From the 2.5 million new vehicles registered in the UK last year, conservative estimates put the percentage of manufacturer registered cars at somewhere in the region of 10 per cent. This means around 220,000 new, low-mileage cars that are simply shunted around “secret” parking areas, before being spruced-up and punted through dedicated manufacturer second-hand sales outlets.   

Some of these new cars are provided for manufacturer test purposes. Of course, the major players - Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen, Renault and BMW - do register more examples than any other carmakers. The same applies to the van scene.   

While it is unlikely that you will be able to attend a manufacturer “closed auction”, a privilege for which even I have to beg passes occasionally, there are some motor traders that have passed muster as far as the manufacturers are concerned. In other words, they can be trusted not to mess up their “exclusive” arrangements by either selling too cheaply or by allowing too many secrets out of the bag.   

Yet, what I am suggesting is that there are likely to be some very low mileage, ex-manufacturer demonstrators available, which will save you a considerable amount of cash over the list price of a new vehicle and they are likely to carry loads of extra cost items as part of the package. Most LCVs are covered by up to 100,000 miles warranties and very few cover their vehicles for less than three years these days, so “buying a pup” does not even enter the argument.   

Fortunately, vehicle reliability has never been better than it is today. Major breakdowns, while not a thing of the past, are a rarity. However, the numbers of these vehicles are bolstered by additional fleets of demonstrators and even ex-lease vehicles that have been placed with larger companies or rental firms and are replaced as soon as the odometer turns 10,000 miles. Some of them may be high-mileage used and less than three months old, but it is far better that you pay a lesser rate and avoid suffering the 30-40 per cent depreciative loss than the larger player, who will acquire at a heavily discounted rate in the first place.   

Another area to consider is ex-government. The current inhabitants at Whitehall have grown the numbers of quangos and governmental departments immensely since coming to power. Around a third of all vehicles registered in the UK go to public sector bodies. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you can source both vans and cars from these areas at considerably marked-down prices. Even three-year-old vehicles are sold at less than the market price, which could be one-third that of the original list.   

Of course, if you are not prepared to spend time sourcing vans by this route, which will involve use of the internet, local knowledge and access to the vehicle auction scene, there is always a good range of local suppliers around the country, all of which will supply to your needs as long as they know you are looking.   

The bottom line is to watch your bottom line! Why spend huge sums of money, unless your accountant has advised it, to buy a new vehicle that will become dented and scarred in daily use, when you can acquire one for considerably less money and not have to worry about it? It is worth considering.

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