‘Must have’ air conditioning drives van values up and delivers a return on investment

Air conditioning is the new light commercial vehicle ‘must have’ feature driving residual values up by around 40% in some cases, according to latest analysis by remarketing giant BCA.

While air conditioning for cars is commonplace, it remains an option for vans and is not widely fitted across the UK’s light commercial vehicle parc. 

Consequently, the ‘driver comfort’ feature is hugely ‘desirable’ at remarketing time, according to BCA, with values typically outstripping standard vehicles by a considerable distance – well over £1,000 on average it is claimed, thus delivering a return on the upfront cost of fitting air conditioning as an optional extra.

BCA’s data analysis of sold vans at its auction showed that those fitted with air conditioning outperformed those without the option by a considerable margin in values achieved, performance against guide values and conversion rates.

Across all large panel vans sold by BCA during 2019 to date, vehicles sold with air conditioning averaged £6,440, equivalent to 102% of CAP ‘clean’, while those without averaged £5,374 (97.3% CAP ‘clean’) – a £1,066 benefit. The sales conversion uplift for large panel vans with air conditioning was a ‘substantial’ 15.5%, said BCA.

For small panel vans, vehicles with air conditioning averaged £7,975 (104.7% CAP ‘clean’), compared to £6,319 (99.3% CAP ‘clean’), a £1,656 increase in value – more than 26%. The sales conversion improved by nearly 5%.

Car-derived vans averaged £4,912 (103.7% CAP ‘clean’) at BCA during 2019 if fitted with air conditioning, and £3,499 (98.9% CAP ‘clean’) without, a ‘substantial’ 40.3% or £1,413 increase in value. Car-derived vans with air conditioning also saw a large increase of 11.5% in conversion rates.

The biggest value differential in favour of vehicles fitted with air-con was seen in the 4×4 Doublecab Pick Up sector. Values increased from £8,783 (99.8% CAP ‘clean’) without the option, to £10,514 (101.1% CAP ‘clean’) with air conditioning, generating a £1,731 uplift in value and a 3.8% improvement in conversion rates.

Jon Gilbert (pictured), BCA’s business development director, light commercial vehicles, said: “While it is to be expected that air conditioning will add value in the used light commercial vehicle market, the real uplift in value now appears to compare very favourably with the front-end costs of specifying this option.

“Light commercial vehicles with air conditioning are highly valued by professional buyers at BCA, because these are the vehicles their retail customers want to buy. For vans that are doing longer distance delivery work, or in a tradesman’s vehicle that doubles as the family transport at the weekend, air conditioning is exceptionally appealing. This is particularly apparent in the car-derived van sector where values increased by more than 40% and in 4×4 Doublecab Pick Ups, which saw the largest increase in value.”

Mr Gilbert continued: “Not only were remarketing values substantially improved, the sales conversion rate rose by up to 15.5% for large panel vans, making air conditioning a win: win option for light commercial vehicle operators specifying new vans for their fleets.”

He concluded: “These figures underline that up-speccing commercial vehicles at acquisition time can deliver real benefits to van operators.  A better specification will make a van more desirable and saleable, and higher-spec vehicles will often sell the first time they are offered, improving cash-flow for the seller.”

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