The wholesale van market has reached a plateau, despite a big increase in sales last month, according to auction firm Manheim.

It said sales in February were up by 46% year-on-year, while the average sale price of vans also increased from £6.473 to £9,477 – the new figure representing a new record high.

However, James Davis, customer insight director at Manheim’s parent company Cox Automotive, said that record prices did not mean they would increase by the same percentage, even if supply of used vans decreases and demand increases.

He said: “We’ve seen a major change in buying habits because of the effect the pandemic has had on new van sales and the lack of a normal supply of defleeted vans. 

“Looking back on the last 12 months, we have seen the most significant upward realignment of used van values in living memory.

“Our retailers generally report healthy activity, but the majority acknowledge their stock holding is between 40% and 60% lower year-on-year. 

“One trend to watch is the increasing buyer base – franchise groups and retailers are shifting focus from new to used and we are seeing record engagement levels at auction events.” 

According to Manheim, demand for Euro 6-compliant vehicles has been driven by the rollout of tougher emissions regulations in urban areas, with the company having seen Euro 6 vans go from 40% to 60% of its sold stock during the last 12 months.

Davis said: “As Euro 6 was mandated from 2016, this largely reflects the coming of age of Euro 6 vehicles and their increasing share of used wholesale market volumes. 

“The likelihood is that this split will shift again in the coming months as fleet replacement programmes are delivered.”

Manheim said it expected the volume of vans available to remain restricted, and also expected used vans to continue performing strongly through the next quarter and beyond.

Davis said: “With fewer new vans and a rebounding economy as we exit lockdown, used vans offer fantastic value and availability in comparison to new.

“One thing I do not see is a downward price realignment. This is due to the fact increased supply in the used van market will not be a consideration until mid-decade at the earliest, against a strong economic performance. Supply and demand will continue, as ever, to be the key drivers of market performance.”