Export demand for used cars is driving prices to unnatural levels

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Export demand for used cars is driving prices to unnatural levels

Researchers for CAP Black Book, the used car valuation tool, are reporting "crazy" price tags attached to vehicles destined for export – with many selling for fees far beyond their normal market values.

CAP cites the example of a six-year-old Citroen C8 that recently sold for export with a price tag of £5,500 – some £3,000 more than its UK retail value. Similarly, a five-year-old Audi A4 destined for other shores sold for £15,400 – "more than double" its CAP trade value of £7,175.

It's not simply exported cars that are receiving inflated prices, though – with both motorcycle and van values often going beyond normal levels.

CAP suggests that both Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans are "frequently" bought for export, while the hardy Toyota Hilux also proves popular.

The main cause of the inflation can be as simple as the cost of fuel, CAP suggests, with "thirsty" models equipped with large petrol engines far more in demand abroad than in the UK.

Even damaged cars – and in particular 4x4s – are proving popular, often exported to Eastern European countries and used for spare parts or simply cheap transport.

"This is one of the biggest untold stories of recent years across the UK used vehicle markets," said CAP's Mike Hind.

"Our car, bike, truck and van experts are often astonished at the prices they see paid for vehicles destined for export and there is no sign that demand will dry up any time soon.

"Sometimes it is causing real issues for dealers and traders in our own markets, with real pain being felt by bike dealers in particular, at present."

According to CAP, many bike dealers are now struggling to find enough good used motorcycle stock to satisfy demand at home. In this market, used values are rising almost across the board thanks to the reduction in bike numbers while demand remains high.

Mike Hind added: "But elsewhere it is helping to remove a considerable number of vehicles that would otherwise struggle to attract any interest here."