Share this article
James Davis is head of commercial vehicles at Manheim: “This idea that we’re seeing fewer white vans is something of a mystery…”

LATEST statistics from Manheim’s used LCV team highlight some interesting trends where the changing colour of vans on UK roads are concerned.

As the biggest player in the global vehicle remarketing industry, approximately 85% of Manheim’s stock comes from the corporate sector, which provides an ideal overview of trends in the used van market.

Looking at the changing colours of vans, there is a general perception that there are fewer of these once abundant tradesmen’s chariots on the roads.

White is the proper colour for a van after all. Have they all been impounded?

But what do the figures actually say?

James Davis, head of commercial vehicles at Manheim, gives some food for thought. He comments: “Perception and reality are often at odds with each other and this certainly seems to be the case where white vans are concerned.

“While there’s a widely held view that we’re seeing fewer white vans on the roads, industry figures don’t really support that. In fact, our data shows that the proportion of vans going through the auction halls has actually only dropped by 2% (from 68% of used vans in 2005 to 66% in 2013).

“So, this idea that we’re seeing fewer white vans is something of a mystery.

“There are probably other factors at play here, skewing our perception of the number of white vans we’re seeing.

“From our market intelligence, we can say that while the volumes of white vans seen at auction have dipped slightly since 2008, we’ve seen the volumes of silver vans jump by more than 5%.

“This is a significant shift in the colour mix of vans, that may simply be catching our attention, thus prompting us to register new van colours entering the market, to the detriment of your ‘common or garden’ white Transit.”

Fiat Fiorino
Silver is the new white with volumes jumping by over 5% since 2008

Interestingly, the latest quarterly road traffic stats from the Department for Transport actually show that the number of miles driven by light goods vehicles – typically white vans – has increased by 5.1%, which suggests that tradesmen have been quiet during the recession and have simply kept their vans on the drive.

Davis said: “These traffic figures are really interesting and do suggest that there’s more to the apparent lack of white vans on our roads than meets the eye.

Some colours are instantly associated with well known brands; see a red van and who do you think of?

“It is probably a mixture of marginally falling sales, an increase on other colour vans such as silver and the impact of the downturn that has created the impression that the classic white van is on the wane.”

Manheim also highlights the role colour can play in the used wholesale market.

Davis continues: “It’s common for retail buyers to associate colour with well-known and instantly recognisable household names.

“These customer facing van fleets operate in the full visibility of communities across the UK. Take The AA, British Gas, RAC and Royal Mail. Used buyers recognise this “corporate uniform” and assign a value in terms of a positive perception about the quality of these vans and their provenance.

“That’s not to say white vans are worth less; condition is key and impacts values more than colour in isolation.”

Manheim is the biggest global player in vehicle remarketing and it has auction houses all around the UK.


  1. Many companies use wrapping for livery these days covering the original base colour. But white is still the biggest selling colour along with red. White is also still the colour of our own fleet of vans. Unfortunately negative statements such as ‘white van man’ are usually created by non professional drivers who cover far fewer yearly miles than our own 80k + miles per van per year.

    Even though these guys drive a lot less miles they are involved in far more accidents than professional drivers (those who drive for a living as their primary or main job) Unsafe drivers don’t frequent one particular mode or colour of transport, they drive all vehicles badly.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here