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Maximizing Residual Value: A Fleet Manager's Guide to Getting the Most Remarketing Profit

Sep 27, 2023
Kam Thandi

In the realm of fleet management, staying on top of multiple data points and maintaining seamless operations is a demanding task. Ensuring your vehicles run smoothly and your drivers perform efficiently is crucial for boosting your business revenue. However, focusing solely on revenue generation overlooks a critical aspect of fleet success: residual value. The overall residual value of your fleet vehicles is equally vital for long-term profitability and success.

Understanding Residual Value

Residual value represents the worth of your vehicles, factoring in depreciation and marketability. Every fleet manager knows that holding onto vehicles indefinitely isn't feasible, and eventually, replacements become necessary. Between mid-2021 and mid-2023, this became particularly challenging due to soaring vehicle prices, even in the used market. This presented difficulties in maintaining the residual value of vehicles and upgrading fleets sustainably.

While vehicle prices are gradually stabilizing, retaining residual value and strategically selling old vehicles remain crucial strategies for optimizing your fleet and maximizing your vehicle investments. Here's what you need to know.

Factors Influencing Residual Value

Determining a fleet's residual value involves considering several interconnected factors. These factors help you arrive at a concrete number that guides your fleet management decisions.

1. Market Demand

Market demand plays a pivotal role in calculating your fleet's residual value. High demand, such as during supply constraints, can significantly elevate vehicle values, making used vehicles more attractive to buyers.

2. Manufacturer Reputation

The reputation of the vehicle manufacturer also influences its residual value. Vehicles produced by renowned manufacturers with high reliability ratings tend to retain more value. This is especially true for vehicles intended for commercial use.

3. Depreciation

The rate of depreciation is a critical factor. Some vehicles depreciate faster than others, with most experiencing a 20% depreciation in the first year and 10-15% annually thereafter. Opting for vehicles with slower depreciation rates is a wise investment.

4. Vehicle Type

Certain vehicle types, like trucks, tend to retain their value longer due to their durability and reliability, making them preferable for fleets aiming to maximize residual value.

5. Vehicle Condition

Vehicle condition is challenging to quantify but holds immense importance. Detailed records, such as CARFAX reports, visual assessments, and maintenance history, help gauge a vehicle's condition and its impact on value.

Supply Constraints and Residual Value

The COVID-19 pandemic had far-reaching effects on manufacturing, including vehicle production. Supply constraints, driven by factors like a shortage of semiconductor computer chips and labor force disruptions, led to increased vehicle values.

Effects of Supply Constraints

The supply constraints resulted in a reduced supply of vehicles and increased demand for both new and used ones. As a result, vehicle prices soared, with car prices about 50% higher than in 2020, posing challenges for fleet owners.

As supply chain constraints gradually ease, vehicle prices are expected to drop, but this also accelerates depreciation. This situation complicates fleet owners' efforts to retain residual value.

Easing of Supply Constraints and Residual Value

The easing of supply constraints is expected to impact fleet residual value significantly. As vehicle supply increases, demand will decrease, eventually leading to lower vehicle prices. This scenario poses challenges for fleet managers aiming to maintain residual value.

Market confidence among vehicle purchasers is also growing, hinting at a return to standard depreciation schedules. However, the pace of this correction remains uncertain, making it challenging for fleet owners to gauge residual value accurately.

Strategies to Maximize Residual Value

In an unpredictable market, fleet managers and owners must adopt strategies to safeguard residual value:

1. High-Quality Collision Repair

Choose top-notch collision repair services to ensure your vehicles are restored to optimal condition after accidents. Quality repairs enhance a vehicle's value. Check out ServiceUp for your collision repair needs.

2. Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance, including oil changes, tire rotations, and transmission upkeep, helps prolong a vehicle's lifespan and preserve its value.

3. Comprehensive Documentation

Maintain detailed records of repairs, service, and routine maintenance. Buyers value vehicles with documented maintenance histories.

4. Mileage Management

Efficient route planning minimizes mileage, slowing down depreciation. Employ telematics systems to optimize routes and reduce wear and tear.

5. Fleet Appearance

Maintain a clean and presentable fleet to enhance the value of your vehicles. Regular cleaning and cleanliness protocols are essential.

6. Technology and Telematics

Equip your fleet with advanced technology and telematics systems to monitor vehicle performance. Track mileage, idle time, and sensor data to identify issues promptly.

7. Optimal Vehicle Acquisition

Choose vehicles with desirable features and options during acquisition. Higher-end features tend to retain value longer.

8. Safe Driving Programs

Implement safe driving programs to reduce accidents and collision repair costs. This also helps protect your business from liabilities.

9. Market Monitoring

Stay updated on market conditions for your vehicle types. Understanding market trends aids in making informed decisions.

10. Timing for Vehicle Disposal

Sell vehicles during favorable market conditions to maximize their value. Monitor vehicle values and plan replacements strategically.


While residual value remains a complex aspect of fleet management, it's a critical consideration for fleet managers and owners. Despite market uncertainties, diligent maintenance, thoughtful planning, and strategic decisions can help safeguard your fleet's residual value. As the market stabilizes, these efforts will go a long way in ensuring the longevity and profitability of your fleet. To simplify your fleet maintenance and repair needs, consider ServiceUp, offering automated vehicle repair for fleets. Request a demo today to discover how ServiceUp can support your business's success.

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