March Prices Down for Used 1- and 3-Year-Old Vehicles

Tom Kontos
Tom Kontos

The tale of two markets resumed in March, as wholesale prices were below year-ago levels for cars and above prior year for trucks. Nevertheless, both groups showed price increases versus February’s unseasonably soft results, as retail sales and wholesale activity showed signs of the traditional spring/tax season market typical for used vehicles.

According to ADESA Analytical Services’ monthly analysis of Wholesale Used Vehicle Prices by Vehicle Model Class, wholesale used vehicle prices in March averaged $10,904 — up 2% compared to February and up 1% relative to March 2016.

All but one model class segment (compact pickups) showed month-over-month increases. (Note: the year-over-year growth in minivan prices is exaggerated by newer models as discussed in January’s report).

Average wholesale prices for used vehicles remarketed by manufacturers were up 1.1% month-over-month but down 1.7% year-over-year, according to ADESA. Prices for fleet/lease consignors were up 3.8% sequentially and up 0.8% annually. Average prices for dealer consignors were up 2.7% versus February and up 1.3% relative to March 2016.

Breaking the data down by age shows that prices were down 2.5% year-over-year for current and one-model-year-old units (typically off-rental units) and down 2.6% for three-model-year-old units (a good proxy for off-lease units), according to ADESA.

Based on NADA data, retail used vehicle sales by franchised and independent dealers were up 9.3% month-over-month and up 1.6% year-over-year. March CPO sales were up 15% month-over-month, although they were down 0.3% year-over-year from last March’s all-time record levels, according to figures from Autodata.

Wholesale Used Vehicle Price Trends          
  Average Prices ($/Unit)     Latest Month Versus:  
  Mar-17 Feb-17 Mar-16 Prior Month Prior Year
Total All Vehicles $10,904 $10,688 $10,793 2.0% 1.0%
Total Cars $8,921 $8,732 $9,078 2.2% -1.7%
Compact Car $6,732 $6,658 $7,050 1.1% -4.5%
Midsize Car $8,006 $7,942 $8,107 0.8% -1.2%
Fullsize Car $8,346 $8,092 $7,803 3.1% 7.0%
Luxury Car $13,235 $13,015 $13,636 1.7% -2.9%
Sporty Car $14,131 $13,478 $14,517 4.9% -2.7%
Total Trucks $12,825 $12,650 $12,657 1.4% 1.3%
Mini Van $9,012 $9,004 $7,939 0.1% 13.5%
Fullsize Van $13,009 $12,838 $12,769 1.3% 1.9%
Compact SUV/CUV $10,894 $10,733 $11,065 1.5% -1.5%
Midsize SUV/CUV $11,459 $11,319 $11,311 1.2% 1.3%
Fullsize SUV/CUV $13,407 $13,140 $13,372 2.0% 0.3%
Luxury SUV/CUV $18,343 $18,258 $18,857 0.5% -2.7%
Compact Pickup $8,793 $8,818 $8,614 -0.3% 2.1%
Fullsize Pickup $16,142 $15,796 $15,773 2.2% 2.3%

This Kontos Kommentary analysis is based on more than seven million annual sales transactions from more than 150 of the largest U.S. wholesale auto auctions, including those of ADESA as well as other auction companies. ADESA Analytical Services segregates these transactions to study trends by vehicle model class.

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