Black Book: Entry Level Cars Up over $1,000 Since Beginning of Year

Ricky Beggs, managing editor of Black Book, presents this edition of "Beggs on the Used Car Market."

The market place is extremely busy with interest and demand for used vehicles at almost record levels. This week after extensive analysis, the Editors adjusted almost 2100 vehicles on average each day throughout the week. This is the second highest level of adjustments for a weekly period for the last year. Only the week ending April 8, 2011, with over 2200 adjustments per day has been a more active week.

The percentage of adjustments being increases in values turned back to a more positive trend this week, almost reaching the 50% level, after a very anemic 29% the previous week. Many dealers commented throughout the week that their retail lots were fairly full and with the strong prices they are trying to avoid getting too heavy of an inventory. This might be supporting the high, but leveling off somewhat, in the prices.

The car segments continue to be the stars of the show with an overall change of $45 for the week, now on the positive side for 11 consecutive weeks.  With 9 of the 10 segment types having a positive week of adjustments overall, the strength of the Entry Level Cars (ELC) was a rather impressive increase week over week of $158, the strongest segment change amount of any segment type since January 1, 2011. Since the first of the year the Entry Level Car (ELC) segment as a whole has increased $1017. Looking at the Entry Level Cars (ELC) that were 3 years old last year at this time and the model year that is 3 years old today, that increase in value is up by 28.99% or almost $1900.

As I said during a presentation this past week to a very progressive group of independent leasing companies and vendors at the annual NVLA Conference in Chicago, if the cars weren't so strong, we would be talking about the solid retention levels of the trucks, vans and utility models. For only the third time in the past 10 weeks has the overall change for the trucks been below the $0 baseline, declining this week by $20.

Only 4 of the segment types increased this past week, lead by the Compact SUVs (CSU) and Compact Crossovers (CXU) at $31 and $28 respectively. The Full-size Crossovers (FXU) changed directions after 4 consecutive weeks of declining values increasing by $9 during the week. We are also reporting a $6 increase for the Mid-size Pickups (MPT).

The 4 segment types with the largest declines were all from the full-size models. For the fifth consecutive week the Full-size Pickups (FPT) declined, this week by $92. The Full-size SUVs (FSU) have declined every week during the last 3 months, -$91 this past week. The Full-size Cargo and Passenger Wagons (FVC, FVW) took their first turn below the $0 baseline over the past 9 weeks, this past week at -$44 and -$51 respectively.

What else is in the forefront of the industry?

  • 1. We are still watching the new vehicle inventory levels, especially those most significantly affected by the March 11 Japan earthquake.
  • 2. If the already limited supply of used inventory wasn't pushing values even higher, the recent tornados throughout the southeast and now the devastating flooding around the Mississippi River and even into parts of Virginia, will create the need for more replacement new and used cars.
  • 3. Auctions are struggling to get the volume of cars and trucks to run and in some cases are off by close to 40% from year ago levels.
  • 4. With Memorial Day only a couple of weeks away, there are already signs of a major sales push by a few manufacturers with some bumped up incentive programs, even though the days supply is well below desired levels for new and used markets.
  • 5. Our tweets on @beggsblackbook the past week or so have been focused on the Daily adjustments and the major amounts of the changes. We hope they have been insightful. This is one more way of telling you in a timely manner what we are seeing in the market

Thanks for tuning in today. As one comment was made to me this week, "I can't help how high the values are, but I have to have inventory, so I bid. I will find a way to sell it retail". This represents the truly positive spirit of the automobile dealer!

Have a great week and we look forward to seeing you on the auction lanes!

Ricky Beggs

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