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Wholesale used-car prices nearly flat from December to January

Wholesale used-vehicle prices in January were largely unchanged from December though far higher than year-earlier numbers in another signal that the surge in U.S. used-vehicle prices has begun to level out.

Cox Automotive said Monday that its Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, which tracks vehicles sold at Manheim’s U.S. auctions, rose just 0.04 percent in January compared with December. The January number, however, was 45 percent higher than a year earlier. Those numbers were adjusted for mix, mileage and seasonality.

On a nonadjusted basis, the Manheim index fell 0.9 percent from its December level but rose nearly 41 percent year over year, according to Manheim.

Total used-vehicle sales fell 0.8 percent in January compared with the year-earlier period, Cox Automotive estimated.

January price patterns varied by vehicle age and segment, with older vehicles likely to see stabilizing prices and younger vehicles likely to see larger declines, according to Manheim.

Average wholesale prices for 3-year-old vehicles fell 2.9 percent for the full month, Cox reported.

All major market segments saw seasonally adjusted year-over-year price gains in January, according to Manheim. Van prices grew by nearly 60 percent, the biggest such change, followed by compact car prices, which rose 52 percent from January 2021. Pickups and luxury cars lagged the overall market.

Month to month, it was a different story. Prices for midsize cars, sports cars and SUVs rose in January compared with December, while prices for compact cars, luxury cars and pickups decreased.

Black Book index

Black Book’s Used Vehicle Retention Index grew just 0.6 percent in January from December, its lowest monthly rate of increase since July.

The index reached 197 points in January, just 1.3 points higher than its December level, Black Book reported Wednesday. The January index number rose 53 percent from January 2021 and increased 72 percent from January 2020.

Black Book reported wholesale price declined in most vehicle segments but at a slower rate than in previous years, according to Alex Yurchenko, chief data science officer at Black Book.

“That led to a small increase in the overall monthly seasonally adjusted retention index,” Yurchenko said in a news release.

Black Book reported that prices for vans of all sizes stayed strong in January. Some segments, including midsize cars and pickups, posted a bigger-than-usual drop in prices for the month, Yurchenko said.

“We expect a stable wholesale market in February as the industry prepares for the tax buying season,” Yurchenko said.


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