Used Vehicle Value Index
By applying statistical analysis to its database of more than 5 million used vehicle transactions annually, Manheim has developed a measurement of used vehicle prices that is independent of underlying shifts in the characteristics of vehicles being sold. View the index methodology.
The Manheim Index is increasingly recognized by both financial and economic analysts as the premier indicator of pricing trends in the used vehicle market, but should not be considered indicative or predictive of any individual remarketer's results.
Wholesale Prices Halt Three Months of Declines – Remain Flat in February
Wholesale used vehicle prices (on a mix-, mileage-, and seasonally adjusted basis) remained flat month-over-month in February. This brought the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index to 131.0, which was a 5.1% increase from a year ago and the lowest level since last July.
On a year-over-year basis, all major market segments except midsize cars saw gains. Pickups and vans outperformed the overall market.
As expected, now that prices are more in line with the general trend prior to the hurricanes, the rapid acceleration of depreciation has slowed to normal. We will likely miss the normal “bounce” in used vehicle prices in March as tax refunds will again be delayed as part of the IRS effort to combat identity fraud. Weekly tax refunds for the week ending Feb. 16 were down 2% versus a similar time period last year equaling almost $2 billion in refunds. However, in the week ending Feb. 23, the number and total amount of refunds were up year-over-year during a similar week in 2017, suggesting an increase in the rate of tax return processing. Prices should be on firmer footing by April as retail demand kicks into gear.
New vehicle sales decrease in February. February new vehicle sales volume decreased 2% year-over-year with the same number of selling days compared to February 2017. February SAAR came in at 17.0 million, down from last year’s 17.3 million; but it’s the sixth straight month of more than 17 million SAAR. Cars continue to see sharp declines as sales in February fell 13% compared to last year, with major car segments’ having sales declines. Light trucks outperformed cars in February and were up 4% year-over-year.
Combined rental, commercial, and government purchases of new vehicles were up 4% year-over-year in February, led by increases in commercial (+4%) and rental (+5%) fleet channels.
New vehicle inventories remained below 4 million units for the eighth straight month, but inventories are at their highest level since June 2017.
Used sales increase in February. According to Cox Automotive estimates, used vehicle sales increased by 2% year-over-year in February versus last year. The February used SAAR came in at 39.6 million units.
Rental risk pricing strengthens. The average price for rental risk units sold at auction in February was up 4% year-over-year. Rental risk prices were up 2% compared to January. Average mileage for rental risk units in February (at 46,300 miles) was 11% above a year ago.
Consumers driving strong economic momentum. Consumer confidence in February was the highest reading in more than 17 years. Likewise, consumer sentiment rose to its highest reading in more than 13 years. Both increases suggest the consumer is buoyed by lower taxes that are starting to be seen in paychecks. Consumer spending continues to be strong and is driving the economy. The first two months of the year saw severe winter weather and marginal declines in new sales, but higher paychecks from tax reform combined with tax refunds should see improving retail spending including auto sales this spring.