J.D. Power Valuation Services’ index at lowest point in nearly 7 years

McLEAN, Va. - 

Attributed in part to what analysts see as struggles to turn new models, J.D. Power Valuation Services’ seasonally adjusted used vehicle price index fell for the 10th straight month, leaving the reading at the lowest level since September 2010.

J.D. Power Valuation Services (formerly NADA Used Car Guide) reported in the May issue of Used Car and Light Truck Guidelines that its April index slipped 0.4 percent to 109.9, a figure 7.1 percent below April of last year when it stood at 118.3.

Prices of wholesale used vehicles up to eight years in age fell by 1.5 percent in April, a figure analysts noted was directionally in line with J.D. Power Valuation Services’ expectations for the month. April’s reading ended up nearly identical to the month’s 1.4-percent decline recorded in 2016.

Looking back over the past three years, analysts pointed out that April has averaged similar losses of around 1.2 percent.

“While April’s losses were consistent with historic norms, the used market continues to experience negative pressure from a struggling new market,” analysts said in the report. “New-vehicle inventory reached a considerable 76 days of supply, while new sales fell 4.9 percent (the daily sales rate declined 1.2 percent) compared to the same period in 2016.

“Making things worse, automakers found themselves growing incentives by an average of 13.6 percent per unit in an attempt to entice buyers and boost sales,” they continued.

Turning their focus back on used vehicles, analysts explained in the report that small cars led mainstream losses at the segment level. J.D. Power Valuation Services determined subcompact and compact car wholesale prices each fell by around 2.5 percent, which was about a half-point worse than the pair’s previous three-year average of 1.9 percent.

Analysts also mentioned April’s movement wiped out most of the 3.1-percent increase in prices the two segments gained in March.

The report indicated large utilities and midsize cars were the only other two mainstream segments that experienced declines greater than the industry average in April.

What analysts called “out of character for the period,” large utility prices fell by 2.3 percent, or 2.1-percentage-points worse than the segment’s previous three-year average decline of 0.2 percent.

However, losses for midsize cars were in line with “what’s typically recorded for the segment in April,” according to the report. During the past three years, analysts recapped that midsize car prices have declined by an average of 1.9 percent in April.

The report went on to mention losses for remaining mainstream segments ranged from 1.4 percent for compact utilities to 0.1 percent for large pickups.

Analysts pointed out the only non-luxury segment that experienced a lift in prices for the month was midsize pickups.

“Prices in this efficient utilitarian-focused group continue to be strong,” analysts said in the report, while adding that in April prices in this segment ticked up by 0.7 percent. Auction volume for this segment also increased by 4 percent in the most recent 4-week period.

“Historically, prices of midsize pickups have been softer during this time of the year,” the report acknowledged.

On the luxury side of the market, the report goes on to note segment prices were strong across the board with the exception of luxury large cars, which experienced a decline of 4.4 percent.

“Historically, prices for the luxury large car segment have been more volatile than other luxury peers,” analysts said. “That stated, the month’s decline was quite a bit more severe than the group’s previous three-year April average of 1.9 percent.

“Among other luxury segments, prices were relatively unchanged for luxury compact cars, luxury mid-size cars, as well as luxury large utilities,” analysts went on to say.

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