Retail sales projections from Edmunds, Cox Automotive, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive identified the drivers that are going to impact used-car departments this month as well as perhaps a year or more down the road.
Aided by an extra sales day this July, Edmunds estimated that 3.4 million used vehicles will be sold this month for a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 39.6 million. That’s compared to 3.3 million used sales — or a SAAR of 39.5 million — recorded in June.
Meanwhile, Cox Automotive is expecting fleet sales — both commercial and rental — to be the underpinnings of July’s new-vehicle sales figure, which might rise slightly.
And especially if they’re purchasing a new vehicle, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive are projecting that buyers will continue to pay more as retail prices climb.
Edmunds is forecasting that 1,380,771 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in July for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 16.5 million. This projection reflects a 9.3% decrease in sales from June, but a 0.5% increase from July of last year.
Edmunds acknowledged that July is expected to be the first month in 2019 to show a boost in monthly new-model sales compared to 2018. However, Edmunds experts caution this is not the first sign of a turnaround.
“A lot of people are enjoying vacations and family time in July, so it’s generally not a strong month for auto sales. The fact that automakers could eke out a slight gain is encouraging but not necessarily indicative of a positive trend,” Edmunds senior manager of insights Jeremy Acevedo said.
“The extra selling day makes things look a little better than they really are, and we still believe sales will continue to trend downward through the back half of the year,” Acevedo continued.
Edmunds analysts noted that dealers are starting to get more motivated to move aging inventory off their lots, which is also expected to augment July sales.
“The model-year sell-down is in full swing,” Acevedo said. “We’re seeing old cars lingering on dealer lots a bit longer than they should, which means that shoppers could see more attractive sales events as we head into the end of summer.”
Edmunds estimates that retail SAAR will come in at 14.2 million vehicles in July 2019, with fleet transactions accounting for 14.0% of total sales.
And speaking of fleet sales, that’s a good portion of what the Cox Automotive team is watching.
Cox Automotive is forecasting July U.S. auto sales volume to finish at 1.38 million, rising 0.5% from last year, or about 7,000 units. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) is expected to drop to 16.6 million, below June’s 17.3 million level, and down slightly from July 2018’s 16.7 million pace.
Cox Automotive pointed out this July has 25 selling days, one more than last July, which causes the SAAR to fall significantly even though sales volume rises.
“Strong consumer confidence and employment gains are supporting stable demand for light vehicles,” Cox Automotive senior economist Charlie Chesbrough said. “However, affordability issues continue to weigh on the market. The estimated average transaction price for a new light vehicle in the U.S. is $37,285 in the most recent Kelley Blue Book report, and we do not see this number coming down.”
In total, Cox Automotive determined new-vehicle sales in the first half of 2019 dropped 2.2%, or nearly 200,000 units. Analysts insisted that Fleet sales, both commercial and rental, have been the key to supporting the new-vehicle market in the first half. They are likely to remain strong through the year.
Cox Automotive added that retail purchasing and leasing activity was down in the first half of this year, extending the trend from 2018, as consumer activity slows due to affordability concerns.
“Volatility has been as issue in the market in 2019 as the SAAR has shown large swings over various months,” Cox Automotive said. “Some of these swings can be attributed to the harsh winter in much of the country. However, the largest variable continues to be fleet volume.
“Sales of both commercial and rental fleet vehicles have been on the rise due in part to increased depreciation allowances for business-use vehicles,” Cox Automotive added. “The market has seen increased fleet activity and business-use vehicle purchases, and this trend is likely to extend into 2020.”
And continuing the refrain, mew-vehicle retail sales in July are expected to fall from a year ago, according to a forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. Analysts from those firms said retail sales are projected to reach 1,178,500 units, a 2.0% decrease on a selling day adjusted basis compared with July 2018.
Total sales in July are projected to reach 1,397,400 units, a 1.8% decrease compared with July 2018 (selling day adjusted). The seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) for total sales is expected to be 16.7 million units, flat versus a year ago.
“July will be another month of modest sales declines — but with high vehicle expenditures — as the average new vehicle sales price exceeds $33,000, up over $1,400 from July 2018,” said Thomas King, senior vice president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power.
King explained the jump in sales price is being driven by consumers paying more for recently launched SUVs and more attractive interest rates on new vehicles that help keep monthly payments affordable when purchasing more expensive vehicles.
J.D. Power noted the SUV share of new vehicles sold through mid-July has risen to an all-time high level, accounting for nearly 52% of new-vehicle sales. The growth has been led by several recent launches in the midsize SUV segment, which currently sits at its highest share ever (15.8%).
Analysts pointed out the strong demand for SUVs is coming at the expense of less-expensive sedans which account for approximately 28% of industry retail sales for the third consecutive month.
J.D. Power added the average new vehicle sales price is projected to reach $33,182 this month — the highest level ever for the month of July — up more than 4% or $1,415 from last year. The average price for cars is up 5% to $26,853 while trucks/SUVs are up 3% to $35,487.
Analysts went on to mention industry incentive spending is rising and is on pace to exceed $4,000 per unit for the month, the highest level since December 2018. However, the increase in incentive spending on a dollar basis is commensurate with the higher-priced vehicles being purchased by consumers. Manufacturer incentive spending as a percentage of MSRP in July is 10%, the same as last year.
King did note that vehicle shoppers are taking advantage of lower interest rates to finance their vehicles. According to J.D. Power, the average APR for a new-vehicle financing so far in July is 5.7%, down more than 50 basis points from earlier in the year. King highlighted sales with an APR of less than 1% have accounted for 9.2% of new-vehicle financing.
“Despite the continued slow-down in sales, consumers are expected to spend more than $2 billion more on new vehicles than last year,” King said.
“This is a clear reflection that manufacturers are building the types of vehicles that shoppers want. Consumer expenditures in July of $39 billion represents the highest level for the month since 2017,” he went on to say.
Looking forward, both J.D. Power and LMC Automotive reiterated that August is traditionally one of the busiest sales months of the year. This year, analysts noted August sales will be inflated by the inclusion of an extra weekend compared to last year, as well as the fact that sales over Labor Day will be included in the manufacturers’ August results.
As manufacturers look to take advantage of heavy shopping during the month, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said a key question is an extent to which they can maintain incentive discipline. The temptation to increase discounts, particularly to clear out inventories of 2019 model-year vehicles will be significant, according to analysts.
“There are signals that auto sales in the second half of 2019 are poised to outperform expectations,” said Jeff Schuster, president of Americas operations and global vehicle forecasts at LMC Automotive. “While trade risk remains a threat, transaction prices continue to rise and economic growth is moderating, sales in the second half of the year could outperform expectations consistent with strength in the previous five years.
“This year sees higher fleet volume year-to-date, falling interest rates and escalating incentives. It won’t change the fact that the market will be down from 2018, but if consumers respond to the favorable environment, a run-up at the close of 2019 is possible,” Schuster went on to say.
Expect that truck bringing parts to your dealership service department to still have a driver behind the wheel at least for the foreseeable future.
A new report from Navigant Research released on Wednesday analyzed the state of the automated medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicle market, providing global market forecasts, segmented by vehicle class and region, through 2030.
Report authors noted that advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving systems (ADS) for commercial vehicles have been gaining market attention for several years. While growth of ADS is expected to be rapid once the technology is fully developed, Navigant Research determined that volumes will remain low over the next decade.
Navigant Research estimated annual sales of highly automated commercial vehicles are not expected to exceed 1% until 2028.
“Automated technologies can provide many benefits for the commercial vehicle sector, but challenges such as advancing technological abilities, overreliance on partially automated systems, regulatory environments, and public perception will all need to be managed moving forward,” Navigant Research analyst William Drier said.
According to the report, once challenges are overcome, the most substantial benefit from ADAS is the potential safety increases it can provide through features such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.
Navigant Research projected that there is also the potential for fuel efficiency gains through platooning in the heavy-duty long-haul truck sector.
Additionally, the report mentioned higher levels of automation could eventually reduce labor costs by replacing some of the labor, while providing downward price pressure on the demand for labor in the rest of the market.
The report titled, Automated Commercial Vehicles, analyzed the state of the automated medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicle market. The study was designed to provide an overview of the new and established key players operating in the market.
The report also explored the potential opportunities for growth and development, as well as the challenges to market expansion of ADAS and ADS.
Navigant Research shared an executive summary as well as the opportunity purchase the entire research report at this website.
To give dealers and finance companies insight going into close the first quarter, Nick connected with a pair of experts from J.D. Power for this Auto Remarketing Podcast episode.
Thomas King, the senior vice president of J.D. Power’s data and analytics division, dissected the used-vehicle market, while Doug Betts, senior vice president and general manager of global automotive at J.D. Power, offered insights on the broader future of the automotive industry.
The full discussion can be found below.
You can also listen to the latest episode in the window below.
Those used vehicles on your front line and highlighted on your store website — especially certified pre-owned models — are going to look even more appealing if a new report from Edmunds is any indication.
Edmunds projected on Wednesday that used-vehicle sales in 2019 are poised to hit the highest level since the recession. In 2018, analysts said 40.2 million used vehicles were sold in the U.S. In 2019, Edmunds is predicting used-vehicle sales could approach 41 million.
Edmunds experts explained that rising vehicle prices and high interest rates are pushing buyers out of the new market, and a record number of lease returns this year will give shoppers more options than ever in the used market.
“Typically, sales of new and used vehicles follow the same pattern — if sales of new vehicles rise or fall, so do sales of used vehicles, and vice versa,” Edmunds senior manager of industry analysis Ivan Drury said in a news release.
“But now we’re seeing new-vehicle sales fall while used rise, indicating the market has reached a flash point,” Drury continued. “New cars are getting so expensive that they’re out of reach for many car shoppers, but there are so many more affordable used vehicles coming off lease that the market is naturally shifting in that direction.”
Edmunds data showed that in 2013, the price gap between new and 3-year-old used vehicles was 56 percent, amounting to more than $11,000 in savings on average. In 2018, that number grew to 62 percent, totaling nearly $14,000 in savings on average.
Edmunds data also revealed that interest rates on new-vehicle financing jumped by 17 percent in 2018, whereas rates for used vehicles have risen at a slower clip, with interest rates increasing by 9 percent in the same period.
Edmunds experts added that these market conditions have never been more favorable for certified pre-owned vehicles, but there’s an opportunity for automakers to better educate vehicle shoppers on the benefits of these programs.
According to Google Trends data, relative search interest for CPO vehicles has steadily increased over the last five years, but the top pages viewed on Edmunds for shoppers of CPO vehicles are “What Are Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles?” and “Certified Pre-Owned Cars Vs. Used Cars With Extended Warranties.”
“Many shoppers are unaware of the benefits of CPO vehicle programs, but given the tough financial conditions in the new market, it’s never been a better time to look into them,” Drury said.
“Between more affordable prices, the assurance of an automaker warranty, and lower interest rates, CPO vehicles give car shoppers a way to enjoy many of the benefits of a new car and minimize many of the risks of buying a used car,” he went on to say.
|Luxury Subcompact Car||$8,568||$13,606||59%|
|Luxury Compact Car||$15,079||$19,509||29%|
|Luxury Midsize Car||$19,755||$25,991||32%|
|Luxury Large Car||$35,547||$45,486||28%|
|Luxury Sports Car||$33,392||$37,374||12%|
|Luxury Subcompact SUV||N/A||$15,252||N/A|
|Luxury Compact SUV||$16,141||$18,967||18%|
|Luxury Midsize SUV||$19,711||$22,318||13%|
|Luxury Large SUV||$36,049||$41,536||15%|
It was a bit of a rocky road to begin 2019, but certified pre-owned vehicle sales are likely to reach another record year, according to Cox Automotive.
Its analysts are calling for 2.75 million CPO sales this year, which would be up from 2.70 million in 2018.
That would be the ninth straight record years for the CPO market, despite sales falling 1.67 percent year-over-year in January and coming in flat (down 0.28 percent) in February.
“CPO sales are being driven by favorable supply as well as strong used retail demand,” Cox Automotive analysts wrote in an analysis released Wednesday. “As new-vehicle transaction prices keep going up, affordability pushes more consumers into the used-vehicle market, particularly these gently-used, high-content vehicles.”
Overall, there was an estimated 2-percent lift in the used-car retail market last month, Cox Automotive said a report accompanying the latest Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index.
The seasonally adjusted annualized rate for used-car sales in February showed some improvement as well, coming in at 39.4 million, Cox estimates.
In January, it was 38.8 million; and in February 2018, it was 38.6 million.
Overall dealer sentiment is up, albeit still in “negative territory.” The Cox Automotive Dealer Sentiment Index climbed from 44 (out of 100) in the fourth quarter to 48 in the first quarter of 2019. There was also improvement in the expectations dealer have for the next quarter.
“We’ve seen a turnaround in dealer sentiment and the outlook for the future this quarter compared to the fourth quarter,” Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. “However, gone is the euphoria we saw this time last year as views of new- and used-vehicle sales are lower.”
Among the other drivers of dealer tentativeness, one was a slower tax refund season. But dealers in the used-car space should take heart.
In a separate “Smoke on Cars” commentary, the Cox chief economist wrote that the signs are bright for the used-car market.
“While tax refunds are down in total and a large number of people are clearly surprised and even in a situation of owing when they are used to getting a refund, most people are still getting refunds. The average refund may end down compared to last year, but it will still be substantial,
“The best news for the used-car market is that a sizable number of households getting a refund do plan to use that money to buy or finance a vehicle,” he said. “And many of the households most likely to buy used appear to be those more likely to be positively surprised by receiving a bigger refund.
“The more severe impact on those who previously itemized will disproportionately fall on high tax states and higher income households, so there will be differences in the used-car market regionally,” Smoke said.
Going back to the Dealer Sentiment index, the overall score when dealers were asked how they would describe the current used-vehicle sales environment was 53, up from 51 in the fourth quarter.
For independents, it was 48, but that’s up from 46 in Q4. For franchised dealers it was 66, compared with 68 in Q4.
Asked about current used-vehicle inventory levels, the score for dealers overall climbed from 48 to 54. For franchised dealers, it rose from 54 to 62.
For independents, it climbed from 46 to 52.
Auto dealers looking forward to increased traffic at tax refund season might be in for an unpleasant surprise this year.
Last year’s tax reform legislation is part of the reason that early refund amounts are down from last year, according to a recent Autolist study. Also, younger buyers are less knowledgeable about the legislation, and those younger buyers have been the ones who were most likely to spend their refunds on a vehicle, according to Autolist.
In late January and early February, Autolist surveyed 1,838 current car shoppers to see how they planned on spending any of their tax refund on a new or used vehicle this year, if at all.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 28 said they planned to use all or some of their refund to get a new or used vehicle this year. That compares to just 26 percent of shoppers ages 66 and older who said they planned to do the same.
Across all age groups, 43 percent of respondents plan to spend all or some of their tax refund on a vehicle this year.
One reason for the different results between age groups is that younger buyers rely more on their annual tax refund to supplement their incomes. Older buyers with higher incomes don’t need their refunds as much for vehicles and other large purchases.
Another factor: Optimism. Thirty-nine percent of shoppers between 18 and 28 years old expected an increase in their tax refund. Just 14 percent of consumers over 65, however, expected their tax refund to increase.
Thirty-nine percent of consumers across all age groups expected their refund to increase this year.
If early returns are any indication, the younger crowd might be in for a bummer when they learn the amount of their tax refunds. During the first week of returns this year, according to Autolist reporting IRS data, the average tax refund was down 8.4 percent, and the number of people receiving refunds at all dropped by a quarter.
Autolist notes that much of that drop is because of the tax reform legislation.
Many Americans received a tax cut because of the legislation. But tax filers, especially if they did not change the amount they wanted withheld from their paychecks, could see a noticeable change in the size of their refunds.
Older consumers were more aware of that than younger ones, according to Autolist.
That could cause dealers to see a drop in expected business. Sixty-four percent of the over-65 group said they knew the legislation could change the size of their refund. Just 45 percent of 18-to-28-year-old group said they were aware of that.
Now, those younger buyers who had been counting on a larger refund might have to delay their trip to the dealership.
But Autolist believes that might not be such a negative development. Autolist says “experts agree” that buyers might not get the best deal on a new or used car during tax season.
The auto industry attributes strong months after President’s Day in February and before Memorial Day in May to tax refund checks, according to Autolist. Because of that demand, the company says, fewer dealers offer sales or deals, so consumers should wait until the end of May to do car shopping, Autolist says.
Younger shoppers aren’t aware of that. Fifty-eight percent of consumers 18 to 28 years old believed tax season was a good time to get a new or used vehicle, according to the Autolist survey. Thirty-two percent of respondents over 65 said it was a good time to buy a vehicle.
An average of forty-eight percent of the 1,838 respondents overall thought tax season was a good time to buy a car.
A majority of all respondents did not agree with the idea of using tax refunds to purchase a new or used vehicle. Seventy-two percent had never done that. One quarter of the respondents said they had used all or some of a prior year’s refund to get a vehicle, while 3 percent were unsure.
In another ominous sign for auto sales, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data released its January 2019 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which showed households were less optimistic about the economy and future changes in their financial situation. Survey respondents were less optimistic about future credit availability, and many expect to be financially worse off a year from now.
It was the eighth straight year of record certified pre-owned car sales, amid an overall used-car retail market that is still seeing some strength.
And while there are signs the used-car market may have peaked from a sales volume perspective, the feeling around last week’s NADA Show 2019 — and in recent forecasts and analyses — is that there’s a still a lot of opportunity in this segment.
Patrick Manzi, senior economist at the National Automobile Dealers Association, said during a press conference at the convention that franchised dealers had increased year-to-date used-car sales 5.1 percent through November.
“And we do expect that trend is going to continue,” Manzi said.
Franchised dealers sold 12.2 million used cars for full-year 2018, according to a presentation from Thomas King, the senior vice president of J.D. Power’s data and analytics division, during the J.D. Auto Summit held just before NADA.
That was up from 11.8 million in 2017 and continues what has been a simultaneous rise in franchised used-car sales and off-lease supply, according to J.D. Power data.
In 2014, there were 10.4 million used-car sales at franchised dealers amid off-lease volumes of 2.2 million units, the data indicates. Both numbers have steadily risen to 12.2 million used sales at franchised stores in 2018 and off-lease supply of 3.7 million.
King said to expect 4.1 million in off-lease units this year.
He said he is “encouraged by the fact while there are challenges to used-vehicle profitability, the overall performance on used is better than we see on new.”
In a presentation later that day, Jonathan Banks — who is vice president and vehicle valuations and analytics at J.D. Power — echoed much of King’s sentiment on used opportunities.
“When you think about (King’s) positive outlook for new-vehicle sales — some risk, but overall positive — we believe the used-vehicle segment has the same (outlook), maybe even a little more positive, especially from a dealer perspective,” Banks said. “From an opportunity perspective, we think the used market is really poised to offer huge opportunities that haven’t really been around and really are based on a fundamentally healthy market.”
Banks also noted that used-car gross margins faring better than new-car gross margins these days, and that the pre-owned market is attracting Generation Y and Generation Z buyers.
New-car sales and used-car sales are heading in different directions, he said.
“We’re in a new era, to me, of utilizing used-vehicle sales to offset that decline in new-vehicle sales, creating affordability, but in a whole different way. It’s affordability to a mindset,” Banks said. “Gen Z’s are looking to affordability, but it’s a mindset. It’s not like the affordability we went after post-recession … where you’re coming out of the economy collapsing.”
Along those lines, while NADA is seeing used-car payments climb, there is still a strong gap between those on the new-car side.
“I think a lot of consumers, when they walk into the dealership, they may have gone in expecting to get a new vehicle, but then they look over at the used lot and they see pretty much the same car, 2 or 3 years old, low miles and a big $150 gap,” Manzi said, referring to the gap in monthly payments.
“That’s going to be enough to pull a bunch of consumers over to the used market, even those with really good credit will be tempted by these used vehicles,” he said.
With what he described as a strong labor market, Manzi said younger generations are now going out to buy cars and most of those are going to turn to used.
It’s expected that January will see overall used retail sales — including those involving franchised dealers, independent dealers and private parties — reach 3.1 million units, according to Edmunds.
That would beat December’s total of 2.7 million, but represent a slower seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 39.2 million (against the 39.7 million SAAR last month), Edmunds said.
In its NADA Show press conference, Cox Automotive predicted full-year overall used-car retail sales of 39.5 million units for 2019, which would be consistent with last year’s figures.
“The used-vehicle market came in at the best year for the expansion at over 39.5 million units, thanks to favorable supply and demand, helping that part of the business grow,” Zohaib Rahim, Cox Automotive’s manager of economic and industry insights, said of 2018.
“However, looking forward, we are expecting a market that is post-peak,” Rahim said.
Cox Automotive is projecting 2020 used sales of 39.2 million, following this year’s 39.5 million.
One area of the used-car market that continues to bear fruit is CPO. Citing data from Autodata, KAR Auction Services chief economist Tom Kontos said certified sales in December climbed 8.4 percent from November and 1.3 percent from December 2017.
That led to a 2.1-percent hike in full-year CPO sales, Kontos said.
“On the demand side, CPO sales were strong in December and helped set another annual sales record,” Kontos said in the latest edition of his Kontos Kommentary.
Likewise, in this Kelley Blue Book post last week, KBB’s Matt DeLorenzo pointed out Cox Automotive economist estimates that there were 2.7 million certified sales last year, the eight straight all-time high.
A majority of car shoppers are optimistic about the health of the economy. The economic experts, not so much.
Signs are indicating that the next recession is looming right around the corner, but 65 percent of respondents said they expected that their household would be better off financially in a year than it was currently, a recent survey by Autolist.com has found.
Sixteen percent said they expected to be worse off, and 19 percent were unsure.
This optimism was echoed by consumers’ relatively positive outlook on a possible recession.
And about that recession that many experts say is just around the corner? Consumers disagree there, as well.
Just one-third of respondents said they believed the U.S. economy would enter a recession in the next 18 months, Autolist found. Thirty-eight percent said they did not expect to enter a recession, and 29 percent were unsure.
Autolist also pointed to findings in a Duke University survey released in early December, where 49 percent of chief financial officers expected a recession in the next 12 months, while 82 percent of them said a recession was due by the end of 2020.
The auto industry, of course, hope consumers are right on this one. New-vehicle sales are expected to dip only slightly in 2019 compared to 2018. Autolist cited WardsAuto and the National Automobile Dealers Association data predicting 16.8 million new-vehicle sales in 2019, a slight decline compared to the 17.3 million vehicles sold in 2018.
These predictions were mirrored in Autolist’s survey. Sixty-four percent of consumers said now was a good time to buy a vehicle; just 12 percent said it was not and 24 percent were unsure.
The optimistic outlook of consumers was also apparent when Autolist asked car shoppers how or if they would change their next vehicle purchase, should the U.S. economy hit a recession. Thirty-two percent of consumers said it wouldn’t affect what vehicle they chose at all.
The most common behavior change was a switch from shopping for new vehicles to shopping used vehicles; then a move to a less-expensive brand and then a switch from leasing to buying.
Autolist surveyed 2,280 current car shoppers in late December 2018 and early January 2019 for the results.
Data from the Hearst families of companies — including Jumpstart Automotive and Black Book — showed how consumers continue to shift their interest toward used vehicles as new models become more expensive.
However, Cox Automotive’s collection of experts reiterated that automakers certainly are not decelerating their efforts to keep new metal turning, using incentives and other tools at their disposal.
All the developments arrive as Kelley Blue Book determined the average transaction price for new-vehicle retail sales in November came in at $37,654, representing a 4-percent lift year-over-year. And the third-quarter data from Experian showed monthly payments for new and used vehicles again reached record highs — $530 and $381, respectively — and the gap between new and used monthly payments continues to widen, reaching $149.
Perhaps if consumers cannot afford more than $500 per month for that new model, Jumpstart is seeing rises in online activity of shoppers shifting to used.
Analysts indicated 33.6 percent of all visitors to Jumpstart partner websites in October researched used makes and models versus 66.4 percent for new. These metrics compare to October 2017 research-activity figures that showed 30.1 percent for used and 69.9 percent for new.
Jumpstart pointed out the month the most robust used-vehicle research activity came in was May when 35.2 percent of visitors to its partner sites were looking at used vehicles.
“As prices of new vehicles creep up and incentives continue to shrink, it’s expected that consumers will increasingly research and consider used vehicle choices — especially in the 1- to 3-year-old age range — which today have quality and features that compete heavily with new models,” said Colin Thomas, senior analyst for strategic insights and analytics at Jumpstart.
That used-vehicle interest is keeping depreciation in check.
According to Black Book data, average used-vehicle depreciation during the past 12 months stands at 12.5 percent. That’s down from 13.2 percent at this juncture in 2017 and 16.8 percent at this time during 2016.
“There are many choices of gently used vehicles with exceptional value, especially in the sedan categories, as a result of the rising off-lease volume over the last few years,” said Anil Goyal, executive vice president of operations for Black Book.
Which segments of used vehicles are experiencing the most demand currently? The segments with the highest month-over-month gains in the Black Book Retention Index for November included:
— Midsize luxury crossover/SUV: up 0.8 percent
— Sub-compact car: up 0.6 percent
— Midsize car: up 0.5 percent
— Premium sporty car: up 0.5 percent
— Luxury car: up 0.4 percent
Of course, automakers certainly do not want their new vehicles aging too much in franchised dealer inventory. And it appears OEMs moved toward slapping higher amounts of cash on the hood to get a lease or retail installment sales contract finalized. Brad Korner, general manager for Cox Automotive Rates and Incentives, elaborated on what unfolded in November.
“The industry was showing restraint and discipline with incentives through the summer and early fall, but that changed in November. Inventories have been inching upwards, particularly on trucks and SUVs, so many makers got aggressive last month with Black Friday deals, special APR incentives and conquest money,” Korner said.
“Many manufacturers are aggressively pursuing ‘Employee Pricing For All’ deals in select markets,” he continued. “We’re also moving into auto show season when many automakers offer special incentives as shows open in cities across the country. All this adds up to better deals in the market. As 2018 winds down, automaker motivation to sell is spinning up.
Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs echoed many of the points Korner noted.
“The incentives ran the gamut of zero percent for 36 to 72 months, cash help for subprime consumers, cash for owners of competitive models and employee pricing for victims of wildfires and hurricanes,” Krebs said. “The incentives cut across all model lines, though specific trim levels and equipment packages, applied in many cases, and they were strategic in geographic targeting.”
With new-model performance perhaps being eroded somewhat by used-vehicle sales, ALG projected U.S. revenue from new-vehicle sales would reach $47 billion for November, down 0.6 percent from a year ago. ALG expects a loss of $284 million in revenue for automakers versus 2017.
“Consumers continue to pay near record amounts for new vehicles, despite the headwinds of stock market volatility and rising interest rates,” said Eric Lyman, ALG’s chief industry analyst. “2018 was expected to be a year of transition with regards to sales, (actual transaction prices) and incentive spending, instead we’ve seen automakers making all the right moves to sustain transaction prices and decrease incentives while maintaining a robust 17 million annual sales rate.”