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ATLANTA — After hitting its highest level in almost two years during the final month of the third quarter, the Manheim Canada Used Vehicle Value Index was pushed down by seasonal softening to close the year, according to the company's latest Canadian Automotive Brief.

"Even with a reduced volume of higher-priced factory units, the Manheim Canada Used Vehicle Value Index increased to 101.6 points in September, the highest point since October 2007, with all segments increasing in value except pickups," officials explained. "However, prices softened a bit, and the index dropped to 92.9 by December."

Continuing on, the report also examined auction attendance trends in Canada, noticing that online avenues have had an increased presence. 

Overall, registrations (online and in-lane) during the second half of 2009 fell 18.2 percent from the same period of 2008.

But while overall attendance dropped 0.9 percent and in-lane attendance fell 8.6 percent, online attendance climbed 17.1 percent.

"Despite a slight dip from 37.1 percent in Q2 to 35 percent in Q3 and 36.4 percent in Q4, online attendance as a proportion of overall attendees continues to grow as an overall trend," Manheim shared.

Officials also noted that dealer sales had an increased presence in overall auction sales during the second half of the year. In fact, almost 40 percent of auction sales volume was composed of dealer sales.

"Because dealer sales now account for a higher portion of overall auction registrations, overall sales percentage fell slightly to 59.2 percent (Q2: 61 percent)," officials pointed out.

Meanwhile, the sales percentage for fleet/lease was 77 percent compared with 78.3 percent in the second quarter. Dealer sales percentage was relatively static at 43.7 percent, compared to the second quarter (44 percent).

Canadians Head to U.S. for Auction Volume

Moving on, Manheim indicated that cross-border buying showed a strong upswing during the second half of 2009. In fact, Canadian buyers turned to the U.S. for more than one-fifth (20.3 percent) of their auction volume. This marked the highest level since the third quarter of 2008.

And interestingly enough, 70 percent were bought on the Internet. Moreover, roughly three-fifths (61 percent) of Canadian auto purchases (non-specialty) South of the Border last year were conducted via Simulcast, Manheim shared.

"Buyers continue to focus on two types of vehicles: models not available in Canada and higher-priced models that can be purchased at significantly lower prices in the U.S.," analysts pointed out. "As a result, the average price of a unit purchased in the U.S. by a Canadian dealer was $18,300."

Manheim pointed out that SUVs, work vans, snowmobiles and minivans were among the more popular U.S.-sourced units. The most frequently purchased unit from the U.S. was the Nissan Pathfinder, and the Toyota Sienna was No. 2.