CARY, N.C. -

Vehicle sales at National Auto Auction Association-member auctions remained fairly steady year-over-year in 2018, with the projected gross of those sales up nearly 2% — this despite a 4.2% decrease in the number of vehicles entering those auctions' lanes.

That’s according to the association’s annual survey released Wednesday, which found that there were 9.9 million vehicles sold at NAAA-member auctions last year.

That equates to a projected gross value of units sold of $107.6 billion, which is up 1.9% year-over-year and the third straight year at $100 billion or more. 

The vehicles sold tally (9.9 million) is down 0.8 percent from 2017.

There were 16.6 million units arriving at those auctions last year (down 4.2%). But the percent of those sold climbed from 57.8% in 2017 to 59.8% last year.

By consignor type, percentage of units sold to enter was 53.7% for dealer consingment, 68.9% for lease/fleet/repo, 56.8% for manufacturer and 68.6% for other consingment types, according to the survey.  

“The 2018 results are encouraging,” NAAA chief executive officer Frank Hackett said in a news release.

“The survey results show the strength and depth of an established industry that has demonstrated its resiliency,” Hackett said. “I am confident we'll continue to be a vital and growing part of our nation’s economy for years to come.”

Of the units sold at NAAA auctions last year, 49.1% were dealer consignment, and lease/fleet/repo had a 44.3% share of auction sales. Meanwhile, 5.7% was manufacturer consignment and 0.9% came from other sources, NAAA said.

Price per unit was estimated at $10,836, up 2.8% year-over-year. As for average vehicle prices in Internet sales, online-only was at $18,081, with simulcasting at $15,113. 

The survey was conducted by Robert A. Casey Consulting on behalf of NAAA. Detailed results can be found here

Wholesale volumes likely to peak in '19

In a separate analysis released last month, Cox Automotive — which owns the Manheim auction chain — said the “total volume of wholesale requiring disposal” will reach a peak this year.

Specifically, 16.6 million units are projected to be wholesaled, up from 16.4 million units last year, 15.9 million units in 2017 and 15.5 million units in 2016, the company said in this Data Point report.

It is expected that 9.6 million of those vehicles will be wholesaled at physical auctions this year, Cox Automotive said, down from 9.8 million in 2018 and 10.0 million in 2017. In 2016, 9.9 million units ran at physical auctions, according to Cox.

The company is expecting an increase in upstream volumes (offsite and online sales) and dealer-to-dealer volumes.

Here’s how that shakes out:

— Commercial direct-to-consumer: 700,000 (same as 2018, but up from 600,000 in both 2017 and 2016).
— Direct-to-dealer/dealer-to-dealer: 4.9 million (up from 4.7 million in 2018, 4.3 million in 2017 and 4.1 million in 2016).
— Offsite/online: 1.4 million (up from 1.2 million in 2018, 1.0 million in 2017 and 900,000 in 2016).

Auction averages

Going back to the NAAA survey, it had a 71% response rate, as 247 members participated. Figures for vehicles entering auction/sold at auctions and related gross values are projected to estimate for NAAA’s entire body of member auctions.

Participation was up from 244 members taking part last year. 

The survey found that NAAA-member auctions have an average of eight lanes and 78 acres of property. The average employee count for an NAAA auction is 137 and average payroll is $4.6 million.

The average annual charitable contributions for an auction were at $15,000.