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CARMEL, Ind. — Average wholesale prices in February reached their highest level in eight months and passed the $10,000 mark for the first time since July, according to the latest report from ADESA's Tom Kontos. 

Specifically, the average wholesale price during the month was $10,138. This represents an 8.3-percent year-over-year gain, and a 3-percent upswing compared to January. 

The last time auction prices passed $10,000 was July when they reached $10,017, following June's average of $10,167. 

"As anticipated in our recent Pulse report, used-vehicle prices have continued their firming pattern of year-over-year price increases, subject to seasonal fluctuations," Kontos shared. "Tight supply and solid demand are behind this trend, which only severe weather in late January and early February seemed to briefly interrupt." 

Looking at individual segments, there were year-over-year increases across the board, with full-size vans (up 33 percent) leading the way. Full-size SUVs (up 10.8 percent) and luxury cars (up 10.7 percent) also showed double-digit gains. 

Overall, car segments climbed 6.2 percent from February 2009, and truck segments inclined 11 percent. 

On a month-over-month basis, only full-size cars (down 4.8 percent) saw their values fall. Sporty cars (up 5.6 percent from January) led the rise, as car segments jumped 3.9 percent and trucks climbed 2.3 percent. 

"Full-size cars are a relatively small-volume segment at auction and small changes in factors such as seller type and vehicle condition month-to-month can have disproportional impacts on average prices," Kontos explained. 

"Demand for passenger vans for spring break may be driving higher prices for full-size vans, although weak comps last year are also behind the strong year-over-year price change for this segment," he added. 

Moving on, manufacturers were the seller type with the largest year-over-year gain in average price (up 14.8 percent), though they fell 0.5 percent from January. 

Fleet/lease consignors saw their prices climb 13.2 percent from February 2009, but fall 5.6 percent from January. 

Meanwhile, dealer consignment prices were up 14.2 percent year-over-year and climbed 4 percent from January. 

Next, Kontos discussed auction inventory levels, which were at 33 days as of the end of February. A year ago, it was 50 days. This decrease is "an indication of tight supply," he noted. 

Impact of Toyota Recalls on Wholesale Values 

Continuing on, Kontos also examined how Toyota wholesale values were affected by the automaker's recall. He noted that although there was trepidation that there would be "detrimental impacts," but so far, there hasn't really been any concrete evidence suggesting such a trend. 

"Despite great concerns that the Toyota recall would have detrimental impacts on Toyota wholesale values, results thus far at auction are inconclusive," Kontos stated. "Remarketers, dealers and industry analysts would do well to wait for additional data to come in before passing judgment.  

"As experienced analysts of used-vehicle market trends know, it is exceedingly difficult to disentangle the impact of sales disruptions, volumes, new vehicle incentives, variations in vehicle mix, etc., in order to isolate the impact of a single factor such as a recall on wholesale values," he added. 

Used-Retail Trends

On the retail side of the used market, Kontos noted that sales were up 2.5 percent year-over-year, citing CNW Research. 

While franchised dealers saw their used sales fall 2.7 percent, independent dealers' used sales climbed 8.6 percent. 

Certified pre-owned sales fell 9.9 percent year-over-year, but gained some ground from January, as they improved 4.7 percent month-over-month, Kontos noted, citing Autodata Corp. 

Finally, he pointed out that there was an 11.5-percent gain in the consumer price index for used vehicles during January, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.