Auction Price Strength Caps Tax Season


Wrapping up a strong tax-season selling season, used-vehicle prices were still on the way up in April.

According to Black Book data, wholesale prices rose by an average of 0.9 percent compared to March rates.

Specifically, domestic cars saw prices rise by 2.7 percent, followed by import cars with a price spike of 0.2 percent.

Domestic truck prices were up 2.2 percent, and import trucks gained 0.5 percent to their price tags in April.

Earlier this week, Manheim reported that wholesale prices (on a mix-, mileage- and seasonally adjusted basis) climbed in January, February, March and now April, too, extending a streak that dates back to December of last year.

This movement resulted in the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index coming in at 124.9 in April, which represented a 4.8-percent increase from a year ago. To find out why chief economist Tom Webb thinks wholesale prices haven’t softened much like they usually do by the time federal income tax filing deadline hits in mid-April, click here.

Ricky Beggs, editorial director at Black Book gave his take, as well, noting, “The harsh winter pushed many spring used car sales into April, forcing wholesalers to remain active in their bidding throughout the month.

“We anticipate easing off these monthly highs in May, now that the selling activity will resume its typical patterns entering the summer months," he added.

Black Book expects overall 2014 depreciation of 13.5 percent, but for now, prices remain elevated.

To illustrate the overall strength of the market during April, Black Book offered this statistic: 23 of the 24 total car and truck segments posted higher than 1 percent price gains last month.

Furthermore, 10 of the 24 segments Black Book tracks saw prices rise by more than 2 percent last month.

For the second straight month, according to Black Book data, entry-level cars led the pack for price increases, seeing rates rise by 4 percent to an average of $7,792.

Interestingly, this segment has seen prices rise by 6.6 percent since the end of February, Black Book pointed out. One should point out, though, the average price for this segment is still 13.7 percent lower than it was during the same time last year.

For trucks, the compact SUVs and the cargo minivans saw the highest price jumps in April, with rates rising by 3.5 percent each.

A couple of segments bucked industry trends, as well. The prestige luxury cars saw the highest depreciation last month, with prices falling by 1.8 percent to an average price of $33,043.

Luxury SUVs led the truck segments in price declines with a 0.8 percent drop in April. This segment also saw the highest depreciation rate in March, when rates fell by 1.3 percent.

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