Auction sales volume has declined on a sequential basis in each of the last four months, but year-to-date it’s up 6 percent, according to NADA Used Car Guide.
The four-week period ending July 25 showed auction sales volume (of units up to 8 years old) down by more than 4 percent from the prior period, the company said in its latest Guidelines report.
However, with 2.66 million units sold, year-to-date volume is ahead by 6 percent.
The year-to-date increase in late-model volume (vehicles 3 years old or younger) is even more pronounced at 9 percent.
So far this year, there have been 1.55 million late-model units sold at auction, NADA UCG said. The biggest story in that crop of vehicles is the large pickup, whose late-model volume is up 33 percent.
Late-model compact utility volume has increased 30 percent, with midsize utility and luxury compact utility (both up 29 percent) not far behind. On the opposite end of the late-model spectrum, luxury large car volume is down 29 percent, with large car volume off 27 percent.
Volume slowing a good thing?
In its Blue Book Market Report released at the end of the second quarter, Kelley Blue Book reports a slowdown from the lease-return-spurred record auction volume in the first quarter.
And it might not be a bad thing.
KBB suggests this could “help stabilize values and prevent market oversaturation.”
Of course, the analysis says, auction volume is still ahead of recent years.
“However, we have not seen a faster-than-usual decline in values in the second quarter, contrary to expectations. In fact, the overall average decline in auction values in the second quarter of 2016 has matched the same pace as it did during the same period last year,” KBB said in the analysis. “This could indicate that manufacturers and rental companies are choosing to hold on to inventory, rather than oversaturate the market and risk a drop in vehicle values.”
GM Financial’s approach
To a degree, this saturation was addressed in a special presentation in June by GM Financial chief financial officer Chris Choate.
He emphasized that GM Financial and the parent automaker have plans in place not only to handle off-lease volume but also establish residual values that do not place undue risk on the finance company.
“GM’s actions to predict residual values include, and this has been much discussed over the last several months and quarters, the managing of fleet sales, actively managing new vehicle inventory and maintaining disciplined incentive spending. All of those have a downstream impact on residual values that GMF has to wrestle with as vehicles come off-lease,” Choate said during his prepared presentation.
“GMF has developed a robust end-of-term remarketing process,” he continued, referencing endeavors such as its private label online wholesale marketplace at GMFDealerSource.com. “It’s designed to support the GM dealer base while also maximizing resale values.
“The more vehicles that we can dispose higher up the food chain to GM dealers either at a local, regional or even national level, keeps those vehicles out of the wholesale auction markets where they will bring less value and, therefore, have a detrimental effect on residual value.”
Staff Writer Nick Zulovich contributed to this report.