Wholesale prices were on the way up last month, and that marks the fifth month in a row auction prices have spiked.
This increase brought the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index up to 125.3, which is exactly where it started 2015, and up 2.9 percent from October of 2014, on a mix-, mileage- and seasonally adjusted basis.
“Continued strength in wholesale pricing is reflective of higher new-vehicle transaction prices and a rewarding retail used vehicle environment. Higher wholesale prices, narrower gross margins and record dealership profits are evidence that the benefits of increased dealership efficiency are being passed on to consumers and enabling dealers to bid up prices in the wholesale market,” explained Tom Webb, chief economist at Cox Automotive, in his analysis of the month’s auction price movement.
“Greater confidence in their ability to turn a vehicle at a given price within a set period of time allows dealers to reduce the risk discount incorporated into any wholesale bid,” he added.
Webb also pointed out that auction volumes for rental-risk units last month were down significantly from last October, “since last year’s normal August and September de-fleeting was pushed into October due to several recalls that impacted many units in the rental fleet.”
Auction prices for rental-risk units, adjusted for mileage and mix, experienced what Webb called a “normal seasonal decline” in October, but were still up 0.7 percent year-over-year.
“There was a smaller monthly decline in the straight average of rental risk pricing than in mix-adjusted series since pickups, crossovers and vans accounted for a greater share of off-rental volume in October than in September,” Webb explained.
As far as segment changes go, Webb shared that compact cars remain the weakest segment — and that goes for recent months and 2015 as a whole. Compact car prices fell by 5.6 percent year-over-year last month.
The midsize cars experienced a stronger performance, with prices rising by 3.5 percent from October 2014.
Pickups continued to lead the market with an 11-percent spike in prices at auction last month.
As far as the high-end market goes, luxury cars, which saw prices rise by 0.7 percent in October, experienced a bit of a reprieve from what has been a weak performance this year.
“Although wholesale pricing for luxury cars has been soft during the past year, October was relatively good. Don’t expect that trend to continue given the influx of off-lease luxury units that will come in November and December,” Webb cautioned.
Manheim also touched on relative pricing strength by price tier, which is estimated based on average mileage per tier. Webb said pricing strength in October was “fairly consistent” for all price points.
“And, unlike most months, there was no relationship between pricing and auction volumes for the various price tiers,” he said.
And taking a look at straight average of auction pricing in October versus a year ago, Webb shared this metric is up considerably more than the Manheim Index.
Why? Webb said this year’s sales included more lower-mileage, and higher-end units.
“Dealer-consigned vehicles, in particular, posted strong pricing in October,” Webb said. “Average mileage on those units was lower than it has been in the past two years as dealers received newer trade-ins.”