Used Vehicle Auction Prices Exceed Pre-Virus Expectations; Relationship Between Used Retail and Wholesale Prices Back to Normal

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MCLEAN, Va. - eTradeWire -- Wholesale prices increased by 2.3 percentage points the week ending May 31 matching the weekly growth rate observed over the five weeks previous, according to the J.D. Power COVID-19 Valuation Services Update.

"This week's prices actually put the industry a little above where J.D. Power had expected to be in projections we had developed prior to the pandemic," says Jonathan Banks, VP Vehicle Valuations & Analytics, Valuation Services, J.D. Power. "The performance was not unexpected and is a result of dealers needing to replenish used vehicle inventory depleted by relatively robust used retail sales."

Overall, May closed with wholesale prices fully recovered from the 16% trough recorded in mid-April when auction activity was severely curtailed by nationwide stay-at-home orders. On a year-over-year basis, last week's result was essentially equal to May 2019's month-end result.

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Meanwhile, wholesale auction sales have totaled 610,000 units since mid-March, a decline of 628,000 units vs. the same period in 2019 and a loss of 528,000 units vs. our pre-virus forecast.

"We expect wholesale auction sales to return to expectations, and then surpass pre-virus expectations, over the coming weeks as deferred off-lease and higher off-rental supply enters the market," says Banks.

Segment Level Auction Sales in the Green

Segment-level auction sales were up across the board on a weekly basis. Mainstream growth was led by Large SUV's 22% increase, followed closely by Midsize and Compact SUV segment increases of 21% each. Premium segment growth was even more impressive than mainstream. For example, Small and Compact Premium SUV segment sales increased by 56% and 45%, respectively. Remaining premium segment sales increased by a range of 16% (Large Premium Car) to 35% (Midsize Premium Car).

Used Retail Prices Remain Stable

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Overall, used retail prices at the end of May were down just 2.3 percentage points vs. the beginning of March and continue to exhibit great stability. The month of May closed with the relationship between used retail and wholesale auction prices back to pre-virus levels.

"While used retail results to-date reflect consumer appetite for used vehicles, they also are a testament to franchise dealer acumen and their ability to address consumer needs quickly and creatively despite unprecedented upheaval," says Banks.

To read the entire COVID-19 Valuation Services Update from J.D. Power visit:

NOTE: With the used vehicle market back to a more stable state, this will be the last special COVID-19 Update. J.D. Power will continue to provide its regular schedule of analytical deliverables through the Guidelines and Guidelines Plus reports.

Editors and reporters interested in briefings with analysts on the J.D. Power Valuation Services teams can contact:

Wendi Sheridan, Pacific Communications Group

Source: J.D. Power
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