February 2021 Kontos Kommentary: Current Used Vehicle Market Conditions


Wholesale used vehicle prices climbed further in February with average values up significantly over January and by double-digits in percentage terms over pre-COVID levels. These trends continued into the first two weeks of March, which were the final weeks last year not significantly impacted by the pandemic.

Tight supply and strong demand continue to drive wholesale prices and conversion rates to historically high levels. Retail used vehicle sales were somewhat soft in February, but dealers appear to be stocking up for a strong spring market boosted by stimulus money as well as tax refunds.


According to KAR Global Analytical Services’ monthly analysis of wholesale used vehicle prices by vehicle model class, wholesale prices in February averaged $13,240 — up 5.5% compared to January, up 22.9% compared to pre-COVID/February 2019 and up 16.8% relative to February 2020, as seen in the table below.

Prices rose across all model classes.

When holding constant for sale type, model-year-age, mileage, and model class segment — using criteria that characterize off-lease units — prices were up about ten percent on a year-over-year basis for both midsize cars and midsize SUV/CUVs in February, as seen in the following table:

The following graph shows trends in average prices by major vehicle type by week through mid-March using the same criteria:

As the graph shows, average prices have been well above year-ago levels each week since the start of the year, regardless of vehicle type.

Based on NADA data, retail used vehicle sales by franchised and independent dealers were down 3.7% month-over-month and 18.9% year-over-year in February. CPO sales were up 4.3% from the prior month but down 12.4% year-over-year, according to figures from Autodata. Additional retail sales trends are available via KAR Global’s Interactive Dashboards.

Source: Analysis is based on over seven million annual sales transactions from over 250 of the largest U.S. wholesale auto auctions, including those of ADESA as well as other auction companies. KAR Global Analytical Services segregates these transactions to study trends by vehicle model class, sale type, model year, etc.

Disclaimer: The views and analysis provided herein relate to the vehicle remarketing industry as a whole and may not relate directly to KAR Global. The views and analysis are not the views of KAR Global, its management or its subsidiaries; and their accuracy is not warranted.

Forward-Looking Statements: The statements contained in this report and statements that the company may make orally in connection with this report that are not historical facts (including, but not limited to, expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections regarding the industry and business) may be forward-looking statements. Words such as “should,” “may,” “will,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “promises”, “likely to” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results projected, expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include those matters disclosed in the company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

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