March 2019 Kontos Kommentary: Current Used Vehicle Market Conditions


Average wholesale prices and retail used vehicle sales were strong in March, typifying the usual spring/tax season market uptick.  In addition, our analysis increasingly indicates that prices for car segments are beginning to hold up better, while crossover and SUV truck segments may be starting to have a tougher go.  In recent years, the opposite has been true.  As mentioned in previous commentaries, this is to be expected as more crossovers and SUVs start coming home to roost from strong new vehicle sales over the last few years. 


According to ADESA Analytical Services’ monthly analysis of Wholesale Used Vehicle Prices by Vehicle Model Class1, wholesale used vehicle prices in March averaged $11,095 – up 3.0% compared to February and up 2.5% relative to March 2018.  All segments experienced month-over-month increases, with car prices going up more than truck prices on average.

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

All seller types saw monthly and annual average price increases.  Average wholesale prices for used vehicles remarketed by manufacturers were up 3.7% month-over-month and up 0.1% year-over-year.  Prices for fleet/lease consignors were up 4.3% sequentially and up 2.3% annually.  Average prices for dealer consignors were up 5.7% versus February and up 2.0% relative to March 2018.

March CPO sales were up 25.7% from the prior month, but February had 4 fewer selling days, so the net gain was 11.7%.  Still, March CPO sales were the highest ever and up 2.7% year-over-year, according to figures from Autodata.


The 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. ADESA Analytical Services segregates these transactions to study trends by vehicle model class, sale type, model year, etc.

The views and analysis provided herein relate to the vehicle remarketing industry as a whole and may not relate directly to KAR Auction Services, Inc. The views and analysis are not the views of KAR Auction Services, its management or its subsidiaries; and their accuracy is not warranted. The statements contained in this report and statements that the company may make orally in connection with this report that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. Words such as “should,” “may,” “will,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “bode”, “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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