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NADA Used Car Guide: Wholesale Prices Moderate in April

May 13, 2014

McCLEAN, Va. — No longer influenced by winter weather, wholesale activity steadily returned to normal in April, the NADA Used Car Guide reported this week. The firm, however, did spot the onset of seasonal softness as the month progressed.

Following March’s pronounced 3.7% rise, the average price of units up to eight years in age fell by 1.1% in April, essentially equal to the 1% rate of decline recorded for the month the past two years. The month’s performance caused little change in the NADA’s seasonally adjusted used-vehicle price index, which was tied with March as the highest figure reached at 125.8.

“Price movement at a segment level was directionally in line with the NADA’s expectations as prices dropped the most for the segments that experienced the biggest increases in March,” the firm stated in its May report.

After rising by an average of nearly 4% in March, prices for mid-size cars, utilities and vans fell by an average of 1.3% in April. Compact utility prices and vans fell by an average of 1.3% in April. Compact utility prices followed suit, dropping by 1.2%, while compact prices slipped by a less-severe 0.8%.

“While prices for all compact cars and utilities and mid-size cars were lower in April, it’s worth noting that depreciation was on average one percentage point less than what was recorded for the month last year,” the report stated. “Mid-size utility depreciation matched last year’s pace, while the mid-size van fall was nearly one point greater.”

In a reversal from a months-long trend, large pickup depreciation was among the market leaders, as prices for the segment fell by 1.3% last month. April’s decline was the third largest recorded for the segment in the past two years, trailing the 1.6% and 2.4% drops recorded last September and October.

Prices for luxury utility and luxury car prices fell by 0.6% and 1%, respectively, while large SUV prices dipped by just 0.4%, the least of any segment.

On an annual basis, market prices through April were 2.3% higher than a year ago. With prices up 11.5%, large pickups continue to overshadow other segments in this area. The next closest segment was large SUVs, which experience an annual price growth of 7.6% — nearly 4 percentage points lower than that of pickups.

Mid-size utilities and vans also continue to exhibit exceptional annual gains in prices, the firm reported. “Prices for the two segments were up by an average of 4.5% year to date, and it’s been more than 18 months since prices for either have been lower on a prior-year basis,” the report stated.

Compact utility, compact car and mid-size car prices were 1.5% to 2.9% higher on a year-to-date basis, while luxury utility prices were up by 0.9%. Luxury car, which was down 1.7%, was the only segment with prices lower than they were a year ago.

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