Wholesale Prices, Week Ending July 17th
Used wholesale and retail prices are starting to stabilize in July (although at a remarkably high plateau), but new car sales are still on a rollercoaster as the chip shortage is finally showing up in the new sales numbers.
This Week Last Week 2017-2019 Average (Same Week)
Car segments -1.03% -0.47% -0.39%
Truck & SUV segments -0.41% -0.28% -0.28%
Market -0.62% -0.33% -0.33%
- On a volume-weighted basis, the overall Car segment decreased –1.03%. For reference, the previous week decreased by -0.47%.
- Sub-compact cars had the largest weekly gain at +0.19%.
- Compact cars had the steepest decline at –1.9%, followed by the Mid-size (-1.19%) and Luxury (-1.14%) segments.
- Seven of the nine segments declined this week.
Truck / SUV Segments
- On a volume-weighted basis, the overall Truck segment decreased -0.41% this past week. For reference, the previous week decreased by only –0.25%
- Compact Vans had the strongest weekly gain at +0.56%.
- Small Pickups had the steepest decrease at –0.87%.
- Twelve of the thirteen segments declined this week.
Newer Used Vehicles (0-2-year-old)
Driven by an extreme shortage of rental returns and limited inventory of new vehicles, the prices of newer used vehicles have been experiencing large weekly gains in the Spring. While wholesale prices are exceeding MSRP in some cases, the rate of increase started to slow down at the end of June. During the last week, wholesale prices of newer used units started to come down.
The table below shows the average weekly price changes for 0-2-year-old vehicles.
This Week Last Week 2017-2019 Average (Same Week)
Car segments -0.62% -0.45% -0.22%
Truck & SUV segments -0.28% -0.15% -0.20%
Market -0.37% -0.23% -0.20%
Weekly Wholesale Index
Calendar year 2020 ended with used wholesale prices at elevated levels. With economic patterns (including the automotive market) driven by the pandemic, normal seasonal patterns (e.g., 2019 calendar year) in the wholesale market were not observed for most of the year. We saw a similar picture in 2009, at the end of the Great Recession. Calendar year 2021 has not had typical seasonality patterns as the market had rapid increases in wholesale values for the majority of the year so far. After reaching record heights at the end of June, wholesale prices started to come down in July.
The graph below looks at trends in wholesale prices of 2-6-year-old vehicles, indexed to the first week of the year.
Retail (Used and New) Insights
- GM urged recalled Chevy Bolt owners to park their vehicle outside, away from homes and other structures after charging, because of fire risks.
- Rivian CEO advised that deliveries of their R1T, the U.S. market’s first electric pickup truck, will not start until September – they were originally expected in July.
- Hyundai’s Plug-In Hybrid Santa Fe is due for first deliveries next month in August – it is the first plug-in SUV for the brand.
- Infiniti has dropped its U.S. plans to focus on series-hybrid technology as a way to shift to fully electric models over the next decade.
Used Retail Prices
With the proliferation of ‘no-haggle pricing’ for used-vehicle retailing, asking prices accurately measure trends in the retail space. Retail demand slowed down at the end of last year, and thus resulted in declining retail asking prices for the last several weeks of 2020. As demand rebounded, retail prices have lagged slightly behind wholesale prices, but March had an accelerated growth in retail prices. In April and May, retail prices picked up speed as demand accelerated, fueled by stimulus payments, tax season, and shortages of new inventory. In June, retail prices continued to rise. After 19 weeks of continuous increases, retail prices seemed to reach their peak last week; like wholesale prices, we saw a slight drop in retail listing prices. Currently, retail prices are around 25% above where we started the year.
This analysis is based on approximately two million vehicles listed for sale on US dealer lots. The graph below looks at 2-6-year-old vehicles.
Current used retail listing volume is about 10% below the start of the year. The inventory levels have been slowly but consistently increasing over the last three months, as we have started to see some softening of retail demand.
Days-to-turn has continued to decrease since the middle of March as sourcing both new and used inventory continues to be a challenge; it now stands just below 32 days, which as the graph below shows, is higher than last week but still lower than we are accustomed to during a typical year.
As floor pricing remains strong and the availability of average and clean vehicles continues to be scarce, conversion rates have been going down over the last several weeks. The average sell rate now sits around 65%, which is the lowest average rate since the beginning of March. We anticipate sell rates will continue to fall until floor prices come down.
Despite the limited inventory on dealer lots, dealer lanes continue to have higher volume at auction, while manufacturers’ remarketing lanes are offering less and less in open sales channels. Dealers have found creative ways to diversify their source of inventory, and their innovation seems to be paying off, as some continue to have record-breaking sales months.
Sellers are becoming more flexible with their floors in the lanes as vehicle values start to decrease. With semiconductor chips still in short supply, the new inventory pipeline continues to be extremely limited. Because of the scarcity in the wholesale market, vehicles with slight damage or open recalls are still selling, if the price is right.