J.D. Power analysis reveals used truck auction market up nearly 60 percent from 2020

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Updated Mar 18, 2021

With demand remaining high, most segments of the used truck market saw stable pricing or sales growth last month, J.D. Power reported Wednesday in its March 2021 Commercial Truck Guidelines industry report.

Volume leapt forward in the auction and wholesale markets, where J.D. Power says dealers looking for stock continue to bid against end users, pushing auction pricing closer to retail pricing. The company says auction prices in its benchmark model were as follows:

  • Model year (MY) 2018: $49,929 average; $1,250 (2.4 percent) lower than January
  • MY 2017: $49,078 average; $1,878 (4.0 percent) higher than January
  • MY 2016: $38,781 average; $1,448 (3.9 percent) higher than January
  • MY 2015: $32,040 average; $3,690 (13.0 percent) higher than January
  • MY 2014: $26,800 average; $6,466 (31.8 percent) higher than January

Compared to January, J.D. Power says its benchmark group of 4- to 6-year-old trucks at auction brought 1.5 percent more in February. That pricing also is an astounding 59 percent higher than the same period last year, and J.D. Power adds it doesn't "see much letup in pricing pressure until the summer."

Auction

In the retail space J.D. Power says volumes were down, which was to be expected, but pricing remained firm thanks to such strong demand. The company says the average sleeper tractor retailed in February was 71 months old, had 448,991 miles, and brought $54,320. Compared to January, J.D. Power says this average sleeper was two months older, had 2,834 (0.6 percent) fewer miles, and brought $6,260 (13.0 percent) more money. Compared to February 2020, this average sleeper was one month older, had 10,663 (2.3 percent) fewer miles, and brought $8,904 (19.6 percent) more money.

RELATED: ACT Research: Used Class 8 sales down

Among the popular 2- to 5-year-old segment of the market, pricing was as follows:

  • MY 2020: $114,728; $10,098 (8.1 percent) lower than January
  • MY 2019: $93,260; $2,525 (2.8 percent) higher than January
  • MY 2018: $70,568; $2,414 (3.3 percent) lower than January
  • MY 2017: $49,994; $5,660 (10.2 percent) lower than January
  • MY 2016: $40,036; $1,219 (3.0 percent) lower than January

J.D. Power says month over month late-model trucks were down 2.5 percent in price from January. But the company attributes small sample sizes for the variance, adding "at the truck-by-truck level, pricing didn’t change appreciably from January."

Dealers sold 4.6 trucks per rooftop in the month. Coupled with January's 5.2 number, J.D. Power says dealer volumes are running 1.3 trucks ahead of the same period of 2020. "We expect dealership traffic to remain comparatively healthy through the second quarter," the company says.

Retail

Prices also were up in two of three medium-duty segments tracked by J.D. Power last month. Class 3-4 cabovers averaged $19,039, $223 (1.2 percent) higher than January. Class 4 conventionals averaged $22,736, $519 (2.3 percent) higher than January. Class 6 conventionals averaged $23,052, $5,420 (19.0 percent) lower than January — a month that J.D. Power states was unusually high for the segment.

When looking at the entirety of the market, J.D. Power says the used space is in a strong position as it closes the first quarter.

"A healthy freight market, a subdued volume of trade-ins, and tougher availability of new trucks have combined to push Class 8 pricing upward. We expect conditions to look similar in second quarter," the company says. "Going into the summer, pricing conditions could relax a bit as consumer spending shifts somewhat from goods to services and the supply of trades ramps up.

"The wild card for this forecast is how long the new truck parts shortage lasts. The longer this situation continues, the longer used truck pricing will remain somewhat insulated from shifts in the freight market. At this point, everyone should be making hay while the sun shines."

For more information, and to read the entirety of this month’s report, please CLICK HERE.

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