Little change in used truck market in low-volume January

Navistar International tractor on the highway

With only a few auctions on the calendar and suppressed retail demand due to customer preferences and new year depreciation corrections, the used truck market showed little change month over month in January, J.D. Power reported Wednesday in its February 2023 Commercial Truck Guidelines industry report. 

J.D. Power reports in the auction and retail sectors that manufacturers beginning the 2024 model year in January added another year to all used equipment and thus altered pricing benchmarks that had been used during 2022. The company says it will consider 2021 model year trucks as 3-year-old equipment moving forward in 2023.

February 2023 JD Power Auction pricesAverage auction selling price for 3- to 6-year-old sleeper tractors, adjusted for mileage.

With that in mind, pricing for J.D. Power's benchmark auction truck in January 2023 was:

  • Model year (MY) 2021: No sales in January
  • MY 2020: $81,750; $9,618 (10.5%) lower than December
  • MY 2019: $61,818; $2,727 (4.2%) lower than December
  • MY 2018: $41,014; $4,099 (9.1%) lower than December
  • MY 2017: $37,250; $2,491 (7.2%) higher than December

On the whole, late-model trucks averaged 45.6% less money than January 2022. J.D. Power says month over month and monthly depreciation figures will return next month when it has two months of 2023 sales in its database.

[RELATED: Inventory key differentiator to current used truck market success]

"With more auctions on the calendar, February 2023 results will provide a clearer picture of market conditions. We expect mileage to remain the most critical factor in a truck’s value as the market correction continues," the company says.

Pricing also fell in the retail sector as another year adding to existing equipment shifted pricing characteristics. "This aging results in a different mileage adjustment in January than in December which, in this case, results in lower figures," the company says.

February 2023 JD Power Retail pricesAverage retail selling price for 3- to 5-year-old sleeper tractors, adjusted for mileage.

The average sleeper tractor retailed in January 2023 was 73 months old, had 468,442 miles and brought $81,701. Compared with December 2022, this average sleeper was identical in age, had 28,931 (6.6%) more miles, and brought $8,022 (8.9%) less money, the company says. Compared with January 2022, this average sleeper was five months older, had 16,223 (3.6%) more miles, and brought $18,360 (18.3%) less money.

J.D. Power states January’s average pricing for 2- to 6-year-old trucks was as follows:

  • MY 2022: $154,131; $34,088 (18.1%) lower than December
  • MY 2021: $131,025; $18,702 (12.4%) lower than December
  • MY 2020: $104,881; $6,710 (6.0%) lower than December
  • MY 2019: $83,146; $11,341 (12.0%) lower than December
  • MY 2018: $64,542; $10,074 (13.5%) lower than December

"January’s mileage revision resulted in pricing averages roughly 3 to 5% lower than if we had used the December adjustment," the company states. "3- to 5-year-old trucks brought an average of 13.2% more money than December 2022, but 15.4% less than January 2022. Monthly depreciation and year-to-date comparisons will return next month when we have a full two months of 2023 data."

On a volume basis, sales per rooftop were steady, slipping just 0.1 units per rooftop to 2.5 units. J.D. Power says that number is "about half the pre-pandemic long-term average." Additionally, ongoing challenges of declining equity, tougher credit and a cooler freight market make January a traditionally weak month for retail sales, the company says.

Pricing also was across the board lower in the medium-duty space. Class 3-4 cabovers averaged $28,258 in January. This figure is $2,647 (8.6%) lower than January 2022. Class 4 conventionals netted $36,921 in January, $2,125 (5.4%) lower than January 2022. Finally, Class 6 conventionals averaged $39,439 in January, $10,230 (20.6%) lower than January 2022.

Overall, J.D. Power says January's data tracked with historical norms as the month is "never particularly enlightening."

Last month's auction pricing suggests a continuation of conditions established in 2022 and retail pricing somewhat weaker than expected. "As the year begins, an increasing number of trades continues to be returned into a market demanding fewer trucks. This dynamic — combined with declining equity and tougher credit availability — points to continued correction towards the pre-pandemic trend."

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

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