Auction, retail used prices diverged in December, J.D. Power reports

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Updated Jan 22, 2024
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Auction volume shot up in the used truck space last month and pricing remained surprisingly stable, yet retail sales volume remains depressed with pricing now comparable with the weak period of 2019 and likely to stay low for the months ahead, J.D. Power reported Friday in its January 2024 Commercial Truck Guidelines report.

In the auction space, J.D. Power states December saw the highest volume of sleeper tractors sold at auction since the June 2020 spike.

January 2024 JD Power Auction pricesAverage auction selling price for 3- to 6-year-old sleeper tractors, adjusted for mileage.

"The ongoing capacity adjustment combined with year-end liquidations were the main factors behind this jump. Somewhat surprisingly, hammer prices remained relatively stable for most trucks. Depreciation for the benchmark trucks we track was essentially nonexistent in the fourth quarter," the company states.

In the 3- to 7-year-old truck segment, average pricing for J.D. Power's benchmark truck in December was:

  • Model year (MY) 2021: $62,810; $1,295 (2.0%) lower than November
  • MY 2020: $50,119; $3,208 (6.8%) higher than November
  • MY 2019: $32,030; $1,290 (4.2%) higher than November
  • MY 2018: $23,973; $4,263 (15.1%) lower than November
  • MY 2017: $15,008; $4,181 (21.8%) lower than November

The company states the most common 4- to 6-year-old trucks brought 0.2% more money than in November, and 26.5% less money than December 2022. Additionally, in calendar-year 2023, late-model sleepers brought 40.8% less money than 2022. Monthly depreciation in 2023 averaged 3.9%, with the heaviest depreciation occurring in the first half of the year.

[RELATED: Used market experienced positive bump in December]

J.D. Power says values for the newest model years available in the marketplace remain just under the strong pre-pandemic period of 2018 in nominal figures, or about 15% less if adjusted for inflation. Current pricing is about 34% higher than the last market nadir in late 2019, or about 12% higher if adjusted for inflation.   

January 2024 JD Power Retail pricesAverage retail selling price for 3- to 5-year-old sleeper tractors, adjusted for mileage.

The story for December wasn't as positive in the retail space.

The difference in retail selling prices between individual makes and models continues to grow. J.D. Power says the universal and model-year averages below depict overall market movement, but don’t show nuance between models. The company does note its published values and consulting products provide model-versus-model detail.

With that in mind, J.D. Power says  the average sleeper tractor retailed was 72 months old, had 427,560 miles and brought $56,883. Compared with November 2023, this average sleeper was one month older, had 1,683 (0.4%) fewer miles and brought $5,369 (8.6%) less money. Compared with December 2022, this average sleeper was one month newer, had 11,951 (2.7%) fewer miles and brought $32,840 (36.6%) less money. Average price in calendar-year 2023 was 33.5% lower than calendar-year 2022, the company adds.

Using its benchmark model, J.D. Power adds December’s average pricing for 2- to 6-year-old trucks was as follows:

  • MY2022: $103,983; $5,979 (5.4%) lower than November
  • MY 2021: $77,699; $10,565 (12.0%) lower than November
  • MY 2020: $61,298; $494 (0.8%) lower than November
  • MY 2019: $40,686; $12,125 (23.0%) lower than November
  • MY 2018: $35,075; $5,468 (13.5%) lower than November 

The company also notes 3- to 5-year-old trucks brought an average of 11.4% less money than November, and 36.0% less than December 2022. Calendar-year 2023 averaged 31.7% less money than calendar-year 2022. J.D. Power says monthly depreciation in 2023 averaged 3.2%.

"Late-model sleepers are roughly 11% under the last strong pre-pandemic period of late 2018 in nominal dollars, or about 28% less when adjusted for inflation," the company states. "Pricing is now equal to the last weak pre-pandemic period of late 2019 in nominal dollars, or about 17% below when adjusted for inflation."

The daycab market was a little better, as expected.

Daycabs brought equal or better money than sleepers after only 3-4 years of age in 2023, all else being equal. J.D. Power says daycab supply increased throughout 2023, but the supply-demand balance was much more favorable than with sleepers. In 2023, daycabs lost an average of 3.3% of their value per month, slightly on the high side of historic trend. 

[RELATED: TPS special report: Flat freight market keeps dealers’ expectations low for 2024]

December volume was down as well. J.D. Power reported retail sales per rooftop averaged 2.6 trucks last month, "another lackluster result in a year with the lowest retail sales volume since the Great Recession. Equity, financing and supply will remain as headwinds in 2024."

In giving a full market assessment, J.D. Power says in terms of depreciation, the auction channel is performing better than the retail channel.

"The post-pandemic price correction has largely played out in the auction lanes, while it’s still fully underway on retail lots. Auction prices have settled in comfortably above the last pre-pandemic market bottom, but retail prices have surpassed that point when adjusted for inflation," the company says. "Potential retail buyers will continue to contend with negative equity, difficult finance terms and a weak spot freight environment in 2024 — although those conditions should start to improve in the second half of the year, assuming economic conditions remain relatively stable."

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

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