Wholesale used-vehicle prices rose again in March, according to two major indicators.
One of those, the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, recorded a fourth-straight month of increases because of continued tight used-vehicle supply.
Cox Automotive said Friday its Manheim index — a measurement of wholesale used-vehicle prices calculated by tracking vehicles sold at Manheim’s U.S. auctions and applying statistical analysis to those figures — rose 1.5 percent in March from February. Cox adjusts that figure for mix, mileage and seasonality.
Black Book’s Used Vehicle Retention Index — another indicator of wholesale prices, weighted based on registration volume and adjusted for seasonality, vehicle age, mileage and condition — rose 2.9 percent in March from February.
Still, wholesale prices were down compared with a year earlier. The Manheim index was 2.4 percent lower last month compared with the same month in 2022, according to Cox. The company also reported non-adjusted figures for the Manheim index — up 3.5 percent in March from February and down 2.9 percent year over year.
“The used market has been very tight to start the year, and that created the environment for wholesale price increases that occurred in the first quarter,” Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said during a quarterly insights call Friday.
However, Cox’s Manheim index reading in the first half of March was more positive than the final value. It represented a “turning point” after 11 straight weeks of price increases, Smoke said in a news release.
“Based on full-month data and other key metrics, we definitely think conditions are weakening,” Smoke said in the release. “March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb regarding wholesale vehicle values.”
Average non-adjusted wholesale prices for 3-year-old vehicles, the largest model year cohort at Manheim’s auctions, rose 1.6 percent over the last four weeks, Cox reported.
Cox Automotive estimated the retail used-vehicle supply in the U.S. was near 38 days at the end of March, down from 43 days at the end of February and 47 days at the end of March 2022. Wholesale used-vehicle supply is estimated to have ended March at 22 days, down from 24 days at the end of February and 23 days at the end of March 2022.
Retail sales of used vehicles rose 13 percent in March from February but failed to see a typical March lift, according to initial estimates from Cox Automotive. It estimated them to be down 6 percent year over year. It compiled those estimates by assessing retail vehicle sales based on observed changes in advertised units tracked by vAuto.