Fall Used-Vehicle Market to Improve But It is Still at a 3-Year Low
The upcoming fall market for used-vehicle sales promises to easily outperform the same period last year, which witnessed the unprecedented downfleeting of vehicles following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. However, despite this year-to-year uptick in resale values, on average, used-vehicle prices continue to trend downward in a cycle that began in 1999, said Bill Cieslak, vehicle operations manager for PHH Arval, a fleet management company headquartered in Hunt Valley. "Statistics show that vehicles are worth less money today, on the basis of a constant dollar, than they were three years ago," said Cieslak. The two key factors responsible for this decline are the improvement in new-vehicle quality without corresponding price increases and the heavy use of incentives by manufacturers to sell these new vehicles. "Auto manufacturers are offering a better product with more content for less money. This has caused used-vehicle prices to be held down, if not pushed down," said Cieslak. "Late-model vehicles have suffered the most." In addition, there is growing consumer concern about the health of the national economy. "When consumer confidence declines, people traditionally hold off on making major purchases, and a car, either new or used, is a major purchase."Supply and demand remain stable for intermediate fleet sedans, such as the Taurus, Impala, and Intrepid. Light-duty trucks and cargo vans continue to be in strong demand and are moving very quickly through the wholesale channel.