The wholesale market closed out the 2002 calendar year with unpredictable and erratic pricing in what has been universally characterized as an extremely soft resale market.

In November, resale prices for intermediate sized fleet sedans were down 10 percent compared to same time last year, said John Rancourt, director of license/title and used vehicle marketing for LeasePlan USA, a fleet management company headquartered in Alpharetta, GA. However, some models such as the Grand Prix and Intrepid continue to fare better than average in resale among intermediate fleet sedans.

Worst off are minivans, which are down 15 percent compared to same time last year. This softness is part of an ongoing downward trend in minivan resale prices, which has been occurring for the past two years. "Minivan prices have been ratcheting downward and the guidebooks haven’t been able to keep up with the price adjustments," said Rancourt. The soft market has equally affected both short and long wheelbase minivans, with only seven-passenger units and those with rear AC commanding a premium.

Similarly, SUV prices are soft, especially for two-year-old units with more than 70,000 miles. "These have a severe drop-off in value," said Rancourt. The bright spot among SUVs continue to be the compact segment, such as the Escape, where there is still a limited supply in the wholesale market due to the relative newness of this vehicle segment.

Currently, the supply of used vehicles is exceeding demand in the wholesale market. Rancourt forecasts that the 2003 calendar year will be a continuation of what remarketers have experienced in 2002. "A lot will depend on the economy and the volume of manufacturer new-vehicle incentives, but I don’t foresee the wholesale market getting better in 2003."

Originally posted on Fleet Financials