Winter weather makes used truck market tough to gauge

Bad weather in January put a damper on medium-duty used truck activity, as low auction turnouts skewed average mileage higher and prices sharply lower for small cabovers – yet had the opposite impact on larger conventionals, according to NADA’s March Commercial Truck Guidelines.

Click to enlarge (NADA graphic)Click to enlarge (NADA graphic)

“We consider this month an outlier, and will refrain from assigning much meaning to its results,” says Chris Visser, NADA commercial vehicle sales analyst.

The price of four to seven year old Class 3-4 cabovers fell in January, coming in at $8,450, a 26.8 percent decrease from December. Mileage was way up versus the previous month, at 160,466, for a 29 percent increase.

Four to seven year old Class 4 conventional trucks, however, sold “in normal numbers” in January.

“Class 4’s are more heavily exposed to the consumer/end-user market than their heavier GVW counterparts, so it is possible that the superior performance of this segment indicates stronger demand,” Visser notes.

Wholesale selling prices rose 18.5 percent from December, to $15,618. Mileage came in at slightly higher, up 0.8 percent at 102,391.

“There is still no shortage of supply of trucks with over 100,000 miles in this segment. In addition, end users confident in their job or business outlook are largely shopping for new trucks,” Visser says. “At the same time, used trucks with mileage in the low-6 figures still have plenty of remaining life, and are at an attractive price point.”

Click to enlarge (NADA graphic)Click to enlarge (NADA graphic)

Class 6 conventional used truck sales also saw a steep volume decline for the month but, unlike the cabovers, these trucks had lower miles – and earned higher prices. January’s average price was $23,473, 23.9 percent higher than December, while mileage was 123,022, down 24.1 percent.

“Expect continued volatility in volume along with anomalous results in pricing for the remainder of the winter, due mainly to extreme weather conditions keeping buyers home,” Visser concludes.