The spring season uplift in wholesale vehicle prices may be drawing to a close, but the threat of tariffs could drive prices right back up, according to used-car value analyses released Friday.
“We don’t expect the strong spring season to influence the trend in the coming months. The overall depreciation is expected to fall further in 2019 compared with last year,” Black Book executive vice president of operations Anil Goyal said in a news release accompanying the company’s latest monthly Used Vehicle Retention Index.
“However, all bets are off if tariff threats become reality, significantly impacting the auto industry,” Goyal said.
Likewise, in an analysis around the latest Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, Cox Automotive analysts said: “New tariffs on all goods from Mexico poised to start June 10 could lead to stronger than normal summer sales in the weeks ahead as consumers attempt to head off higher prices.
“Stronger than normal retail sales could push wholesale prices higher again in June, which is the same trend that occurred last year,” they said.
As for May, below is a look at how the respective used-car indices from Black Book and Manheim trended.
Cars highlight price gains; trucks flat in May
Over at Black Book, its Used Vehicle Retention Index saw its first sequential increase since October, climbing from 113.6 in April to 114.4 in May.
Car prices were especially hearty for the month, closing the spring season with “a strong finish,” Black Book said.
Subcompact cars were up 0.85%, sporty cars climbed 0.72%, midsize cars jumped 0.65% and full-size cars increased 0.61%.
Luxury cars were down 0.94%, and prestige luxury cars dipped 0.66%.
May was mostly flat for truck, SUV and crossover segments. However, Black Book expects “firm” retention for these segments going forward as the end of tax season draws demand away from car segments.
Manheim index up 4%
Manheim found that wholesale vehicle prices were up 0.85% sequentially in May on a mix-, mileage- and seasonally adjusted basis. The resulting Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index reading was 139.6. That beats year-ago figures by 4.0%.
“On a year-over-year basis, most major market segments saw seasonally adjusted price gains in May,” Cox Automotive analysts said. “Midsize cars and pickups outperformed the overall market, while all other major segments underperformed the overall market.”
Specifically, compact cars were up 1.3% year-over-year, midsize cars climbed 6.5%, luxury cars were up 2.7% and pickups moved ahead 5.9%.
SUV/CUV prices were 2.5% higher, and van prices fell 4.2%.
The report also delved into weekly Manheim Market Report price movements, which showed April as the end of the spring market uplift, followed by “steady and slightly lower than normal depreciation each week” in May.