High used vehicle prices send shoppers in search of affordable new ones

DETROIT -- When faced with the choice of paying relatively high prices for used cars and trucks some vehicle shoppers opted for affordable new ones in September, says Tom Kontos, executive vice president of customer strategies and analytics at ADESA Inc.

Pointing to strong new vehicle sales last month and to a 21 percent month-to-month decline in of used vehicle retail sales by dealers as reported by CNW Marketing/Research, Kontos says buyers who can afford to buy either new or used gravitate to new when the average price of a used vehicle reaches about 60 percent of the average new vehicle.

Sales of certified used vehicles, which typically command higher prices than their non-certified counterparts, were down 4 percent to 136,431 units September when compared to August.

“Some of that reduction in used vehicle sales might be attributable to the substitution effect,” Kontos said of September retail auto sales.

Though used vehicle supplies remain tight and their prices relatively high, prices did soften a bit in September when compared to August, Kontos says.

For example, the average used vehicle price in September was $9,830. That is 1.7 percent below the average price in August and 1.0 percent higher than the average price in September 2009, ADESA reports.

Kontos says he expects used vehicle prices to adhere to seasonal decline patterns in October and November with a modest uptick in December. The year-end uptick is typically the result of some remarketers holding vehicles out of the market until the new year.