Why the pool of repos is skimpy, too

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LAS VEGAS -- Just about anybody who cares about used vehicles knows that off-lease volume will be tight again this year as a result of fewer vehicles being leased during the recession.

What you may not know is that the pool of repossessed vehicles, another source of used-car inventory, will be skimpy, too, at least for now.

That's according to the Manheim 2012 Used Car Market Report, released here at the convention.

Here's why. People are putting more emphasis on making their monthly car payments and strong used-car prices means borrowers have more equity in their vehicles.

These factors make for fewer loan delinquencies and defaults. In fact, repossessions in 2011 dropped 32 percent to 1.3 million units compared with 2009.

As vehicle sales pick up and lenders ease lending standards, the number of repossessed vehicles will likely grow in the future, the report says. But volumes won't return to the 2009 peak of 1.9 million anytime soon.

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com.

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