Prices of used vehicles hit an all-time high last month as softer new-car sales brought fewer trade-ins that dealers could sell into a strong used market.
The Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, which gauges used-vehicle prices, reached 127.8 in May, the auto auction company said. That was up 6 percent from a year earlier and up from the previous record, set in April, of 126.6.
The index, which is adjusted for vehicle mileage, model and time of year, began in January 1995 at 100.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of new-vehicle sales dropped below 12 million as Japanese automakers face shortages resulting from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The SAAR had been above 13 million for first four months of the year.
"The demand for used vehicles in the retail market remains healthy, but the falling pace of new-vehicle sales (which begets used-vehicle transactions) and the slowing economy are dampening actual used-vehicle sales," Manheim said in its monthly commentary.
Total used-vehicle retail sales decreased 1 percent in May from the previous year's amount, Manheim said, citing data compiled by CNW Research.
By segment, prices of used compact cars stood out, jumping an average of 20 percent from year-earlier levels. "This reflects inventory shortages in the new-vehicle market, the impact of higher pump prices, a shift in consumer preferences beyond what gas prices would suggest, and better product offerings in this segment," Manheim said.
Prices of mid-sized cars rose 14 percent, and those of luxury cars and vans rose 1 percent each.
But prices fell 4 percent for used pickups and 6 percent for SUVs and crossovers.
Said Manheim: "This environment in the new-vehicle market, which is supportive to used-vehicle values, is expected to persist for several more months."