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Surprising shifts in new and used pricing, sales, inventory seen in March

Data on both new and used vehicles suggests that pricing, inventory and sales volume are changing in never-before-seen ways

March proved to be an eventful month for the auto industry as the pricing, inventory and sales dynamics surrounding new and used vehicles changed.

Average transaction prices (ATP) dropped 1.1% from February for new cars, causing values to fall below MSRP for the first time in nearly two years. While this would typically incite a reaction from the used-car market, the changes in listing prices for preowned models were negligible, declining only $37 to $26,213. Meanwhile, inventory levels for both new and used vehicles changed significantly in March. While new-car dealers had more stock than at any point since 2021, used-car supply dropped to its lowest since 2019.

New and used sales volumes underwent similar transformations. Certified preowned sales grew 10% year-over-year, even as overall used sales volume decreased 4% from March 2022. On the other hand, new vehicle sales across most brands improved from the previous year, with exceptions for automakers such as Toyota and Hyundai who still face leftover supply chain difficulties from the COVID pandemic.

While researchers have yet to finish compiling their data for March, these shifts already suggest that the car market of today is operating under a different playbook. In the past, lower inventory forced prices up while higher inventory forces prices down. But this year, the surprisingly significant changes in new and used supply only succeeded in rousing a muted price response from their respective markets. However, while the relative price changes in both markets were slight, demand fluctuated significantly, falling below 2022 levels for used and drastically improving for new. The 2023 car market has so far proven to be quite unpredictable, and as external factors continue challenging dealers and automakers in unquantifiable ways, the industry is on a path to become unrecognizable.

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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