Wholesale used vehicle prices remained steady in January after taking a slight dip at the end of 2023, signaling the return of stability to the pre-owned car market.
According to Cox Automotive, average used vehicle prices at auction were identical in January to those from the last four weeks of 2023. Values still fluctuated lightly throughout the month, declining in the first half and rising in the latter. In December, average prices dropped roughly 0.5% from November.
Wholesale used vehicle prices normally see a marginal drop in cost in the first month of the year as wholesale demand weakens in the wake of the holiday season. However, sales of pre-owned cars increased this January, at least on the retail side. Retail transactions are estimated to have risen 5% from December. January auction values previously froze in early 2022, during which pre-owned inventories were tightly constrained under the pressures of heavy, pandemic-era demand.
The lack of movement in wholesale used vehicle prices between December and January marks a rare moment of tranquility in what has been a chaotic four years for the pre-owned car market. Jeremy Robb, senior director of economic and industry insights for Cox Automotive, welcomes the shift. “With the volatility we saw last year, it was a welcome sign for the industry to have a calmer month,” he commented. “As we move into tax refund season, we expect to see a bit more activity in the wholesale market, and we maintain that 2024 should show more normal market trends through the year.”