Used truck prices are falling at auctions and dealerships, with one exception — newer equipment with fewer than 400,000 miles on the odometer.
After months of stratospheric prices, the air is escaping the balloon. Higher production of new trucks is prompting trade-ins that all but dried up during pandemic-related supply disruptions.
Availability of new trucks is still tight. But July sales of new Class 8 models were higher for all but one truck maker, according to Wards Intelligence. July sales were up 21.9% compared with July 2021.
The relationship between new and used truck availability has rarely been more striking. Fleets are holding on to their trucks for six months or more beyond historic four-to-five-year trade cycles because until recently wait times for new iron exceeded 12 months.
An easing of supply chain shortages, a cooling freight market and improved new equipment availability are combining to push down used prices and edge the industry closer to normal.
“Auction volume was lower than June but is trending generally upward as fleets offload their highest-mileage units and owner-operators either leave the industry or go to work for a company,” J.D. Power Valuation Services said in its latest Commercial Vehicle Guidelines newsletter.
The depreciation gap between lower- and higher-mileage trucks continues to widen. Except for 2020 models, 2-to-6-year-old trucks brought 5.6% to 18.9% less money in July auctions, Power said.
Year over year, late-model trucks sold in the first seven months of 2022 averaged 68.6% higher prices than the same period of 2021. Year to date, 4-to-6-year-old sleeper cabs depreciated 7.1% per month on average. Yet in July, late-model trucks brought 50.5% more money than January 2019, the last month before the pandemic.
“Pricing will continue to fall closer to historical norms as demand returns to a more rational level,” Power said.
Sandhills Global, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based information processing company, reported that asking prices in auction were as much as 62% above prices paid.
“Fleet truck auction values have dropped significantly from April,” Mitch Helman, Sandhills Global sales manager, said in a press release. “Despite the massive decrease, auction values remain above historic trends and are 22% higher than last July.”
Used truck price declines slower to take hold at retail
At retail, the hunt for low-mileage, desirable used trucks resulted in a smaller month-over-month drop than June. Three-to-5-year-old trucks brought an average of 5.2% less money in July than in June. Trucks in this age group brought 73.5% more money in the first seven months of 2022 than the same period of 2021.
Retail pricing is still about 50% higher than the last pre-pandemic peak in late 2018, according to Power.
“By the end of this year, retail pricing will almost certainly be lower than the end of 2021,” the Guidelines report said. “However, the calendar-year 2022 average could still end up higher than the calendar-year 2021 average. August and September results will provide greater insight into retail demand.”