Used truck market on track and healthy: JD Power

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The year’s first two months of significant used truck auction activity showed a healthy market, according to J.D. Power Valuation Services.

JDPA, formerly NADA Used Car Guide, in its latest report said February is the first month of the year with “numerous auctions on the calendar.” The numbers reported by JDPA were less than January, but higher than February 2017. “February data showed a used truck market operating as expected,” the report said.

Looking at the first two months of the year, used trucks sold at auction brought 21.7% higher prices than in the corresponding period of 2017. Those comparisons are for trucks 4-6 years old, so that in 2017, the oldest trucks measured would have been model year 2010, and in 2018, it’s 2011. “Year-over-year gains are encouraging, but the returning supply of late-model trucks expected throughout the year should keep depreciations near our 2% per month estimate,” the JDPA report said.

There were some declines in the market from January 2018. The average sales price for used 2013 models was $30,250, down 4.6%. For 2012, it was $25,000, down 5.7%, and for 2011 models, it was $17,000, which actually rose 1.5%.

In an email, JDPA analyst Chris Visser noted that auctions are tracked for older vehicles, since that is the method by which earlier model used trucks tend to be sold.

January numbers for retail sales of used trucks showed solid strength. “Trucks of most age cohorts were up firmly compared to the same period of last year,” the JPDA report said. Year-over-year, used trucks from those three model years averaged 7.6% more than the three years tracked in January 2017 (which would have been 2013-2015 models).

Compared to a month earlier, model year 2016 trucks brought an average price of $90,645, up 4.7% from December; 2015, $66,604, down 5.2%; and 2014, $55,565, up 2.9%.

The hefty numbers of new truck sales recorded in the last few months means that for used trucks, “2018 should see an elevated volume of deliveries,” according to JDPA. Still, Visser noted that the company is sticking to its estimate of 2% depreciation per month over the course of 2018.

The summary forecast for the report said to its readers: “By the time you read this report, the expected increase in used truck supply should be noticeable.”

Other trucks showed a strong market. Class 3 cabovers were “very notably higher” in January 2018 than a year earlier, though JDPA noted that last year was a particularly inactive month. That helped to create a huge increase of 41.9%, or $5,585, to an average price of $18,907. Year-on-year, class 4 was up 16.2% from a year ago at $23,524, and class 6 was up 11% from January 2017 at $24,349.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.