Planning The Purchase Of A Car Or Truck? See The Latest Auto Industry News That Will Affect Your Deal
Atlanta GA April 14, 2021; Cox Automotive reported that as we roll through mid April, our picture of the industry's performance last month is becoming more clear. It was a March to remember, with sales results indicating retail is roaring while fleet continues to whimper. Overall, in an up market, combined sales into large rental, commercial, and government fleets in March were down by more than 20% and ended the quarter off nearly 30%.
Fleet sales may be the industry's only soft spot. Used retail, like new retail, is rolling. Sales of certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles hit an all-time high in March. The numbers, reported this morning, show sales of CPO vehicles increased 80% year over year in March and ended up 36% month over month compared to February. CPO sales in Q1 were up 14% year over year, outpacing the new retail market.
The used-vehicle market was strong in general in March, with the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales more than double pandemic-hit March 2020. The sales pace was even stronger than in March 2019, as measured by our 13-month rolling SAAR, updated last week.
Unfortunately for buyers, strong demand for used vehicles has wholesale prices moving like a Reddit-fueled #stonk. The Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index reached an all-time high in March, but unlike recent #stonks, the record-high MUVVI valuation is sound, a reality dealers and consumers are now contending with.
And finally, inventory: As widely expected, new-vehicle inventory levels continue to be tight. According to our team's analysis of vAuto Available Inventory data published this morning, the supply stood at 2.66 million vehicle at the end of March, down from 2.82 million as February ended. Supply has been trending lower since mid-December and is now running 25% below last year and 31% below 2019. Industry-wide days' supply was down to 59 as the quarter ended, a level 38% below the same timeframe in 2019. And there's no indication inventory levels will improve.