Wholesale used-vehicle prices ticked up slightly in May, Manheim says

After cooling a bit in the first half of the year, wholesale used-vehicle prices grew in May, but at nowhere near the pace of the record monthly increases seen in 2021.

Cox Automotive said Tuesday that its Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, which tracks vehicles sold at Manheim’s U.S. auctions, rose 0.7 percent from April to May.

Wholesale prices were 9.7 percent higher in May than they were in the year-earlier period. Those numbers are adjusted for mix, mileage and seasonality. On a nonadjusted basis, prices rose 1.1 percent in May from April, with prices up 12 percent year over year.

The pace of retail used-vehicle sales remained relatively stable in May. Used-retail sales fell 1 percent from April, according to Cox Automotive, which made that estimate by leveraging a same-store set of dealerships selected from Dealertrack to represent the U.S.

Used-retail sales were down 7 percent year over year, the “best year-over-year performance so far” in 2022, according to Cox Automotive.

Slower issuance of tax refunds influenced the spring selling season. About 74 percent of projected 2022 refunds had been issued as of May 20 — meaning there’s still a chunk of refund dollars left for consumers to possibly infuse into the used-retail market through June.

In contrast, nearly all tax refunds had been issued by the latter half of May 2019.

Cox estimated used-vehicle retail supply was at 44 days at the end of May. That was down from 49 days at the end of April and up from 37 days in May 2021. Wholesale supply ended May at 24 days, higher than 25 days in April and higher than 19 days in May 2021.

Average wholesale prices for 3-year-old vehicles, the largest model year cohort at Manheim’s auctions, rose 0.4 percent over the last five weeks.