Used-truck prices declined in May, coming down notably from their April highs, per the “Commercial Truck Monthly Report” for May on the vehicle-resale market prepared by The Truck Blue Book (TBB).

But May’s falloff— prices on the private market fell by 6% and those at auction by 25%-- were not enough to outweigh the respective 14% and 33% hikes recorded last month. In other words, overall used-truck prices have, thus far anyway, increased in 2014.

“May is showing prices beginning to drop for a leveling out after a strong first quarter and volume is still down from Q1 as used-truck sales are beginning to slow, report author Jessica Carr, TBB’s associate analyst-- commercial trucks, told FleetOwner.

Pointing out that demand for new trucks remains high, she noted that, as of May, “the average age of used trucks on the private resale market is six years, while on the auction market it is seven years.”

Carr also emphasized that while Q2 is halfway over, are still higher than in Q1. “Throughout May, prices were down on all markets,” she explained. “April saw some of the highest prices all year and much higher than Q2 of 2013.”

"The heavy-duty market saw decreases on both asking and auction prices rise, which bucks the upward trend realized in prior months,” she continued. “Medium-duty saw a larger drop in asking than heavy at 12%, while the medium-duty auction market saw less than half the change of heavy-duty at a 15% decrease. The volume on the auction market fell—32 and 30% respectively.”

Carr pointed out that in preparing for the typical “summer slowdown” in used-truck demand, “dealers should not expect slow sales in January and February to translate into increases throughout the summer, based on March and April’s aggressive sales. Prices and volumes are moderating and we expect a ‘calm’ summer.”

According to Carr, volume continued to fall between April and May for both the heavy- and medium-duty asking and auction markets. “Heavy- duty asking volume is down another 32% after the large drop in April,” she said. “Q2 prices are up 18% in comparison to Q2 of 2013 on the heavy duty-asking market, while the medium-duty trucks are up 13%.

“Volume is down significantly from last year,” she continued. “The demand for trucks is growing as the ones available to buy are diminishing. With the demand for new trucks rising [due to fleets upgrading], the number of used trucks entering the market should increase since companies are replacing fleets, not expanding at this time.”

As for pricing trends, Carr reported that for trucks between model years 2004-2014 with less than 1-million miles, the average asking prices decreased from April, but remain higher than 2014 averages.

Yet heavy-duty asking prices during May came out 8% down from April and 4% higher than the Q1 average. “Prices remained flat during Q1, but April brought about a large increase in average prices allowing them to fall again in May to compensate for such irregularity,” noted Carr. She advised that medium-duty asking prices had a larger decrease at 12%, yet still wound up 16% higher than the Q1 average.

“As always, the auction market had larger fluctuations month-over-month when comparing to the private sales market,” Carr pointed out. “The heavy-duty auction market was down 40% in May from April. Auctioned medium-duty trucks sold 15% below those in April. May’s auction prices are the lowest that have occurred in 2014 thus far.”

To view TBB's complete 8-pg April report, click here.

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