Auction and dealer-to-dealer sales reported to NADA show that buyers were shopping mainly for younger, lower-mileage sleeper tractors in January. The average age and mileage of trucks sold has declined since early 2013, but January 2014’s average was a substantial shift downward in both measures. 

Specifically, the average sleeper tractor sold wholesale in January was 72 months old, had 623,844 miles, and brought $38,549. This average truck was a notable 11 months younger than its December 2014 counterpart, and a whopping 28 months younger than January 2013. In terms of mileage, January’s average was 19,781 (or 3.1%) lower than December, and a substantial 91,502 (or 12.8%) lower than year-prior. This much younger and lower-mileage mix caused January’s pricing to come in $7771 (or 20.2%) higher than December’s, and $14,751 (or 38.3%) higher than January 2013. See graph below for detail.

January was the first month since February 2012 in which less than half of trucks sold had over 600,000 miles. The wholesale market typically has an appetite for trucks with up to around 700,000 miles, but January was an exception. See graph below (note that the graph is a 2-month moving average, which explains why January appears to be above 50%).

Drilling down to model year, 2011’s had their biggest month since they entered the secondary market, beating out the previously-dominant 2007 and 2010 model years. 2011’s are responsible for the comparatively high count of trucks in the 400-499K mileage range sold. See graph below. 

One month does not make a trend, but we have been tracing steady declines in the age and mileage of trucks sold through the auction and dealer-to-dealer channels. Buyers continue to look for the lowest-mileage trucks they can find. Thanks to the increased availability of newer model years, buyers are not forced to settle for higher-mileage trucks to the extent that they were a year ago. 

Importantly, January’s volume was off compared to recent months, most likely due to the severe weather. As such, we are not surprised that only the most desirable trucks sold. However, even when viewed as an anomaly, this month reinforced prevailing trends.