Well this was unexpected.

We’ve been tracking a moderate increase in the number of late-model trucks coming off-lease and selling in the retail market, but we didn’t expect the trend to shift so suddenly and drastically to favor 2012’s. Data reported by dealers and OEM’s shows 155 MY2012 sleeper tractors retailed in April – a 135% increase over March. 

Thanks to this event, April’s universal average simply blew away all recent months to set a new record. The average used truck retailed in April brought $60,073 - $4182 (or 7.0%) higher than March, and $8619 (or 14.3%) higher than last April. 

Average mileage was the lowest recorded since March of 2011, at 506,381. This figure is 17,678 (or 3.4%) lower than last month, and 22,356 (or 4.3%) lower than April, 2013.

Average age was 73 months – 4 months younger than last month, and 5 months younger than April, 2013. 

As we’ve reported, the 2012 model year marked the return to a somewhat typical build rate after 4 years of depressed conditions. Also, fleets are generally back to following typical trade cycles of 3-5 years. As such, we knew that 2012’s would eventually be represented in greater numbers, but not to this degree in one month. 

In addition to 2012’s, trucks of every model year back to 2007 sold in greater numbers in April. 2011’s continued strong, with a 76% increase, and 2010’s and 2009’s also performed strongly, both surpassing 2011’s in volume for the first time in 5 months. 

Looking at pricing by model year, only 2012’s decreased vs. last month, and only by 1.9%. 2011-2007 model year trucks were either similar to March or higher.

Given this across-the-board increase in volume combined with stable pricing, we suspect that April retail activity included some degree of pent-up demand. It is logical that some buyers could have remained cautious through March to see how their business would evolve post-winter. And the results suggest these buyers liked what they saw. As such, it is entirely possible that April was mildly anomalous. Demand for late-model trucks will remain strong for the foreseeable future, but supply could return closer to the trend. 

May’s results should be enlightening. Stay tuned.