While I was writing the October edition of Guidelines early this month, I was hearing increased word of mouth concerning a pullback in sleeper tractor pricing at auctions. I also saw September data from a specific auction company showing relatively large volumes of similar year/make/model trucks selling each week for about 15-20% less than they had a month or so prior.

We now have complete retail and wholesale results from September, and if there was a large-scale correction in the market, it didn’t completely unfold in September. It also doesn’t appear to have necessarily spilled over into other auction results, dealer-to-dealer pricing, or retail pricing - at least not yet.

Our September wholesale database shows the average 3-5 year-old sleeper tractor brought $49,036. This figure is $1,276 (or 2.5%) lower than August, and essentially identical to last September. Trucks of model year 2012 and 2013 were responsible for the downward movement. See graph below for detail.

On the retail side, the average 3-5 year-old sleeper brought $67,022. This figure is $2,696 (or 3.9%) lower than August, and $1,350 (or 2.0%) lower than September 2014. Market movement was generally across-the-board. See graph below.

With all this said, I am of course aware that our data lags current market conditions. Generally, when the buyers and sellers who establish the market on any given day tell me that a correction is underway, I can expect our incoming sales data to start reflecting that sentiment. It is therefore a bit odd that our September data overall did not reflect a large degree of market movement, and also that the most major movement appeared limited to one auction company. This is why I took a conservative stance on October valuations, and this month’s Guidelines does not mention any gloom and doom.

The industry has known the continued increase in deliveries of new trucks would eventually result in a critical mass of trade-ins. It looks like mid-September may have been that turning point. Dealers want to get this increased inventory off the books. I expect our October data to show a more complete picture of heavier depreciation. At the same time, I don’t necessarily expect the 15-20% drop frequently mentioned to hold up over the long term. Stay tuned here for more market intelligence as we receive it.