After falling by 1.7% in April, used vehicle prices for units up to eight model years in age have continued to soften a bit through the first few weeks in May having declined by an average of 1.5%.

In terms of month-over-month declines, the steepest losses have been recorded in the compact car and mid-size car segments, which have slipped by averages of 2.7% and 2.6%, respectively.  The compact utility, luxury utility, and mid-size utility segments all dropped as well, with losses essentially equal to  the  1.5% total market  decline.  Luxury cars and mid-size vans are performing slightly better than the aforementioned segments, with prices falling by about one percent apiece. 

Bucking historical seasonal trends, large pickup and large SUV wholesale prices have actually grown compared to what was recorded in April.  So far in May, large pickup trucks have seen a 0.1% rebound in prices compared to the 0.6% decline recorded last month. Large SUVs are currently performing even better with prices having grown by 1.3% after a 0.5% decline last month. 

Looking back one year to May 2012, large pickups and large SUV prices declined by 1.2% and 0.7%, respectively.  It’s also important to mention that this is the second straight month that these two segments have outperformed all other segments in terms of wholesale price movement.

Market averages year-to-date shows that for the most part prices aren’t too far off one way or the other from what was observed during the same period in 2012.  There are two segments that continue to stand out by outperforming the rest of the market, as large SUV prices are up by an average of 7.9% and large pickup prices trail right behind with a 7.3% lift compared to last year’s level.

Mid-size utility and mid-size van wholesale prices are also 1.3% and 1.9% higher than what was observed during the first part of 2012.  Prices for remaining segments are slightly depressed compared to their positions last year.

With market fundamentals remaining relatively stable and late-model (<=3 years in age) auction supply only 1% higher on a year-to-date basis, the biggest driving factor behind price declines in May is normal seasonal depreciation.  Per the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the price of regular grade gasoline through the first few weeks in May has averaged $3.60 per gallon, a 13 cent improvement compared to the same period last year.