Used Truck Values Were Soft in January

March 13, 2017 by Carly Schaffner, @carlyschaffner

The market for used trucks sagged in January, according to Price Digests, a trucking information services company.

Price Digests’ Price Stability Index, a measure of used truck values and the strength of the resale market, dipped to 95.8 in January from 99.5 in December. A measure of 99 to 100 represents a stable market.

Price Digests, which collects data from used truck dealers and vehicle auctions, said used truck volume fell in January when compared with the same month a year earlier as both dealer sales and auctions showed double-digit drops in the heavy-duty day cab and sleeper tractor segments.

The resale price of used commercial trucks averaged $38,860 in January, a 6.8 percent decline from the same period a year earlier.

Resale prices for medium-duty day cabs had the biggest decline, falling 13.6 percent from the same month a year earlier to $17,702.

The price for used heavy-duty day cab tractors plunged 8.9 percent to $30,677.

The strongest market in January was for heavy duty conventional sleeper tractors. Used prices rose 11.4 percent to an average $47,304 from the same month a year earlier.

The number of Freightliner used trucks on the market in January rose 30 percent from December to 11,371, the biggest gain among the major manufacturers. Freightliner also had the largest used truck inventory. Navistar’s International brand had the second largest used inventory, 11,053 vehicles, but that was up only 3.6 percent from the prior month.

Paccar’s Kenworth saw the highest influx of vehicles entering the used truck market with a more than 153 percent increase to 5,127 trucks from 2,022 in December. The inventory of used Freightliners jumped to 11,370 in January from the previous month.

Used truck prices were soft nationally with no single region bucking the trend, according to Price Digests.

Fewer monthly retail sales during 2016 caused fewer trades to enter the market leading to suppressed inventory on the used side, said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst for transportation research firm ACT Research.

And a weak environment for spot freight rates throughout much of 2016 coupled with the seasonal freight slowdown at the beginning of 2017 also contributed to the low volume, Vieth said.

Those factors weaken profits for the fleets that liquidate their used inventory to buy new trucks, he said.

“With an expectation of stronger economic growth… trucking profitability should improve thereby greasing the rails for better used truck demand,” Vieth said.

Manufacturing has already started to fire up.

Preliminary data indicates February orders for Class 5-8 trucks spiked 12 percent in to 45,900 units compared to the same month a year earlier. Orders of Class 8 trucks surged 28 percent compared with last year.

Vieth told ACT Research would “have to tweak [its] expectations for 2017 up a bit to reflect the stronger orders.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misstated the inventory rankings of Freightliner and Navistar.

Related: After Tough 2016, Heavy-Duty Truck Orders Rise in January

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