Used Car & Truck Prices Spiral Down Further in Historic Plunge, Surrender 60% of Stunning 2-year Spike

But used EV prices still +61% from Jan. 2020, used ICE vehicles +31%. When will they bottom out? Compact cars approach affordability again.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Prices of used cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans that were sold at auctions across the US fell by 0.6% in June from May, and by 8.9% year-over-year, to $17,934, seasonally adjusted, the lowest since March 2021, having given up 60%, or $5,640, of the mindboggling $9,443-spike between January 2020 and May 2022 (red in the chart).

Not seasonally adjusted, wholesale prices fell by 2.2% in June from May, and by 10.0% year-over-year, to $18,206 (blue), having given up 52%, or $4,690, of the $9,088-spike between January 2020 and May 2022, according to today’s Used Vehicle Value Index by Manheim, the largest auto auction house in the US. The index is adjusted for changes in mix and mileage.

The question on everyone’s mind: How much further will wholesale prices fall to work off that mindboggling spike that should have never occurred in the first place? When will they bottom out? For consumers, prices haven’t fallen nearly enough and remain very high:

Prices fell in all major vehicle categories in June on a month-to-month basis and a year-over-year basis, according to data from Manheim, a division of Cox Automotive.

The biggest price drops in June from May occurred in these categories:

  • Full-size van: -8.9%
  • Sportscar, all: -6.4%
  • EVs: -6.3%
  • Full-size car: -6.2%

Dealers buy at these auctions to replenish their used-vehicle inventories. Supply comes from rental fleets that sell some of the vehicles they pull out of service, from finance companies that sell their lease returns and repos, from corporate and government fleets, other dealers, etc.

The steep month-to-month price drops in June may have been a secondary effect of the crisis when operations of nearly 15,000 dealerships were catastrophically interrupted from June 19 through the end of June when CDK’s cloud-based dealer management system that these dealers were using was shut down due to a ransomware attack. The biggest publicly traded dealers – normally massive buyers at these auctions – already warned about the potential impact for Q2. Automakers also referenced the CDK crisis in their reports for new-vehicle deliveries in June and Q2.

EVs versus ICE Vehicles since January 2020.

There was a time during the pandemic when Tesla-flipping was a thing, when people bought new Teslas from Tesla and resold them within a short period as essentially new, but legally used, at a big profit because used vehicle prices in general had shot up so much, and Tesla prices even more because Tesla’s output couldn’t meet demand.

Tesla-flipping contributed to a massive 145% spike in used EV prices from January 2020 through the peak of the spike in July 2022. Then Tesla cut its own prices in 2022 and thereby killed Tesla-flipping. There were hopes that Cybertruck-flipping would be profitable, but those hopes have also vanished. A used vehicle should sell for far less than the same new vehicle, that’s the essence of the car business, and that’s where we are again. And all this Tesla-flipping nuttiness is now in the rear-view mirror.

Used EVs: Prices had spiked by a mindboggling $22,568 from January 2020 through July 2022, by far the most of any vehicle category, a sign of absolute frenzy. Prices have now surrendered 54% of that spike, but are still 61% higher than in January 2020 (red in the chart below).

Used ICE vehicles: Prices also spiked during the pandemic (+64%), but not nearly as much as EV prices (+145%). And they also plunged, but from less-lofty highs. And they have now surrendered 51% of the pandemic spike (blue).

Used car and truck prices since January 2020…

Auction prices had spiked by a mindboggling 65%, or by $9,088, from January 2020 through the peak in May 2022, not seasonally adjusted, and then began to spiral down, by now surrendering 52% of that spike.

But seen the other way: since January 2020, despite the historic plunge underway, wholesale prices are still 32% higher than they had been in January 2020. The data below is not seasonally adjusted:

Seen from that direction, since January 2020, EV prices are still up 61% (red in the chart below). Prices of ICE vehicles are still up 31% (blue):

Prices of used pickup trucks since January 2020.

Full-size light-duty pickup trucks: Prices had spiked by 68% from January 2020 through the peak in May 2021. And then they spiraled down, and gave up 48% of that spike, but are still up 36% from January 2020 (light blue in the chart below).

Compact pickups: Prices had spiked by 88% from January 2020 through May 2022. But they have not come down much, have given up only 25% of the pandemic spike, and are still up by a mindboggling 66% from January 2020 (red line).

Heavy-duty pickups: Prices had spiked by 78% from January 2020 through May 2022, and have now given up 46% of that spike but are still up 42% from January 2020 (purple)

Prices of used SUVs, compact cars, and vans since January 2020.

SUVs and compact SUVs: Prices had spiked 63% from January 2020 through November 2021. And then they spiraled down and gave up 57% of that spike, but they’re still up by 26% from January 2020 (light blue).

Vans: Prices had spiked by 70% through May 2022, then surrendered 63% of that spike, but are still up 26% from January 2020 (purple).

Compact cars: Prices had jumped by 56% from January 2020 through May 2022, and then fell. By now they’ve given up 69% of the pandemic spike and are up “only” 17% from January 2020.

Affordability returns to used compact cars. Compact cars are now the closest to pre-pandemic trend, compared to the other major categories. With an index price of $9,500, they’re up “only” 17% from June 2015 – from nine years ago!

But Americans are no fans of compact cars. So retail demand for new compact cars remains moderate; the big buyers are rental fleets. For automakers, the category is a low-margin highly competitive business. US automakers exited ICE compact cars because they had trouble making money in it and were more interested in kowtowing to Wall Street with share buybacks. All recent-model-year ICE compact cars are foreign brands. Among the older compact cars, there are American brands. But thanks to these dynamics, used compact cars are approaching affordability once again:

Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how:

Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.

  63 comments for “Used Car & Truck Prices Spiral Down Further in Historic Plunge, Surrender 60% of Stunning 2-year Spike

  1. SoCalBeachDude says:

    Quality interesting used car prices are still rising considerably, while run of the mill junk continues to fall substantially. BAT auction results clearly show that with Ferraris going for record high prices now as are superb BMW models from yesteryear.

  2. SoCalBeachDude says:

    A 2013 Ferrari 458 Spider just closed on BAT (Bring A Trailer) minutes ago for $224,000 and sold. There are some other nifty cars up today on BAT including around a dozen that have great interest from buyers.

    • Phoenix_Ikki says:

      Yeah there’s still pockets of insanity and FOMOness out there. Goes to show there’s still a lot of loose money in this era of “QT” mission accomplished? Nah…

      You see that insanity in housing market too, especially in SoCal, saw a post recently about open house in Garden Grove and the RE agent bragging there’s 150+ waiting in line at the open house. Bro-in-law mentioned house near him in Placentia sold for over a mil in a week and new owner immediately gutted it for renovation.

      Bottom-line is the bigger trend line of the market might be headed down but at the granular level there’s still a lot of frustrating insanity to be seen and some people still have brain rot from QE era..

      • SoCalBeachDude says:

        There is nothing ‘insane’ about buying Ferraris for only a quarter of a million or fine houses in the best areas of Southern California for only a few million. It just takes money which many people have in order to own and enjoy the best of the best.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The idea being that you can’t take it with you?

        • Steria75 says:

          I agree with Wolf.

          Life is short, I don’t personally worship expensive luxury cars.

          My reason has nothing to do with whether or not I have the means to afford one while coveting it.

          If SoCal Beach Guy chooses to idolize comfort with expensive luxury vehicles and mansion houses and/or high class nuclear bunkers for him/herself, this individual has the freewill to turn towards material goods as a main ingredient to living a privileged level of human comfort (relative to overall world propsperity) while he/she is on the planet in the flesh.

          And he/she is more than able to set up his/her estate so that whatever luxurious goods SoCal Beach Guy cannot take with him/her after mortal death they can be transferred to offspring or loved ones or charity.

        • bulfinch says:

          Ferrari is not the best of the best, and anything past 1977 is hideous. BMWs are notoriously over-engineered money vortexes.

          If you’re itching for a beautiful and properly deep pit into which to deposit all the filthy lucre you didn’t work nearly hard enough to accumulate, why not find a nice Ford GT or an AC Cobra?

        • NBay says:

          All I know about Ferraris is that if I’m not a “chosen one”, but still want it, then it’s gonna be lake of fire for me.
          Not even worth even thinking about…..too risky.

        • NBay says:

          BTW, Steria 75 sounds like some corporate lab’s new synthetic cooking oil…..for making cheaper French Frys, ya know? Make life better for all.
          And fits author’s opinion, too.

    • White.bob says:

      People who buy Ferarris generally are hurting. They’re the top 1%

      • Gaston says:

        SoCal’s comments are generally disconnected from the vast majority of the population but I find them entertaining.

        • Phoenix_Ikki says:

          Well he is from SoCal and especially beach city, most people in entitled, privileged like OC and coastal LA are pretty disconnected with reality and majority of the population especially those in fly over states.

      • NBay says:


        Now, Bob is a person who KNOWS his Biblical place in the universe.
        (and is a South Park fan)

  3. Tyler says:

    I’m a firm believer that the market is usually fair in its pricing of goods and services. I also believe the hedonistic value of cars and their given features are in line with the market, including used cars. Cars have become way more reliable in the last 20 years, and that may factor into the price of a used vehicle.

    But maybe new vehicles are unfashionable to car buyers. My sister recently bought a used minivan when I know she could have afforded a new one. Right away I looked at the worn tires and still can’t fathom why she bought used, I haven’t said anything, her choice.

    Except- turbocharged engines have become more popular for gas milage reasons, smaller displacement size for higher compression ratios, and that will hurt reliability in the long-term since the engine is under more stress per cubic inch. I think turbocharged used car prices should be lower.

    • Pancho says:

      Tires are cheap to replace. A lot cheaper than buying a new van.

      • Home toad says:

        You know the van with the flowers and the peace sign and the long haired hippy with red eyes.
        I bet he loved his van.

        Now the station wagon is a different story I remember my 8 brothers and sisters and myself, loaded in the back on our way to church…

        What I’d like for my golden years is some gold and a small electric car. I can load up my small dog “dingo” and go hunt some squirrels. The future is here, got to see it first.

    • Ervin says:

      I have to agree on quality improvements.
      91,000 miles in 7 years of driving and problems = ZERO.

    • Stan Sexton says:

      Any car with Direct Injection should sell for less. Big future problem.

      • SoCalBeachDude says:

        Somebody has to buy them new or there would be no used vehicles available for anybody to buy.

    • JS says:

      I can’t fathom why anyone would ever buy a new vehicle. Buying a 2-3 year old vehicle avoids a majority of the depreciation that new cars experience and in most cases they are still mechanically brand new. This is especially the case for luxury vehicles which have a very limited customer base after 2-3 years and can see their blue book drop 20-40% from MSRP.

      I did it early in my life when I was broke, and now that we make and have more than we ever could have imagined, we still do the same thing.

      Wife and I test drove a certified pre-owned 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class that retailed for $81K and is now going for $56K. New car smell isn’t worth $25K.

      • ChS says:

        It is very model dependent. Luxury vehicles tend to depreciate very quickly where more pedestrian models much less so. I have had great success negotiating a good price on a new vehicle. I happily pay $3k to $4k more for a new vehicle over a vehicle with 30k miles. The full factory warranty and knowing how its been maintained and driven is worth it to me.

        • NBay says:

          I believe I can safely say that I will die, having never heard from a car buyer, “I was (or probably was) screwed on the deal.”

          Maybe that’s why the American Dream can work.

          Everyone can out negotiate everyone else if they will just put in the hard work necessary to do so.

      • Cookdoggie says:

        From a financial perspective I agree buying slightly used makes the most sense. But once you have some financial energy stored up in your life, buying new and holding nearly forever removes the risk of how that vehicle was treated by the previous owners. Since most people these days are @!#& that’s a large relief for me.

      • SoCalBeachDude says:

        I would suggest you take a look at BMWs in lieu of Mercedes-Benz as BMWs are way superior vehicles without question.

        • Mitry says:

          I had an ’01 750iL back in the late 2000s that I bought at a salvage auction for $14.5k. No body damage, but it was stolen and the price reflected that. It was fun to drive, however the hydraulic suspension had a valve that needed replacing, the engine had something called a secondary air compressor that went out (it’s an air pump that lets the engine idle), all 4 subwoofers in the back were blown and needed work, and of course the transmission needed a full rebuild at 100k. The car had gobs of torque and really low gearing and was a real sleeper. Never got pulled over in it. My buddy worked on German cars so I got the work done for cheap and it still cost me about $3k/yr to own that thing. Pentosin oil was $10/qt and the engine took 11 quarts. I wouldn’t waste money on something like that now, but if someone wants a fancy car, I’d say get a Tesla.

          If owning a Mercedes can be called practical, the GLE is a practical choice compared to the new Bimmers.

      • dougzero says:

        For the Ferraris, one can’t buy a new one, unless you are already a customer, basically.
        So, the used market thrives there as they are ‘desirable’. Most other cars if you want a new one, you can walk in and buy it. A very specialized market for sure.

      • BobC says:

        We buy new vehicles because we can’t stand the idea that someone else has farted in the seats!! LOL

    • MM says:

      Re turbos:

      I’m curious what kind of long-term longevity we see from Honda’s newer turbo motors, which haven’t existed for more than a decade save for the K23 block.

  4. Redundant says:

    Affordability Is going to eventually take place with everything in the Everything Bubble.

    Maybe this all happens in reverse order, with cars leading the way for houses and stocks drifting back towards normal ranges?

  5. Matt S says:

    The mind boggling prices won’t adjust back to realistic levels until everyone has been locked into their annual insurance premiums at equally mind boggling levels.

  6. Bagehit’s Ghost says:

    Does anyone else have a car that gives them a free vacation every year?

    For 20 years I have set aside ~$250 every month to be ready to replace our old car. Thought it would last 10-12 years, and I wanted to pay cash for the replacement. Since 8 years ago I’ve had $36 saved up to buy a new one, but the old one keeps on running fine!

    I’m still saving the money every month, because sooner or later the car will die, I’ll spend what I saved to replace it, and I’ll need that $250/month budget in place to start saving for the next one after. But in the meantime, every year I don’t need a new car, I’ve got extra savings.

    $250/month is $3000/year, enough for a nice vacation. So as I see it, every year the car survives, it pays me $3000 I wouldn’t have had if it died, and my wife and I get a nice vacation!

    When you take good care of your stuff, your stuff takes good care of your bank account…

    Just hope the old car lasts another few years for the next big trough in car prices…

    • brad says:

      I have a 97 Accord (purchased new) with 318,000 miles and a 1999 Lexus pushing 290K. They truly don’t make cars like that any more.

      • ShortTLT (formerly MM) says:

        I remember reading about a guy who put over a million miles on a Civic.

        • NBay says:

          That’s a damned TV ad.

          Next you will be saying you KNEW him, without even being aware of it.

      • Natron says:

        Yeah new car smell makes me wanna puke – vinyl ketones or something… yuk. I don’t seem to have the need to be envied that so many seem to feel either, for some reason.

        But I do enjoy having cash in the bank I didn’t spend on a car. So far I’ve driven 50k miles for only $1k depreciation (after fixing it up even) on my old Toyota d/t the big bang in used car prices. Gonna need some new tires soon for the next round.

        But I’ll pop for an EV when the self drive thing kicks in well enough. Might be about the time I’ll need one at this rate…

  7. Phoenix_Ikki says:

    I can see that about trucks and big A$$ SUV coming down in price. Anecdote probably but I work in Santa Monica and the office parking garage 2nd and 3rd floor are used by surrounding dealers to store their inventory. For the last 2 years the garage was pretty empty all the time but over the last 2 months, the garage is now fill with big A$$ trucks and SUV, Hummer EV and all with grills that looks like battering ram (good times when you get hit by one for sure). Inventory is definitely piling up…a big reason is those absurd price. Walked by one today, window sticker on a Denali is $…seriously good luck with that.

    Even non-trucks and SUVs, I am starting to see once hot Corvette C8 like Z06 getting marked down below MSRP or close to invoice. Saw another brand new E-Ray online becoming a lot rot, 80+ days on the market and 20k markdown and below MSRP. Hopefully this is just the start of decline, IMHO these absurd price still have long way down, only lifeline they got is Pow Pow lower rates back to 21 level..

    • NYguy says:

      New cars are being stored by dealers in empty lots all over where I live as their primary lots are full. Talked to a local coin dealer yesterday who was freaked out as 3 people had come in that morning trying to get cash for fake gold necklaces. Pawn shop getting lots of stolen tools and air conditioners, lol.

      This sucker is going down.

      • Phoenix_Ikki says:

        Sure do hope this will go down soon enough so there’s a sliver of a chance price will get closer to fundamental when it comes to cars, houses, major assets in general.

        Although I am not holding my breath either, especially since the wealthiest generation right now will hold on to that wealth and fight it tooth and nail to avoid deflation on their precise retirement lifeline.

  8. Wes says:

    Will auto prices return to their pre-pandemic levels? Disinflationary pressures?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I would say it’s not pre-pandemic “levels” but pre-pandemic “trend” we need to look for – with the mental trend line sloping upward. You can increase the slope a little starting in mid-2022 to account for wage increases that were higher starting in mid-2022 through today than they had been before the pandemic. “Back to trend” would mean that prices drop to that line. Here’s a sketch of what that trendline might look like:

      • codedude says:

        Should not we expect undershooting of the trend, if things go south, at least for a bit? I guess depends how “soft” the landing is gonna be…

      • eg says:

        That’s a very helpful graph, Wolf!

      • JimmyO says:

        Love the “pre-pandemic trend” lines. Thanks!

  9. KevinL says:

    Do house prices follow the trend in car prices with a lag? Both are impacted by high interest rates. I guess it is easier to downsize to a compact car than moving to a much smaller house. In 2007, I think car prices actually lagged sinking house prices, but they both get impacted by the same economic forces.

    • Phoenix_Ikki says:

      I ponder the same but sadly probably not. People are much more emotionally attached to a house than a car, majority of them do anyway. As much as I wish this will be true, high probability won’t be the case, hope I am dead wrong on this though.

      Not to mention, the rate cut hopium is trying to kick start again because of the latest unemployment number at least from WS and MSM point of view, if CPI numbers play ball and even a slight rate cut might just add fuel back to the housing market. Once again hope I am dead wrong on this one as well…

    • MM says:

      Two reasons they have different supply/demand forces:

      -Paying cash and skipping the financing is more accessible to the average joe for a vehicle vs a house.

      -Cars naturally depreciate while houses don’t, so the taxes/ins on cars *should* go down over time.

  10. Monk says:

    These are all auction prices right? Is there still a sizeable gap between the change in auction prices and the change in retail prices?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      These auction prices and CPI used vehicles have been running very close together. The squiggles don’t all line up, but the trends are in lockstep. We’ll get the June CPI in two days, and we’ll see. Here is the used vehicle CPI through May:

  11. Ryan says:

    How long before “they” remove the used car price peak and flatten it out!? lol. I mean hey “they” did it with new house prices…. WTF

    • Wolf Richter says:

      This data is not from the Census Bureau (as the new house data is), but from the Manheim auction house, based on actual sales at auctions around the country. A few years ago, Manheim made some adjustments to their seasonal adjustments, but they were small.

  12. James says:

    I own a built to the hills F-150 4×4/I also own a 1981 Chevy van on K-20 frame,i.e. 4×4 van,obviously,not great on gas daily drivers….but I love them!

    I bought in middle of pandemic a 2005 Chevy Malibu with 59 thousand miles for 2750,have done brakes and shock,have had for about 3 years and still running strong,but the sub frame definitely going over time due to east coast salt nonsense in winter,still feel a few more years left.

    I do all me own basic work on vehicles and for daily driver will still never spend more then 3-4 thousand,there are deals out there.

    • carguy says:

      I go to Valvoline to change the oil at 6,000 miles. Car not washed in 8 years, never waxed – think Tony Shaloub in MM – “we’re VERY happy!”

  13. Hubberts Curve says:

    Being in manufacturing for 38 years I have always marveled that the average American could command enough actual resources to exchange for an automobile. An standard modern automobile has a tremendous amount of material, energy, overhead and labor built in to it.
    The fact that we purchase it with a kind of nominal currency obscures the actual transaction taking place. It probably made sense back when a steel worker in Pittsbugh was trading making 10,000 Ford Model T’s worth of steel ( his labor content anyway) for one new model T. Or a farmer in Nebraska traded an entire harvest of wheat that would feed the workforce of the River Rouge plant for a week for a model A.
    Now people are expecting to trade 6 months of commission from reselling homes that already existed for an incredibly complicated and energy intensive modern vehicle like a Toyota Camry. Or to trade the labor involved with shuffling around a years worth of insurance paperwork for a new F150.
    I know currency is fungible so that a years salary from posting cat videos is the same as a years salary from hand building stamping dies for car fenders but in the physical world things start not adding up. That mismatch is one of the things driving up prices as actual value the consumer has to trade for the concrete physical cost of a car is falling short.

    • Gattopardo says:

      I like your post. Well done.

    • PaperMoon says:

      This is why I hang out on WS.

      • NBay says:

        Yep, me too. Last paragraph especially good.

        • NBay says:

          But my 2 cents (another reason to hang out on WS) it needs climate change added…..

          Don’t think that “funges” in to easily, though.

    • Spiceoflife says:

      Also like the post above. I always think this when I think about services, like real estate, finance, medicine. They generate nothing real but somehow allow for accruing resources that are real. It boggles my mind what I can accrue despite my making no tangible hard goods in my line of work. Just life and living. I can’t imagine “creating” everything I have in my possession. I know that the division of labor/specialization and trade across the planet and lower price of labor in other places on earth allows for our way of life.

      We need to be careful to maintain the things that give our way of life value, democracy, freedom to innovate and have actual prices (rather than bull crap ZIRPY asset bubbles and crony capitalism) that allow for capitalism to do what it does well.

      Lots to ponder in your post above. I know I will never be able to mine enough minerals metal or forge a truck into shape in my driveway or mill enough lumber and amass material to make my house. but I will save your life if you come to me for help in my line of work. which I guess if like mining metal and forging a truck into being?

  14. Michael Gaff says:

    You clowns are crap. My 1999 GMC still hauls everything. It cost me almost $2,000. Who cares about you morons and your $60,000 + toys?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      🤣 glad you enjoy it.

      But not a lot of used vehicles in this article sell for “$60,000+” RTGDFA

      • Natron says:

        Bring a Trailer sounds like going to a junkyard to me. :) Somehow I missed the boat on the glory of having a pricey lawn ornament…

Comments are closed.