Unlike any other time in history, used car price trends are going up and to the right. What used to be a depreciating hunk of metal, is now an appreciating asset that nearly had a better rate of return than Bitcoin in 2021. With used car prices increasing at rapid rates, it’s never been more important to track the value of your car.
As you know by now, the ongoing chip shortage and ensuing new car shortage has created incredible demand for used vehicles. Because of this, used car prices on the wholesale and retail markets have increased to unprecedented new heights. We’ve heard from many YAA members who have seen their car’s value increase incredible amounts.
👉 Bookmark this page. Just like we did last year, each week we’ll update this URL with the latest used car price trends. Our hope is that by being informed of the trends in used car prices you can make smart financial decisions about when to trade-in, sell, or buy a car.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
How much did used car prices increase in 2021?
Depending on who you ask (Cox Automotive, Edmunds, CarGurus, or Black Book), retail used car prices increased anywhere from 32% to 36% in 2021.
Black Book shows a 35% increase in retail used car prices for 2021 (the purple line). For comparison, the orange line shows a 7% appreciation for used car prices in 2020, and the blue line shows a 3% depreciation of used car values for 2019.
Here’s a month-over-month table showing used car price trends for 2021:
|Month||Average Used Car Price|
This data, supplied by Cox Automotive, shows the incredible ascent used car prices took in 2021.
Used van prices increased the most
Different types of vehicles have appreciated more than others. Vans have increased in value the most of all used cars. Take a look at this chart and data from CarGurus.
In 2021 used van prices increased over 56%, whereas CarGurus’ data showed a more modest (yet still insane) 34% increase for used car prices in general.
Used van prices have increased the most across vehicle segments for a few reasons:
- Vans are typically lower profit new vehicles for automakers, and as a result of not having enough chips to produce new vehicles, automakers are drastically limited production of new vans;
- Many people have taken to converting vans into their living quarters;
- Many businesses that previously would have bought their vans from fleet sales are going to the used market to find supply.
For these reasons, and many more, used van prices have increased the most of any segment of vehicle.
Wholesale used car price trends are even crazier
Every used car has two prices; the wholesale price, and the retail price. As consumers we typically concern ourselves with the retail price, and with good reason, unless you have a dealer’s license you can’t buy a car wholesale at an auction.
That being said, wholesale used car prices are the lifeblood of car dealers, and the used car price trends we saw on the wholesale side in 2021 were truly unfathomable. While retail used car prices increased ~36% in 2021, wholesale used car prices rose 52%.
There is an obvious interplay between wholesale and retail prices. As wholesale prices increase, we can expect retail to prices to do the same. Here at YAA we are concerned that retail prices will stay highly elevated for a long time (potentially all the way through the fall of 2022) because car dealers will not want to discount their inventory that they grossly overpaid for earlier in the year.
Thanks to our friends at foureyes, we can share with you this real-time updating data set on used and new car prices.