Final retail transaction prices of Class 8 trucks fell dramatically in this year’s first quarter as dealers cut prices to move aging inventory, according to a report by the NADA Used Guide, a division of J.D. Power and Associates. Until recently, the retail-to-auction spread had been wider than any time since recovery from the Great Recession.
Fundamental economic measures continue to point mildly upward, so the devaluation is due entirely to oversupply, the report said. But lower prices had a positive effect on sales.
"Retail sales volume was up mildly in March, driven mainly by price reductions on inventory," said Chris Visser, commercial truck senior analyst and product manager at the guide.
In the retail channel, three- to five-year-old trucks lost about 10% of their value from the fourth quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year. Year over year, those vehicles brought about 15% less money.
Wholesale prices also fell, as the guide's benchmark group of 3- to 5-year-old sleeper tractors brought 2.5% less money on average than in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Newer trucks fared worse than older ones, the guide said; 2013 model-year trucks held onto 13.1% less money quarter versus quarter. Conversely, 2011 model year trucks actually brought 11.5% more money than in last year's 4th quarter
“This means pricing for the highest-volume models three to five years of age is coalescing around a single price point,” the guide’s statement said. “This is an unusual phenomenon that suggests the market is still finding a comfort level with the increased volume of available trucks.”
The volume of trucks sold at auction was 37.5% lower in 2016’s first quarter, although one particular model is still cycling through that channel in large numbers. Volume should stabilize going forward, and the industry will continue to adapt to the surplus of available vehicles.
In general, NADA Used Car Guide's commercial truck analysts forecast moderate price erosion in the retail and wholesale channels in the second quarter, on the order of 4% to 5% per month.