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Current Used Vehicle Market Conditions: Q1 2024

April 16, 2024

February/March 2024 Kontos Kommentary

The following commentary is produced by Tom Kontos, Chief Economist, ADESA Auctions.  

Spring appears to have sprung in the wholesale market, as average prices jumped another four percent month-over-month in February and have continued to rise significantly in March. Retail used vehicle and CPO sales also showed February increases.

Wholesale Market Trends*

According to ADESA US Analytical Services’ monthly analysis of auction industry used vehicle prices by vehicle model class, wholesale prices in February averaged $14,312—up 4.0% compared to January, down 9.8% relative to February 2023, and up 31.5% versus pre-pandemic/February 2019, as shown below.

Wholesale Market Trend

All model class segments showed month-over-month increases. Average prices have continued to rise so far in March and stood at $14,536 for the week ending March 17.

Further insights on wholesale price trends can be gained by holding constant for auction sale type, model-year age and mileage (the upper line in the following graph, which represents “Late-Model” units), as well as price trends for all vehicles sold (the lower line in the graph below).

Wholesale Market Trend

As the graph shows, average prices for “Late-Model” used vehicles as defined here have risen faster than overall prices so far this year. Average prices for these late-model vehicles have continued to rise in March and stood at $25,348 for the week ending March 17. These rapid price rises are indicative of interest by consumers, and therefore dealers, in more-affordable substitutes for high-priced new vehicles.

A spreadsheet with historical data broken out by model class for the table and graph in this section has been provided with this report for your convenience in tracking these trends.

Retail Market Trends

The following graph and table summarize ADESA US Analytical Services’ analysis of NADA and Motor Intelligence data, respectively, on retail used vehicle and certified pre-owned (CPO) sales in February.

Wholesale Market Trend

Wholesale Market Trend

As the figures show, overall retail used vehicle sales are off to a slower start than any of the previous five years, despite a modest year-on-year rise in February. On the other hand, year-to-date CPO sales are up even when compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is once again indicative of consumer interest in more-affordable substitutes to expensive new vehicles.


Recently, a lot of ink has been spilled not only on EVs, but increasingly on Hybrid vehicles. I thought it timely, therefore, to share a couple of graphs I’ve developed to monitor auction price and volume trends for these alternative fuel vehicle types. The first graph shows that both these vehicle types still represent a small percentage of total auction sales, but that share is growing. These volume trends tend to lag new-vehicle sales trends by a few years, so it will be interesting to see how these patterns may change over time.

Wholesale Market Trend

The second graph shows average auction prices for the two vehicle types, along with the same total auction average prices shown earlier in this report. The EV line displays the same general return towards market price trends that I described for the Tesla Model 3 in my December and January Kontos Kommentary #Trendspotter. Average Hybrid vehicle prices, however, have gone from being below-market to above market, although this could perhaps be partially due to changes in model mix.

Wholesale Market Trend

I will continue to monitor these trends going forward. I hope you find this information useful, and I welcome your feedback.

*Source: Analysis in this section is based on over six million annual sales transactions from over 250 of the largest U.S. wholesale auto auctions, including those of ADESA US as well as other auction companies. ADESA US Analytical Services segregates these transactions to study trends by vehicle model class, sale type, mode-year, etc.
Disclaimer: The views and analysis provided herein relate to the vehicle remarketing industry as a whole and may not relate directly to ADESA US. The views and analysis are not the views of ADESA US, its management, its subsidiaries or its parent companies; and their accuracy is not warranted.
Forward-Looking Statements: The statements contained in this report and statements that ADESA US, its management, its subsidiaries or its parent companies may make orally in connection with this report that are not historical facts (including, but not limited to, expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections regarding the industry and business) may be forward-looking statements. Words such as “could,” “should,” “may,” “will,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “promises,” “likely to,” “outlook,” “potential,” “project” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results projected, expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include those matters disclosed in the “Risk Factors” identified in Carvana Co.’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Neither ADESA US nor its subsidiaries or parent companies undertakes any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.