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New car sales have been in a downward spiral for over a year now, and the big beneficiaries appear to be used cars (and repair shops). A study by Manheim Consulting shows that the company's Used Vehicle Value Index has risen to a record high of 118.5 in the month of September, up 1.8% versus August. That's the ninth straight increase this year, as Manheim's index has steamrolled northward by 6.9% over the past 12 months.

New car sales have risen in part because many car buyers have decided to save money by buying used vehicles instead of new models, shrinking the supply of used vehicles on the market. And since fewer customers are buying new cars, dealers are left with fewer trade-ins. The month of September was especially impactful because many of the car-buyers who did buy new cars and trucks used Cash for Clunkers, and all of those vehicles ended up at the neighborhood crusher, not the used car lot.

Manheim's report also shows that both new and used vehicle inventories are down, which explains why new car incentives have been sliding as well. And with fewer incentives on new vehicles, used vehicles become a more attractive option, except there aren't many pre-owned units on the market. Used vehicles are going to auction with higher overall miles as well, a trend that is to be expected with the lack of vehicles coming off leases. According to Manheim, in January, the average auction car had about 51,000 miles on the odometer. That number has steadily increased over the past nine months to the point where an average auction vehicle now has closer to 63,000 miles on it.

With few used cars on the market and those models that are left tending to be of the higher mileage variety, it makes some sense that some automakers are becoming bolded in their volume projections for next year. Head over to Manheim Consulting for more info on its used vehicle index.

[Source: Manheim Consulting | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey is that a dealership in Patchogue, Long Island?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is it just or is the 1st sentence in the 2nd paragraph confusing? "new car sales have risen...." ????
      • 5 Years Ago
      In the second paragraph: "The month of September was especially impactful..."

      Is "impactfull" even a word?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Used car prices keep getting higher and higher at the auctions. It is to the point where it makes little sense to buy a 2008/2009 used car because a new one can be cheaper!
      • 5 Years Ago
      John McElroy, "I told you so... "
      • 5 Years Ago
      What you people are forgetting is a couple of things...

      1) In the crappy economy more people are looking to buy used cars instead of new cars for the obvious reasons, they are much cheaper on the surface. It has nothing to do with CFC because I highly doubt there is a big demand for used cars that get crappy gas mileage. Its just that more people are buying used and therefore people selling them arent as desperate to sell their cars by lowering the prices. Now the seller has an upper hand and can sell it for what they might be asking for it.

      2) If you are financing a car, a used car price might end up actually being just as expensive as a new car. Ie a used car at 8-10% interest might be just as expensive as a new car at 0%, etc. Everyone knows used cars are financed at a higher APR than a new one. People sometimes dont look at the big picture when it comes to buying used vs new.. they sometimes just look at the price on the sticker instead of with interest.
      • 5 Years Ago
      'Manheim's index has steamrolled'

      Haha
      Very funny.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Damn, you beat me to it! ;-)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Buying a used car is a crap shoot and it always has been. 7 come 11 and no warranty (that simple). The article should be about the Lease programs that are asking for a bigger down stroke. I wouldn't buy anything that GM Ford or Chrysler is producing right now. The electric car will be here soon. Today's bought vehicles are going to be yesterdays sushi. Nobody will want them when they see the Dynamics and performance of these new green cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oy Vey. The new electric cars will go 50 miles with the headlights and air conditioner on and then conk out on the side of the road. Tow trucks will be fastest growing segment of the economy. Before you throw out the internal combustion engine next year, let those battery cars do something first. This ain't the nobel peace prize.

        "Today's bought vehicles are going to be yesterdays sushi."

        What the hell does that mean? lol. Are you suggesting a new car today will go back and time and change into raw fish?



        • 5 Years Ago
        Hey you don't have to like it. Shelf life is short for gasoline powered vehicles. Just like raw fish. You don't believe it's coming but take a look . . it is already here. and keep the change!
        http://www.oncars.com/video/496/2011-Tesla-Model-S-Part-2-of-3-Pure-Electric
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