That's important, because used-vehicle demand and new-vehicle demand usually move in tandem. It's also important because falling used-truck vales have cost the car companies a ton of money on the value of trucks that come back from leases, like a $2 billion write-off for Ford in the second quarter.
Auction prices for used, full-size pickups rebounded 3.7 percent from June to July, to an average of $8,829, according to ADESA Inc., Carmel, Ind. That was the first time full-size pickups improved all year, said Tom Kontos, executive vice president, customer strategies and analytics.
The bad news is, full-size pickups were still 22.9 percent below the year-ago month, when they averaged $11,455. Full-size SUVs, the other poster child for the drop in used-truck values, fell another 6.9 percent in July from June. At least, that was less of a decline than the comparison with the year-ago month, which was down 24.4 percent.
In written comments (which he calls, "Kontos Kommentary," you gotta love that), Kontos cited these reasons why pickups are faring better than SUVs:
- Compared with SUVs, which got a lot of first-time buyers in the late 1990s, pickup owners are more likely to be loyal, repeat pickup buyers.
- There are fewer pickups than SUVs at wholesale auctions, because unlike SUVs, there are few pickups in daily rental fleets.
- Demand for pickups was hurt as much by the drop in housing construction, as by gas prices. So if construction recovers, pickups should, too.
- Other vehicles just can't handle heavy-duty hauling and towing like pickups.
Gas prices have also moderated somewhat. I also reported here recently that according to Edmunds.com, since gas prices peaked, truck buyers are somewhat less likely to consider other vehicles.
Besides full-size pickups, auction values for used minivans, small SUVs and luxury SUVs also improved from June to July. Full-size vans, mid-size SUVs, and compact pickups were all down from June to July -- but not as much as they were compared with the year-ago month.
Kontos also indicated that one month of improvement does not constitute a trend. Nor did new-vehicle sales improve. "We will thus curtail our enthusiasm for an improvement in the wholesale market until we see evidence of improvement in the retail (new-vehicle) market, which was again down in July," he said.