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Virtually all segments of the U.S. automotive industry achieved stellar results in 2012 and the prospects for a bright 2013 look equally good, despite the sluggish overall economy, said Manheim Chief Economist Tom Webb in Manheim's 2013 Used Car Market Report (UCMR).
The 18th annual UCMR includes in-depth looks at industry segments including dealers, rental, leasing, repossessions, fleets and salvage. The report, which was released during recent the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) convention in Orlando, also includes Q&As with NADA and NIADA leaders.
"Despite some tough conditions, the automotive industry continued its steady climb after difficult years in 2008 through 2010," said Manheim President Sandy Schwartz. "No segment of the industry showed greater resilience than the used car market. In this year's edition of the UCMR, we offer insights about the used car industry and the many ways that remarketing continues to become more efficient and responsive to the needs of buyers and sellers in an ever-evolving marketplace."
The report showed new car sales reaching 14.5 million units in 2012, one million units more than the consensus forecast for the year. Used vehicle sales came in at 40.5 million, with dealer retail sales increasing 5 percent for the year.
Wholesale auction volumes remained stable in 2012, with between 7.5 and 7.7 million units sold. Volumes are expected to increase by 5 percent to around 7.9 million units in 2013. Manheim's Used Vehicle Value Index indicated that while wholesale prices softened for the first time in three years, they remained at historically high levels.
New units sold per dealership and certified pre-owned vehicle sales both reached all-time highs. The percentage of auction volume accounted for by dealer consignment vehicles reached a record share of 57 percent.
Total rental industry revenues reached a record $23.6 billion in 2012, up 4 percent from 2011, while wholesale pricing for rental risk units sold at auction remained exceptionally strong.
New lease originations increased 16 percent to 2.5 million; meanwhile, off-lease returns hit a cyclical low of 1.5 million.
Repossession volumes were virtually unchanged in 2012, but will likely grow over the next few years due to the recent growth in originations and the easing of lending standards.
Commercial fleets rose for the third consecutive year with an increase of 7 percent, new vehicle sales. Government fleet purchases increased a more modest 2 percent, but that was after falling in each of the previous four years.
The fallout from Hurricane Sandy will put between 250,000 and 350,000 vehicles into the salvage market in the Northeast in the first four months of 2013. The trend of international buyers sourcing inventory from salvage auctions continued in 2012, with Manheim's ExportTrader seeing its volume increase 36 percent.