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Shift Declining Used Car Values in 2024

Over the past six months, a noticeable shift has occurred in the used car market, with prices beginning to decline after nearly four years of remaining unusually high, a trend largely influenced by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. But what exactly is driving this change, what can we anticipate in the coming months, and how does it impact car buyers? Let’s dive into the details.

The Two-Speed New Car Market

The dynamics of the new car market have played a significant role in shaping the trends observed in the used car market. While fleet sales have seen a remarkable 19 consecutive months of growth, private new car buyers have experienced a different reality, with sales figures remaining subdued. Despite some initial growth in 2023, private new car sales have since declined, reflecting a two-speed new car market where fleets thrive while private buyers lag behind.

The Lingering Effects of the Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the automotive industry, disrupting production, supply chains, and consumer behavior. Fleet sales took a severe hit during the pandemic years, exacerbating parts shortages and delaying the turnover of vehicles. This led to a scarcity of used cars in the market, driving prices upward as demand outstripped supply.

The Return of Fleet Sales

In the past year, fleet operations have gradually returned to normal, prompting a surge in fleet sales as companies sought to replace aging vehicles. The increased influx of used cars into the market has contributed to the downward pressure on prices, signaling a shift from the scarcity-driven inflation observed during the pandemic years.

Outlook for 2024

Looking ahead, the momentum of fleet sales is expected to persist in the short term, gradually slowing down over time. However, private new car sales are likely to remain sluggish, dampened by factors such as economic uncertainty and the specter of a looming general election. Additionally, the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris may temporarily divert consumer attention away from car purchases, further impacting sales.

The Evolving Landscape of Electric Vehicles

The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) has added a new dimension to the used car market, with the increasing availability of used EVs contributing to the overall decline in prices. As new EV sales continue to grow, more used EVs are expected to enter the market, further driving down prices. Additionally, government mandates aimed at increasing EV adoption could lead to increased discounts on new EVs, putting additional downward pressure on used EV prices.

Considerations for Sellers

For those considering selling their cars, timing may be key. While prices have fallen from their pandemic-era peaks, they still remain above average for now. However, with prices expected to continue declining in the coming months, selling sooner rather than later may be advisable.

In conclusion, the shifting dynamics of the automotive market have led to declining used car values, with factors such as fleet sales, consumer behavior, and the growing presence of EVs shaping the trajectory of prices. As we navigate through 2024, both buyers and sellers will need to stay informed and adapt to the evolving landscape of the used car market. Used Car Prices

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