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March 1, 2022 3:50 PM, EST

January Class 8 Retail Prices for Used Trucks Soar to New High

Used TrucksUsed trucks on a lot. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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January’s average retail sales price for a used Class 8 truck burst past $88,000 to set a new monthly record and post an 83.2% gain compared with a year earlier, ACT Research reported.

The average retail price was $88,293 compared with $48,190 in the same 2021 period, according to ACT.

January also was up from $82,341 in December, the previous high.

Estimated sales were 22,300. That was up from 20,700 a year earlier and a little less than December’s 22,800.

“Oh my gosh, what a crazy market,” ACT Vice President Steve Tam told Transport Topics.

“The narrative has not changed. We still don’t have much in terms of used truck inventory,” he said. “And we have a lot of folks who want to buy used trucks. Or at least want to buy trucks. Some of them want to buy new trucks, and they can’t; they are turning to the used truck market to fulfill that need. I would not want to be a new truck buyer today.”

But with increased Class 8 new production in December, and with January above trend, the used truck inventory is moving off the floor — with the trade-ins helping with that. But the slow journey back to equilibrium will stretch out well into the second half of the year, he said. “Of course, our friend COVID will dictate that, right?”

Also setting used Class 8 record prices in January were trucks in the 3-year-old segment, at $127,725, and the 8-year-old segment, at $33,403, Tam said. The price data for 3- and 8-year-old trucks included all data points: auction, retail and wholesale.

At the same time, one fleet executive said he was holding onto every truck in his fleet.

“New trucks are next to impossible to get in a timely and cost-efficient manner and used trucks are going for 30% (or more) higher than they were just six to 12 months ago,” said Riley Larson, general manager at JMS Transportation Co. Inc. “That does mean we could likely do well selling some of our used equipment, but we need every truck we have right now to keep up with our freight demands.”

Riley Larson

Larson

Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based JMS Transportation is a family owned company founded in 1992. It specializes in dedicated contract, regional truckload and brokerage services. It operates 140 trucks.

Elsewhere, some used trucks are being bought and then rented.

COOP by Ryder, a nationwide truck and trailer sharing platform, reported it is seeing a growing number of companies purchase used vehicles as an investment to rent to others through the platform. A Ryder spokesman told TT the average age of a Class 8 in COOP is 5 years.

COOP noted it pays on average more than $3,700 in monthly revenue to owners who list their vehicles on the platform.

One lender said sales prices will soften.

Obviously it’s not a question of if, but when, said Dan Clark, head of BMO Transportation Finance. “Our current thinking is that the factors supporting high used values, particularly the availability and high prices of new equipment, are not likely to change suddenly, but incrementally as the year progresses.”

That said, if forecasts prove accurate and new truck production accelerates in the second half, the new trucks will come with components that cost more and will include mandated safety and emissions features that also add cost, he said.

“Those higher prices for new equipment are likely to keep demand for used equipment higher for longer and may even put in a higher floor for used values compared to the pre-pandemic market,” Clark said.

Dan Clark

Clark

Meanwhile, the age of the average Class 8 sold was 6 years, 8 months. That compared with 6 years, 3 months a year earlier.

The average mileage was 438,000 compared with 422,000 in the 2021 period — both metrics underscore fleets that have been holding onto their trucks longer, Tam said.

Clark added the used truck market will remain strong in the first quarter “as the boom market matures.”

In January, dealers retailed an average of 3.4 trucks per location, Chris Visser, commercial truck senior analyst at J.D. Power Valuation Services, wrote in a report, calling that the worst result since the brief market depression of April 2020. “January is historically a low-volume month, so this seasonality combined with the ongoing shortage of desirable used trucks resulted in the mediocre figure.”

Each month, ACT surveys a sample of dealers, wholesalers and auctioneers as well as a few large fleets to determine average price, age and mileage, and estimated industry volumes.

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