Pandemic ripple effects: Used car prices soar

·1 min read

Don't be surprised if used cars are harder to find and more expensive for years to come, auto industry experts are warning.

By the numbers: The average price of a used vehicle surged nearly 14% between January and December of 2020 — roughly 10 times the rate of inflation — to over $23,000, AP reports.

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The big picture: COVID-19 created a massive ripple effect, as Axios transportation correspondent Joann Muller reported last year.

  • Major auto manufacturers stopped production. That led to a shortage of vehicles on dealer lots, especially trucks and SUVs.

  • Fewer people traded in vehicles or returned leases during the pandemic's early lockdowns.

  • Rental companies bought fewer cars because of travel shutdowns, reducing the number they will sell used, AP notes.

Between the lines: The $30K sedan is a thing of the past, Joann tells me.

  • Many manufacturers even stopped producing sedans in the U.S. or abandoned their lower-priced models in favor of trucks and SUVs.

The bottom line: Low interest rates plus stimulus checks plus supply crunches all point in the same direction.

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