Jacksonville Used Car Prices Jump 39.8% In June, But Prices Might Soon Shift Into Reverse

Aug 3, 2021

The used car market in Jacksonville continued its upward spike in June with prices up 39.8%, according to iSeeCars, which said that translates into an average increase of $8,473 over the same period last year.

The price increases in Jacksonville and across the country have been largely blamed on the microchip shortage that has limited the supply of new cars, in turn driving up the cost of used cars.

Price increases in Jacksonville topped the 50 largest metro markets included in the analysis. 

In Jacksonville, the BMW 3 Series saw the biggest used car price jump, according to online auto listing company iSeeCars.com, with an average price hike of 69.9%, compared to June 2020.

Every vehicle segment increased significantly in price compared to last year, but coupes increased the most, followed by convertibles and pickups, according to iSeeCars. All used cars saw significant jumps in value. The Mercedes-Benz GLC ranked last in a value increase nationally, but even it was up by 11.4%.

Credit iseecars.com

But there are signs that price hikes of the past several months may finally be shifting into reverse.

The prices dealers pay for used cars at massive auctions across the country finally dipped in June after hitting record highs in each of the four previous months, according to the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index.

While retail prices for used cars still surged in June, the fall in wholesale prices suggest that what consumers pay will likely start to fall soon too, according to NPR.

Such an easing in prices would be consistent with the Federal Reserve's projection that the recent surge in consumer prices is likely to fade as pandemic bottlenecks are resolved and demand returns to more normal levels.

It's a view that's shared by many economists, though others fear accelerating inflation could prove harder to reverse.

The Labor Department reported last month that consumer prices jumped 0.9% between May and June — the largest one-month increase since 2008. Surging prices for used cars and trucks accounted for more than a third of that inflationary spike.

On a year-to-year comparison, prices surged 5.4%, the highest in nearly 13 years.

For inflation to ease, the Fed says some segments it believes to be transitory, like used cars, will need to ease. 

A severe global shortage of semiconductors hit automakers hard, forcing them to limit production despite surging demand.

That supply chain disruption has been magnified by the lingering impact of a deep freeze in Texas earlier this year that limited production of plastics used in cars, as well as by recent flooding in Michigan.

"It's just been a series of perfect storm events that have prevented the new vehicle production from getting back to normal," says Jonathan Smoke, who tracks car prices as chief economist for Cox Automotive. "And while that supply has been challenged, we've had surging demand" for cars as more people are driving for work and vacation.

The reduced selection of new cars has had a big spillover in the used market.

The retail price of used cars jumped 10.5% between May and June, following a 7% jump the month before.

In recent weeks, however, the buying frenzy has slowed. Inventory at used car lots has returned to more normal levels, and demand at wholesale auto auctions is less intense than it was earlier this year.

"It isn't that demand has completely cratered," Smoke says. "It is simply that we've gotten past what has been a crazy spring."

Wholesale prices for used cars have dropped more than 2% over the last four weeks. Smoke expects that by the end of the year, wholesale prices will have fallen 9% from their June peak.

Assuming retail prices follow a similar path, that would support the Fed's argument that higher inflation is being driven by temporary phenomenon like used car prices.

"This is the poster child illustration for transitory" price hikes, Smoke says.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.