Used car prices will stay silly as long as there's a shortage of new cars, and that'll hold up as long as there's still a chip shortage. This also means that some recent new car buyers can potentially cash in their late models for thousands of dollars more than they paid for them—in one case even tens of thousands of dollars more—according to a recent study of used car sales by iSeeCars.
Pulling data from 1.5 million used vehicle sales in January, iSeeCars observed lightly used late-model cars selling for an average of 1.3 percent more than what they sold for new, with the trend predictably favoring models whose demand outstripped supply by the greatest margins.
At the very top by a huge margin is the Mercedes-Benz G-class, or G-Wagen, lightly used examples of which are selling for 35.6 percent more than when new, for a premium averaging $62,705. (This makes sense, seeing we learned that their production stopped last year.) With Mercedes full up on G-Wagen orders until 2025, according to Motor Biscuit, buyers must either wait years for their SUVs or pay a premium now. But to most G-Wagen buyers, what is money but something to be seen spending?
You can see more of iSeeCars' findings below.
In an unsurprising second place is the Chevrolet Corvette, whose demand towers over supply, and did so even before COVID disrupted its manufacture. It's the only car aside from the G-Wagen to command a five-figure average markup and represents one of three Chevys and four General Motors products on the list (making GM the most-represented carmaker here). Behind it is Toyota, whose Sienna and Tacoma represent the only minivan and pickup truck on the list, fitting with Toyota's reputation for holding resale value.
The intertwined Hyundai and Kia have three combined entries as well, one of which is the bestselling Telluride, while the others are strangely their subcompact sedans—the Accent and Rio respectively are selling for $2,000 more than they were worth on the dealer's lot. Only one EV is present on the list—the Tesla Model 3 in third place—but it's a tenuous third, as the study lacked data on individual new car values and was unclear in explaining its methodology for how it determined year-over-year appreciation. It reported, "Tesla Model 3 average new car price estimated by applying used car trim distribution to pre-rebate new car MSRP as of March 2021."
iSeeCars looked at the opposite end of the market, too, and determined the 15 cars with the most depreciation over the same period. Strangely, at the top of the list is the Ford Mustang, losing on average almost a fifth its value in the first year; the highest margin of any car. Following it is the traditional BMW 7 Series depreciation king, which loses a smaller margin of its value but more than double the total dollar amount, at $19,206 to the Mustang's $9,519.
The rest of the bottom 15 are pretty predictable, being made up of eight SUVs, six luxury vehicles, and five Nissans (plus one from allied Mitsubishi).
Nissan cars showed up the most often by far on the list. This suggests that while Nissan is rapidly improving
its products, it hasn't yet influenced the market's distaste for its cars yet. As soon as chip supply stops being a production constraint, the cars' values could plunge even further. Still, one man's trash is another man's treasure, and I can think of worse cars to be seen in than a used Leaf.
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