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Smoke on Cars

Cox Automotive Auto Market Report: May 14th


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Cox Automotive’s Auto Market Report video delivers a comprehensive analysis of the current automotive market. Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke leads our effort to translate data and trends into actionable insights. This report covers a wide range of topics, including consumer spending patterns, consumer sentiment, retail vehicle sales, financing rates, supply dynamics, pricing trends, tax refund impacts, and leading indicators from Cox Automotive’s extensive data ecosystem.

Download this week’s presentation

Key Highlights from the Report:

Consumer Spending and Sentiment:

  • There has been a notable reacceleration in consumer spending this year, primarily driven by services and travel sectors, whereas goods and retail sectors showed weakness.
  • The Index of Consumer Sentiment from Morning Consult experienced a slight decline, dropping by 1.6% in April and further by 0.4% in May, indicating volatile consumer confidence levels.

Vehicle Sales Estimates:

  • Retail vehicle sales are on an uptrend, with new-vehicle sales up by 2% in the latest week and a 5% year-over-year increase. Similarly, used-vehicle sales have seen a 2% week-over-week increase and a 7% rise compared to the previous year.

Financing Trends:

  • The report highlights a dichotomy in financing rates where the average used auto loan rate has decreased to 13.98%, whereas the rates for new vehicles are slightly higher at 9.86%.

Supply and Demand:

  • Supply dynamics show a year-over-year increase in new-vehicle supply by 23 days, though there was a 3% week-over-week decrease. Used-vehicle supply saw a minor decrease both year over year and week over week.

Pricing Trends:

  • An important trend noted is the decrease in used-vehicle prices, with the average wholesale price for MY 2021 vehicles declining by 0.6% last week and retail prices also seeing a slight drop.

Tax Refund Season:

  • Despite a slower start to the tax refund season, total refunds issued are up by 1% compared to 2023, with the average refund amount increasing by 3%.

Leading Indicators:

  • The report provides insights into lead generation and service trends, noting variations across different platforms and services, including Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Dealer.com, Dealertrack, and Xtime. Overall, leads and unique credit applications per dealer showed mixed trends, while service appointments were down by 4% year over year.
Jonathan Smoke
Chief Economist

Jonathan Smoke leads Cox Automotive’s economic and industry insights team, which tracks key metrics and trends impacting both the wholesale and retail markets for vehicles informed by the proprietary data from the company’s businesses and platforms. For 28 years, Smoke has focused on translating data and trends into relevant actionable insights for the industries that represent the biggest purchases that consumers make in their lifetimes: real estate and automotive. Smoke joined Cox Automotive in 2017.

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