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Smoke on Cars

Cox Automotive Auto Market Report: May 29th


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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 and leading indicators from Cox Automotive’s extensive data ecosystem.

Download this week’s presentation

Key Highlights from the Report:

Consumer Spending and Sentiment

  • Stable Spending in April: Consumer spending remained stable in April, with notable growth observed in the services and entertainment sectors.
  • Year-Over-Year Changes: The year-over-year change in total spending has shown limited growth, with some fluctuations detailed in the trailing 52-week data.
  • Volatile Consumer Sentiment: Morning Consult’s Index of Consumer Sentiment increased last week. Sentiment declined 1.6% in April, was up 0.6% week over week but is down 1.9% so far in May. This instability is juxtaposed with trends in the average price of unleaded gasoline. The average unleaded gas price, according to AAA, increased 0.1% week over week to $3.59 per gallon as of May 26, which was unchanged year over year.


  • Continuing Claims: National continuing claims for unemployment benefits stood at 1.79 million on May 11, higher than last year and slightly higher than before the pandemic. However, we have 6 million more jobs. Consequently, unemployment stress remains limited.

Vehicle Sales Estimates

  • New Retail Sales: Estimated sales figures for new vehicles were flat over the latest week after rising for the two weeks prior but showed a 5% increase year over year, according to a Cox Automotive analysis of vAuto Live Market View data.
  • Used Retail Sales: Used vehicle sales rose by 1% week over week, the third weekly increase, and are up 8% year over year.

Financing Trends

  • Low APR Financing: The market continues to experience some low APR financing options, but they have subsided from recent share highs. Manufacturers are not offering many low-rate loans, but some lucky consumers can find some to make it worth buying ahead of expected rate declines later this year.
  • Higher Average Auto Loan Rates: Against expectations auto loan rates have moved higher in 2024, but we may have seen the peak in rates. In May, the average rate for used auto loans declined to 13.96%, while the average rate for new auto loans remained relatively unchanged at 9.71%.

Supply Insights

  • New-Vehicle Supply: The supply of new vehicles was 76 days, or 23 days higher year over year and increased by 1% week over week.
  • Used-Vehicle Supply: The supply of used vehicles was 45 days, a 3% decrease year over year and down 2% compared to the previous week.
  • Wholesale Supply: The supply of wholesale vehicles measured by Manheim increased slightly over the last week to 25.2 days as inventory growth outpaced sales growth for the week. Measured in days’ supply, wholesale inventory is down one day compared to 2019 levels.

Price Trends

  • Declining Used-Vehicle Prices: The average wholesale price for model year 2021 vehicles declined by 0.6%, and the retail price dropped by 0.4% for the week.
  • Retail and Wholesale Prices: The price indices for three-year-old retail and wholesale vehicles have been trending downward.

Leading Indicators from Cox Automotive

  • Leads: Year-over-year leads increased on Autotrader but decreased on Kelley Blue Book. Compared to April, Autotrader leads were down, while Kelley Blue Book leads were up.
  • Unique Leads per Dealer: The number of unique leads per dealer for new and used vehicles declined year over year. However, new leads showed an uptick compared to April on Dealer. com-hosted websites.
  • Credit Applications: Unique credit applications per dealer on Dealertrack increased by 5% year over year last week.
  • Service Trends: Service trends improved on Xtime compared to the previous year, although completed appointments were down by 3% 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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