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AUCTION sales recorded by Manheim Australia are up by 40 per cent in the first four months of 2024 compared with the same period in 2023, pushing the wholesale market towards pre-COVID volumes and reversing declines in average transaction prices.

Manheim, which sources physical and digital public auction stock from fleet management companies, government and private sector fleets, and dealerships on-selling trade-ins, also noted that the volume in April was a massive 85.2 per cent over the corresponding month last year. This puts it in the top three sales months since 2020. 

Prices have stabilised and even trended slightly up, having fallen consistently across 2023 from COVID-era highs. 

The Manheim Price Index ended April at 142, denoting an average 42 per cent wholesale price increase per vehicle since the baseline of December 2019, including inflation. This is an increase of 3.0 per cent since the start of 2024. 

However, average auction sales prices are still more than 15 per cent lower now than at the market’s peak of 167.1 in mid-2022 when vehicle shortages were driving wholesale prices to all-time highs. 

In the segments, SUVs had a 34.5 per cent share of wholesale volumes to the end of April YTD, traditional passenger vehicles (sedans, hatchbacks, wagons, people-movers, two-doors) owned 33.1 per cent  share, and light commercials 32.3 per cent. 

EVs and PHEVs had just 0.1 per cent wholesale volume market share.

Manheim reported that this was unsurprising given the vast majority of EVs sold so far remain with their first owner, whether fleet or private. 

“This figure will start to change quickly from 2025 onwards, and Manheim is well-positioned when it comes to EV readiness,” the company said.

Top sellers at auction in the four months of 2024 are the Ford Ranger (up 19.9 per cent), Isuzu D-Max (up 79.5 per cent), Toyota  Camry (up 49.3 per cent), Toyota Corolla (up 74.4 per cent), and Mitsubishi Triton (up 48.8 per cent).

“While overall prices are 42 per cent higher than December 2019 across the wider Manheim wholesale market, there are significant discrepancies in sale prices depending on vehicle type and vehicle age,” Manheim’s report said.

“Passenger vehicles are holding inflated prices longer than SUVs and light commercials, down in large part to a lack of supply driven by their declining share of the new vehicle market – which invariably  knocks onto the second-hand market. 

“So too are older vehicles retaining higher Price Indexes than younger models, reflective of consumer  demand for older and more affordable transport considering current household budget pressures such as  higher interest rates and persistent inflation.” 

Manheim Australia managing director Murray Naismith said his company had seen an uptick in volume at its auctions in 2024, with increasing foot traffic at its east-coast physical auctions and strong performances from its OEM and clearance vehicles.

Murray Naismith

Aside from sourcing stock mainly from fleet management companies, government and private sector fleets, and dealerships, Manheim is expanding the scope and scale of its closed, dealer-only auctions which sell low-kilometre ex-company vehicles. 

Manheim works with about half of Australia’s car brands and has recently signed new partners including Chery, Australia’s fastest growing automotive OEM and has significant new-model activity slated for 2024 and 2025.

The Chery partnership means Manheim now powers Chery’s dealer-only, ex-company vehicle auctions,  which are a source of quality late-model stock for its franchise network. Chery is the fastest growing carmaker in Australia, with significant new model activity slated for 2024 and 2025. 

It has also started hosting WA online auctions with WA cars, from May 13. These fortnightly events demonstrate Manheim’s focus on a crucial region.

By Neil Dowling

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