The Charleston metro area has seen the price of used vehicles rise by a collective 32.5% since last June, the continued result of a global microchip shortage.
The Nissan Sentra, a dependable, mid-size sedan, tops the percent increase rise in that time period, at 45%, according to the website www.iSeeCars.com. A used Sentra now costs an average of $5,713 more than it did a year ago.
Close behind are two large trucks, the Ram 1500 and the GMC Sierra 1500, at 43.2% and 42.1%, respectively. Not surprisingly, because they started out as more expensive vehicles, their dollar value changes are much greater — a $12,485 increase for the Ram and $14,243 for the Sierra.
National figures almost identically mirror iSeeCars’ West Virginia numbers. The website functions as a search engine for anyone looking to buy a car or access data, similar to AutoTrader or Carvana. It makes revenue principally from advertising and generating sales leads for dealers.
“The microchip shortage has brought historic used car price increases, so much so that some lightly used cars are more expensive than new models,” said iSeeCars’ executive analyst Karl Brauer. Brauer said prices are expected to remain elevated for the foreseeable future.
Dutch Miller Kia general sales manager Roger Wood echoed Brauer.
“I just don’t see, with everything that has to be replenished and stocks to be brought back to normal, I don’t see a change before next summer,” Wood said.
It’s also a good time to trade.
What new car buyer hasn’t made a bad deal or two and been left “upside down,” meaning you owe more on your current car than the dealer is willing to give? That debt is then folded into your next loan. In the past, that conundrum could only be solved by paying off the old vehicle and starting over.
Now it may be possible to get right side up. The rub? The huge used car price increases may render the attractive trade less attractive. Wood indicated dealers are still going to get what they can from sellable stock, considering the climate.
“The only thing you have to look at, when you sell a car, you have to ask, ‘When am I going to get one to replace that one in our inventory?’” he asked. “So you have to make the most out of the piece of merchandise.”