The automotive industry has been experiencing a tumultuous period in recent years, and one significant contributor to the chaos is the impact of auto leasing on the used car market. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the intricacies of this issue and explore how it has created a ripple effect, affecting both dealers and consumers alike.
The Challenge of Used Car Sourcing
One of the core challenges faced by car dealers, whether dealing in new or used vehicles, is the acquisition of inventory. While new cars can be easily obtained from manufacturers, the same cannot be said for used cars. Unlike a new Ford, for instance, which can be ordered directly from the factory, there’s no such streamlined process for used cars.
Used cars primarily come from two sources for dealers: trade-ins and auctions. Trade-ins occur when customers exchange their old vehicles for new ones, providing a limited supply of used cars. However, not all trade-ins are suitable for a dealer’s lot, leading to further constraints on available inventory.
The Role of Auto Auctions
To bridge the gap, dealers turn to auto auctions, with Manheim being one of the prominent players. These auctions source cars from two main channels: rental car companies and off-lease vehicles.
Rental cars, utilized by companies like Hertz and Enterprise, are typically sold at auctions after a certain period of use. The other significant source is off-lease cars, a product of the declining popularity of leasing.
The Decline of Auto Leasing
In the past, a considerable portion of new car acquisitions involved leasing. However, the landscape has shifted, and people are now opting for alternatives such as financing or buying outright. This shift has led to a drastic reduction in the number of off-lease vehicles entering the market.
Quality Disparities: Off-Lease vs. Rental Cars
Off-lease cars, being vehicles that were previously leased for a fixed term, often offer better quality compared to rental cars. A leased car is typically maintained well, given the lessee’s vested interest in keeping the vehicle in good condition. On the other hand, rental cars, subjected to the whims of numerous drivers, may not receive the same level of care.
Impact on Inventory and Prices
The scarcity of off-lease cars has disrupted the balance of used car inventory. Dealers now face challenges in securing high-quality, desirable used cars for their lots. This scarcity, in turn, has led to an increase in prices, particularly for off-lease vehicles that are considered a rarity in the current market.
The Domino Effect on Buyers
This imbalance in the used car market doesn’t just affect dealers; it also has implications for buyers. The reduction in the availability of quality used cars means that consumers may find themselves with fewer alternatives, potentially pushing them towards new car purchases.
Navigating the Turbulent Used Car Market
The shift in consumer preferences away from auto leasing has created a ripple effect throughout the automotive industry. Dealers are grappling with challenges in sourcing quality used cars, and buyers are facing a more constrained market. As we navigate these changes, it remains to be seen how the industry will adapt to this new reality and whether the equilibrium between supply and demand in the used car market will be restored.