Used car sales set US record in 2021, says Cox Automotive

The number of used vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2021 hit a record high, according to Cox Automotive, buoyed by a robust spring sales season that analysts say won’t be easily repeated.

Cox Automotive estimated that total used vehicle sales for 2021 were 40.9 million, an increase of about 10 percent compared to 2020. Of those, an estimated 22.2 million were retail sales — vehicles sold to consumers by dealers and other retailers such as Carvana . That was also a record, Cox said, and reflected an increase of nearly 13 percent year-over-year.

But the records will probably stop there, at least for a while.

The used car market is set to remain strong in the spring of 2022, but it will “have a hard time seeing any change in volumes” compared to last spring’s record levels, Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said last week.

cox Automotive, in a preliminary forecast, said it forecasts volume to reach 39.3 million total used vehicle sales and 22.1 million retail used vehicle sales by 2022.

If the forecast is correct, those numbers will come in below 2021 volume but still slightly ahead of total used vehicle sales in 2020 of 37.3 million and used vehicle retail sales of 19.8 million.

Analysts at Cox Automotive said they expected used volume to decline more in subsequent years, as new vehicle production in 2020, 2021 and 2022 will reduce the number of vehicles available for the used market.

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