Gasoline prices are only slightly below levels set in 2011 and 2012, according to Energy Department statistics. But even a relatively small decline is enough to dent the used car auction prices of hybrid vehicles and the retained value of electric vehicles.
That's the conclusion of the latest Kelley Blue Book Used-Car Market Report for May. As usual, the KBB analysis looks at the prices used car dealerships are paying at auctions to stock their inventories.
Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in an interview there is usually a close correlation between dealer auction prices and the sticker prices buyers will see at used car sales lots.
The average auction price of a used 2010 to 2012 vehicle fell by 2.4% in May, to $17,800, compared to a year earlier, said KBB. But hybrid auction amounts were down more than any other vehicle segment, by 8.9% to $16,800.
That's in spite of the fact that the summer prices for a gallon of regular gasoline are expected to average just six cents a gallon lower than 2012 levels -- at $3.63.
"Even the Prius is down in auction sale value, by 10%," Gutierrez said. "It's because gasoline prices are relatively more affordable, and we really can't discount the fact that" conventionally powered gasoline and diesel cars "have become so much more fuel efficient."
Gutierrez added, "The need for extreme fuel efficiency provided by hybrids is not as compelling a selling point as it once was."
Electric vehicles took a bigger hit than hybrids in another respect, the KBB report said.
On average, used electric vehicles are retaining less than 55% of their original Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), while their hybrid counterparts held on to an average of 74.3% of their MSRP, the report said.
A few segments were doing better than last year in used car auction prices. Among them were used midsize pickup trucks, where the auction prices were up 2.2% "due to an increase in housing starts" and a rebound in the construction business, the report said.
Among brands, Chrysler was seeing a resurgence, the report said.
"Chrysler Group is one of only two manufacturers [the other being Volvo] whose auction values are up on a year-over-year basis," the KBB report said.
The average auction value of $16,750 from Chrysler Group vehicles is $258 higher than last year and more than $1,000 higher than it was in 2011.
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