These Used Cars Increased the Most in Q1 2021

The Economic Rebound, Chip Shortage is Leading to Demand for Used Cars

Is the US Economy Rebounding?

In the first quarter of 2021, nearly 50% of the US adult population received at least one vaccination shot. This led to a drop in Covid-19 cases and the economic rebound seemed to get off the ground with a drop in the unemployment rate.

While no segment has fully recovered, there is a disparity in the unemployment rate. Mostly minorities and people with less than a Bachelor's degree are getting employed at a slower rate.

Subprime loans are generally given to lower credit-rated consumers, where they are charged a higher interest rate due to the higher risk the lenders take. Companies like Santander, who have a strong relationship with Stellantis (previously Fiat Chrysler), have experienced rapid growth in their automotive loan business. As a reference, in Q1 2021, they signed Nissan as their subprime lender for used car loans.

This indicates that the K-shaped recovery is creating two segments of used car buyers - the regular borrowers and subprime borrowers. This is causing increased demand for both new and used cars. With the chip shortage for new vehicles, OEMs are shutting down plants which is causing a secondary impact on used car values.

What is the Chip Shortage?

Due to Covid-19, OEMs limited their supply of chips in early 2020 which is now being felt as supplies are running low for certain microchips used in the auto industry. It is estimated that 1.3m+ cars will not be built in 2021 due to the shortage. Some of the OEMs that are impacted are listed below.

Ford Motor Corp

Ford has shut down production for the following plants due to the chip shortage as of Q1 2021.

  • Ford Escape
  • Lincoln Crosair
  • Ford F-150 (1 week)
  • Ford Transit Van (1 week)

Chrysler / Stellantis

Chrysler is the smallest of the US Big 3 and they have indicated that they are shutting down production due to the chip shortage of the following vehicles as of Q1 2021.

  • Jeep Compass
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Ram 1500
  • Chrysler Charger
  • Dodge Challenger
  • Chrysler 300
  • Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid minivans

General Motors (GM)

GM idled plants that produce pickup trucks, sedans, and SUVs. Some of the vehicles are listed below.

  • Chevrolet Malibu sedan
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Chevrolet Equinox SUV
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Chevrolet Trax
  • Chevrolet Colorado pickup
  • GMC Canyon pickup
  • Cadillac CT4
  • Cadillac CT5
  • Cadillac XT4 SUV

Nissan

Nissan has limited the production of the following models in Q1 2021. This is not an exhaustive list, but gives an idea of the impact of the shortage of vehicles being produced.

  • Nissan Murano
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Nissan Altima
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Nissan NV Van

Economy Used Cars Appreciation in Q1 2021

Top Appreciated Economy Models

So far in Q1 2021, there has been unprecedented growth in used car valuations. The cars that generally have a fast depreciation model are now increasing in value. On average, the wholesale used car prices are up 3% this year and average retail prices are up about 1.05%. Some of the outliers are listed below. The economy models have fared better than used luxury cars in appreciation, and below is a snapshot of the top appreciating cars of Q1 2021.

Q1 2021 Used Car Price Change

Fiat

Used Fiats have increased in value between 3% - 12% with older models increasing the most in value. The 2016 Fiat 500L increase 12% since the start of the year. On average, a Fiat vehicle increased in value 7% in Q1 2021.

Year with Most Appreciation: 2015

Year with Least Appreciation: 2020

Chrysler

Chrysler generally has the greatest depreciation of the US Big 3 and due to this, their rebound has been larger than the others. Like Fiat, Chrysler is part of Stellantis, and have had a strong 2021 in the used car market.

Chrysler's minivan, the Town & Country has seen an uptick in demand which has resulted in an average increase in price since the start of the year of 7%. Again, like Fiat, the older model vehicles have increased the most.

Year with Most Appreciation: 2015

Year with Least Appreciation: 2020

Chevrolet

Chevrolet, the biggest of the US Big 3 has seen big increases as well. On average, they have seen a 3.7% increase in used car pricing at the retail level. The big Trax (which has seen production shutdowns in 2021) and the Express 2500 have both seen an average increase of 6% since the start of the year. Unlike Fiat, Chrysler, the newer model years are appreciating more, indicating that the buyers may not necessarily be subprime borrowers.

Year with Most Appreciation: 2020

Year with Least Appreciation: 2017

Ford

Used Ford vehicles on average have increased in 3.3% in Q1, with the Ford Transit vans increasing 6% as well as Ford F-450 increasing almost 7%. These vehicles are primarily fleet/industry related models which are in demand due to the economic rebound as well as the chip shortage.

On the other hand, the Ford C-Max has increased by only 0.5%. This is partially due to the shift to electric cars and the C-Max Hybrid dropping in value.

Year with Most Appreciation: 2020

Year with Least Appreciation: 2015

Luxury Used Cars Appreciation in Q1 2021

Unlike the economy models, the luxury brands depreciated in 2021. Their depreciation was less than what would be expected in a normal economy, but it still indicates that the K-shaped recovery is causing consumers who purchase luxury cars to buy new vehicles over used.

On average, a luxury used vehicle depreciated -0.5% in value in Q1 2021. Mini was the worst brand dropping on average 2.2%, followed by BMW (-1.5%), and Lexus (-1.2%).

Where Does The Used Car Market Go in Q2

The Keemut Models Prediction

We are anticipating rising prices of used cars, specifically EVs, and the subprime market vehicles. With productions slow downs and increased demand for subprime and economy cars, JEEP seems to be showing signs of increasing in Q2 2021. We will update this at the end of Q2 to see how our models' predictions hold up.