Large pickups and mid-size SUVs, especially those vehicles with all-wheel drive, sold particularly well in December and January in Colorado and Idaho, as a mild winter didn't affect Colorado, while heavy snow and ice muted auction activity in Idaho.
Sales of mid-size SUVs that fell within the $9,000 to $15,000 price range sold particularly well at Dealers Auto Auction of the Rockies and were the strongest category, said Michele Noblitt, executive vice president. Trucks also sold significantly better than cars.
"Trucks and SUVs will always sell better than cars in November and December," Noblitt said. "We did have a mild November with little to no snow. November this year may have been a bit slower than last."
The auction had all six lanes active that included an extra lane than a year ago that the auction added in October. For the full year, the auction was up 4% in sales over 2015. We saw an increase in sales of 21% in December compared to December of 2015.
"We are dead on even this year versus last year," Noblitt said. "Dealer sales are off a little, but our institutional business is up 37% over last year. The lease return market will not impact us."
Meanwhile, Idaho experienced its heaviest snowfall since the 1980s, which created challenges but increased overall sales due to increased demand for large pickups and vehicles with all-wheel drive at Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho, said Britney Smith-Egbert, the auction's business manager.
"Because of the historic amounts of snow, it has definitely put some challenges on all of our staff to get vehicles across the block, especially two-wheel-drive units, but they have been working very hard every week to make sure the auction continues," said Smith-Egbert. "However, the snow has really helped boost prices and demand for 4x4 and AWD vehicles."
Strong sellers in December included General Motors' Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, including 6.6L Duramax LBZ from the 2006 and 2007 model years, late-model Ford F-150 pickups, and "basically anything diesel," Smith-Egbert said.
The auction had three active lanes in November and December and increased sales from the same months in 2015. In December, the auction saw a 5% increase in sold units. For the full year, the auction sold 24% more units.
Dealers Auto Auction of Idaho hosts a monthly Government Services Administration (GSA) auction of about 230 federal fleet vehicles. The auction has also seen an increase in pickups crossing the Canadian border from fleet leasing companies using third-party remarketing firms or direct sales. Those vehicles must clear an import exchange, where they wait for 30 days, while their instrument clusters are changed to show miles instead of kilometers and open recalls are addressed.
Looking ahead, Dealers Auto Auction of the Rockies expects a strong tax season at the auction.
"We are looking forward to more of a tax season this year than what we have seen in the past few years," Noblitt said. "Our Buy Here Pay Here dealers will benefit the most from that."
Editor's note: This is part of an ongoing series that goes beyond the numbers to provide a snapshot of market conditions in the vehicle remarketing industry in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountain and Pacific regions. The Rocky Mountain region includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.