ATLANTA – Despite a decline in retail used-vehicle sales volume in 2006, activity in the wholesale market was at its strongest level in years, said Tom Webb, Manheim chief economist as he unveiled Manheim’s 2007 Used-Car Market Report (UCMR).

After two years of decline, the number of vehicles wholesaled at U.S. auto auctions increased 1.8 percent to 9.57 million in 2006. Also increasing were average wholesale prices (up 1.6 percent) and dealer attendance at auction, which reached record levels.

The UCMR includes comprehensive analyses of all aspects of the remarketing industry, including an in-depth look at the leasing, rental, fleet, and repossession sectors. New this year is a section on international remarketing and a look at new and enhanced Manheim products and services in a section titled “Innovations and Introductions,” which includes salvage industry analysis, according to Manheim.

Also new in this year’s report are two-page profiles of five independent and franchised dealers from across the country, providing a snapshot of how dealers manage their businesses in order to remain profitable in today’s marketplace. New features titled “Finding The Cars You Need” and “Finding The Right Buyers For Your Cars” will provide insights into dealer buying behavior.

The UCMR features Q&As with National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) dealer heads, highlighting the challenges both groups of dealers face and how they address those issues.

Among the key statistics cited in the 110-page UCMR:

  • Used vehicles continue to be a critical source of profit for franchised dealers. In 2006, the net profit per used vehicle was $230, while new vehicles recorded a net profit of minus-$14 per vehicle.

  • New lease originations increased for the third consecutive year to 2.8 million. Meanwhile, off-lease volumes bottomed out and are now set to begin rising modestly.

  • Domestic manufacturers reduced program vehicle sales and raised prices of these vehicles to car rental companies, which in turn, transitioned their fleet composition to a higher percentage of risk vehicles.

  • Wholesale prices for commercial fleet vehicles and light trucks sold at auction rose by more than 5 percent.

  • Number of vehicles repossessed rose by 5 percent after declining in both 2004 and 2005.

    Manheim President and CEO Dean Eisner (left) addresses the media at Manheim's NADA press conference in Las Vegas. Eisner was joined by (L-R): President Jim McKnight, Manheim Consulting Vice President Lynn Morgan, and Manheim Chief Economist Tom Webb.