CoPilot’s Return to Normal Index
April 2023 Report
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: MARCH 2023 DATA
CoPilot’s Return to Normal Index measures the differential between what any used car price would have been today if not for the extraordinary dynamics of the past two years, versus how much it is actually worth now, at retail. As it tracks this differential over time, the Return to Normal Index provides the only real-time barometer of the used car market’s recovery, as well as how close individual vehicle segments, brands, and age brackets are to returning to normal pricing levels.
As of March 31, 2023, CoPilot’s Return to Normal Index found used car prices surged month-over-month by the most in well over a year, both in absolute dollars, and relative to normal market conditions.
Used cars were listed at an average price of $31,492 in March, up $864 (or 3%) since February.
- This marks the second month that used car prices have increased, with prices up by an average of over $1,000 since the start of the year.
- This represents the largest month-over-month increase for used car prices since November 2021.
- With inventory near two-year lows, dealers have been forced to return to wholesale auctions to restock their supply, which has also driven up wholesale prices in early 2023.
- Dealers have then been passing these increased costs onto consumers – who, with tax refund checks in hand, have so far been willing to pay – and used car sales volume has surged in the first quarter of the year (up 11% vs Q4 and up 14% vs Q1 2022).
The average used car now has a Price Premium of $7,966 (or 34%) above projected normal levels – a major reversal in trend.
- This amounts to a staggering $821 (or 11%) increase in Premium from February, when the Premium was $7,145 (or 30%).
- It also represents the largest monthly jump in Premium since November 2021, and follows three months of the Premium hovering around 30%.
For the first time since October 2021, all used vehicle age brackets increased in price month-over-month.
- Price increases were led by nearly-new (1-3 year old cars), which increased in price by more than $1,100 (or 2%) to $41,120
- This also marked the first year-over-year increase after four months of deflation for 1-3 year old cars, and a 9% increase in their Price Premium.
Used SUVs, long the segment closest to returning to normal levels, saw a staggering $1,560 (or 4%) increase in price since February, and a 21% month-over-month increase in Premium.
- They’re now priced $7,856, or 23% above normal levels.
Used Teslas are the brand closest to returning to normal levels, with a Price Premium of $4,087 (or 9%) above projected normal levels. Since July 2022, their Premium has fallen by a massive 83% – and has dropped by 13% (or $737) in the past month alone.
- Used Tesla prices were almost flat month-over-month, lagging the overall market, likely due to downward price pressure from discounts and tax credits offered on new cars.
High-volume domestic brands are priced the highest above normal levels, with an average Price Premium of $8,176 (or 35%) above projected normal. They also saw the largest month-over-month increase compared to foreign or luxury brands, up 12% (or $893) since February. However used Kias commanded the highest Price Premium among volume brands, at 37%.
PRICE PREMIUM BY VEHICLE AGE
In March, nearly-new (1-3 year old cars) were listed at an average price of $41,120 – an increase of more than $1,100 since February, marking the second consecutive monthly price increase.
- The Premium for this age bracket was $11,145 (or 37%) above projected normal levels – an increase of $937 (or 9%) since the previous month.
- 1-3 year old used vehicles are the closest substitute for new cars, which hit yet another record average price of $50,885, up 1.3% since February and an inflation-boosting 7.3% year-over-year.
In March, preowned (4-7 year old cars) had an average listing price of $29,073, amounting to an increase of $353 (or 1%) from the previous month.
- The Price Premium for pre-owned cars was $7,386 (or 34%) above projected normal levels. This represents an 8% increase in Premium since February, when this age bracket was priced $6,788 (or 31%) above projected normal levels.
In March, older (8-13 year old) used cars had an average listing price of $17,544, up by just $74, but increasing month-over-month for the first time in 2023.
- The Price Premium for 8-13 year old cars in March was $4,725 (or 37%) above projected normal levels. This represents an increase of $244 from February, when the Premium for such cars was $4,481 (or 35%).
PRICE PREMIUM BY TYPE OF VEHICLE
SUVs: In March 2023, used SUVs were listed at an average price of $41,980, representing an extraordinary month-over-month increase of 4% (or $1,560). March marks the second month of price increases for used SUVs.
- At $7,856, the Price Premium for used SUVs is now 23% above projected normal levels. This represents a massive 21% increase in Price Premium from February, when used SUVs were priced $6,482 (or 19%) above projected normal levels.
- Though this also follows an 11% jump in Premium in January, used SUVs continue to remain the segment closest to returning to normal levels, and its Premium is still down $3,221 year-over-year.
Minivans: In March 2023, minivans increased in price for the first time since August 2022, now listed at an average price of $23,881. This represents a price increase of $328 (or about 1%) since February.
- The Price Premium for used minivans was $6,559 (or 38%) above projected normal levels. This represents a staggering 17% (or $944) in Premium since February, when the Premium for used minivans was $5,655 (or 32%) above normal levels.
- This also marks the first increase in Premium for used minivans since November 2022.
Pickup Trucks: In March 2023, the average listing price for used pickup trucks was $40,598, up 2% (or $666) since February. This marks the second consecutive month in which used pickup truck prices increased, following a $218 price increase between January and February.
- In March 2023, the Price Premium for used pickup trucks was $9,150, or 29%, above projected normal levels – a 7% (or $597) increase since February.
- Despite this increase, used pickup trucks remain the segment second-closest to returning to normal levels, on a percentage basis.
PRICE PREMIUM BY FUEL TYPE
- In March 2023, used electric vehicles had an average listing price of $46,668 – a decline of 2% (or $813) from the previous month. Used electric vehicles have steadily declined in price since July 2022, when gas prices first started to fall.
Used Teslas prices average $49,382, up $249 since February.
- Despite this slight price increase, used Teslas have the lowest Premium among mainstream brands – currently priced a relatively modest $4,087 (or 9%) above projected normal. In the past month alone, the Price Premium for used Teslas has fallen by 13% (or $737).
- Since the Premium for used Teslas peaked in July 2022 at a gas-price-driven $24,032 (or 53%) above projected normal levels, it has declined by a staggering 83% in the past nine months.
In March 2023, used hybrid vehicles were listed at an average price of $42,413, an increase of 2% (or $844) since February. Following months of steady price declines since gas prices peaked in summer 2022, this represents the second consecutive month in which used hybrid prices have increased.
PRICE PREMIUM BY BRAND
In March 2023, high-volume domestic brands had an average Price Premium of $8,176 (or 35%), above projected normal levels.
- The Premium for domestic brands jumped substantially from February, up by 12% (or $893).
In March, used Fords had the highest Price Premium among domestic brands, listed at $7,303, or 29%, above projected normal levels. They were followed by used Chevrolets, which had a Price Premium of $6,708 or 28%, above projected normal levels.
In March 2023, the Price Premium for high-volume foreign brands averaged $6,216 (or 35%), above projected normal levels.
- This represents a 10% (or $568) increase in Premium since February, and marks the first monthly increase in Premium for foreign brands since August 2022.
- In March, among foreign brands, used Kias commanded the highest Price Premium, listed at $6,027, or 37%, above projected normal levels. They were followed by used Toyotas, which had a Price Premium of $5,963, or 27%, above projected normal levels, and used Volkswagens, whose March Premium was $5,570, or 32%, above normal.
In March 2023, the Price Premium for luxury used car brands averaged $9,362 (or 30%) above projected normal levels.
- This represents a 9% (or $752) increase in Premium since February, and marks the second consecutive monthly increase for luxury brands.
- Used Porsches had the highest absolute Price Premium among luxury brands, listed at $11,411, or 16%, above projected normal levels.
- They were followed by used Genesis and Cadillac, which had Price Premiums of $9,878 (or 29%) and $8,753 (or 30%), respectively.
The Return to Normal Index is drawn from data collected by leading car shopping app CoPilot. CoPilot’s data and proprietary methodology track the online inventory of virtually every dealer in the country, every day, offering real-time analysis of car prices, inventory, and sales. This April 2023 report covers data through March 31, 2023. Data and methodology have been refined in this report, for increased sensitivity to market fluctuations. Data may adjust in future, due to changes in methodology and as additional data sources are integrated.
CoPilot provides free pricing tools for consumers and the media. Price Pulse makes it easy for car shoppers to check the current market value and Price Premium for any car, track price changes, and compare years and models to choose the right car and know when to buy. For car owners and sellers, Price Pulse calculates the real-time value of their car, using the same data only dealers used to have, allowing consumers to track how much their vehicle has appreciated, so they can decide whether and when to sell, or negotiate the best deal at trade-in or lease-end.
For media publishers, CoPilot’s Price Pulse market trends offers free, embeddable data tools, allowing journalists and bloggers to integrate interactive charts and tables within their web content, apps, or newsletters, powered by CoPilot’s unique data and analytics.
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