| Home

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Used car prices expected to rise because of Sandy's destruction

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 5:36 p.m.

Expect used car prices to rise nationally because of Hurricane Sandy.

The storm destroyed about 250,000 used vehicles on the East Coast, and maybe more, according to estimates by the National Automobile Dealers Association.

That puts pressure on what is a tight supply of good-condition, late-model used cars and could push prices for such vehicles up by 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent in December, said Jonathan Banks, an analyst with NADA.

The dealer group said that amounts to a little more than $50 to $175 for the average used vehicle.

Auto information company projects a higher estimate, saying that used car prices will climb $700 to $1,000 “in the short term.”

While this will be felt most keenly on the East Coast, the rest of the nation is not immune, Banks said.

“We have seen a trend for dealers, regardless of where they are located, buying inventory online — and that means that geography is not as important as in the past,” he said. “It used to be that dealers would buy cars from a physical auction near their dealership.”

Pulling such a huge number of vehicles out of the U.S. fleet will have an impact at the national level, Banks said.

The problem is compounded by at least tens of thousands of new cars that were destroyed at dealerships and in storage yards in the New York and New Jersey areas hit hardest by the storm.

“Many dealers lost a significant amount of inventory. One Honda dealer told me he lost 600 new units,” Banks said.

Fisker Automotive, the Anaheim, Calif., maker of $100,000 plug-in hybrid sports cars, said it lost 30 vehicles with a retail value of $30 million in a port storage facility in New Jersey. A spokesman said the cars were insured and the company won't suffer a financial loss.

Toyota has said it might have lost as many as 4,500 new Toyota, Scion and Lexus vehicles to flooding and storm damage.

All of this is going to create problems for consumers in the region who need to replace their rides quickly.

“Prices could really shoot up for consumers buying cars right away, because they will run into a severe inventory shortage,” Banks said.

The dealers group believes that some replacement buying will start this month but will pick up in December and run through February.

It takes time for people to collect payments from insurance companies and go shopping for a replacement car.

The buying, however, should provide a boost for the economy, said chief economist Lacey Plache.

“Even if 100,000 damaged vehicles are replaced by the end of the year, it could boost auto sales 3 percent to 4 percent for the quarter, and that has a positive effect on the economy overall,” Plache said. estimates that 20 percent of new car sales in the United States come from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region that was affected by the storm.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Fans out in force to rally for beloved Bucs
  2. Road crews are dealing with oil and sealant spills on roadways
  3. Wolf still seeking to raise income tax, impose tax on shale-gas drilling
  4. Penguins rally in wake of Dupuis injury
  5. New Steelers kicker Boswell ready for challenge at Heinz
  6. Steelers’ Bryant returns from drug suspension, ‘won’t happen again’
  7. Starkey: Searage, Pirates ultra-confident
  8. WVU coach Holgorsen expects QB Howard to bounce back
  9. Scaife estate overpaid state taxes by $10M, return filed Monday states
  10. Steelers notebook: Shazier practices, hopes to play Monday at Chargers
  11. LaBar: WWE should move Daniel Bryan to part-time