ATLANTA — Sales of used vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2021 hit an all-time high, according to Cox Automotive Inc., bolstered by a robust spring selling season that analysts say may not be easily repeated.
Atlanta-based Cox Automotive estimated that 40.9 million used vehicles were sold in 2021, a 10% jump over 2020. Of those, an estimated 22.2 million were retail sales — vehicles sold to consumers by dealerships and other retailers. That also was an all-time record, Cox said, and reflected an increase of nearly 13% year over year.
But the records likely will stop there, at least for a while.
The used-car market will remain strong in spring 2022, but it will "struggle to see any change in volumes" compared with the record amounts last spring, Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said last week.
Cox Automotive, in a preliminary forecast, said 2022 used-car volume should come in at 39.3 million total and 22.1 million at retail.
If that forecast holds, those numbers will fall shy of 2021 volume but still register slightly higher than 2020's total used-vehicle sales of 37.3 million and used-vehicle retail sales of 19.8 million.
Cox Automotive analysts said they expect used volume to soften more in subsequent years as reduced new-vehicle production in 2020, 2021 and 2022 cuts down the number of vehicles available for the used market.