Wholesale used-vehicle prices maintained their growth pattern in March, as dealers continue to bid aggressively for available units needed to meet solid retail demand in the midst of tight supplies, wrote ADESA's Tom Kontos in his March 2010 Kontos Kommentary column.

Stronger new vehicle sales recorded in March - both retail sales to consumers and fleet sales to rental companies and corporations - bode well for near term and longer term used vehicle supply in the form of trade-ins and off-rental/fleet units, he wrote. In the meantime, institutional and dealer consignors can capitalize on strong selling prices in-lane and online at auction.

According to ADESA Analytical Services' monthly analysis of Wholesale Used Vehicle Prices by Vehicle Model Class, wholesale used vehicle prices in March averaged $10,549 - a 4 percent increase from February and a 6.8 percent increase from prior year. The rising tide has been lifting virtually all ships; most model class segments have been moving in tandem with the market regardless of size or configuration.

Prices were up for all seller types. Manufacturers registered a 4.2 percent month-over-month price increase and a 13.5 percent year-over-year rise; fleet/lease consignors experienced a 5.4 percent sequential price increase and an 11.9 percent annual increase. Dealers saw a 7.7 percent average price increase versus February and a 14.2 percent uptick versus March 2009.

ADESA Analytical Services estimates that auction industry inventory levels stood at 31 days at month-end compared to 44 days last March - an indication of tight supply and high auction throughput.

Based on data from CNW Marketing/Research, retail used vehicle sales in March were up 3.5 percent year-over-year for franchised dealers, 18.7 percent for independent dealers and 10.5 percent overall. The consumer price index for used vehicles rose by 14.1 percent year-over-year in February (latest available) based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.