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SUV Market Bottomed? Nope!

Friday, 29 Aug 2008 | 10:13 AM ET
AP

There's an interesting theory people are throwing out (even CNBC anchors) when it comes to the SUV market. It goes like this: now is the best time to buy an SUV because the used market has bottomed out and prices will soon start going up.

The more I've heard this, the more I've talked with dealers. And you know what their reaction is? A good laugh.

They're chuckling because they know the SUV market remains as sick as a dog. And it's barely showing signs of recovering.

Last month, used mid-size wholesale prices dropped 16.7 percent and used large SUV wholesale prices fell 24.4 percent according to ADESA.

ADESA knows, because it runs scores of used-vehicle auctions around the country where dealers buy and sell used cars, trucks, and SUVs. These are auctions the public doesn't see. If you did see them, you'd realize how depressed the SUV market remains.

So where is the idea about this being the time to buy an SUV coming from?

First, prices on these models are incredibly low, compared to where they've been. That's true. Second, there are reporters, talk show hosts, and columnists who are saying, "Well, the dealer in my area says there's never been a better time to buy an SUV."

When has a dealer ever said it's a BAD time to buy any type of vehicle?

Dealers are salesmen. Gas could be at $8 a gallon and there would still be dealers telling people, "Forget about the price of gas, there's never been a better time to buy an SUV."

Don't get me wrong. If you need or want an SUV right now, you WILL get a great deal. But be forewarned, used SUV prices continue to drop, and where they settle remains to be seen. At some point, there will be a bottom in the SUV market. It's just not happening yet.

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Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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