Second-hand SUVs find a niche

May 8, 2012 at 1:19 PM
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DETROIT, May 8 (UPI) -- The second hand market for sport utility vehicles in the United States is holding up, despite high prices at the pump, industry analysts say.

Retail prices for 5-year-old SUVs have risen 23 percent in the past year, said, an online information hub for the industry.

That's well above the average 11 percent rise in the prices of 5-year-old vehicles, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Kelley Blue Book, which also monitors used cars, said large SUVs now make up 4.5 percent of the used car market, a jump from 3.8 percent in 2008.

Part of the recovery in the used SUV market defines a cycle of supply and demand.

In 2008, when gas prices topped $4 per gallon, large vehicles were shunned. The following year, the federal government began a "cash-for-clunkers" program that took hundreds of thousands of gas-guzzlers out of circulation.

In addition, during the recent economic downturn, new car sales slumped overall. That means, there are fewer used SUVs in the two- to three-year-old range than would normally be on the market.

With supplies depleted by circumstance, prices have risen.

Now there is anecdotal evidence that defines the market as playing into the needs of an evolving customer base.

For example, many owners of SUVs are turning them in, tired of paying high gas prices.

Many prior-SUV owners are thrilled at the savings they find at the gas pump, as they replaced their guzzlers with new, fuel efficient models.

In return, many families with growing children are in need of larger cars. Many of them are thrilled to eliminate monthly car payments by buying a used car.

"I'm not in the school of thought that says I should go get a newer, smaller, fuel-efficient car, where I'm saving pennies per gallon but I'm carrying a $450-a-month car payment," said Skip Geniapp, who has a wife and four children to tote around.

"The price of gas doesn't affect me that much if I don't have a car payment," he said.

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