cars us flags
Export cars from the U.S.

White Paper: Market Report for New and Used Cars in the US

By Mike Richards Updated: 08/17/2022 Posted: 10/27/2015

Market Report for New and Used Cars in the US

The fundamental strategy of buying a vehicle in the United States and selling it abroad is no different from the strategy used for investing in the stock market. In the stock market, one attempts to buy low and sell high. Similarly investing in a vehicle for export follows the same consideration.

A buyer purchasing an investment vehicle in the United States should try to find a vehicle that will be in demand in a foreign market and purchase this vehicle at a price that allows for an acceptable profit margin after shipping and other related export costs are considered.

Finding a vehicle that meets these criteria is not simply a matter of cracking open an auction sheet and randomly picking a vehicle that may be popular in the United States or may have the chance of being sold at a bargain price.

Rather, it is a matter of finding the best bargain in the United States that will also be in demand in a target market.

In effect, this process is a balancing act where the best bargain (selling price in light of United States market value) stateside may not always be the best option. For example, an exporter may purchase a car at auction for $10,000 under retail book value, and yet not have a target market in mind in which to sell this bargain vehicle.

Firstly, buying without a target market for purchase will result in a delay once the car is purchased since the exporter will now have to decide which market to sell the car in and then sort out all of the logistics. The problem is that there may not be a market for this vehicle that justifies the cost. Therefore, the exporter may be stuck with a car while trying to find a market for it. Therefore, an appropriate strategy, in this case, would involve finding markets that show promise and then basing the stateside buying strategy on what is in demand overseas.

There is one limited exception to the approach of finding a market and then buying based on this information. This strategy would involve generating demand for a vehicle in an overseas market through a marketing campaign or lining up purchasers who place orders with you, effectively directing the exporter to find certain vehicles.


Export Strategies

The decision-making process involving what car to buy in the US market can take on two main strategies. The first is framed in terms of demand in overseas markets. Under this strategy, the exporter would look at data on demand in foreign markets. Therefore, if a particular vehicle is in demand in a foreign market the exporter would try to find this vehicle for sale in the US.

A second strategy involves taking what is available in the US wholesale market and then aligning an export strategy based on these particular vehicles. For example, an exporter is able to get a bargain on nearly new GM products. Based on the availability of GM vehicles, the exporter would then search out markets in which GM vehicles are in high demand.


Basing Your Purchasing Strategy Based on Demand in Overseas Markets

Using the “export market first strategy”, the first order of business is to find an export market and then tailor the purchasing strategy based on this information. The first order of business is to look at the top markets for new and used cars and then base stateside purchasing on this demand. The following case study provides an example of what this process would look like in real life.  


Case Study: Canada

In this case study, the assumption is made that logistically exporting to Canada is an option that the exporter wants to engage in and that the overall demand is sufficient in Canada to make exporting to this market feasible. Under the “export market the first strategy”, the exporter would examine market conditions in Canada looking at new car sales data and then assembling a list of vehicles that would be in demand.

Step 1: Determine current and projected demand for specific vehicles in Canada.

When looking at new car sales in Canada the following list was taken from new car sales data over the last quarter. These data are available online and can be found by searching for terms such as “car sales in ____________” or “most popular makes and models in ________________.” There is a strong industry in market research, which serves the automotive retail industry. These data are usually available online and can provide a wealth of insights into car buying trends.

Best Selling New Cars in Canada as of August 2015

Rank Best-Selling Car August
% Change 2015
#1 Honda Civic 6711 7305 -8.1% 42,667 45,050 -5.3%
#2 Hyundai Elantra 4998 4152 20.4% 32,882 36,498 -9.9%
#3 Toyota Corolla 4318 4680 -7.7% 34,601 34,626 -0.1%
#4 Mazda 3 3102 4203 -26.2% 24,762 29,167 -15.1%
#5 Volkswagen Jetta 2801 2757 1.6% 20,485 22,835 -10.3%
#6 Chevrolet Cruze 2771 2753 0.7% 21,527 22,949 -6.2%
#7 Hyundai Accent 1922 2616 -26.5% 14,582 16,322 -10.7%
#8 Ford Focus 1876 2063 -9.1% 14,272 15,948 -10.5%
#9 Volkswagen Golf 1833 1762 4.0% 14,263 5988 138%
#10 Ford Fusion 1757 1663 5.7% 11,460 13,053 -12.2%
#11 Toyota Camry 1450 1244 16.6% 12,195 10,711 13.9%
#12 Hyundai Sonata 1441 1682 -14.3% 9885 9076 8.9%
#13 Kia Soul 1297 1434 -9.6% 9172 6908 32.8%
#14 Nissan Sentra 1242 1312 -5.3% 10,524 10,046 4.8%
#15 Honda Accord 1203 1513 -20.5% 9621 12,018 -19.9%
#16 Chrysler 200 1138 1100 3.5% 8348 6928 20.5%
#17 Nissan Micra 1116 870 28.3% 8267 4127 100%
#18 Kia Rio 1054 1735 -39.3% 7102 10,812 -34.3%
#19 Chevrolet Malibu 1021 761 34.2% 6856 4177 64.1%
#20 Kia Forte 938 1185 -20.8% 8655 8328 3.9%

Source: Automakers & Global Automakers Of Canada 


Looking at the data above, three cars stand out as posting significant growth: Hyundai Elantra, Kia Soul, Chevy Malibu and Toyota Camry (the Nissan Micra is excluded as it is not sold in the US). Based on these figures, the next logical step would involve finding out what the pricing for these vehicles should be.


Step 2: Compare pricing data in the export market with the stateside wholesale market to determine availability and pricing.

In Canada, pricing data for individual vehicles can be found either through online classifieds forums or through data aggregators that monitor car pricing. For example, automotive data monitoring firm provides the following prices in Canadian Dollars:

2015 Hyundai Elantra
4dr Sdn Man L $15,399

Kia Soul
5dr Wgn Manual LX $16,995

Chevy Malibu
4dr Sdn LS w/1LS $25,140

Toyota Camry
4dr Sdn I4 Auto LE $24,100

With the average market price in Canada sorted out, the next step would be to find the average price in the US.

2015 Hyundai Elantra
4dr Sdn Man L $23,848

Kia Soul
5dr Wgn Manual LX $15,190

Chevy Malibu
4dr Sdn LS w/1LS $23,330

Toyota Camry
4dr Sdn I4 Auto LE $22,970

Armed with this information, a decision can be made whether the vehicles selected on the Canadian side will provide a significant profit margin.



2015 Hyundai Elantra


4dr Sdn Man L $23,848


Kia Soul


5dr Wgn Manual LX $15,190


Chevy Malibu


4dr Sdn LS w/1LS $23,330


Toyota Camry


4dr Sdn I4 Auto LE $22,970


*Retail Price




2015 Hyundai Elantra


4dr Sdn Man L $11,622


Kia Soul

5dr Wgn Manual LX $12,815


Chevy Malibu


4dr Sdn LS w/1LS $18,957


Toyota Camry


4dr Sdn I4 Auto LE $18,173


*Prices converted to USD

*Retail Price


Given the numbers presented above, these vehicles will not provide an adequate profit margin given the exchange rate discrepancy between the US Dollar and the Canadian Dollar. In Canada, the prices for these vehicles appear to be depressed and lose further strength taking into account the exchange rate. Based on this hypothetical scenario, Canada may not be an appropriate market for these vehicles. However, given that the prices listed on the US side are retail prices, if an exporter could obtain a vehicle at wholesale, there could be enough margin to make the transaction worthwhile.


Case Study: Mexico

Step 1: Determine current demand and projected demand in Mexico at the national level and at the state level.

Here, the exporter has selected Mexico as a target market and will look at the used car demand data in Mexico in order to make a purchasing decision in the United States.

Source: (2015)

Based on the information above, one can see that the Chevy Aveo and VW Jetta are the top selling cars in Mexico that are also available in the United States.


Step 2: Compare pricing data in the export market with the stateside wholesale market to determine availability and pricing

Chevy Aveo $15,100
VW Jetta $15,801
*Retail Price
Chevy Aveo $9,575
VW Jetta $13,602
*Converted from Pesos
*Retail Price

However, given that the prices listed on the US side are retail prices, if an exporter could obtain a vehicle at wholesale, there could be enough margin to make the transaction worthwhile.


Finding an Export Market Based on What Is Available

Under this scenario, the exporter is presented with limited options and, therefore, must tailor the export strategy based on what is available at auction. Here, the exporter would take his or her available options for purchase and then try to find a market that can accommodate the vehicle purchased.


Case Study 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Step 1: Find markets the available vehicles are in demand

In this hypothetical, the exporter has come across 5 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302s. This muscle car can be purchased at a price well below its book value at $30,000 each. Given this bargain, the next task will be to find a market for these Mustangs.

Based on market research, the exporter in this hypothetical knows from data provided by the US government that the Mustang is growing in popularity worldwide. As such, the vehicle will be available to customers around the world in more than 100 markets, with the addition of right-hand drive versions for countries including Australia, South Africa and the UK. The first shipments were sent to Asia. In June, Ford began exporting the Mustang to Europe with the shipment of 575 units. According to Ford, customers in Europe have already ordered almost 5,000 vehicles.


Step 2: Find pricing data in the foreign market to determine the optimal price to pay stateside

Based on this data, it would then make sense to have a look at the European markets to search out potential pricing on the Boss 302. Using the online auto classifieds, a variety of Mustangs are shown using the search criteria “Mustang Boss 302.”  The average price across Europe for this car is in the range of 55,000 to 60,000 Euros for the 2013 model. When converted to US dollars, this is a range of $61,500 to $67,135. Given that our hypothetical exporter has just paid $30,000 for each of his Boss 302s, there is ample cushion for profit to sell these vehicles in the European market even after import taxes and shipping costs.


Wholesale and Retail Prices

When an exporter sets out to calculate the return on investment on a vehicle purchased in the US, the concepts of wholesale and retail pricing are of fundamental importance. The exporter will try to purchase a vehicle in the range of wholesale pricing and sell on a vehicle at a retail or higher in the overseas market.



According to Kelley Blue Book, the wholesale value of a vehicle “is the value that a dealer would pay to purchase it from a car manufacturer”.

Kelley Blue Book states that there are several factors that can determine the wholesale value of a vehicle. The first is the condition of the vehicle. Vehicles at dealer auctions are priced based on whether their condition is above average, average, or below average. A second is the age of the vehicle. Vehicles depreciate in value with increased age. Therefore the older the vehicle is, the less it is worth even if it is in perfect condition. (1)

A vehicle’s retail price would then reflect its market value.

This is not the advertised price, rather it is the price consumers are willing to pay in the open market.

A number of services provide the market value of a vehicle. These valuation services use the make, model and year for a car and use the listed private-party value for the overall condition of the vehicle.

In the US market retail value can be determined using a service such as Kelley Blue Book, Black Book, NADA or Edmunds. However, the overseas variants of these services are not as consolidated. Depending on which market you will be exporting to, you will need to do a bit of research to determine if a country or region has a valuation service.

An alternative strategy is to use online classifieds for cars and determine an average price of comparable vehicles. From this information, it is important to note that the actual market price may be slightly less to account for inflated advertised prices.

Overseas, there are a number of classified listings services for cars. In Europe,, Craigslist, and eBay all provide a pricing tool. In other markets, provides a great deal of insight into pricing vehicles on the market.


Depreciation and How it Can Guide Purchasing Decisions

In addition to the exporting strategies outlined above, there is value found in monitoring what vehicles are currently popular in the US market and how pricing can track with popularity. A car that is in demand on the new or used market in the US due to the forces of supply and demand can go for a much higher price. Therefore, it is good practice to find the right mix between popularity and price. The main factor that will determine this balance is depreciation.

According to a recent report by, increasing new-car production will cause an increase in vehicle depreciation in 2015. The report states in 2014 used cars averaged a 12.1 percent rate of depreciation or the average used car was worth 12.1 percent less in 2014 than it was was in 2013.

According to the “the rate of depreciation to climb to 14.5 percent in 2015.” (2)


Source:, Black Book Analytics (2015)

The chart presented above looks at quarterly and annual depreciation rates across vehicle segments. Notable among these data is the wide range of differences in annual depreciation between prestige luxury cars, (18.1 percent) and (full-size wagon, or passenger, vans, which appreciated 3.5 percent). Data concerning luxury and other high-end vehicles is also confirmed by other sources.

Autos Cheat Sheet notes, “The fastest depreciating models are often high-end luxury cars that once commanded six-figure price tags but now sell for a fractional portion of what they once were able to generate. Over the years, many models lose more than half their value at least — as much as 60 or 70 percent in some instances. They still won’t be “cheap,” but if you’ve ever dreamed of owning a Bentley, it’s worth looking into the used market.” (3)

Entry-level and compact cars both depreciated a lot in the latter half of the year as gas prices plunged, and demand waned.

By contrast, full-size vans, small pickups, and small SUVs depreciated the least. Still, big luxury cars had the worst depreciation, falling in some cases by more than 15 percent through 2014. (4)

The report also predicted depreciation the report “expects small cars will keep depreciating as new compact and subcompact models proliferate (particularly due to government fuel-economy requirements), and gas prices remain low. Higher new-car sales, forecasted at nearly 17 million in 2015, will also continue to drive used-car depreciation up.” (5)

For exporters, depreciation is important in that new newer vehicles that may be in demand in an export market may depreciate significantly in the US market, effectively creating a built-in discount for individuals who wish to buy these cars at wholesale. With this strategy in mind, what cars represent the highest depreciating vehicles on the market?

According to’s data analysis of depreciation, the average first-year price difference was 16.9 percent. The top 10 cars with the largest price differences ranged from 29.2 percent (Jaguar XK) to 38.2 percent (Hyundai Genesis) in loss of value after just one year of ownership. This translates into a loss in value for  Hyundai Genesis owners who, if they decided to choose a 1-year-old used Genesis over a brand new one, could get potential savings of $16.6K. Buyers who are looking for a Chevrolet Impala, the most popular car on the top 10 list, can potentially save $10.8K by making a similar choice. (6)


The Top 10 Cars to Buy Used Over New*

Rank Vehicle $ Price Difference over the First Year % Price Difference over the First Year
1 Hyundai Genesis -$16.6K -38.2%
2 (tie) Smart fortwo -$6.9K -36.9%
2 (tie) Cadillac CTS -$20.0K -36.9%
4 Chevrolet Impala -$10.8K -33.5%
5 GMC Yukon XL -$21.1K -32.8%
6 Volvo S80 -$15.7K -32.6%
7 Mercedes-Benz S-Class -$37.6K -32.4%
8 Lincoln MKS -$14.6K -30.4%
9 MINI Cooper -$9.0K -29.3%
10 Jaguar XK -$28.1K -29.2%


On the other hand, the least depreciating cars are also worth considering, given that this may alter the decision to buy new or used. Although cars that do not depreciate quickly will be more expensive on the wholesale in the US, they will also maintain a higher retail value in a target export market.

According to Kelley Blue Book, an average 2015 model year car will retain 39.7% of its original value after five years. The two brands with the best average projected resale value retention, overall, were Toyota (46.1%) and Lexus (45.6%). (7)

The top ten least depreciating cars over the first year of ownership were:

  1. Land Rover Range Rover +3.3%
  2. Subaru Impreza -3%
  3. Toyota Tacoma -6.9%
  4. Jeep Wrangler -7.1%
  5. Nissan Frontier -7.9%
  6. Mercedes G-Class -8%
  7. Scion XB -8.2%
  8. Nissan Versa -8.7%
  9. Toyota FJ Cruiser -8.7%
  10. Honda CRV -.9%


Most Promising New Cars Makes and Models

Looking toward the future, there is a number of vehicles in the next few years that will strike the right balance between cost in the US market and desirability in foreign markets. With the recent boost of new and reconditioned vehicles in the US market, it is natural that clients are looking for vehicles that give the best possible performance for the money spent.


Best Sports Car: 2015 Volkswagen GTI

Great fuel economy, smooth powertrain, tenacious handling, and of course, value for money have won this unlikely sports car the best award in its category.

Best Midsize Car: Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai Sonata boasts a quiet cabin that has been built with high-quality materials, making it a winner in the midsize car department.

Best Large Car: Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet Impala gives you a V6 engine and a great upscale interior without compromising prices.

Best Hybrid Car: Toyota Camry Hybrid

This great car has a roomy interior and user-friendly infotainment system, along with a strong hybrid power train.

Best Two-Row SUV: 2015 Nissan Murano

The new Nissan Murano happens to be the best value for money SUV in the current year. Updated transmission and luxurious interior make for a serene ride.

Best Minivan: Mazda 5

Contrary to popular belief, a minivan does not mean sacrificing performance. The Mazda 5 provides you the best nimble handling, lower prices and great fuel


Most Promising Used Car Makes and Models

With the average transaction prices of new cars hitting record highs, many buyers are hitting the used-car lots. However, it turns out there’s not much refuge from high prices there, either. Used cars are costing more on higher demand, with sales up compared with last year. The average new car went for $31,831 last year compared with the previous year, up 1.9%, automotive data site TrueCar reports, while the average used car sold for about half that, $16,335. But that was a 5.1% jump from 2013, says TrueCar, with overall used-car sales up 3.3%.

Used cars are just now fighting back from the hangover of recession — years of slower new-car sales that now have led to few late-model used cars hitting the market.

The biggest used price gains are in trucks. “The car group as a whole, mid and small, their bottom isn’t dropping out, but they are a better bargain these days than trucks,” he says.

Kontos, in its most recent analysis, found that used car and truck prices together at the wholesale level rose 1.1%. Then came the split: cars went up 0.9% in November compared with the same month the year before. However, with lower gas prices and the resurgence in homebuilding and other construction trades, the average price for used pickups, vans and SUVs rose an average of 6.3%.

Some categories shot up more. Prices of small SUVs were up 8.8% at the wholesale level; full-size vans increased 10.5%, and midsize SUVs saw an 11.2% price boost.

Gains for used pickups were a turnaround from about five years ago, when the construction downturn amid the recession and sky-high gas prices teamed to reduce their prices. “A few years ago, they were oversold or just coming into the used-car market,” Kontos says.

For many dealers, manufacturer-certified used cars remain hot, driven by customer demand. They are a good business proposition: a smart dealer can make higher profit margins on certified used cars than new ones.

That part of the business has picked up as customers have become more aware of certified-used cream puffs as an alternative to buying a new car. “Consumers didn’t know about it to the extent they know it today,” Konto says.

Overall, the “market looks very, very strong,” says Alec Gutierrez, an analyst for Kelley Blue Book.


Best Bargains in the Used Car Market

With the recent boost of new and reconditioned vehicles in the US market, it is natural that clients are looking for vehicles that give the best possible performance for the money spent. Gone are the days of buying cars based on the brand names alone, hence, customers are looking beyond luxury car vehicles and choosing the most practical option.

Also noticeable is the fact that there has been a considerable change in how much money people want to spend on their next car. Consumers are keen on getting the most sophisticated gadgets at a lower price in cars; hence, they are demanding high-end entertainment systems to become the standard.

Our definitive list of the best value for money cars in the United States has something for everyone. Have a look before purchasing your next vehicle.


The Best Car Used Bargains

Buying used cars is the recent fad. Also, in addition to being pocket-friendly, they have their set of other advantages. However, to fetch the maximum benefits you need to buy the right model with a smart investment. There are wide varieties to choose, but here we have summed up some of the best variety of used cars.

Acura TL

This is a sports luxury sedan, which has attained various good reviews in past years and seems to be a good and affordable car as a used one. It is a worthy effort from Honda Accord as it has come with various features and innovations. Has different styling and a used TL, which presents you with all- wheel drive and a manual gearbox with the speed of six. It has smooth shifting and 2011 models can be purchased in $23,300.

Buick Lucerne

After the 2011 model, there was a breakage in any of the introduction of full-sized Lucerne, though the 2011 model is lashed with excellent features as if it offers you with comfort, safety and good interior work. The added features like easy handling and a posh ride makes it more tempting for buyers. It is available with sufficient horsepower of 227 and 3.9 liter V6 whereas an old version of this has 5.3 liters V8 with 292 horsepower.

Cadillac DTS

This is a full luxury sedan, which gives up soft and smooth riding and has several good features. It provides you with comfort and a beautiful interior. It ranks among the top models, and one can afford it at reasonable prices. One can purchase the 2011 model at a cost of $28,200. There are other added features as it has a speed automatic transmission and 4.6-litre V8 engine that produces the required amount of thrust.

GMC Sierra

The 2011 model has many features. It gives full-size pickups and is both sustainable and affordable for buyers. The shoppers will have the privilege to avail themselves of a vast variety of cabs and cargo beds with luxury features. And have all the qualities of top ridings as well as quality good handling. The standard version of it has a base of 4.3 liters V6 whereas there are three more choices available. One can get it at a cost of $15,450- @28,000.

Chevrolet Volt

After an excellent 2011 version of this model, there is a more extended range available with numerous outstanding qualities like fuel efficiency, reasonability and good ranking. It can run on a range of 25-50 miles on only electricity and, unlike a full-EV, there seems to be no risk the battery failing. One can acquired it at a price of $21,400.

Honda Civic

It is one of the best small cars available both under the used and new categories . Buyers know the Honda Civic sedan for its reliability. And some of its reviews show that the 2011 model replacement was the standard version. It has outstanding features and comes with a four-engine cylinder with excellent efficiency, and one can get it at a cost of $17,750.



In formulating an export strategy, sellers need to consider where their vehicles will be sold. However, pay an equal amount of consideration to keep costs down when finding vehicles to send overseas. As illustrated earlier in this white paper, there is a number of situations where the economics of buying a vehicle in the US and exporting it overseas simply do not add up. Often this is the result of a car pricing being too high in the US market, yet having little or equal value in the export market. The key to a successful export strategy is then based on finding imbalances in price between the US and overseas markets.

View Market Reports for Selected CountriesOur Car AuctionsTruck Auctions, and Info on Buying With Us.