CarMax leads new used-vehicle tally

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Used-vehicle retail giant CarMax Inc. tops Automotive News’ debut list of retailers by used-vehicle-only sales.

Joining CarMax on the inaugural list is a mix of national and regional used-vehicle retailers with high-volume, multistore operations. There are also publicly traded online used-vehicle retailers that gained more prominence in the last decade and grew sales volumes substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CarMax, of Richmond, Va. — formerly the longtime leader of Automotive News’ annual ranking of the top 100 U.S. dealership groups by used-vehicle sales — sold 807,823 used vehicles in its fiscal year ended Feb. 28, 2023, down 13 percent from the previous year. Automotive News revamped its top 100 ranking this year into a list that exclusively features franchised dealership groups. The change was spurred in part by CarMax’s sale in late 2021 of its last franchised new-car dealership.

Online used-vehicle retailers such as Carvana Co., Vroom Inc. and Shift Technologies Inc., which were included in the previous versions of the top 100 ranking, also have moved to the used-only list.

Carvana, of Tempe, Ariz., sold 412,296 used vehicles in 2022, down 3 percent from the previous year. Carvana entered 2022 poised for volume growth similar to levels it has experienced for the past several years. But as rising interest rates and other factors impacted the affordability of used vehicles during the year, Carvana set growth-at-all-costs on the back burner and said it would prioritize profitability.

That, coupled with a downturn in demand from 2021 highs, ultimately led to the online retailer’s lower vehicle sales in 2022.

DriveTime Automotive, also of Tempe, sold 102,649 used vehicles in 2022, down 3.3 percent from the previous year. Carvana was spun off from DriveTime in November 2014, two years after it started operations. It has operated independently since, though it noted in its 2022 annual report that it uses DriveTime for “certain services.”

The new list includes CarShop and EchoPark Automotive, the used-vehicle-only businesses of publicly traded dealership groups Penske Automotive Group Inc. and Sonic Automotive Inc., respectively.

CarShop, of Chester Springs, Pa., sold 71,242 used vehicles in 2022, up 12 percent from the previous year. EchoPark, of Charlotte, N.C., sold 64,107 used vehicles in 2022, down 18 percent. Penske’s CarShop includes sales from the U.K.

America’s Car-Mart, of Rogers, Ark., operates 157 used-vehicle-only dealerships across the south central region of the U.S. It sold an estimated 63,000 vehicles in 2022, up an estimated 4 percent from the previous year.

Vroom, of Houston, sold 43,036 vehicles in 2022, a little more than half of what it sold in 2021. In May 2022, Vroom announced that it would pivot from growing its sales volume to instead work on reducing its cash burn and driving up its per-vehicle profits.

Tricolor Holdings, of Irving, Texas, sold 25,553 vehicles in 2022, up 33 percent. The company operates stores in Texas and throughout the Southwest.

Shift Technologies, of San Francisco, operates primarily along the West Coast after it implemented in August 2022 a restructuring plan that included closing seven maintenance and customer relations hubs. Shift consolidated its physical operations to Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; and Portland, Ore. It sold 20,961 vehicles in 2022, down 9.8 percent from the previous year.

RightWay Auto Sales is owned by Garber Management Group of Saginaw, Mich., and has locations in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin and Indiana. It sold 19,925 used vehicles in 2022, up 10 percent from the previous year.