Used Car Prices Increase by 40% in Washington state, Cantwell Demands Action on Senate Floor

Seattle/Tacoma: From 2021-2022, price of average used vehicles increased by 40.7%

Used Car Prices Increase by 40% in Washington state, Cantwell Demands Action on Senate Floor

Spokane: From 2020-2022, price of average used vehicles increased by 41%

Seattle/Tacoma: From 2021-2022, price of average used vehicles increased by 40.7%

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Senator Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, took to the Senate floor to call attention to soaring used car prices, caused in part by the semiconductor chip shortage. According to the Washington Auto Dealers Association, from 2020-2022, the average price of used cars rose by 41% in Spokane and 33.9% in Yakima and the Tri-Cities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from February 2021-February 2022, used car prices rose 40.7% in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue.

“The price increase for our consumers is 41% increase in the cost for a used car today…We're talking about real impacts that are happening in real people's lives today. And some here are cavalier about these costs,” said Cantwell. “We need to quit wasting our time here.”

Senator Cantwell spoke to the impact our semiconductor shortage is having on American consumers, pointing to the soaring cost of used cars as buyers are forced to wait months for new cars.

Images courtesy of the Washington state Auto Dealers Association: From left to right - Foothills Lincoln Mazada dealership (Spokane), Gilchrist Cheverolet Buick GMC dealership (Tacoma), and Honda of Belluevue (Bellevue) with limited car inventory.

Just yesterday, Senator Cantwell led a Commerce Committee hearing with the CEOs of Intel, Micron, Lam Research, and PACCAR Inc., based in Bellevue, WA, to examine the vulnerabilities and impacts of the current semiconductor shortage.


“So, anyone knows that the people who can afford to wait the extra six months for the new car probably aren’t the people who are really feeling the pain,” Cantwell said at the hearing.  “It’s the person whose radiator blew out last week and just needs anything on four wheels to get them to their job. And that’s a basic used car that might have gone up [from] $5000 in cost, an additional 41%. And an extra $2000, --- taking that to $7000, --- is a trip the family doesn’t get to take or maybe next month’s rent that can’t get paid. So the impacts of this are really affecting American consumers.” [VIDEO]

Chart provided by the Washington Auto Dealers Association showing the average prices for used vehicles across Washington state from 2019-2022

Senator Cantwell is leading the effort to pass the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act which increases investments in the discovery, creation and manufacturing of technology critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.

Increased investment in semiconductor manufacturing would help prevent future chip shortages and help spur job creation in Washington state.

Graph of national trend in used car prices

Southwest Washington supports the greater Portland-Vancouver region’s reputation as a “Silicon Forest.” The region plays a pivotal role in one of the nation’s largest semiconductor ecosystems, where design is co-located with advanced manufacturing.

The region is home to over 30,000 jobs in computers and electronics, with over $10 billion in international exports and over $35 billion in sales revenue in the computer and electronics sector. Washington state as a whole has the second highest concentration of STEM jobs in the United States.

Washington state semiconductor companies in the “Silicon Forest” include Analog Devices (Camas), Kokusai (Vancouver), Kyocera (Vancouver), nLight (Camas), SEH America (Vancouver), Silicon Forest Electronics (Vancouver), and WaferTech (Camas).

Video from Senator Cantwell’s floor speech is available HERE, audio HERE, and transcript is HERE.

A Video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement from the March 23rd Commerce hearing is HERE, transcript HERE. Video of Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with the witnesses is available HERE, transcript HERE. Video of Senator Cantwell’s closing statement is available HERE, transcript HERE.