October figures forecast a record average purchase price beyond $34,000.
In the market for a new car, but don't have a lot to spend? You can find economy sedans and hatchbacks on the market with sticker prices around $15,000. Even lower in some cases. But there are even more high-end wheels that'll set you back six or even seven figures. So the question is, how much are Americans spending on average for their new cars and trucks?
With the figures for last month coming in, JD Power and LMC Automotive assessed that average new-car transaction prices were set to exceed $34,000 for the first time in history.
$34,217, to be precise – which is up by about $1,300 from the same month last year, and a modest (but vital) $293 more than the previous record, set at $33,924 last December. And we could see even higher numbers before the year is done.
So why the increase? In a word: trucks. Pickups (like the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado) and SUVs (like the Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4) are accounting for a growing proportion of the market, and buyers are paying more for them (at an average of $36,474) than they do on "traditional" passenger cars (average: $27,739) like the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic.
Yet it's cars that are rising (slightly) faster, with prices increasing by four percent compared to last year, versus three percent for trucks. Across the board, though, automakers are selling more expensive vehicles: those priced over $30,000 (which constitutes 54 percent of the market) increased by six percent, while those under $30k (46%) went down by seven percent.
The news isn't all good for automakers and dealers, though. While the average purchase price keeps going up, the volume is going incrementally down. Americans acquired almost 1 percent fewer new vehicles than they did the previous year.