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Average New-Car Transaction Price Hits Record High

Sales of fully optioned fuel-efficient vehicles are a factor in the increase.

By Douglas Newcomb Apr 12, 2012 10:19AM

Cadillac dealership. Photo by General Motors.After the tough times of the recent economic downturn, most automakers are bouncing back, particularly the domestic brands.  Lingering effects of the recession – and recent high gas prices – are that consumers are increasingly buying more fuel-efficient vehicles and automakers are operating leaner and meaner.

According to data from, the result is that the average selling price of a new car in the U.S. hit an all-time high of $30,748 in March. Last year's figure for the same month was $28,771.

In the face of record-high gas prices, smaller, less-expensive, fuel-efficient vehicles have been flying off dealers’ lots. But these are not the stripped-down models of yesteryear. Even entry-level cars these days can be loaded with options, which drives up the average transaction price. And buyers are doing just that, pushing the price of B- and C-segment vehicles upward to what’s typical of midsized vehicles.

"Transaction prices continue to rise as consumers are looking to purchase more highly contented vehicles," said Shadee Malekafzali, consumer advice editor at "Buyers of subcompact and compact vehicles are no longer looking for the cheapest vehicle, but a vehicle that provides great fuel economy and the newest technologies."

And while small-car sales are sizzling, overall vehicle sales have risen in an unprecedented fashion, given high gas prices. After the cost-cutting of the recession, automakers also are more cautious, keeping production lean to better meet demand. That has also led to a scale-back on buyer incentives. Added to this, used-car fleets are small, which also raises prices and drives buyers toward new cars.

The result is a higher average transaction price, which means it is more important than ever to do your research to make sure you get the best car at the best price.

[Source: Autoblog]

Apr 12, 2012 11:31AM
Manufacturers used to put all the options on top models and costs didn't go through the roof like now. Today every excuse possible is used to try to justify the skyrocketing bottom line. Not many really need all the gimmicks, but most figure to just load it up anyway because when you're financing over the long term it doesn't add that much. Sadly wages have not kept pace over the past three decades like they should have or this would not be an issue. Smile
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