Vehicle Sales Exceed Expectations As Average Car Price Hits Record

ARLINGTON, Va.—Total vehicle sales exceeded expectations in November, holding at a rate of 17.5 million annualized units, while the average price for new cars hit a new high.

Vehicle Sales

NAFCU Research Assistant Yun Cohen said holiday promotions with 0% financing helped support the rate, but noted that "such deals will become increasingly rare as interest rates rise further."

"Meanwhile, the average retail transaction price for new vehicles reached a record-breaking $33,697, according to J.D. Power," Cohen said in a NAFCU Macro Data Flash report. "This helps to maintain manufacturer profitability, but adds to affordability concerns."

Mixed Results at Automakers

Car sales fell from 5.7 million to 5.4 million annualized units during November; sales of light trucks increased from 11.8 million to 12.1 million annualized units. Monthly sales levels were down 0.8% from a year ago, Cohen said.

Results among the largest automakers were mixed. Nissan reported a year-over-year sales decline of 18.7% in October, followed by Honda (-9.5%), Ford (-6.9%) and Toyota (-0.6%). Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sales were 17% higher than a year ago. General Motors' monthly sales figures are not available.

"Incentive spending is also on the decline as automakers cut production to better align with demand," Cohen added. "General Motors recently announced plans to cut production of several sedan models. Ford also announced earlier this year that it plans to stop selling all Ford brand sedans in North America as consumers continue to gravitate toward light trucks and SUVs."

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