American cars: Pricier than ever
May 12, 2011
The average price paid for a Chrysler Town & Country has risen 32% in 5 years. The van has improved and competitors have dropped out, but Chrysler has alo learned to combine features buyers want, said sales executive Steven Beahm.
NEW YORK -- Good news... American cars are better than they've been in years. The bad news ... if you want one, be prepared to pay up.
oday, domestic cars are selling closer to full sticker price, even after rebates and other incentives are factored in, than they were in 2006, according to Edmunds.com.
It's not just lower discounts, either. Prices paid for American cars, after rebates and negotiations, are just plain higher as buyers opt for pricier cars with more features.
Buyers are paying almost 33% more for Buicks, for instance, and 24% more for Chryslers, according to Edmunds.com.
Redesigns of some key models have also helped push prices higher. The average selling price of a Chevrolet Equinox crossover SUV is now 24% higher than it was in 2006. Customers are also paying about 32% more for Chrysler Town & Country minivans and 14% more for Ford Mustangs, according to Edmunds.com.
American cars that don't suck... gas
Meanwhile, the major Japanese brands -- Honda, Nissan and Toyota -- are selling cars at prices farther from the sticker price, according to Edmunds.com.
"The domestics are better able to optimize both their pricing strategies and their incentives strategy," said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with the automotive Web site Truecar.com.
Only Korean automaker Hyundai is sharing the domestic automakers' surge in pricing power.
American automakers are also offering more options on smaller cars, something else that's boosting prices. In the past, domestic automakers figured small car buyers just wanted cheap wheels, said Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell, but now they realize that, while they want to save money on gas,today's small car buyers still want a nice car.
Domestic automakers have also done a better job of simplifying their offerings, said Caldwell. Today there are fewer different models and fewer versions of each model. That makes it easier for dealers to stock their inventories and it leads to fewer unwanted cars sitting on dealer lots.
While that makes it easier for customers to find cars with the features they're really looking for, it also makes it harder to get a killer deal on one of those ugly ducklings.