Reuters reports that auto market research firm CNW Research is projecting April transaction prices to be the highest in 15 years, when measured as a percentage of MSRP. According to the report, early April sales show average transaction prices hitting 87% of MSRP, the highest such level since 1996. By comparison, transaction prices were running at around 77% of MSRP during the industry’s down year of 2009. Looser credit (subprime sales are up 92% from last year), tsunami-related production delays and lower supplies of used cars, particularly small cars, are all given credit for contributing to the rising prices, although bailout-era capacity reductions clearly set the stage for this comeback. And with tsunami-related interruptions still working themselves through the system, demand could push prices higher still. But, says CNW principal Art Spinella, don’t look for the manufacturers to reap all of the rewards of rising transaction prices.
Dealers are the primary beneficiary of these dwindling discounts since they are using fewer of their own dollars to close a deal than was necessary just a few years ago