With automotive prices skyrocketing these last two years, you may have found yourself waiting out the market until wealthy business magnates, unaccountable banking institutions, and multinational monopolies have had their way with it – hoping beyond hope that they’ll be a modestly priced car for you to live in when the economic dust finally settles.
But what if you can’t wait that long and need something today? While may not be able to steer you toward the deal of a lifetime, we do know which vehicles you might want to cross off your list thanks to a study targeting mainstream models seeing the highest dealer markups. Though, be warned, you’re still probably better off driving whatever you have today because the national average still has vehicles listed 10 percent above MSRP.
Ford increased pricing on the F-150 Lightning EV substantially this week, citing “significant material cost increases and other factors.” The all-electric model now comes with an MSRP that ranges between $46,974 (for the base Pro trim) and $96,874 (for the Extended Range Platinum). All told, the decision has made the pickup anywhere from $6,000 to $8,500 more expensive than it was just a few days earlier. In exchange, Blue Oval has ever so slightly upgraded the maximum range of some of the lower trims. But some of us would probably prefer a more comprehensive explanation as to what’s causing EV prices to surge in general, because it’s not just Ford that’s been raising the sticker price of in-demand electric vehicles.
S&P Global Mobility has reported that the average U.S. automobile is now 12.2 years old, which it said represented a 2 percent increase since 2021. While relatively modest, the general trend for the last five years has been for vehicles to get older as drivers attempted to milk more life from beleaguered hardware.
Much of this has been attributed to North America’s broadening wealth gap and general improvements in vehicle longevity. If you look back at Department of Transportation data from the 1990s, the average age of a car was under nine years. By 2007, the typical car would see its 10th birthday before scrappage and the number has continued to climb from there. Much of that is due to households having to make do with tighter budgets, which was arguably made easier by modern powertrains that can easily exceed 100,000 miles before needing any serious maintenance.
Tesla is receiving a lot of attention for having increased prices twice in one week. The Model 3, often presented as the company’s most-affordable option catering to the masses, now starts at $48,440 in the United States. Its crossover equivalent, the Model Y, now starts at a whopping $64,400 while larger products have surpassed the six-figure point of entry. Despite being the brand’s oldest model, the Model S saw increases over the summer (when it was just $90,000) and has since settled into $101,200 before you’ve even said the words Plaid or Full Self Driving. But the Model X remains even more expensive at $116,200.
Worse yet, those who can afford such vehicles won’t even be able to get them in a timely fashion. Despite weathering COVID restrictions rather well vs legacy automakers, supply chain issues seem to have caught up with the EV manufacturer. Wait times on order vehicles are now several months long. Some customers are being told that they’ll likely have to wait until 2023, specifically those hoping to score a Model X.
With dealers having spent the last 12 months placing egregious markups on automobiles, it has become a seller’s market, to say the least. New vehicle transactions are currently averaging $6,000 more than they would have been in the previous annum. But prices had already climbed by $3,000 (year-over-year) in 2020 due to production shortfalls, encouraging fleet managers to scoop up every used vehicle they could find until secondhand cars became likewise overpriced.
It’s an abysmal situation for consumers and automakers have begun to realize they’ll be getting blamed if something isn’t done. As a result, we’ve started to see manufacturers publicly chiding showrooms for placing lofty “market adjustments” on new automobiles. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors have both made formal declarations that they’ll be penalizing dealers who issue ludicrous markups on products wearing their emblems, with Hyundai Motor Group issuing similar threats to greedy retailers this week.
You’re probably well acquainted with dealer markups by now. Supply shortages created during the pandemic have left the world with fewer automobiles and car dealerships are taking full advantage of the elevated demand. As you might have expected, this trend resulted in plenty of people overpaying or becoming cautious of a market they now see as wildly predatory.
Car manufacturers have begun asking dealerships to take it easy on the price gouging. General Motors made its plea last week and Ford has followed up by reiterating its own concerns during the company’s Q4 2021 earnings report. The Oval is worried that dealer markups are tainting its relationship with customers, with top executives making casual references to the trend back in November. Ford CEO Jim Farley is now telling dealers that they need to cut it out lest they be punished by the manufacturer.
Nobody should envy car shoppers right now. With production shortages ongoing, there’s never anything you want on the lot, and what is there is likely to be grotesquely overpriced.
This has encouraged consumers to wait longer before replacing their current ride, which is statistically likely to be far older than years past. But not everyone has the same level of patience or financial wellbeing, meaning certain parts of the country are seeing longer intervals between cars than others. There are also regional inventory disparities to account for, encouraging analytics firm Growth from Knowledge (GfK) to conduct an investigation into which parts of the United States are waiting for the longest to procure a new automobile.
If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you’ve likely noticed that some of the models you were interested in aren’t available in your preferred format and happen to be accompanied by sizable dealer markups. Well the used market, formerly a refuge for those seeking a bargain and a shrewd way of dodging the steepest period of deprecation, isn’t doing much better.
According to Black Book, the typical transaction price for used vehicles has gone up by over $500 in less than a month. Pegged at $27,000 in November, the average secondhand car now trades for over $27,500. As we’ve recently covered just how wild secondhand vehicle prices have become in 2021, we’ll keep this one relatively brief. But it must be said that automotive values are starting to seem totally disconnected from anything that could be considered rational as cars now have MSRPs a third higher than they were at the start of 2021.
Car dealers have been polled for the fourth-quarter Cox Automotive Dealer Sentiment Index (CADSI) and they’re still incredibly optimistic, despite losing some of their earlier confidence that new-vehicle sales would be relatively healthy.
The dealer optimism – especially among franchised entities – seems to be wholly tied to profitability here. New vehicle sales dropped in 2019 and absolutely cratered in 2020 due to the nation’s response to the pandemic. In spite of there being plenty of talking heads in the news media telling you not to stress about the economy, inflation has created pricing increases across the board and automobiles are at the tippy top of that list. With inventories remaining relatively lean due to production slowdowns, staggering dealer markups have become the norm. Basically, stores just seem happy that they can charge more per car while they’re in short supply. But they’re also starting to have concerns about the long-term viability of the market and are are feeling the pinch of rising operating costs.
Used-vehicle prices set another record last month thanks to elevated demand and suppressed production of new cars. Depending on who you ask, the typical transaction fee for a secondhand automobile rose nearly 50 percent in November vs the same period in 2020. While the pandemic had meaningfully suppressed demand during that time, that’s still a staggering increase over any 12-month period.
Sharing Cox Automotive’s Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, Automotive News nailed down the annual difference to a 44-percent increase. This also represents the November pricing index swelling by 3.9 percent against October, which is noteworthy in itself. But what does that look like in dollars?
Toyota has announced pricing for the 2022 GR86, with the Hachiroku receiving an MSRP of $27,700 before destination. That’s $295 cheaper than the nearly identical Subaru BRZ. Though, when you’re effectively building a sports coupe that has a literal clone of itself on sale across the street, every tiny advantage suddenly becomes relevant.
While a couple of hundred bucks aren’t likely to sway someone holding any amount of brand loyalty, it could become the deciding factor for interested parties who see the Toyobaru Twins as otherwise identical. The problem is that they actually do have distinctive personalities, despite still being overwhelmingly similar at their core, and the price difference shrinks even more once you accounted for each manufacturer’s delivery fees.
While we’d like to get away from stories about everything becoming more expensive, everything actually is becoming more expensive and it looks like a healthy slice of the population is allegedly willing to go along with it. According to the latest data coming from Cox Automotive, roughly 40 percent of the U.S. population would purchase a vehicle at 12 percent above sticker. There’s always been a subset of shoppers who don’t know when they’re being taken but this represents a healthy share of the country.
It makes one wonder where these surveys were being conducted until Cox summarized the situation as the direct result of a populace beaten down by their environment. Apparently, people no longer expect to find good deals and have not yet reached the point where they’ll feel comfortable driving around in the same busted crate that’s seen them through the last decade as a way to save money.
Tesla quietly increased pricing on several models via its website this week, with the new Model S Plaid Plus representing the largest jump. The performance variant is said to be capable of 200 mph and breezing through 60 mph in under 2 seconds. It also boasts the brand’s updated interior and an alleged range of 520 miles, which really opens it up to becoming the kind of vehicle you might actually want to take on an extended road trip.
But it’s going to set you back $151,190 (including the $1,200 destination charge), which is exactly $10,000 more than Tesla said it would cost just a few months ago. While that increase has not been extended to other Plaid models, none of which offer a massive bump in range, forthcoming Plaid Plus models are likely to see loftier price tags than originally expected.
After coronavirus lockdowns wiped out vehicle production for a few months, dealer inventories are going to have to wait a little longer than normal to be resupplied with new product. Meanwhile, the used market has become awash with cars offloaded by rental agencies with no use for them — except as a way to drum up cash during a difficult time.
Chuck in every American citizen getting free money from the government and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm. Average folks are thinking about using that money on a new car and dealers need to offset depleted inventories and delayed deliveries by scooping up used ones for the purpose of flipping. That’s driven up prices, which could potentially work in your favor if you happen to have an automobile you no longer have much use for.
There’s a growing assumption that automobiles have become so universally satisfactory, there’s nothing to gripe about anymore. We’re inclined to disagree. There will always be models that fail to meet our expectations and industry trends we’re not particularly fond of. However, we will happily acknowledge that low-tier automobiles have become decidedly less terrible when thrown together into a pool.
A weird side effect of this has been mainstream brands moving upmarket and offering a bevy of luxury options while extravagant nameplates do the inverse. For example, the Kia Cadenza can easily be outfitted to surpass the base Cadillac ATS in terms of luxury features and overall price. It doesn’t have the prestige, but you’re still buying a larger automobile with a focus on lavishness that can deliver on an exceptionally quiet and comfortable ride.
On the flip side of things, Cadillac is busy prepping its new small crossover for the general market. Priced for a mainstream budget, the XT4 should be a win for General Motors. But it further showcases the amount of overlap happening within the industry right now. Value manufacturers are becoming increasingly willing to move upmarket while luxury brands are trying to burn the money candle at both ends.
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