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This Week in Car Buying


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Article Highlights

  1. Sales plunge with full extent not felt.
  2. GM trucks jump ahead of Ford while Ford floats “Cash for Clunkers” trial balloon.
  3. Transaction prices remain firm.

Kelley Blue Book’s Senior Managing Editor Matt DeLorenzo writes This Week in Car Buying, a weekly column on KBB.com. In this week’s news, Matt reports that shelter-in-place rules and cutbacks in dealer operations hit the industry hard at the end of the first quarter as manufacturers report a sales decline of more than 13 percent. While 2020 sales were softer than last year, sales estimates of 16.8 million for the calendar year weren’t far off from previous record levels. Now,  with sales cut off in highly populated states, some preliminary estimates put annual sales volume at between 13 and 14 million.

General Motors’ numbers indicate a 7 percent sales decline in the first three months. Ford reports a drop of more than 12 percent and FCA just over a 10 percent drop. The quickly changing landscape allowed GM to take the top spot in truck sales, for the first time in memory, outpacing both Ford and Ram for pickup truck leadership.

While no one knows what the market will look like when the social distancing curbs are lifted, Ford sends up a trial balloon on another round of government-funded “cash for clunkers” incentives.

The late March meltdown in new car sales did little to deter rising new vehicle prices. According to Kelley Blue Book data, the estimated average transaction price for a light vehicle in the United States stands at $37,736. That’s an increase of $972 or 2.6 percent over year-earlier figures. Month-over-month pricing hit a slight dip, down $38 or 0.1 percent.

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