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2018 North American International Auto Show

Consumers Will Buy Fewer Vehicles but ‘More Vehicle’

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DETROIT – Vehicle sales this year aren’t forecasted to match or exceed 2017’s, but expect to see consumers buying amenity-laden cars and trucks with higher sticker prices.

So says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive, owner of automotive marketplace digital brands such as Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and Dealer.com.

“This will be the year of consumers saying, ‘I want more vehicle,’ not necessarily a year of incremental sales increases,” he says at a Cox media event held in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show here.

Colleague Rebecca Lindland, Kelley’s executive analyst, agrees. “Transaction prices continue to increase, mainly because people are looking for well-appointed CUVs,” she says, referring to a hot segment with 34% market share.

Automakers and their dealers sold 17.1 million vehicles in the U.S. last year. Most forecasters say sales will ebb this year. Cox is predicting 16.7 million deliveries. Primarily because of an abatement of pent-up demand, WardsAuto foresees sales of 16.4 million. Such numbers are subject to change as the year progresses.

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