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Pricing goes sane

The auto industry seems to have learned a difficult lesson: There's a limit to what consumers will pay for a new car or truck, and the industry has reached that limit.

Prices of the 2002 models are trickling in, and it appears that the average sticker will rise about 1 percent on a comparably equipped basis, about the same as last year at intro time. Interim boosts can be counted on to raise the bar, at least for the domestic brands.

It wasn't always this way. Industry veterans remember when the Big 3 regularly defied economic conditions by raising intro prices mightily during a business downturn. Japanese competition has cooled the Big 3's price ardor.



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