DETROIT - If you bought a new car or light truck last fall, you worked longer to pay for it than those who purchased their vehicles in the summer.
This is according to the Auto Affordability Index compiled by Comerica Bank in Detroit. During the fourth quarter of 1999, it took 23.8 weeks of median family income, before taxes, to buy an average-priced new vehicle, compared with 23.5 weeks of income in the third quarter, the bank reports.
The problem, said David Littmann, chief economist at Comerica, was that even though both median family income and average auto prices rose 1.8 percent from the third quarter, average financing rates jumped half of one percentage point, 'the steepest rise since the third quarter of 1996.'
The good news is that cars and light trucks were more affordable in 1999 than in the past 19 years.
Said Littmann: 'The average 23.6 weeks of income required to buy a vehicle last year rivaled the average 23.5 weeks recorded in 1980.'