After declining in the 2006 model year, the average new-vehicle sticker price was on the rise again in the 2007 season, according to an Automotive News analysis.
Meanwhile, the average cash rebate went down during the model year, according to Power Information Network.
The average base sticker of a new car or light truck was $372 higher in May 2007 than in May 2006, a 1.3 percent increase. For import-badged vehicles, the increase was $317 or 1.2 percent. For the Detroit 3, the increase was $424 or 1.5 percent.
Among the Big 6 - that's the Detroit 3 plus Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Nissan North America and American Honda Motor Co. - only Ford Motor Co. cut sticker prices during the model year. Ford Motor's average price was down $92, or 0.3 percent.
Automotive News' annual analysis compared about 1,500 current models with their 2006 counterparts. All figures are sales-weighted, which means the price of every model is accorded the value represented by its market share. Base stickers are for the vehicle with standard equipment and freight, but few if any cars and trucks are sold that way.
In the 2006 model year, the average sticker declined $138. That was mainly because General Motors and Ford slashed prices. GM cut its stickers an average of $1,293 or 4.6 percent during the 2006 model year, and Ford Motor cut prices an average of $546.
The average decline for the Detroit 3 was $589 for the 2006 model year. Import-badged vehicles increased by an average of $458 that year.
The average industrywide cash rebate to customers declined $156 in May compared with the same month in 2006.
The rebates are still an important part of the vehicle sales process. But the numbers are shrinking, thanks to Ford Motor's actions on 2007 models and GM's on 2006s. According to Power, Ford slashed $644 per vehicle from its rebates for 2007. GM cut 2007 rebates by only $102, but that followed a reduction of $733 on 2006s.
Big Chrysler rebates
The Chrysler group currently is more than $1,000 over each of its Detroit rivals, with an average buyer rebate of $3,413. The average for the Detroit 3 dropped from $2,600 in May 2006 to $2,469 in May 2007.
Average cash rebates for import-badged vehicles went from $1,560 to $1,339. A surprise among the leading imports was an increase of $188 per vehicle by Toyota Motor Sales, making its current payout $1,073. The industry average was $2,121 in May.
Are cash rebates necessary? Draw a lesson from American Honda, which never has paid them. American Honda sold more than 1.5 million new cars and light trucks in the United States last year, trailing only GM, Ford Motor, Toyota Motor Sales and DaimlerChrysler.
Transaction prices rose an average of $760 or 2.9 percent on the current models in the past year, according to Power. In May, the average transaction price was $27,158 for the industry.
The average of the Detroit 3 and that of the imports were nearly identical - $27,121 for the Detroit 3, up 3.4 percent, and $27,137 for import-badged vehicles, an increase of 2.3 percent.
You may e-mail John K. Teahen Jr. at [email protected]