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New Car Prices Fell in January

Paul Ausick

The January average sales price for a light vehicle fell 1.4% to $32,391 from $32,855 in December. Sales prices rose by about 0.6% month-over-month in December.Carmakers, on average, sold each vehicle for $464 less than in December. Year-over-year, however, January 2014 prices averaged 1.5% higher ($479) than January 2013 prices.

Of the few automakers posting pricing gains in January, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) posted a month-over-month price gain of 1.4% and a year-over-year gain of 3.5%. The U.S. division of Honda Motor Corp. (HMC) saw a modest 0.2% monthly price hike and a 2% gain over January of 2013.

A senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book (KBB), which released the data Monday morning, said:

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It comes as no surprise new-car shoppers cashed in on the holiday deals available toward the end of December, particularly from higher-priced luxury brands. This increase in luxury sales during the holidays often creates a drop in overall transaction prices between December and January. However, if manufacturers keep inventory levels and incentive spending in check we could see transaction prices increase throughout 2014.

KBB notes that Ford plans to introduce 16 new models in 2014 and that should help the company keep prices rising through the year. Among these are a new Mustang and a new F-150 series pickup, both expected to be good sellers for Ford.

General Motors Co. (GM) saw its average price fall 1.9% month-over-month, but the year-over-year price is up 2.1%, from a year ago average of $34,882 to $35,628. GM has been wary of offering incentives to prospective buyers as the company chases profit rather than volume.

Chrysler Group LLC posted a 1.7% month-over-month price decline, but a 3.4% gain year-over-year. The company’s 8% sales gain in January on continuing strength from the Jeep and Ram truck redesigns.

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Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) also posted a month-over-month price decline of 4.2% and a year-over-year price gain of 3.3%.

Volkswagen AG experienced the poorest January, with a price decline of 5.3%. Compared with January 2013, prices were flat. The company’s aging product lines are hoping to get some help from the VW ad broadcast during yesterday’s Super Bowl.

Nissan has had a tough year in the U.S., with year-over-year pricing down 1.3%, the only carmaker to post a drop since last January. Compared with December prices fell 2.3% in January.

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