Average price of new vehicle: 30k

$30,000 for a new car or light truck.


Wonder who would have believed that years ago.

That was the average price (actually $30,303) in April, however, according to research from forecaster TrueCar.com, The Wall Street Journal reported.

(That figure excludes the average $2,446 incentive from dealers).

Just a year ago, the average price was $1,219 less.

On the bright side, the cost of a new set of wheels in April actually was down $445 or 1.4 percent from March.

Still, automakers have to be thrilled. Not long ago it seemed they would have to give away their product.

Now, the rising cost isn’t even hurting sales. An annualized 14.4 million light vehicles were sold last month, up 10 percent from the year-earlier period.

And don’t think it’s any better buying used.

“Experienced” vehicles cost more, too. The Journal report suggests that’s the result of the lack of quality used rides available. Consumers slowed their purchases of new vehicles during the economic downturn, and the cars and trucks they would have turned back to the market aren’t there now, limiting the supply.

That pent-up demand from the time when people stopped buying is helping drive the sales gains of new cars.

The rising price of used cars also is prompting some shoppers to think new, not used.

41 comments Add your comment


May 7th, 2012
8:46 am

$30,000 average for a new car??? are you serious??? In the worst economy in 50 years, prices should be going down, not up.


May 7th, 2012
9:57 am

not surprised at all….this is what happens when people start asking “how much per month?” instead of “how much?”…..wait 2 years and let someone else lose money through depreciation and then pay cash for it.

Cash is king

May 7th, 2012
10:06 am

Don’t buy a car you can’t afford. Don’t buy a house you can’t afford. Don’t put stuff on credit cards and carry a balance. All pretty simple.
And when you buy the car, take care of it and drive it until it falls apart. Today’s cars easily go 150-200k with basic maintenance. All the thing does is deliver you from point A to point B, hopefully safely. I won’t get into “economically” as cars are very expensive when you factor everything in.

Dyren Ducati

May 7th, 2012
10:12 am

This is car-obsessed country. People are willing to spend more on cars than they should. Personally I think your car payment should be no more than 5-10% of your monthly net income.

Shark Punch!

May 7th, 2012
10:15 am

The median price (50% of all cars sold cost less than this, for those who don’t know basic statistics) is certainly much lower, but that would make for less sensational headline.

Better than I deserve

May 7th, 2012
10:16 am

Obama’s brilliant plan where 700,000 perfectly good vehicles were destroyed still contributes to the higher price of used cars and new.


May 7th, 2012
10:19 am

I’m getting that drop top chicken box next month


May 7th, 2012
10:20 am

Pent up demand and product improvements will result in more sales. The quality of today’s cars is also much higher than 10 years ago. Kia and Hyundai are hugely competitive with their warranties and styling upgrades. Ford and GM are doing some good things with bringing their higher quality, far more advanced global platforms to the USA rather than selling us a pitifully poor excuse for a car. Compare today’s 2012 Ford Focus to the one from 5 years ago. Dittoo for Chevy culling the laughable Chevy Cavalier and replacing it with the Cobalt.

Chrysler… sorry, not convinced. And letting Fiat muck it up even more can’t be good for winning J.D. Power awards.


May 7th, 2012
10:22 am

I guess I’ll just keep what I’ve got until the wheels fall off.

Bertie Higginbothamm

May 7th, 2012
10:26 am

More heat than light in this version of “reporting.”

He doesn’t even define what he means by “average.”

I know for a fact that the respondents wee the members of the Egg Harbor Sailing Club who responded to the question, “What would you consider tp be the average price for a car that your stable hand might pay, if, in fact, your stable hand has any money.”

Garbage-in, garbage-out.


May 7th, 2012
10:33 am

People will pay that and more for a car which requires 60 cents a mile to operate and will, most likely, not last more than 8-10 years — yet scream for price controls when a 4 year degree exceeds 30,000 yet can provide a lifetime of opportunities… Materialism has ruined our drive to do better for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren


May 7th, 2012
10:35 am

I’ve got a 2006 Camry with 110,000 miles and Toyota Sequoia (2004) with 155,000 miles. I do all the scheduled service and they run like brand new. Why buy new cars if you don’t need them???


May 7th, 2012
10:37 am

And that number doesn’t include the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance, and — if you take out a loan for the car — interest. And in Atlanta, which is designed to make a car a necessity (not a choice), this is a tax for living here.


May 7th, 2012
11:11 am

Better than I deserve,
You do realize that was almost 3yrs ago and given current trends of 14M new cars sold/yr, accounts for about 5% of (under 3 weeks of new car sales). Given the types of cars traded in, a large % of those cars probably wouldn’t be on the road today anyway. The prolonged credit crisis and recession slowed car buying for much longer which has done far more damage to the supply of used cars. Not saying the program was a success or even efficient way to kickstart the auto market but it’s a bit of a red herring at this point.

tired of it

May 7th, 2012
11:14 am

This is your government America.
They keep nosing in on industry and we have to pay for it.


May 7th, 2012
11:15 am

I find most of these comments amusing, especially the ones the decry someone buying a new car instead of waiting and letting someone else take the hit on depreciation. If everyone did this, there would be no used cars to buy, someone has to be them new for them to one day be used. Said used car will continue to depreciate as well. When cars are 10 years old and 150k (average miles per year), they will only be worth a few hundred…maybe a grand or two at the most if they are well kept. Point being, a used car will depreciate too.


May 7th, 2012
11:18 am

The stimulus is working!

I’m doing a GREAT job.

Furious Styles

May 7th, 2012
11:19 am

“Now, the rising cost isn’t even hurting sales. ” Just you wait, just you wait.

Ken Stallings

May 7th, 2012
11:20 am

How out of whack has it gotten?

Cars today are more expensive than homes!

Let that sink in a bit for shock value.

Now, I will prove it. Throughout the nation, there are homes on the market with upside down mortgages and also bank owned repossessed properties that are selling at well below the price of a new car. The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press released a number of articles on this very fact a few months past.

Given the materials required to construct a house, and that homes generally last 40 years or longer with proper maintenance, it illustrates how mishapen our society has become. Unfortunately, in both real estate and automobiles, one can easily point to how government manipulations of the markets have gotten us to this foolish situation.


May 7th, 2012
11:21 am

And here is where some knowledge of basic statistics is useful. Averages or “means” are not useful for comparisons in situations like this because they are influenced by extreme values, while medians are not.

For instance, you have four people buy cars, and they buy those cars for the following prices:

The mean (average) is $50,750. But this is misleading because the mean was pulled up by the one rich guy who bought the $150k automobile. In fact, the average is more than twice as high as the cost for each of the other cars that were purchased, besides his.

This is why we use the median. We look at the number that splits the buyers, with 50% falling above and 50% falling below. So in the sample above the median is $19,000 which is a much better representation of what the customers were actually buying and it negates the influence of the extreme outlier.

So if the average new car being bought today is $30,000, it really doesn’t tell us anything. The vast majority of the people out there may be buying cars that cost $12,000 while the one-percenters buy cars that cost $1,000,000. Report the median and you’ll have more useful information.

So in essence the info in this article is useless. Business journalists should be a little more savvy in their reporting.


May 7th, 2012
11:22 am

Generally people of lower means don’t buy new cars (I know many do but they aren’t the brightest). They buy used cars, drive their cars till the wheels fall off, or share vehicles. You can keep an old car on the road for a few grand/yr but you can’t exactly get the same outcome in your education by cutting back to 1 course/yr.

The barrier to education is often constant for many. Outside those gifted w/ exceptional intellect or high family resources, degree costs can be several times the expected starting income today. It’s also coupled w/ little guarantee there will be a real return on the investment as more people pick college over trades or other paths to careers. If you find yourself unable to pay for a car, the repo man takes it back and you go on your merry way w/ dinged credit. There’s no such case for student loans and people are often getting in well over their heads w/ unsecured student loan debt. This is especially for the case of people on the fringes of college eligibility as for-profit schools have swooped in and told anyone w/ a pulse (and a SS #) to sign up for loans to buy their way into the middle class using inflated salary/placement numbers.


May 7th, 2012
11:29 am

Completely agree with Saintmarks. It makes my head hurt to read people’s opinion on the economy when they have not one tiny bit of the basics of economic principals. These blogs almost make me want to vote Republican so just a few people can have the political power and be prescriptive in policy rather than descriptive… it’s obvious it doesn’t belong to those that read the AJC. This would be a strong country again if everyone would keep their opinions to themselves and spend that time usually complaining actually reading non-partisan material to expand their actual knowledge of how all of this works. Okay, off my soapbox.


May 7th, 2012
11:30 am

And yet, let’s all freak out about the meaningless info in the article and try to draw broad generalizations about cause and effect, politics, and the future of our nation. Demagoguery at its best.


May 7th, 2012
11:35 am

I drive a Toyota Corolla. It gets great mileage. Maintenance is minimal. I have my initials on the plates. I live economically.
I would like to live like the public servants and drive something fancy like a $90,000 Dodge Viper, but alas, it was not for me to question why?
Day to day, hand to mouth but I enjoy it. I really do.


May 7th, 2012
11:37 am

Bugatti sold 9 Veyrons ($1M+ car) last year globally. Unlike incomes, new cars tend to skew to the left hand side since there’s no production car that exceeds 1-2M depending on options (collector cars can go for far more of course). The cheapest new cars on the market generally don’t fall below 10k but the sweet spot is definitely in the 20-30k range w/ luxury cars hitting ~50k being in the mainstream.

BMW’s total annual new car sales in the US was 247,000 (Mercedes did 245,000). Honda sold ~280,000 Accords last year and they had some supply chain disruptions for components from the Japanese earthquake.

If you assume all 9 Veyrons were sold in the US at an avg of 1.5M and If the only other car sold was the Honda Accord w/ an avg price of 25k.

(25k x 280k) + (1,500k x 9) / (25,009) = $25,048

So those 1%ers would only move up the avg sales price of cars by $48.


May 7th, 2012
11:47 am

I remember once when I was in high school, my dad who always wanted a Lincoln Town Car, and I went to look at them. He really wanted that car, it was pricing out at $23,000.00. My mom had a conniption saying that it was more than they had paid for their house and he could guess again. He got a new Cougar instead. He’s 81 now, and still dreams about that Lincoln.


May 7th, 2012
11:50 am

It doesn’t have to be a 1M Bugatti to skew the curve. There are plenty of $80k-$150k cars on the road, but there are a heck of a lot more Kias. So however you’d like to spin it, the average is not a representative figure. If you’d like to allow yourself to be swayed by it, you’re free to use that as your frame of reference, but you won’t have very strong evidence for your point of view.


May 7th, 2012
11:56 am

I have a 1995 Toyota Camry with 302,000 miles on it and drives great. No major issues. I’ve ridden in some of my friends cars that are newer than mine, and theirs dont ride as good as mine.


May 7th, 2012
11:59 am

This doesn’t surprise me one bit. Thirty grand used to be a Mercedes or a Lexus, and now its a well equipped midsize car, a stripped down SUV, or a decent minivan. The price of everything goes up over time. It’s inflation, coupled with tougher fuel economy and safety requirements. That being said, buy what you can afford, and you’ll be fine. Just my $0.02…


May 7th, 2012
12:01 pm

“This would be a strong country again if everyone would keep their opinions to themselves and spend that time usually complaining actually reading non-partisan material to expand their actual knowledge of how all of this works.”

Steven, do you see the irony of this statement?


May 7th, 2012
12:57 pm

The bailouts are just a bandaid. The income coing in can’t and won’t pay the outstanding liabilities of the Big-3. Pensions are killers for them. Then look at all the unfunded intervention from Uncle Sam…C.A.F.E., safety standards like black boxes etc. Who do you think pays for all those anyway? You and me of course!


May 7th, 2012
1:27 pm

I’m not surprised cars that now come with leather seats, gps, nav, power features galore, cameras/sensors/etc cost more nominally than a car produced 10 years ago.

Rev Al

May 7th, 2012
1:41 pm

“This would be a strong country again if everyone would keep their opinions to themselves and spend that time usually complaining actually reading non-partisan material to expand their actual knowledge of how all of this works.”

Thanks Steve….for your enlightened “opinion”….


May 7th, 2012
1:45 pm

$30,000 sounds high but the trade off is that today’s new cars are better made and much more mechanically reliable.

My first new car 40 years ago needed frequent tune ups and always seemed to be in the shop for something. Now, with just routine maintenance my Acura has had zero mechanical issues and runs good as the day I bought it new 10 years ago.

American Girl with Muscle

May 7th, 2012
2:00 pm

Right now, a lot of the dealers are listing really good incentives that bring the actual cost way down. I just bought a new 2012 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus. I financed about $25K for it, with 305hp, leather interior, keyless entry, and UConnect (similar to Ford’s Sync(r) system). I do go in knowing what I am willing to pay per month, as I generally keep cars 3 – 4 years before trading. With the commute I make, my husband, who is my finance guru and negotiator, doesn’t want to come and pick me up when an older car breaks down. I’ve had enough older cars in my life to last a lifetime. Now that I can afford a nicer one, by God I will drive a nicer one.

The gas mileage for the Challenger is slightly less than that of the 2008 Nissan Altima coupe I traded for it. I loved my Altima, but after the fist year and a half, it had developed a whine that was random. Having never had a car with the CVT in it before, but having had ones (Chevys) that had transmission issues), the whine bothered me. And I got into the Challenger (130 more hp) for only $16 more per month than the Challenger. I feel safer in the Challenger – I can get out of the way when I need to, and it’s a heavier car, so it just feels stronger and safer.

Jim Bob

May 7th, 2012
2:29 pm

Of course, as the dollar continues to decline in value the prices for everything will continue to rise. Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.

Don Abernethy

May 7th, 2012
3:13 pm

If Obama is re-elected I am thinking about buying some horses and forgetting about cars.

Average Price of a New Car?

May 8th, 2012
7:37 am

[...] tidbits this weekend. For starters, the average price of a new car or light truck in April was just a shade over $30k. $30,303 to be exact, which represents a $1200 increase over last [...]

[...] tidbits this weekend. For starters, the average price of a new car or light truck in April was just a shade over $ 30k. $ 30,303 to be exact, which represents a $ 1200 increase over last [...]


May 10th, 2012
1:20 pm

An 02 Pontiac trans am with 110k mile on it and runs like a dream and still an eye catcher but then again, I paid $35k for it 10 years ago so I don’t think the $30k average is overstated.

[...] tidbits this weekend. For starters, the average price of a new car or light truck in April was just a shade over $30k. $30,303 to be exact, which represents a $1200 increase over last [...]