Having just bought two cars in the past month, I was interested to read a handful of interesting car-related 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 year.
Needless to say, we’re below average, having paid less than $30k for both cars (but not less than $30k total — do we get extra credit for having bought two cars?).
This overall price increase is being made possible, in part, by pent up demand. In fact, the average age of passenger vehicles in the United States has steadily crept up in recent years, reaching 10.8 years (overall; cars are 11.1 years old on average vs. light trucks & SUVs at 10.4 years) in 2011.
Another factor that is reportedly driving demand is high gas prices. Thanks to stringent federal standards, average fuel economy reached an all-time high in 2012. At the same time, gas prices have moved steadily upward (though they’ve dipped a bit over the past month or so), meaning that many people are in the market for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Interestingly, used car prices have also increased as supplies of late model used cars have dwindled (thanks to drivers keeping their old cars longer; see above). I would imagine that higher new car prices have also (probably — I’m just speculating) helped to nudge used car prices up as more people are looking to the used car market to save a few bucks.
So I guess this is sort of a good news/bad news thing if you’re looking to buy a new car. While you’ll likely wind up paying more than in years past, your may be able to get a better than usual price for your old car.