US: auto sales boom hides underlying pricing power image

Automakers in the US, the second largest auto market in the world, are selling cars and light trucks at a pace not seen in more than a decade. But they’re not just selling more of them, they’re also delivering the most expensive vehicles consumers can afford.

For example, the average pickup truck last month was selling for a price of $45,700, up 4.8 percent from the same period last year, said figures compiled by Kelley Blue Book. And during the first six months of the year, two of the top ten best selling vehicles of more than $50,000 were pickups – the Ford F-Series and Ram 1500 to 3500. Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of sales and marketing, reported that even as the automaker lifted its incentives by $1,000 in July, the average transaction price for the F-150 model still landed at $44,000 – a good $3,200 more than during the same period last year. And GM’s Chevrolet brand delivered 56,380 Silverado trucks, which represents a 33.9 percent jump from last year, with the model now breathing in the neck of the all-time best-seller, its archrival F-150.

According to TrueCar, a car shopping information and research firm, the industry is estimated to have grossed a record $47 billion in revenue last month, soaring 2.1 percent from the same month in 2014. With gas prices still relatively low and financing readily available for longer periods, deliveries of pickups, SUVs and crossovers remained torrid as they trump passenger cars. As the overall industry posts its best results in years, the sales of small and midsize passenger cars are spiraling down.