The new-vehicle average transaction price increased to $48,281.  -  IMAGE: Getty Images/welcomia

The new-vehicle average transaction price increased to $48,281.

IMAGE: Getty Images/welcomia

The average price paid for a new vehicle in the United States in October rose over September and remains above the $48,000 mark, according to data released by Kelley Blue Book, a Cox Automotive company.  

The Kelley Blue Book new-vehicle average transaction price (ATP) increased to $48,281, slightly lower than the revised all-time high of $48,301 set in August. October prices rose 0.2% ($187) month-over-month and were up 3.8% ($1,775) year-over-year.  

Kelley Blue Book calculations show October marks a record 17th straight month that new-vehicle ATPs bested the average manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), also known as the sticker price.  

“The sales and transaction data from October clearly indicates that there are plenty of flush-with-cash buyers with strong credit still in the market and paying top dollar for new vehicles,” said Rebecca Rydzewski, research manager of economic and industry insights for Cox Automotive. “Automakers and dealers continue to hold back on incentives, as well. In all, inventory is improving, but prices remain stubbornly high.”  

According to Cox Automotive estimates, new-vehicle inventory is steadily improving, though some brands have a noticeably larger supply than others. “If consumers are flexible on make and model, it will be possible to find a good deal at year-end sales events,” Rydzewski said.  

Average Luxury Car Prices Up 

Strong luxury vehicle sales have been a primary reason for overall elevated new-vehicle prices. Luxury vehicle share remains historically high, dropping slightly to 17.8% of total sales in October from 17.9% in September. The high share of luxury sales helps to push the overall industry ATP higher.  

In October, the average luxury buyer paid $66,645 for a new vehicle, up $331 from September, when luxury ATPs reached $66,314. Buyers continue to pay more than MSRP for new luxury vehicles, although prices are trending closer to or below sticker prices in some luxury segments.  

BMW and Porsche showed the most price strength in the luxury market, transacting between 3% and 5.5% over sticker price. Luxury brands Acura, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz showed the least price strength, selling 1% or more below MSRP. 

Average Nonluxury  Prices Up, Stay Above Sticker 

The average price paid for a new nonluxury vehicle in October was $44,288, up $142 month-over-month. On average, car shoppers in the nonluxury segment paid $690 above sticker price, a slight drop.  

Most nonluxury brands had stable pricing or declines in October. Honda, Hyundai and Kia showed the greatest price strength in the nonluxury market, transacting between 4% and 8% over sticker price. Meanwhile, Buick showed the least price strength, selling 1% or more below MSRP. 

EV Prices Fall But Up From a Year Earlier

The average price paid for a new EV fell in October by $2,286, or 2.3%, compared to September but was up by 7% year-over-year. The average new EV price was $64,249, according to Kelley Blue Book estimates, well above the industry average and aligning more with luxury prices versus mainstream prices. 

Manufacturer Incentives Still Historically Low 

Incentives remained stable in October at 2.1% of the average transaction price. A year earlier, incentives averaged 4.3% of ATP. Luxury cars had the highest incentives at 4.4% of ATP. Meanwhile, high-performance cars, vans, minivans and luxury full-size SUVs/crossovers had the lowest incentives, all less than 1% of ATP.  

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