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Consumers and Salespeople Agree: New Car Prices Are Too High

March 28, 2001

Even though incentives are at record levels, consumers and automotive salespeople say new vehicles are becoming less affordable, according to a new study from CNW Marketing/Research of Bandon, Ore.

In a national survey of more than 1,800 car and truck shoppers and 211 dealership salespeople, conducted in March, the overall new-vehicle

affordability rating fell to levels not seen since 1991.

Shoppers were asked to rate sticker prices using a 10-point scale with "10" being "Extremely Affordable." In 1985, the average score was 6.8. By 1994 it had fallen to

4.3.

When automakers started to hold prices in the middle 1990s and allowed consumer income to "catch up" to MSRPs, the perception of affordability climbed. In 2000, for example, affordability was rated 6.2. In the last

quarter of 2000 and first quarter of 2001, however, as auto companies piled on small but cumulative price increases, the perception of affordability deteriorated to 5.8, barely ahead of the 1990 mark of 5.6.

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