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Summers are usually slow at auto dealerships, but this year has been an exception. That's great news for folks working the sales floors, but not so good for shoppers hoping to score a good deal on a new car, according to TrueCar.com.
Thanks to growing consumer confidence, easier credit, high trade-in values, and the debut of some attractive new models, July's auto market showed some of the best year-on-year sales growth we've seen in the past 12 months.
But of course, that gives dealers fewer reasons to haggle, and makes automakers less keen to hand out incentives.
Not surprisingly, transaction prices have ticked up over the past year. In July 2011, the average new car cost $29,882. By July 2012, the figure had edged up 1.6% to $30,369.
However, some automakers' prices are significantly higher than that average. Hyundai and Kia MSRPs are a full 7% above last year. The Toyota family is up 3%, Chrysler is up 2.2%, and Honda has risen 2%.
As you might expect, incentives are correspondingly low. Automakers spent $2,480 per vehicle on rebates and other incentives in July, which is down 3.7% from the $2,575 spent in July of 2011. It's also 2.7% below the $2,548 spent in June of this year.
What does it mean for you?
As long as car sales remain strong, transaction prices should stay relatively steady, and incentives are likely to continue the downward trend we've seen for months.
However, there are deals to be found.
Transaction prices have increased more slowly at General Motors (.3%), Ford (1%), and Nissan (1%) -- likely, in an effort to maintain sales momentum.
And not everyone has cut incentives. In fact, Nissan is now spending $3,205 on Nissan and Infiniti vehicles -- up 22.4% from last year. And Volkswagen is spending $2,748 on new VWs and Audis, which is an increase of 38.1% from July 2011.
Add that to the fact that deals are sometimes easier to find in the fall, as dealers dump old models for new ones, and you could find some surprises in the showrooms.
Are you planning to buy a new car in the next few months? Will figures like these influence your decision? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.