U.S. Car Prices Cross the $40,000 Threshold

Car prices have been going for a while, but even by recent standards a December jump in car prices is likely to be an outlier.

January 17, 2021, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Cars Ride Disneyland

Ken Lund / Flickr

"The average new car price paid in December 2020 and the fourth quarter of last year crossed over $40,000 for the first time.," reports Sean Szymkowski from quarterly analysis published recently by Edmunds.

"On average, new car buyers left dealerships (or signed papers from home) having agreed to a car payment of $581 per month at a 4.6% APR over 70 months," adds Szymkowski.

As noted by Szymkowski here and in a previous article, car prices rose steadily throughout 2020 despite the economic downturn. December tends to be a high point for luxury car sales, pushing the month's numbers beyond the recent rate of price growth.

Szymkowski calls on Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds' executive director of insights, to offer some perspective about the economic divide apparent in the sales data. "It might seem at odds with unemployment levels and the harsh financial conditions that so many Americans are finding themselves in right now, but the consumers who are buying new cars during the pandemic are clearly on the other side of the economic divide," Caldwell says in the article.

Thus, "a whole host of buyers" are left out of the market, according to Szymkowski.

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