The average price of a new car just hit a new record high — and more vehicles are now selling for $50,000 and up.
Just about everything in the economy has gotten more expensive in recent months, as the latest inflation numbers show. But abnormally high prices for cars and gas have made times especially tough for drivers.
While gas prices and used car prices are finally coming down, new car prices are more expensive than ever. The average price consumers are paying for new vehicles in the U.S. reached a new record of $48,301 in August, according to a report this week from vehicle valuation company Kelley Blue Book.
For the sake of comparison, the average price for a new car was $48,080 in July. A year ago, the average was $43,589 — or roughly $5,000 less than it is now. (It’s worth bearing in mind that a year ago was also considered an especially bad time to buy a car.)
One reason why it’s so hard to buy a new car at a reasonable price is that there is still a shortage of vehicles available for purchase. Rebecca Rydzewski, a research manager who oversaw the latest Kelley Blue Book report, said inventory levels for new vehicles improved in August, getting back to the highest point since June 2021. But inventory is still below 2019 and 2020 levels, and it’s especially tight for subcompacts, hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs), she said.
The result is a much more competitive (and expensive) market for buyers, who are increasingly likely to be paying $50,000 or more for a new set of wheels.
10 car manufacturers averaging prices of $50,000+
The average cost of new cars increased by $222 in August, marking five consecutive months of rising prices.
Ten car manufacturers analyzed by Kelley Blue Book now have average new vehicle purchase prices above $50,000, including three companies that passed the mark in the last year: Volkswagen, General Motors and Stellantis, which is the parent company for car brands including Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram.
Tata Motors, $86,154
Tesla Motors, $69,831
Geely Auto Group, $58,648
Volkswagen Group, $54,858
Ford Motor Company, $54,227
General Motors, $52,175
Kelley Blue Book said luxury vehicles accounted for a higher-than-normal share of new car purchases in August, which is part of the reason why average prices are at a record high. The growing number of EV options, which tend to be priced in the range of luxury cars, is also driving up the average.
While car manufacturers and experts have long told us that electric cars will eventually get cheaper and more accessible to the average American family, the average purchase price for EVs has been surging.
In August, average EV purchase prices reached $66,524, an increase of 1.7% since July and a 15.6% increase in the last year.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday also showed new vehicle prices are rising — up 0.8% from July to August, outpacing the overall 0.1% month-to-month increase in consumer prices. New car prices are up a whopping 10.1% in the last year, according to the August consumer price index (CPI).
The glimmer of good news: Used car prices dropped 0.1% in August, a second consecutive monthly decline. On the year, however, used car prices are up 7.8%, according to CPI data.
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