Car companies race to top their own year-ago numbers

Let’s expect flat U.S. auto sales for the month of January, cause there are no hopes or reasons for them to be different. A very high level of incentives is sustaining U.S. automobile sales on a high plateau.

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This January the average spending per unit was $3,614, which means it’s up $232 from January 2016, not a bad result though considering the expectations we had. High prices match the high level of incentives. The average new-vehicle retail transaction price in January was $31,473, a record for the month. That’s the total price, net of incentives. It would be a more troubling sign for the auto industry if incentive spending were up, but sales and-or transaction prices were down. In the run-up to the Great Recession, sales failed to respond even when the car companies threw money at the problem.

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