The past year was marked by increased demand for larger vehicles and used cars, and auto makers outside Japan scaled back incentives, car shopping website Edmunds.com said Tuesday in its review of 2010 trends.
Consumers, particularly those who put off buying a car in the recession, were warmer to trucks and sports utility vehicles as gas prices remained stable.
For 2010, Edmunds expects truck sales rose 15% and SUV sales, 21%. Meanwhile, sales of midsize and compact cars are expected to be up 7.8% and 1.1%, respectively. Hybrid car sales are seen down 8.1%.
Used cars were also more popular: their average price was $19,345 this month versus $16,586 a year earlier.
Analyst Karl Brauer said that because car shoppers have been willing to opt for used or certified preowned cars rather than new cars, the reduced supply and increased demand pushed the cost of the substitutes higher than those of new cars. “But, because that is counter-intuitive, many used car shoppers aren’t even considering a new car,” he said.
The group’s data on incentives costs found that U.S., European and Korean auto makers scaled back their large incentives in 2010, while Japan car makers increased their relatively meager ones.
Japanese brands remained the lowest in average incentive spending with $1,968 per car sold this year, up from $1,637 the prior year. In comparison, U.S. cars averaged $3,333 in incentives this year, down from $3,766 in 2009.
Edmunds also said that 2010 had more car recalls than the prior year and nearly twice the number of complaints, according to an analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.