New or used? Either way, price hikes squeeze US auto buyers

FENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The viral pandemic has triggered a cascade of price increases throughout America’s auto industry – a surge that has made both new and used vehicles unaffordable for many.

Prices of new vehicles far outpaced overall consumer inflation over the past year. In response, many buyers who were priced out of that market turned to used vehicles. Yet their demand proved so potent that used-vehicle prices soared even more than new ones did.

The price of an average new vehicle jumped 6% between January of last year, before the coronavirus erupted in the United States, and December to a record $40,578, according to data from


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