Shoppers will keep buying larger, more costly vehicles

Shoppers will keep buying larger, more costly vehicles

The increase in sales of light trucks and especially crossovers has been well documented in 2015. In an unusual move, even Washington area buyers preferred light trucks in the first quarter (see preceding article). An analysis by says that trend will continue.

Several economic reasons contribute: lower unemployment, more confidence in the economy and low gas prices. –The most cost-conscious, fuel-efficient mentality from the recession and early recovery years has faded,” said Chief Economist Lacey Plache.

To predict future trends, Plache looked at the sticker prices of vehicles configured by consumers on Configuration trends, she said, inform sales trends. In the three top segments midsize cars, compact crossovers and compact cars the share of shoppers configuring higher-end, better equipped vehicles has risen while the share configuring lower-end vehicles has dropped.

The increase in leasing has also made it easier to acquire a new vehicle, as lease payments tend to be lower than finance payments. Leasing has been 28 percent of new-vehicle sales so far this year, making 2015 likely a record year for leasing.

The only upper end segment that has not grown is luxury vehicles, Plache said, though entry luxury SUVs are an exception.

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