Another day, another increase in production at a U.S. auto plant—and with it, a rising expectation that Americans could buy a record number of new vehicles next year or by 2016.
"We believe the industry can go over 17 million next year," said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford of the Americas. "We're forecasting between 16.8 and 17.5 million next year. We're preparing for that."
The automaker is hiring another 1,200 workers and a second shift at its Kansas City assembly plant so that it can build more Transit vans.
17 million in sales next year?
Record sales at higher prices
The surge in auto sales this year is noteworthy given that transaction prices have risen to well above $30,000 on average. In fact, the average price paid at an auto dealership this year has risen $676 to $31,610, according to Truecar.com.
The increase is driven by consumers who are willing to pay for the latest technology and features in new vehicles. In particular, electronics and connectivity are being requested by buyers heading into showrooms.
"There's a lot of new technology going into these vehicles, and more importantly, the operating costs are getting better for people. People are willing to pay up for those attributes," Hinrichs said. "We believe there's still upside, especially with SUVs and trucks."
Truecar.com estimates that the average price paid at a dealership for a large pickup truck now exceeds $40,000.
That price is expected to get a bump higher when Ford rolls out its all new F-Series pickup later this year. With much of the new truck being built with lighter weight aluminum, the new F-Series is promising greater fue leconomy. By some estimates, the new F-Series could get close to 30 miles per gallon.
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