DETROIT — Frugality is becoming a distant memory for car shoppers, as they flock to bigger and more expensive vehicles, according to a new market analysis from Edmunds.com.
"The cost-conscious, fuel-efficient mentality from the recession and early recovery years has faded," said Edmunds.com Chief Economist Dr. Lacey Plache. "We expect these economic trends to continue into next year at least, so there's every reason to believe that shopper preferences for larger and more expensive vehicles will continue along the same path."
The trend is apparent in the three most-shopped vehicle segments. They are midsize-car, compact-crossover and compact-car segments.
The analysis found that the share of shoppers configuring high-end, better-equipped vehicles has increased while the share configuring lower-end vehicles has decreased.
For example, the average price of a configured midsize car in January 2013 was approximately $28,300. By January 2015, the average rose to $29,800, while the average transaction price in this segment went up from $29,100 to $29,500 in the same period.
Factors fueling the trend include cheaper credit and the gravitation toward leasing.
However, the market share for luxury vehicles is not growing.
"Today's car shoppers are taking a step or two beyond the more financially conservative choices made in recent years, but we aren't generally seeing the mainstream buyers reach into luxury the way we did before the economic crisis," Dr. Plache said.
Edmunds says: Consumer confidence plays a major role in how we configure and plan for our future vehicles.