UK independent price monitor CarPriceCheck reports that the average price of a new family car rose by a below-inflation £180 in 2001.
Based on empirical evidence and market trends, the analyst says that UK car buyers should expect a further 2.1 percent hike in transaction prices during 2002.
 
Although manufacturers' on-the-road list prices increased 1.94 percent in line with the government's headline inflation rate of 2.05 percent for the year so far, transaction prices from franchised UK dealers increased by an average of just 1.28 percent.

As a whole, the UK car market - taking into account franchised dealers, internet retailers and independent importers - posted a one percent rise in the actual cost of buying a new vehicle - half the figure imposed by manufacturers.
 
"Car prices have yo-yoed all year," said CarPriceCheck chief executive Steve Evans. On average a fifth of all models available on UK forecourts go up or down every month. The net effect has been a small rise."
 
Evans said dealers have been "sharpening their pencils" throughout the year offering competitive deals to the consumers where and when they can. 

"The big concern is the pinch dealers are feeling in order to remain competitive. Based on this year's figures, sales may be up, but profit margins have effectively been reduced by just over eight percent on a new car.
 
Evans added that, over time, this level of discounting may not last, and with global pressures on the motor industry mounting, there are signs that transaction prices will increase by around 2.1 percent during the course of next year.
Transaction prices from UK dealers rose in all market segments except for MPVs (known as minivans in the U.S.) and small family hatchbacks (categorised as superminis in Europe), which fell by 0.54 percent and 1.14 percent respectively.
 
The biggest transaction price rises recorded were in the executive car and fashionable 4x4 (SUV) markets with increases of 3.28 percent and 2.3 percent respectively. 

Exchange rate pressures (the pound sterling has risen by 3.3 percent against the Euro since the turn of the year) pushed up prices of cars independently imported from Europe by so-called grey marketers by one percent.  However, prices for 'small family' car imports rose by 3.57 percent during the period.
 
Prices charged by internet retailers have remained relatively stable throughout the past 11 months except for the 'upper medium' (Ford Mondeo-sized) and 'executive' (e.g.Audi A4) segments, which recorded an average rise of £222 and £250 respectively.

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