While tanking auto sales are bad for automakers, the customers buying cars and trucks are paying less for them than any time in the past 30 years. Comerica Bank's Auto Affordability Index shows that a vehicle with a $26,000 MSRP takes the average family 21.5 weeks of median income to buy. That's 1.3 weeks less than in December of 2008, as incentives have grown by an average of $1,700 per vehicle purchase in only five months. Lower interest rates and deep discounts are being assisted by looser credit requirements as well. In April, industry incentives averaged out to $2,931 per vehicle, and domestics were at $3,412.

The lower price of cars and trucks hasn't resulted in higher vehicle sales, though, so analysts expect the downward pricing trend to continue. Chrysler, for example, is beginning to offer incentives of up to $6,000 per vehicle. If GM enters chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 1, it's possible that the Detroit-based automaker could offer similarly deep discounts. Again, bad news for automakers, but not necessarily so for car buyers.

[Source: The Detroit News]

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