Fatalities in traffic accidents may be related to socioeconomic factors.
Fatalities in traffic accidents may be related to socioeconomic factors. - 
Listen To The Story

Auto sales recorded their strongest November in a decade, selling a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of around 17 million vehicles.

Kelley Blue Book senior editor Karl Brauer says there's millions of cars worth of pent-up demand because of the great recession. Plus, this is the best lineup from the Big Three American automakers in a long time, he says.

“They’re not just strong in the large truck and SUV categories, where they have been strong for decades, but they also have very compelling cars – small cars, midsized SUVs,” he said.

Things were also helped by old-fashioned bargains and promotions. Kirt Frye, who operates the Sunnyside Automotive Group near Cleveland, had a gift card deal going over Black Friday weekend.

“We had them from 9 a.m. through 11 a.m. on a website, and at 9:05 all five of the $500 gift cards were already spoken for,” Frye said. “We sold five cars in about 15 minutes.”

Compare that to an average day of three cars sold.

In addition, gas prices have been falling, and cars are more fuel efficient than they were years ago. But Frye said gas prices are “probably not that much of an economic factor.”

“But for someone who is looking at a $12,000 to $15,000 used car, and they can buy an $18,000 new car and that new car gets 30-plus miles per gallon, now that math really matters,” he explained.

“The market is up for grabs amongst anybody,” said George Magliano, senior principal economist at IHS Automotive. “So you have to have the product and you have to fight for your market share,” he said.

So, consumers who have been waiting for the right time to buy are finding that time is now.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Tim Fitzsimons at @@tfitzsimons