The U.S. economy grew by $19 trillion between 1991-2001, yet vehicle sales stayed relatively flat, notes David Thursfield, Ford Motor Co.'s president of international operations and purchasing.
“Where did consumers spend that extra money?” he asks. “Not so much on more vehicles but on more expensive vehicles. The average transaction price rose by $10,000.”
As more high-end vehicles enter the mix, the middle of the market gets smaller, says Thursfield.
“As the market moves upscale, it means faster product cycles and shorter life cycles,” he says. “Consumers want more product, more frequently.”
Evidence of that upmarket action includes Ford's Premier Auto Group making a “small profit” last year, says Thursfield.
He says another upmarket trend indicator is a $100 million, 11-showroom luxury auto mall that opened last year in North Scottsdale, AZ.