DETROIT (NEWSnet/AP) — Undeterred by high prices, rising interest rates, autoworker strikes and a computer-chip shortage that slowed assembly lines, U.S. consumers purchased 15.6 million new vehicles in 2023, 12% more than in 2022.

It’s the largest increase in more than a decade.

Sales still haven’t returned to the 17 million rate in the years prior to the pandemic.

“You see the consumer making a concerted effort to ensure that they’re getting the best price possible,” said Jonathan Chariff, CEO of South Automotive Group, a 10-dealership group in the Miami area. “They basically feel that this is the right time to buy from a perspective of being able to get the discounts.”

Average auto sales prices peaked in December 2022 at just over $47,300, with vehicles in short supply because of a global chip shortage that limited production. Some dealers were able to charge over the sticker price to buyers who needed a new ride or had the money to get one.

But the chip shortage gradually eased last year and is almost over.

Ford, General Motors and Stellantis endured six-week strikes by United Auto Workers that concluded last fall. As a result, vehicle supplies on dealer lots are strong and growing, and prices are beginning to drop as automakers and dealers dangle discounts.

Data from J.D. Power show that average price in mid-December was  down 2.7% from the peak, to around $46,000.

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive, said he expects the gap between the sticker price and the transaction price that consumers pay to widen.

“We do think that the tables start to turn in 2024,” he said. “Discounting will be the key difference in why transaction prices are declining.”

Electric vehicle sales grew 47% to a record 1.19 million for the full year, according to EV market share grew from 5.8% in 2022 to 7.6%.

Gas-electric hybrid sales rose 54% to 1.2 million, with market share leaping from 5.6% in 2022 to 7.7%.

General Motors, the top seller in the U.S., posted a 14% sales increase for 2023. Toyota sales grew 7%. Honda was up by 33%.  Stellantis sales dipped by about 1% for the year.

Toyota’s RAV4 small SUV was the country’s top-selling vehicle that isn’t a pickup.

Follow us on Facebook and X platform to get our headlines in your social feeds.

Copyright 2024 NEWSnet and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.