Are Cars Selling Below MSRP? Exploring the Current Market Trends

Hello there, fellow car enthusiasts! Are you in the market for a new car? One of the most important things to consider when buying a new car is its price. Manufacturers typically set a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for their vehicles, which is the price that they recommend dealers should sell the car for. However, in reality, the price that dealers sell the car for can be much lower or even higher than the MSRP. In this article, we will explore the current market trends and investigate whether cars are selling below the MSRP.

Nowadays, car buyers have access to a plethora of information on the internet, including the MSRP of the car they are interested in. As a result, car dealerships are finding it increasingly difficult to sell cars at the MSRP. With fierce competition in the car market, many dealerships offer discounts and incentives to attract customers. This is why it is important for buyers to do their research and shop around to find the best deal. But just how low can car prices go? Let’s find out!

Current State of Car Sales

Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant impact on the global economy, with the automotive industry being hit particularly hard. Due to the uncertainty of the future and restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the virus, many car dealerships were forced to shut down, and thousands of employees were laid off. The drop in consumer activity resulted in a sharp decline in car sales. According to JD Power, automotive sales in the United States decreased by 25% within the first half of 2020 as compared to 2019.

Increased Demand for Cars

In the past few months, there has been an uptick in demand for cars, resulting from the fear of contracting COVID-19 and the desire to avoid crowded public transportation. People are looking for alternative modes of transportation that lets them maintain social distancing as they move around. This change in consumer behavior is reflected in recent studies, which show that sales of SUVs, crossovers, and trucks are increasing significantly. Even electric vehicle sales are seeing a surge in demand.

Dealerships Struggling to Keep Up with the Increased Demand

On one hand, the auto industry is experiencing a surge in demand for motor vehicles. The pandemic has led to supply chain disruptions, factory shutdowns, and global shipping delays, causing inventory shortage. On the other hand, dealerships are having difficulty navigating the new normal as they are still adjusting to new rules on how to conduct business safely and maintain social distancing measures. Consequently, car testing processes have slowed down, online sales are lagging, and deliveries of vehicle fleets are delayed.

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the usual functioning of the automotive industry. While the pandemic caused a drop in car sales initially, it has also led to an uptick in demand from people who seek safer means to travel. With ongoing production and supply chain disruptions, it remains to be seen how many people eventually purchase new cars. Nonetheless, there is still hope within the automotive industry that auto sales will eventually rebound.

MSRP: Understanding What It Means

When shopping for a new car, you may have come across the term MSRP. But what exactly does it mean? MSRP stands for Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, which refers to the price suggested for the sale of a new vehicle by the manufacturer.

What Does MSRP Include?

The MSRP includes the base price of the vehicle, as well as any optional features and accessories that come with it. However, it does not include any taxes, fees, or other additional charges that may be added on by the dealership. The MSRP is usually the highest price you can expect to pay for the vehicle, but it’s important to remember that it is just a suggestion and not a set price.

The Role of Negotiations and Discounts in Car Sales

Car dealerships often offer deals and discounts on the MSRP in order to sell cars. However, the amount of negotiation that is possible will vary depending on the demand for the vehicle and the dealership’s profit margins. In general, buyers are more likely to negotiate successfully if they do some research beforehand and come to the dealership with knowledge of the car’s value and the prices being offered by other dealerships in the area.

Types of Discounts to Look Out For

One common type of discount that dealerships offer is financing deals, such as 0% APR for a certain period of time or cashback offers. Another type of discount is the employee discount, which may be available to certain groups of people, such as military members or employees of certain companies. It’s always a good idea to ask the dealership if they have any special deals or incentives available.

Markup and Profit Margins: What You Need to Know

While the MSRP is a suggestion from the manufacturer, dealerships may choose to markup the price in order to make a profit. This markup may be in the form of additional fees, such as destination charges, or simply a higher asking price for the vehicle. However, it’s important to keep in mind that dealerships also have to be competitive with other dealerships in the area and negotiate with buyers in order to make sales.

How to Determine Markup

If you’re curious about how much markup is on a certain vehicle, it can be helpful to research the invoice price, which is the price that the dealer paid for the vehicle from the manufacturer. By knowing the invoice price and subtracting it from the asking price, you can get a better idea of how much markup there is. It’s important to keep in mind that there are also additional costs, such as advertising fees and transportation costs, that may be included in the markup.

In conclusion, while the MSRP is a suggestion from the manufacturer, it’s important to remember that negotiations and discounts may be available in order to make a purchase. Additionally, knowing about markup and profit margins can help you make an informed decision when shopping for a new car.

Are Cars Selling Below MSRP?

The Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) acts as a benchmark for car buyers to compare prices quoted by dealerships. However, the final price is often lower than the MSRP due to several reasons. Let’s take a look at why cars sell below the MSRP.

Increased Competition

Competition among car dealerships has increased with the rise of online car buying services and automotive e-commerce platforms. The fierce competition benefits the customers as dealerships offer lower prices to attract buyers. Dealerships can also use this opportunity to offer customized packages and incentives to retain their customers. During peak season, car dealerships may use special financing programs to sell cars below the MSRP, finding ways to retain their customer base by offering more value. For instance, some may offer free maintenance, insurance, or other perks to entice buyers. Such incentives are often advertised on dealer websites or social media pages.

Regional Differences

Car prices may vary regionally, with some areas having higher demand than others. For instance, a popular car model in a metropolitan city may sell above the MSRP, while the same model may sell below the MSRP in rural areas. The regional difference in price can be attributed to demographics, tax laws, and seasonality. During the winter season, some dealerships may offer discounts on sports car models, while family car models may sell at a higher price due to the higher demand for safety features.

New Models vs. Used Cars

The prices of new and used cars can also differ significantly. New cars often have little room for negotiation due to their high demand, while used cars may sell for less than their original market value. Several factors, including depreciation, age, and mileage, determine a used car’s price. A brand-new car may depreciate up to 20% after being driven for a year, making used cars an attractive option for buyers. You can research the prices of used cars on websites such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.

In summary, cars can be sold below the MSRP for various reasons, including increased competition, regional differences, and differences in new and used car models. While the MSRP acts as a guideline for car buyers, it is essential to conduct research, read reviews, and compare prices to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.

Finding the Best Deal

Buying a car can be an exciting experience, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. One of the most important things to consider when looking for a vehicle is the price. Finding the best deal will ensure that you get the most value for your money. Here are some tips to help you find the best deal on a car.

Researching Prices

Before making a purchase, it’s important to research the MSRP and average prices in your area to determine what a fair price is. The MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is the price that the manufacturer recommends for the vehicle. However, this price can often be negotiable. Checking websites such as Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds can give you an idea of the average price that people are paying for the same car in your area. This information can be useful when negotiating with dealerships.

Timing and Negotiation

Timing can also play a role in the price you pay for a car. The end of the month or year is typically a good time for negotiations. This is because dealerships may be trying to meet sales quotas or clear inventory to make room for new models. In addition, shopping during slow periods such as weekdays or during bad weather can also give you an advantage in negotiations.

When negotiating with a dealership, it’s important to know your budget and stick to it. Be willing to walk away if the price is too high. Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare prices between different dealerships. If one dealership is willing to give you a better deal, use this as leverage with other dealerships to see if they can match or beat it.

Other Factors to Consider

While price is certainly an important factor, it’s also important to consider the car’s condition, features, and overall value. Buying a car that is in good condition and has the features that you need can save you money in the long run. It’s also important to research the car’s reliability and maintenance costs to ensure that you are making a wise investment.

When it comes to buying a car, research is key. Don’t rush into a purchase without doing your homework. By researching prices, timing your purchase, and negotiating with dealerships, you can find the best deal on a car that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Conclusion: The Current Market Trends for Car Sales

As we conclude our exploration of the current market trends for car sales in relation to MSRP, it is evident that the circumstances surrounding car sales are ever-changing. With the continued growth of the US economy and the current pandemic, car sales trends are projected to continue shifting in the coming months. In recent times, car dealerships have experienced a myriad of factors affecting their sales, particularly the dwindling supply of new cars due to the global chip shortage. Nevertheless, market trends suggest that cars are not necessarily selling below MSRP as previously thought but rather, transactions are increasingly migrating towards a fixed pricing model.

It is always essential to seek insights from various sources before making any significant acquisitions like buying a car, especially in today’s market that is wrought with unpredictability. We hope this article has been insightful as you navigate the car buying process.

Thank you for reading, and we invite you to visit again soon!


1. Can you negotiate the MSRP when buying a car?
Yes, you can negotiate the MSRP when buying a car, but it is ultimately up to the dealership to accept or decline your offer.

2. Are cars selling below MSRP today?
Currently, due to the chip shortage and other market factors, cars may not be selling below MSRP as frequently as before.

3. What is the fixed pricing model in car sales?
The fixed pricing model is a set pricing strategy that dealerships use to eliminate the need for negotiation, ensuring transparency in car prices.

4. When is the best time to buy a car?
The best time to buy a car is typically at the end of the month or during big holiday sales events.

5. How can I determine the fair price for a car?
You can research the fair price for a car through online resources like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, or Carfax.

6. Are used cars selling below MSRP?
Used cars typically have more flexible pricing and may be selling below MSRP.

7. Is MSRP the final price I will pay for a car?
Not necessarily. Dealerships may add additional fees or charges, such as tax, license, and registration fees.

8. Does the type of car affect the price negotiations of MSRP?
Yes, the type of car can affect the price negotiations of MSRP due to factors such as popularity, demand, and supply.

9. What is the invoice price?
The invoice price is the amount the dealer pays the manufacturer for the car, which can serve as a useful reference point when negotiating MSRP.

10. Are there any incentives or promotions that can reduce the MSRP of a car?
Yes, manufacturers often offer incentives or promotions to reduce the MSRP of a car, such as cashback or financing offers.

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About the Author: Eibar Schmidt

Eibar is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. Also He is a casual autocrosser and occasional track day participant who believes everybody should drive cars that make them happy.

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