WOLF STREET “Pickup Truck & Car Price Index” for 2021 Models Crushes Official “CPI for New Vehicles”

And I mean, not just by a little. The F150 XLT & Camry LE are at it again. My annual brain-twisting stunner.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Toyota finally released the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) of its 2021 Camry LE, after releasing prices of higher-end Camrys a while ago. Ford released the MSRP of its 2021 F-150 XLT in October. The Camry has been the best-selling car in the US. The F-Series has been the best-selling truck, as well as the best-selling automobile of any kind in the US. Both models go back beyond 1990, and there are not many models that have been continuously produced since 1990.

They form the WOLF STREET “Pickup Truck & Car Price Index.” It’s not seasonally adjusted, and it’s free of “hedonic quality adjustments” and other methods that the government uses infamously to lower its “Consumer Price Index for New Vehicles.” It reflects price changes of the same model over the years, in their purest form. And when juxtaposed to the official CPI for New Vehicles, it turns into my annual brain-twisting stunner.

Camry LE Prices.

You cannot yet find a 2021 Camry LE in showrooms. Build dates start in mid-November, I was told. But higher-end 2021 Camrys are already out there.

The low-end Camry L got axed for the 2021 model year, and the base version of the LE is the rock-bottom Camry you can buy. The Camry was redesigned for the 2018 model year, which, as is typical, came with a jump in price. In between redesigns, prices change little. So MSRP for the 2021 model is $24,970, unchanged from the 2020 model, but up 70% from the MSRP of a 1990 Camry LE.

Cars face dying demand in America. Ford, GM, Fiat Chrysler, and others have already dropped many of their car models. For example, Ford ended production of the Fusion in August. Automakers have switched production to trucks, SUVs, vans, and compact SUVs. Compact SUVs are based on car chassis and power trains but are a little higher and offer more space, and are more expensive than equivalent cars, and Americans love them, and automakers love them because they make more money on them. But the Camry has survived.

F-150 XLT Prices.

The MSRP for 2021 F-Series trucks ranges from $28,940 for the base F-150 XL to nearly $100,000 for a Crew Cab Lariat 4×4 with all the options, bells, and whistles. The base F-150 XLT is one step up from the XL. The 2021 model got a redesign – a revised nose, new headlights, new taillights, and some other things. And as you expected, the redesign came with a price increase: the F-150 XLT base MSRP, after remaining unchanged last year, rose by $890 to $35,050. This is up a stunning 170% from 1990!

Why MSRP?

Hardly anyone pays MSRP. There are nearly always incentives by automakers and discounts by dealers. But this was also the case in 1990. The MSRP is set by the automaker at the beginning of the model year and doesn’t change for the model year. What changes are the incentives and discounts. But MSRP allows us to approximate year-to-year price changes.

The WOLF STREET “Pickup Truck & Car Price Index.”

The chart below shows the MSRP of the F-150 XLT for each model year (+170% since 1990, blue bars, left scale), the MSRP of the Camry LE (+70% since 1990, red line, left scale), and the Consumer Price Index for New Vehicles by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (+21% since 1990, green line, right scale), which is now about where it had been in 1997, an indication that somehow there was no inflation in the prices of new vehicles:

In the chart above, note how the CPI for New Vehicles from 1989 through 1997 roughly tracked the actual price changes of the vehicles. But then the calculation method was changed, and the CPI stopped tracking price increases, and in fact started showing price decreases until 2009.

To put the F-150 XLT, the Camry LE, and the CPI for New Vehicles on the same scale, I converted the data into “percent change since 1990.” This shows three things:

  1. The apparent absurdity of New Vehicle CPI, which has remained flat for over 20 years even as actual prices have soared;
  2. The dying demand for cars in the US that doesn’t allow automakers to raise prices as much as they can with trucks;
  3. And the red-hot demand for trucks, amid Americans’ willingness to pay out of their noses for trucks, while automakers are raving about their ability to shift Americans into these high-profit trucks:

But it’s not the same Camry and the same F-150.

The 2021 Camry LE comes with Amazon’s Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. You might hate Alexa, but many Americans are in love with her and cannot imagine life without her. So now she is not only inside the bedroom but also inside the car.

The 1990 Camry LE didn’t even know who Alexa was. It had a four-speed automatic transmission instead of the super-duper electronic do-it-all 8-Speed Direct Shift ECT-i Automatic with sequential shift mode of today’s base Camry LE.

The 2021 Camry LE’s 4-cylinder engine produces 203 hp versus 115 hp for the 1990 model. Today’s Camry LE is rated at 38 MPG on the highway. The 1990 Camry LE was rated at 28 MPG on the highway.

Today’s Camry LE has an audio system with a 7-inch touchscreen and six speakers, 17-inch alloy wheels, integrated backup camera with projected path, auto on/off headlights, Tire Pressure Monitor System, and an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.

Today’s Camry LE has 10 airbags, front and rear energy-absorbing crumple zones, side-impact door beams, “Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection,” “Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist,” and many other safety features.

It has Hill Start Assist Control, which is sweet in San Francisco, when you’re stopped pointing up a hill that is so steep that you’re just looking into the sky, though it might be less useful in Illinois. It has Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which allows you to use the cruise control in dense expressway-traffic as it adjusts to the speed and lane changes of vehicles in front of you. And it has lots of other features of modern vehicles.

The F-150 has made similar progress. The base engine is the 3.3L V6 with 290 hp and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. And it comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The truck has a long list of features that are similar to the Camry’s, in addition to some special truck features, such as towing capacity.

Vehicles today offer features, including safety features, and performance that their 1990 models couldn’t even dream of.

Which brings us to inflation.

Price increases consist of at least two factors:

  1. The loss of purchasing power of the dollar (inflation as a monetary phenomenon), meaning the price you pay for the same thing over time.
  2. The costs of quality improvements, for example going from a 4-speed automatic transmission in 1990 to a 10-speed can-do-it-all automatic in 2021.

To separate the loss of purchasing power of the dollar from the costs of quality improvements, and remove the costs of quality improvements from the CPI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics employs “hedonic quality adjustments.” It estimates the additional costs of these quality improvements and removes them from the CPI for New Vehicles every year.

How these costs of quality improvements are estimated determine how much of the actual price increases are removed from CPI calculations. And clearly, the BLS has gotten very aggressive in estimating and removing those cost, given that its CPI for New Vehicles has remained essentially flat since 1997, while the actual prices of new vehicles have soared. In reality, consumers have to pay the actual prices and they have to pay for the quality improvements whether they want them or not, and their life is getting more expensive, though that’s not fully reflected in CPI.

Just the Numbers. Read… Tesla v. GM v. Ford: Sacrilege to Mention Them in the Same Breath, But Here We Go

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  151 comments for “WOLF STREET “Pickup Truck & Car Price Index” for 2021 Models Crushes Official “CPI for New Vehicles”

  1. Lee says:

    “Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection,” “Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist,” and many other safety features.”

    Add those on plus a few of the other in built Camry safety features to a basic Porsche and the Porsche extras would probably work out to the same cost of the Camry!!!

    • Kenny Logins says:

      Yeah it’s silly. BMW charge a fortune for them on a higher end model when a mid-top range Ford can have them as standard.

      Which makes you realise their cost is minimal in the big picture.
      Which makes you realise two things… premium brands are ripping you off… and the ‘value’ of them in CPI adjustment terms is negligible too.

      It’s similar to RPI/CPI calcs in the UK. TVs are cheaper than ever because now they’re bigger (£/sq.m), so inflation is low right?
      Yes if you can eat TVs like a pizza then there has never been a better time to live with such low inflation!

      • Morty Mc Mort says:

        My Mechanic has a Team of 8 Mechanics working with him at his shop.. we have been doing business for many many years..
        He recently landed a contract, so that he repairs many of the used European High End Lux brands..
        I pulled in recently, for a fix on my 12 year old Nissan Rogue..
        The lot was full of Pre Owned BMW’s Porches, Mercedes, Range Rovers..
        I was looking at them mildly curious and a little envious.. he pulled up and got out of a high end used Mercedes.. I said “Hey Peter! Moving up, getting your Brand on!!” – He got the most disgusted look on his face.. “Garbage.. total Garbage, these cars..
        and cost of fixing is through the roof.. Disgusting..”
        I lost any taste I might have left.. for the EuroLux Allure…

        • wkevinw says:

          It seems all of the luxury brands, including Cadillac, are made to last ~100kmi or so and then they are too expensive to keep. A family member had a Benz and got rid of it after a time because it was crazy expensive.

          On the 8-10 speed transmissions. I don’t really understand the benefit after about 5 speeds. The highest gear determines the highway mpg. The number of gears makes it smoother. However, the transmissions are probably the most complex thing in the vehicle by that point, and I am thinking it is expensive with diminishing returns/benefits.

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          The crapification of things continue. Glad that even the upper class are also experiencing it.

        • Prairies says:

          wkevinw

          Some transmission information for ya. Overdrive isn’t always the best gear for fuel mileage and the gap between 4th and 5th can be very inefficient, an 8 or 10 speed focuses on keeping your engine rpm’s in a very narrow window. That window might be 2500-2700 rpm, but say 5th gear gets you to 2200rpm and 4th spikes to 3000rpm as you hit a head wind or small hill. You get ok fuel mileage, but not the best unless you can make those changes smaller.

    • Les says:

      Quantifying the safety features as a cost improvement is redundant since those savings should be realized in car insurance premiums, vehicle repair and maintenance expenditures, and accident costs.

  2. Mikey says:

    I didn’t have any accidents with the fieldbeaters I was buying for one or two hundred dollars in the seventies. Cellular phones have canceled out most of the improved safety features.

    • x says:

      That’s survivorship bias. The dead aren’t here to comment.

      • William Doenges says:

        Also, the moral hazard plays a role because as cars have become safer people feel safer driving more recklessly.

  3. Yort says:

    Ever wonder if Fed policy has anything to do with consumer inflation as that 170% F-150 XLT MSRP price increase took 30 years, yet the Fed drove Treasury Securities up 25.1% over the last 12 months alone. High-yield and unrated corporate bonds “only” went up 20.0% over the last 12 months. How can CPI be less than 2% constantly when every Fed tracked asset has increased anywhere from 5.3% to 14.3% PER YEAR, each and every year over the last 23 years via Fed monetary madness? F-150XLT “truck asset” inflation of “only” 5.67% per year over 30 years is low on the Fed asset list, yet it fits nicely nevertheless. Yet the Fed complains there is not enough inflation, thus we need more (in)stability via never ending higher prices…mmmkay

    Per the latest Fed “Stability” Report, Table 1. Size of Selected Asset Markets on page 16 of Fed PDF link below:

    https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/financial-stability-report-20201109.pdf

    • Yort says:

      Page 24, not page 16. I chuckle every time I see the Fed named the asset report the —>Financial “Stability” Report. The Feds do seem to have a sense of humor, along with a God complex unfortunately…

      • Yort says:

        Ok, time for bed…it was page 16, not page 24….argggggg…LOL Although page 24 is fun too as banks had 16.7% growth in last 12 months…

      • DozerDad says:

        Improvements in the manufacturing process via automation has led to much fewer working hours to produce equivalent products. Imagine what that 2021 Camry or F150 would cost without the Fed’s manipulation of the money supply since 1990, probably LOWER than what they cost 30 years ago.

      • Stephen P Walsh says:

        Didn’t internal emails from Ford show that execs were laughing about gouging the American public?

    • Lou Mannheim says:

      “ How can CPI be less than 2% constantly”

      Labor arb and automation help.

  4. historicus says:

    The adjustment will be as they do for other objects.
    You are getting more, therefore the cost is not inflation but the cost for added value.

    • Fromks says:

      Do they do this for real estate also? Would be hard to explain how a few remodelings would be used to explain quality improvements lowering housing inflation.

  5. Al Loco says:

    I miss the days where you could check the boxes of the options you wanted. Those days were actually before my time but I know back in the 60’s you could opt for an Fm radio or Ac at the cost of a kidney. I dont mind being forced to pay for airbags and Abs but in my experience the rest of these features are thrown in just to compete in the market. My wifes new Honda Pilot will beep and shake the steering wheel intermittently on 2 lane country roads because it thinks your going to run into the car coming in the opposite direction. My Camry will STAB the brakes at 75 Mph when the cruise control is on if another car drifts slightly into my lane. It doesnt care if anyone’s behind me. Dont get me started on the goddamn system updates it constantly wants to do. Cars are seemingly built for cell phone use now.

    • Lance Manly says:

      Ah yes, the Honda “Nonsensing System”. Wife’s Passport suffers from it, have to turn it all off.

    • Paulo says:

      Hey, these ‘upgrades’ are a nightmare. What about people who just want a decent honest form of transportation? People can’t drive anymore? Check tire pressure? Fluid levels?

      Okay, confession time. 11 years ago we ordered a new Toyota Yaris from Japan due to all the rebates and our local ‘scrap it’ program. We saved about 6K with the incentives which was darn near 30% off sticker. But here’s the deal….we ordered in a car because we wanted hand winder windows and not electric. The dealer had only cars with all the bells and whistles of the time. Why order in you might ask? At the time (friends) asked me to fix electric seat motors. One person had a window motor failure and their window was stuck open. That plastic and duct tape sure looked nice. (I told them to take their problems to their dealer). Plus, we were commuting on a dangerous road and had visions of accidentally going into a water filled ditch we might need to exit from via window. And yes, we did have a long time friend who went off this same icy highway and both her and partner burned to death when they couldn’t exit. They were in a truck.

      Alexa? Not likely to happen…ever. Not in our house, anyway. But we’re also the people who told family members we’ll buy a cell phone jammer if they ever pull out their phones at the dinner table.

      Eddy Arnold:
      Make the world go away
      And get it off my shoulders

      :-)

      • Harrold says:

        Do you miss those hand crank starters too?

        • Paulo says:

          ha ha,

          No, but I miss being able to buy a starter mtr for under $100 and being able to install it in 15-20 minutes. My old Tercel took 10 minutes with the starter right under the hood.

          New plugs for an F150 is close to 1K by the time they remove most of the shrouding to get it done.

        • J7915 says:

          Long time family acquaintance long time ago: a german fellow immigrated to Us in the late 50s. Anyway as he progressed up the GM model ladder, cheap chevy, better Pontiac, then a Buick. The power windows consistently stuck open in Rochester, NY in winter. The final rungs up the ladder were a hassle. Ever order a caddy power everything with crank windows?

      • rankinfile says:

        Eddy Shrugged

      • NBay says:

        Almost willing to bet cost of simple motor and thermistor ckt and simplified gearing and tracks are cheaper to buy and install at factory than old crank handle and regulator. Electronic components are dirt cheap and the only thing WAY cheaper is software….buttons and knobs are disappearing fast, (from everything) in case you haven’t noticed, while the “features” increase….push twice and hold 3 sec while pushing….blah, blah, blee.

        And the automotive things that can go on a CAN buss are unlimited…..try and find an intermittent short/open somewhere on it, though.

    • Heinz says:

      Today’s passenger cars are approaching an ‘end game’, whereby you can start the car and pretty much let your brain go mushy the rest of your journey while car’s automation features do much of thinking and driving for you. True self-driving vehicles are next big thing, whenever that happens.

      So much for Fahrvergnuegen (Driving Pleasure), once an advertising slogan of Volkswagen. Car aficionados are either titillated or disgusted, depending on their frame of mind.

      That said, I would prefer affordable, simple, no frills stripped-down autos (but with modern safety features, up to a point– 10 air bags sounds overdone) to get you safely and reliably from point A to point B.

      Eventually automakers will out-gadget themselves to the point where people get fed up and find market-changing alternatives to buying high tech new cars.

      Maybe the Boeing 737 Max moment is coming for the automakers and their unrestrained technology overreach.

      • David G LA says:

        @heinz
        And with more automation and gadgets, the worse the driving behavior. People are totally disconnected from the road and the engine. I see such bad drivers in LA – it’s like they are driving on those fake track car rides at Disneyland. Not a care in the world. oblivious to their speed, pedestrians, other drivers, signals.

      • Escher says:

        These vehicles are built to be obsolete for stop working properly way before their core mechanicals fail.
        Electronics will likely not last for more than 5-7 years without something conking out, and the replacement costs (no repair of course in these days of modular assemblies) will be prohibitive.

      • NBay says:

        Yeah….still awaiting the software/training fix for a basically tail heavy aircraft.
        The military can pay for lots of design instabilities that pilots could never handle on their own (and do in spades), but I don’t know about those in the bus business.

  6. Crush the Peasants! says:

    Why would the BLS drastically undercalculate inflation? What could the motive possibly be?

    • sunny129 says:

      @Crush the Peasants

      So that Govt/SS admin doesn’t dole out more every year.
      A lot of gimmicks – CPI, PCE
      Fed, BLS Congress – all complicit. Wonder the GREY power hasn’t enraged?

      • FromKS says:

        Less money to Social Security, keep interest rates low for business. It’s a win/win scenario for those in power.

  7. endeavor says:

    When leasing fails to be affordable in the near future this whole dynamic will change. That is unless a new cash for clunkers appears to subsidize it going forward.

    • Max Power says:

      They’ll just come up with 100-month loans.

      Before anyone thinks that’s absurd… Note that current new car average loan term length are now 72 months (meaning half the loans are 72 months or longer).

      • Anthony A. says:

        I heard an advertisement yesterday for 84 month auto financing (new Audi Q7).

        • BuySome says:

          Oh, joy. We can just keep extending this game so that the moment you are born your parents can take out the auto loan in your name for your future car that you can spend 75 years paying off. No wonder these new generations are P.O.’d about the coming outlook..they’re dead and buried before they get out the gate. But maybe they can choose the color.

      • Harrold says:

        Thats not how averages work.

        You are referring to median.

        Which is still incorrect, as 1/3 of car loans had terms longer than 72 months.

      • SteveTaylor says:

        You can already get 240 month loans for boats or RVs. I saw it at the local BassPro this weekend.

  8. Kent says:

    What about improvements in manufacturing techniques, machinery, just in time inventory management, lower cost of money, etc…? Shouldn’t prices actually be going down? Especially given the global competition.

    • dr_doomz says:

      “What about improvements in manufacturing techniques, machinery, just in time inventory management, lower cost of money, etc…? Shouldn’t prices actually be going down? Especially given the global competition.”

      That would be the natural outcome. Consider home construction costs. Thanks to taxation, inflation, and regulation, it costs even more to build a home today than it did in the 1800s, inflation adjusted, despite all the innovation. Labor regulation is an important factor. Back in the early 1900s, framers, plumbers, tile setters, etc, made the equivalent of $13-$15 per hour. Today it’s a minimum $25 per hour and “overtime” at 1.5 times that. Also, employers today have much higher overhead associated with labor: much more expensive workers comp, higher benefit costs (many of which are mandatory), compliance costs, etc.

      • dr_doomz says:

        ….forgot to mention, “payroll tax expense”! And to add insult to injury, nowadays, “developer impact fees”. But let’s call a spade a spade. A cost that’s tacked on to the purchase price that you don’t see, or if you do, you believe the developer paid for it, because well, it does say “developer fees”! ;) That’s where all the innovation has gone actually.

  9. Minutes says:

    The Fed assumes the heated seats more than make up for the 50% of purchasing power lost since 1990. Butt warmers. And there it is. Modern Finance

  10. Sir.PiratePapirus says:

    This article reminds me of a low budget detective series, where the investigator tries to uncover a murder mystery by analyzing every villager’s saliva sample about 300 of them, despite the opening scene showing who it was. Print a gold chart Wolf, and be done with.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      This is about cars and trucks that you can drive and have fun with and do stuff with and go places in, and about the technology that goes into them, and about their prices. Gold has nothing to do with any of it.

      • Sir.PiratePapirus says:

        hmmm, i thought it was about purchasing power of fiat (no pun intended) from the perspective of a car enthusiast. So.. it is about cars from the perspective of purchasing power of fiat (again no pun intended). You can just print a chart of a golden Porsche 918 then, and be done with. :)

  11. Truckman says:

    Hedonic adjustments assume the customer wants the “added quality” additions, it’s implicit in the use of the word ‘quality’. It’s impossible to judge, of course, since one can’t buy models without them. If the customers were to demand the option of doing so, the manufacturers would find a way to get the legislators to make them compulsory. At least 7 airbags may save your life, but the only person I know (a distant relative) who was saved by 7 airbags (rather than one) could have also saved his life by not driving extremely fatigued and impared.
    In practice, since one can’t buy cheaper than the base model, the cost of ownership of a vehicle for CPI purposes (as Wolf tracks) should be related to the cost of the base model.
    However, new vehicle CPI is just another government stats lie to hide the slow death of the economy. I have not heard a single major party in any country propose reducing overall taxes for 15 years (and I’ve lived in 4 countries, including Europe and ME), nor do they ever propose giving back underspends. The only party that did promise in the last 25 years (British Conservatives) failed to do so when they got into power. More government means less efficiency, and coupled with increasing corruption kills incentive for most people. Productivity is dropping despite increasing automation, the middle classes are being robbed to fill the gap, and fake CPI figures are quite important in doing that.
    The real problem with the big fake stats, which include unemployment, immigration, and the size of the underground economy, is that government policy has shifted to making the fake stats look good, instead of their original intention which was that they hid the real problem whilst the government tried to fix the real problem. They’ve given up on that, and the fake stats are too far from reality to renormalise, so cosmetic fixes to fake stats is all government policy now consists of. We are experiencing with Covid what happens when governments try to tackle a new real problem with those methods. All crises will be handled this badly in future.

    • Henk says:

      Actually, both the Netherlands and Sweden have been lowering various taxes, mostly on income, while running a budget surplus going into paying off state debt.

      • Truckman says:

        Thanks Henk,
        it’s been a while since I visited the Netherlands. Glad to hear it.
        Tot ziens!

    • rankinfile says:

      Just look at the prices of vintage scouts,toyota jeeps,and ford broncos.These are the vehicles that the “techies” In Silicon Valley are looking to purchase,crank windows and all.

    • Heinz says:

      Thanks for mentioning the role of government regulations in the trajectory of increasingly expensive features and technical overkill in modern autos.

      That is especially with regard to safety feature bloat and mileage performance, but wait till they mandate that EV will be treated very favorably over ICE vehicles by legislative fiat.

  12. Dave says:

    I bought a Toyota Celica in 1989 without so much as power windows for 16K. An equivalent car today is probably not much more than 20-24k

    I bought a 4 door Oldsmobile Sedan in 1998 for about 24k. The equivalent today is definitely under 30k.

    These are prices to buy the car, not msrp.

    I don’t think the CPI car index is wrong.

    What has changed is the 2021 Camry is simply not comparable to the 1990 Camry. Same goes for the truck.

  13. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Between 2004 and 2008 F150 prices slumped due to the rising gas
    prices at the pump. In 2008 WTI peaked @ $147.
    2) F150 jumped over the 1994 hump between 2008 and 2009 after
    WTI plunged to $32.
    3) Since 2015 Ford was selling F150 with the more expensive aluminium bodies and aluminium beds, as protection from higher gas prices, a knockoff by the former Boeing 787 boss, during the MAX WTI waterfall drop, while WTI fell to $42 and below. After six years WTI is still < $42, but F150 prices are still rising higher and higher.
    4) In the 2007 self drive competition : CMU won the first place, got $2M prize. Stanford team was second, $1M prize. Virginia Tech 3rd,
    MIT 4th… Cornell 6th.
    5) That pulse started the Silicon valley invasion. The Fed silk carpet helped.
    6) Ford vans became part of the $2T Amazon familia.
    7) Sell 10,000 AMZN @$3,200 for 4,000,000 Ford @$8 without BAC financing, like Kirk Kerkorian in 2008.
    8) AMZN distribution started on July 13 buying climax. Wall street whales purge AMZN, because they don't know about future taxes.
    9) Few pcs of AMZN can buy tons of peanuts like : F, CVX, XOM, RE XLF…with plenty cash left.

  14. Ian says:

    You think you have problems. The cheapest Camry in the UK is listed as 31000 GBP or about 40000 USD.

  15. Maybe we take the overall CPI, sans auto prices, and subtract that annually from the F150 and Camry LE MSRP’s to attempt to get a feel for loss of purchasing power vs. the over-estimated hedonic adjustments that don’t help a consumer one bit in making his or her 7-year vehicle payments. Note that the CPI is considered well under the on-the-ground inflation that us peons experience in day to day life. Easily the touted overall CPI is under-estimated by some 3% to 5% per annum.

    I would give each model about a 70% improvement in utility and gas mileage costs over this 20 year period, but no more. Don’t need any more distractions in the vehicle cockpit than cellphone texting that has almost killed me at least 3x times in the last 5 years from distracted drivers. Head-on collision almost in each case. Have Ford, Toyota, and others thought about how all this electronic baggage takes the attention away from basic driving safety. I fear not.

    Remember too that the more complicated you make a vehicle, the more expensive it is to repair, and this definitely reduces the utility of the ride to the average consumer. Many repairs can only be performed competently at the local dealer due to training & special tools/test equipment requirements. Take the improvement percentage down to 60% value as a result over the 20 year period.

    • Make that a 30 year period of price comparisons. Goofed. But there is no flat price curve for vehicles on this planet over this time period. Why have new vehicle sales suffered year over year: affordability.

    • Max Power says:

      I think you’re being a bit unfair to the automakers with respect to distractions. In the context of operating a vehicle, cellphones are a tool of the devil and automakers can only do so much. Driving around, I am shocked to see how many people are still obviously paying more attention to their handheld devices than the road, while knowing how dangerous doing so is. Automakers have tried to mitigate by introducing things like handsfree Bluetooth connectivity and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay which make it safer to interact with your cellphone while driving. Also, collision warning systems do help alert the idiots to pay attention to the road. The simple fact is that despite the obvious dangers, many people just won’t change their bad habits and that’s really where the blame lies.

      • El Katz says:

        Anyone who has a modern (connected) car should either sell it before the warranty expires or get the extended factory warranty. Why? CANbus failures. One brand (who will remain anonymous) has had a spate of defective harness connectors. If one of those fails, the different “features” can no longer properly communicate. To replace the harnesses requires the interior of the vehicle to be completely disassembled…. not a cheap endeavor. Things happen like you dash goes dark, the screen on the dash flashes and continuously reboots, radios stop working, climate control ceases to function….

        MSRP’s do change during the model years….. maybe not for domestics, but it was a regular occurrence at the “international” brand that I worked for. Made for lots of fun when attempting to advertise a lease structure.

      • Lee says:

        There are huge fines here in Oz if you get caught driving and using your phone.

        But guess what, it still doesn’t stop people from doing it.

        When I take my daily slow poke walks and head down to the village area in the mornings some days, I often have to wait at the roundabout to cross the street.

        And when I do, I usually see some t**t talking on their phone and what usually surprises me is that the people doing it are more than likely driving a Merc, BMW, or Porsche……………

        As we would say here: “Bloody Idiots”

    • Fat Chewer. says:

      I am getting rather annoyed with the number of drivers who cross the center line onto the wrong side of the road. The only possible explanations are intense stupidity or being distracted.

  16. Max Power says:

    Valid points Wolf, but we should also not get too hung up on model names. The current Camry is also a much larger vehicle than than the 1990 Camry. So, one could argue that if you do an apples-to-apples comparison for utility of use then one might want select another model in the Toyota lineup to compare with the 2021 Camry. Also, hedonics adjustments are not all bad. There could be some material effects on actual costs as in the example of much increased fuel consumption which translates to lower fuel costs.

    Anyway, this is why I’ve always advocated at including the change in median household income in the overall picture when trying to get a handle on changes in living standards.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Max Power.

      Please read the big section halfway down titled: “But it’s not the same Camry and the same F-150.”

      • Max Power says:

        I know Wolf, but I wanted to stress that it’s not just the features and efficiency of the car that have changed, but, maybe even more importantly for the purposes of this kind of comparison is its size. As such, it might make more sense to compare the 1990 Camry to say the 2021 Corolla.

        • lenert says:

          Good point. 2020 is 10 inches longer, 5 inches wider, 500 lbs heavier. Edmunds comps the 2010 Camry to the 2019 Corolla.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Equating size and weight of a vehicle with manufacturing costs is a red herring. 500 pounds of hot-rolled steel band costs about $300. Plastic is a lot cheaper. Aluminum is more expensive. But much of the additional weight comes from steel. Manufacturing processes and labor are nearly the same whether the parts are a few inches longer and wider. Raw material costs are only a small part of the total vehicle cost. Larger vehicles are actually easier to manufacture because you have more room for the equipment. The features and components themselves make a big difference though — engine, transmission, electronics, fuel system, 10 air bags, the safety systems, etc. — not in the size and weight of the vehicle.

        • lenert says:

          Yeah, in 2010 if you wanted a Toyota the size of a 2020 Camry without waiting 10 years you paid $35k. Or you bought a Taurus. That kinda whacks the Camry index. Hedonics are hard?

        • Max Power says:

          Compared to the 2021 Corolla, the Corolla (not Camry) is 300lbs heavier, is about the same length but is 3 inches wider, 2.5 inches taller and has a wheelbase 4 inches wider and is more than 40% more fuel efficient than the 1990 Camry. Therefore, I think it makes much more sense to compare the 1990 Camry to the 2021 Corolla.

          The 2021 Camry is a much larger vehicle than the 1990 Camry (the 2021 Camry is a lot closer in size to the 1990 Corolla, even though even it is larger).

        • Max Power says:

          Correction to the last sentence above… should say

          the 1990 Camry is a lot closer in size to the 2021 Corolla, even though the 2021 Corolla is larger

        • Paulo says:

          Bigger cars for fatter buyers. The GPS can now find the drive throughs.

  17. GL says:

    I can’t believe I’m reading these statistics! Didn’t the great one tell us at the beginning of his administration when he fired the CEO of GM for wasting money on SUVs and TRUCKS that nobody wanted? He told us that Americans wanted compact cars and hybrids!

  18. lenert says:

    Can this go on the chart somewhere?

    Apr 9, 1990 GM CEO Robert Stempel earned compensation of $2,492,000 and exercised stock options worth approximately $322,000.

    Apr 27, 2020 GM CEO Mary Barra received $21.6 million in compensation last year making her the highest-paid executive among the Detroit Three automakers.

    Barra’s 2019 compensation was slightly below the $21.87 million she made in 2018

    Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett in 2019 received $17.36 million in 2019 total compensation.

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Mike Manley in 2019 received $12.46 million (11.45 million euros).

    • lenert says:

      They have to round these off to the nearest hundred thousand now to save on typing.

    • lenert says:

      In the past 30 years, besides executive compensation, has any other business metric for GM grown 10x ? Unit sales? Profit margins? Free cash flow? Earnings yield? Median worker pay?

      • Lou Mannheim says:

        Maybe the amount of semiconductors in the vehicle. Or the rate at which the C-Suite and boards extract money from their companies. RSUs. The money supply. 401(k) balances. Egos.

        Not all of that applies specifically to GM 😀

      • Harrold says:

        GM was a much much different company in 1990.

        At the time, they owned EDS, Hughes Aircraft, AC Delco, GMAC, and I seem to remember they owned Frigidiare also.

        • lenert says:

          Of course it was – not even counting the bankruptcy in between actually making it two different companies – but one thing hasn’t changed much:

          In 1990, a tech-support job in the auto industry paid $15 an hour with full company-paid insurance, a company-matching 401k and a pension plan. CEO-to-worker pay: 67

          In 2020, that same job in the auto industry pays $20-$25 an hour to a subcontractor who is on their own for healthcare and retirement savings. CEO-to-worker pay: 467

          (apologies for going over the 80% venting rule).

  19. Old Cars says:

    Hard to compare the past and present prices on a comparable basis. Basic cars had no radio, a manual transmission, a carburetor, no interior carpeting, and roll-up windows. No interior lights. Not only did they not have air conditioning, a heater was an option. Cloth seats were standard and vinyl seats were an option; leather was only available on ultra luxury brands. No power seats. No heated seats. Drum brakes were standard. On the other hand, cars were built with heavier gauge steel, thus no parking lot door dings.

  20. Island Teal says:

    Good article and comments.
    The $100K+ F150 is the brain twister for me.
    It’s a truck 🚛🚛

  21. KGC says:

    I’ve only bought two new cars (both trucks) in my life. I’ll never buy another. I currently have five vehicles the newest of which is 13 years old and will easily run another 100,000 miles. Covid and the change in work patterns has kept this years mileage under 3,000, so if I buy another vehicle it will be used, and only need to perform for 40-50,000 miles.

    I think asset inflation, stagnating wages, and curtailed travel are going to seriously bite into new vehicle sales. That can’t be good for a industry that’s facing major competition from new manufacturers overseas, doesn’t need the workforce it has to produce a whole new type of product (ELVs), and is heavily leveraged.

  22. Bobber says:

    The biggest inflation of them all has been in one of the most essential categories – retirement saving. You have to save a LOT more money now than you did before, in order to fund a meager retirement, which means the cost of safely funding a retirement has gone WAY up.

    Not only do you have .5% interest rates to contend with, you have the Fed targeting 3% inflation over the next 20 years. Thus, if you want a safe investment vehicle, the Fed’s stated policy, if implemented, will cause you to lose 2-3% per year to inflation, as gauged by CPI. If your retirement basket includes medical care and a Camry, or education costs for kids, the CPI dramatically understates your inflation, and you’ll likely lose 3-6% of your savings to inflation.

    The Federal Reserve is trying hard to destroy any retirement dreams you may have had. It has determined you are better off working until you die. Of course, you were never asked about your plans and preferences.

    If you try to solve the problem by investing in stocks or high yield debt, the Federal Reserve won’t be there to help you if and when these investments fall 50%. They’ll say – “nobody could see this coming”, as though that helps you.

    • lenert says:

      The finance industry has inflated from 3% of GDP to 6% of GDP over the last 40 years – do you not feel more secure – especially trading against them?

    • RightNYer says:

      Yes. These people are terrorists.

    • endeavor says:

      Consumerism gets first priority over retirement savings in our live for the moment lifestyle. It’s a youth culture thing. Less than 50% of people over 21 are adults my guess. Some never make it even when retired. The only thing that will change that is coming down the road as we speak. Lessons will be learned.

    • Bobber, Gold has appreciated 545% since Jan. 1, 2000 and Silver has appreciated 352% as of today. S&P 500 w/ Dividends around 2% per annum, the latter taxed each and every year, has only produced 185% appreciation over the last 20 plus years, 1/1/2000 thru mid-day today at 3777.

      There might be storage & insurance on your precious metals bullion, but they are nominal in a precious metals IRA, several hundred dollars at best. Also, holding the bullion in an IRA only creates ordinary tax rates during retirement when taking distributions, rates from 12% to 18%, vs. the long-term capital gains rate on bullion of 28% in taxable accounts. IRS classifies PM’s as collectibles, unlikely to change in a bankrupt country.

      Higher inflation baked in the FED Cake as Fed ipso factor Devalues the Dollar with endless printing, so where would you rather have your money today??

      • Correction: S&P w/ Div.s up 205% over this almost 20 years period.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Now pick some different dates, just for the fun of it :-]

        • The Dollar is toast, Wolf, and the best asset to buy, having been a Registered Investment Advisor for 20 years, is both gold and silver going forward. I’ll take the New Millennium as a relevant performance period because the fundamentals for these currency alternatives are improving by the hour as the Fed prints the U.S. into Banana Republic status. $3 Trillion in new Federal Debt for 2021, I may be on the conservative side?!!

          How can the stock markets be hitting new highs when the economy has 30 Million Americans unemployed with at least a 10% fall in nominal GDP in 2020. Have been investing since 1975, and both the stock and bond markets are the most overpriced and speculative I have ever seen.

          In the end, it is all about Risk to Reward, where are you least likely to get your head handed to you. A lot of Walmart greeters waiting in the wings in today’s Day Traders and Robin Hooders.

      • Kerry says:

        Anyone not adding PHYSICAL gold and silver to their savings at this point are financial morons…

  23. nick kelly says:

    Couple of things about 4 cyl 1990 Camry HP vs 2021 4 cyl. It’s about a 40 % bigger four: 1.8 vs 2.5.

    The big diff and a real improvement is this 8 speed trans. I wonder but don’t know if one speed is an overdrive. At any rate, the improvement in fuel use is all about the trans.
    Now the question is: because we don’t know, what is the long- term reliability of these multis and by long term I mean past warranty.

    Toyota hasn’t screwed up very much. Ford’s ten speed? We’ll see. They have some history with simpler ones.

    ‘Wheels’ numbers the dual- clutch trans in the F 150 as one of eight with issues, along with Audi’s dual.

    Toyota has an entry, but the trans doesn’t actually fail and a software fix cures an annoying tendency for it to ‘hunt’ back and forth for the best fuel use.

    If you want to read about auto trans grief, there is LOTS more.

    • California Bob says:

      Mustang enthusiasts are quite happy with Ford’s A10; it blows the 6-speed manual–which most agree is a turd (I have one, but I baby it)–off the line and then some. Many of them ‘track’ their cars, and thrash them hard, but I’ve not heard of any major problems with them. I believe it was co-developed with GM, so between them they might have gotten it right (automatic transmission development is a massively complex and expensive process).

      Almost every gearbox with more than 4 speeds has at least one overdrive gear, as do some 4-speeds. Actually easier to do in an automatic, as ODs are usually planetary gearsets anyway.

      • nick kelly says:

        I’ve owned a lot of cars and none of the five speeds had OD, including current Civic. Neither did former six speed (manual) Versa.
        Only one I’ve had with OD was Ford Ranger.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          our ’63 chevy 2, (later known as ”Nova”) SW had ”3 on the column” and then a pull out (from the lower dash) lever to shift into OD above 45 mph; with that arrangement, the MPG was in the mid to high 30s on the road with the 195 C.I. straight six, and we could sleep comfortably with the back seats down level… never seen another lightweight vehicle as efficient for long road trips!
          only hitch in the giddy up was that from time to time one had to untangle one of the transmission rods under the hood, otherwise it would not shift… heard that was fairly common
          other than that vehicle, that i wish we still had, the most efficient was a ’68 International 3/4T crew cab with a ”5th over” and granny low manual transmission; it consistently made 18-20 MPG on the road with a 345 V-8, but could carry 2T easily, and pull a 4T trailer at the same time (though NOT with that MPG!)

        • California Bob says:

          re: “I’ve owned a lot of cars and none of the five speeds had OD, including current Civic. Neither did former six speed (manual) Versa.”

          Odd. Most manual gearboxes with more than 4 gears have at least one overdrive gear (my Mustang with manual 6-speed has two: 5th and 6th).

          I think there’s a nomenclature issue here; many cars have an overdrive gear, named such because the gearbox output shaft ‘overruns’ the input shaft; i.e. the output shaft turns faster than the engine output. You wouldn’t know it was an overdrive gear unless you looked at the gear ratio table: an overdrive gear will have a ratio less than one; e.g. ‘.75:1’

          Here’s what I found for a Versa 6-speed:

          Versa gear ratios:
          1st 3.727,
          2nd 2.105,
          3rd 1.452,
          4th 1.171,
          5th 0.971,
          6th 0.811

          5th and 6th are considered ‘overdrive’ gears. Source:

          https://www.nissanversaforums.com/threads/gear-ratio.836/page-2

        • nick kelly says:

          Bob: yr right about Versa. I found 6 to be too many btw. It may have given a bit more MPG but I found it too much shifting.
          I think a lot of these multis were built for 100 buck oil. I’m pretty sure my Honda’s 5 th is 1 to 1 but it’s a 1.7 liter and doesn’t need any more gears to get about the same MPG as a Harley.
          Good info re: Versa
          They are good tough cars, but 5 speeds would do for me.

        • California Bob says:

          Nick, agree on 6-speeds; I rarely get my Mustang into 6th except for freeway driving at 70MPH+. There’s precious little torque–i.e. acceleration–available in OD gears.

          The term ‘overdrive’ is perhaps an anachronism; they were originally bolt-ons behind the transmission, and used a planetary gearset whos annulus ‘overran’ the sun and planetary gears (a Laycock deNormanville OD was a popular option on old British cars). Now, it’s a general term for extra gears that increase output shaft speed, at the expense of acceleration.

      • Sam says:

        Class action lawsuit against Ford for defective design of manual transmission in ’11-’19 Mustang filed this year.

        Chinese mfg. Getrag MT82.

        Happy Motoring.

  24. Tinky says:

    To tie a couple of points made by other commenters together, last year I bought a 2010 Audi A3 that had been very well maintained, and had only around 40k miles on it. I paid a touch less than $10k. I fully expect that it will provide many years of faithful service, and, perhaps equally importantly, it features electronics that I find useful (e.g. cruise control, excellent, though unnecessary rain sensors that adjust the wipers automatically, etc.), but none of the annoying over-engineering of today’s cars.

    I literally have no interest whatsoever in owning a more “modern” vehicle.

  25. David Hall says:

    I used Google and found a 1990 Camry with an automatic transmission cost $12,258. A base model 2020 Camry costs $24,425. The “real” economists created illusions.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Mixing up your trim packages again? These are LEs here. Not Ls or whatever. The L, whose price you cited for 2020, was axed for 2021, as I said. The cheapest 2021 model is now the LE. And this is about the 2021 model year, in case you haven’t noticed.

  26. roddy6667 says:

    These prices for cars all look like typos to me. In the ten years before I retired, I only had two cars. One was a 1995 Camry I paid $1500 for and drove for 5 years. The other was a 2002 Passat that I drove for the next 5 years. Repairs were minimal. I drove a lot more than the average driver, If we went on vacation to North Carolina from CT or something similar, we would rent a car for the week. With a coupon code, the cost was not much. I have purchased three new cars in my lifetime. They don’t make me feel special.
    Things like this allowed us to save for ten years and buy a house for cash. We have had no debt since 2004.

  27. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Since 1999 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES became one.
    2) Shortly after the upgrade & the redesign, using the same platform, parts and accessories, between 2002, during a recession, until 2015, Toyota Camry was a top seller for 14 years.

  28. endeavor says:

    Consumerism gets first priority over retirement savings in our live for the moment lifestyle. It’s a youth culture thing. Less than 50% of people over 21 are adults my guess. Some never make it even when retired. The only thing that will change that is coming down the road as we speak. Lessons will be learned.

  29. California Bob says:

    re: “… not many models that have been continuously produced since 1990”

    Mustang, produced continuously since 1964-and-a-half (if we count the aberration known as ‘Mustang II’).

    • lenert says:

      (Heh – as i got to the end of this comment a right-hand banner placement loaded “Mustang Student Housing”).

    • nick kelly says:

      The only thing unaltered since 1990 is the name.

      This name thing gets a bit ridiculous when doing the record for most model made. The Model T got overtaken by VW Beetle.
      OK. But then Corolla took over from Beetle, using the rear wheel AND front- wheel versions added together.
      Obviously a transverse engine, front wheel is a completely different machine than rear wheel, drive shaft to rear diff. Adding the two for most model made is a nonsensical stat.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Yes, given that I once owned a 68, but it has always been a relatively low-volume niche car. What I meant to say is high-volume vehicles that are representative of the market. That’s why I chose two bestsellers.

  30. The automobile is a commodity, uniformly regulated and designed. How do they manage to market different brands to the public? Is the appeal of the EV based on seperating same style products for consumers? Tesla, it’s not a Ford? The automobile has always provided the mass produced dream of individuality. Marketing nonmenclutre and references to western motifs; horsepower, Mustang, appeal to men. Why don’t they market models to women? The Suffragette, “When you drive to the polls in one of these they know you’ve arrived.” Or the Stepford Wives Pickup, “With the voice of your husband on the GPS, you’re in control..”

    • Anthony A. says:

      “Why don’t they market models to women?”

      They do…it’s called an SUV! (usually a white one and it’s a Lexus).

      • Sam says:

        AKA “Mommy Missiles”.

        Addendum – Black supercharged Land Rover is for ”Queen Bee’s” in LA/San Diego.

        • Lee says:

          Toorak Tractors in Melbourne:

          “Toorak Tractor” is the name given to any of the glitzed up chrome-ridden “soccer mom/mum” SUVs often seen driving around Toorak; one of the more well to do suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. From BMW X5s and Land Rovers to Volkswagen Touraegs and Porsche Cayennes, some of them have the raw ability to navigate mountain passes and some of them don’t. The point is that for anyone who lives in Toorak, venturing out into the countryside in their glorified tractor is the furthest thing from their minds.

        • Anthony A. says:

          And the Mommy’s daughters all want G Wagons!

        • Lee says:

          Well you can tell that schools are back in session here in the village………………

          Mercs, BMW’s, Land and Range Rovers, Jags, and the Porsches dropping off the kids to attend the private school down the road……….

          Tuition for junior and high school per year: A$26,000 – $29,000 a year.

      • roddy6667 says:

        Subaru markets to lesbians.

    • California Bob says:

      Carroll Shelby called the Mustang a “secretary’s car,” so Ford paid him to spice it up. FWIW, Ford sold millions of them to single women when they first came out (the 6-cyl mostly, but not always).

      I think your stereotype is a bit dated:

      https://fortune.com/2015/09/08/ford-mustang-women/

      • Consider it an instance of marketing a man’s product for a women. Like B&H cigs rolled in dark brown paper. Marketing women has always been a challenge in defining roles, esp women who are breaking stereotypes. In housing the downsized kitchen in post W2 housing appealed to women’s new role in the workplace, not as housekeepers. Then men gradually started to get back into cooking and kitchens expanded again. Gender products are nearly passe, consider the old pink/blue scheme for children, is no longer. Which brings us to the issue of automobile colors. Women predominately choose silver, if you are a femme wanting to break type.

        • California Bob says:

          I’ve followed Mustangs closely since they were introduced–my father was a factory rep for Ford in the sixties; and brought home several as ‘company cars’–and have owned one since 2008–and just sold my late father’s ’65 convertible–and I don’t recall a single instance of Mustang marketing ‘targeting’ women exclusively (if you’ve got one, let’s see it). I think it’s just a case of young, probably single women liking to drive a fun, fast, sporty car (sure, maybe they’ll trade them in for an Explorer after marriage and a couple kids unless, of course, the Pony was a lemon). Once, I tried to pass a young woman in my ’08 Mustang, she had a newer GT with an AT and at least 150 more horsepower, and she pretty much blew me off the road (and got a thumbs-up from me).

          There is only one instance I know of where a car company ‘targeted’ women, in this case lesbian women who owned dogs: Subaru discovered they were selling a lot of their small CUVs–Foresters, etc.–to women who happened to be gay and owned dogs, so they ran advertising to try to appeal to that demo (ever notice how many Subaru ads feature dogs?):

          https://www.npr.org/2016/10/19/498504383/how-a-revolutionary-ad-campaign-helped-to-turn-around-subaru

  31. Martha Careful says:

    Seems like we have several years of normalization ahead for all industries. A massive economic crisis doesn’t turn on a dime. Where there are winners, there are also losers and somewhere in-between is reality. As for car and truck prices, the only people buying will be upper incomes and meanwhile, as with housing, most people will watch the slow motion train wreck move along.

  32. Tom S. says:

    I remember being surprised not seeing a car below $20k at the Chicago auto show about 5 years ago. Now you’d be lucky to find one under $30k. Maybe a Kia.

    The thing the adjustments have going for them is gas mileage and reliability. Cars and trucks do not have the same repair costs as they used to, but they also don’t have the same warranty offers. Gas is cheap.

    So, to ballpark it, I’d say 7%-ish inflation yoy is pretty fair. It seems like a gut feel is more accurate than most of the calculations out there, anyways. Perception is reality, isn’t it?

  33. Micheal Engel says:

    1) The Lexus ES300 platform was used in Camry, Avalon and Lexus globally, with a little stretching, different grilles, extra luxuries and different engines. The Camry, Avalon and Lexus share many parts and accessories.
    2) Toyota Camry smiling face was gone. The design became solid and conservative, almost boring. The Camry base model was sold at around $20K, half price of the Lexus.
    3) The new Camry became an immediate hit. The Camry didn’t cannibalized Lexus.
    4) Lexus is the top premium brand selling more cars than Acura and Infinity for two decades.
    5) The Toyota system became a hit.

    • nick kelly says:

      I.e., the Lexus is basically a Camry and a Cadillac is basically a Chev. I was in a shop one time getting wheel bearing done and learned a guy had just paid 800 for Caddy bearing. If that is a different from a Chev bearing, I will be glad to be informed.

      PS: this was 20 yrs ago.

      • California Bob says:

        Changing a wheel bearing is a fairly involved process; extracting the old ones–you usually want to do both sides, because if one has failed the other likely will soon–procuring, packing (with grease) and replacing with new is usually an hour or more of shop time, which is typically $100/hr or more (mostly more). For the rear wheels of a rear-drive car with IRS or the front of a front- or all-wheel drive car you usually have to pull the half-shafts, and you probably want to re-pack the CV joint, and maybe replace its boot (though they’re often just swapped). So, $400-500 of that charge is probably labor, unless you meant you know, for sure, the part alone cost $800–which I’d believe for a Porsche or Mercedes but for a Caddy … nah.

    • nick kelly says:

      The ‘Toyota System’ was known as such pre-Lexus and is not tied to any particular car. It is also known as the ‘just in time system’ meaning parts only arrive just before they are installed. It is pretty much the world’s system now, except in Russia where the Lada (or whatever it’s being called) takes an unbelievable 20 time as long to produce as usual. The end product is so dubious that good second- hand ones are preferred to new, the assumption being that the owner will have got the bugs out.

  34. endeavor says:

    Toyota Camry smiling face was gone. The design became solid and conservative, almost boring. The Camry base model was sold at around $20K, half price of the Lexus.
    We have an long time auto commentator in Detroit that calls the grille design of todays Camry and Lexus the “Angry Ant’ school of design.

    • Endeavor, I think the new Lexus design, front grill, looks more like a largemouth bass going after a bullfrog!! Ugly, ugly, ugly. Would buy the 330ES, low mileage, but not these freaky looking fish. I think they ruined an otherwise reliable, well-engineered luxury car!!!

      • California Bob says:

        Some speculate the newis Toyota grills resemble a thread spool, harkening back to Toyota’s original product: textile looms.

  35. breamrod says:

    it’s amazing how much truck prices have risen since 2009. Bought a 4 wheel drive single cab tacoma new for around 20k after a 1500 rebate. They don’t even make single cabs anymore. Everybody wants big. Bigger houses , bigger cars for bigger people!

    • Sam says:

      Aviation term for “bigger people” ~ ‘Passenger of size’.

      FAA specs for weight calculation (airlines): the average weight assigned to each passenger is 200 pounds for men, 179 pounds for women and 76 pounds for children under 13. These estimates include 16 pounds per person of carry-on luggage and averages in the weight of winter and summer clothing.

      On charter (aircraft for hire) operations, the operative term for “oversized passengers” is “Bubba’s”.

      The [defunct] Samoa Air gained global press coverage by becoming the first airline in the world to charge customers by body weight plus luggage. The fare is calculated by multiplying a base fare (depending on the route flown) by the total weight of the passenger plus their luggage.

  36. DanS86 says:

    WTH happened from 1990 to 1995? At first I was thinking the Yen blew up then and Camry probably only made in Japan then but what explains the jump F150 pricing too? Airbags, AntiLock Brakes…

    • nick kelly says:

      One thing that happened to Japanese imports but not sure when was the US put quotas on imports. But not on dollar value, on number of units. A huge incentive to leave the econo-box segment and move upmarket.

    • California Bob says:

      Contempory F150s are essentially 6-passenger luxo-barges, that happen to be able to haul plywood and a couple bags of potting soil.

  37. sunny129 says:

    The usual narrative on inflation number by FED (with complicit of BLS, MSM & Wall ST) is always:

    EXTEND & PRETEND. Nothing here to worry. Just mov on!?

    May be one could mail this (a copy of Wolf’s report) to Eccles Building and it’s inhabitants!

  38. CZ says:

    I’ve read a conventional car has about 30,000 parts, whereas a Tesla has about 10,000. Think of all your car repairs: Tesla has no camshaft/belt, no water pump, no starter motor, no ignition, no coil packs, no pulleys, no tranny, uses no oil or tranny fluid or filters…

    If electric vehicles can solve that range issue, internal combustion cars will go the way of rotary phones.

    • Anthony A. says:

      “uses no oil or tranny fluid or filters….”

      On the drive assembly, there is a gearcase with oil and a spin on oil filter. The inverter has a liquid cooled reservoir.

      Try being more accurate here.

      • Massbytes says:

        However, there is no maintenance required for the oil and coolants used in the Teslas that I can find. Do you know of any owner maintenance requirements for the Teslas for these items?

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      As for Tesla’s 10,000 parts – does that include the 5,000+ battery cells, each a point of failure?

      My rotary dial (type 500) telephone continues working whenever the power fails. Same for my 554 wall phone. Reliable – about 50 years and counting. Sounds better than cellphones. Ringer can be heard throughout the house if desired. Biggest advantages: no FB, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Netflix, downloadmyapp…

      Meanwhile my expensive smartphone is on it’s fourth expensive battery and the keyboard is sometimes erratic.

    • California Bob says:

      re: “If electric vehicles can solve that range issue …”

      That’s a hella BIG IF. Battery technology has only improved incrementally–though we’re perpetually ‘only 2 years away from a major breakthrough!’–as you’re up against some fundamental laws of physics. You could have a 1,000-mile range EV today, though you’d have tow your batteries in a trailer.

      • Massbytes says:

        Model 3 and Model Y Teslas have around 350 miles range with the Model S having a top end of 400 miles range. The new Cybertruck will have 500 miles range. Just how much do you drive every day?

        • BrianC - PDX says:

          Well… it depends. :)

          Right now I’m averaging about 7k miles a year on my *one* car. A 1998 Chevy Cheyenne K2500. Most days are under 100 miles.

          But a few times a year it’s about 650 to 800 miles in a day. With the capability to easily tow a tandem axle trailer.

          I *could* go with an electric for around town and appointments. Right now I’d rather use my bicycle and MAX pass. They seem like a far better investment.

    • nick kelly says:

      True, (altho I think 30K includes body)
      The EV just has one BIG part for power, nearly a ton of battery, for which the owner of a 2013 Leaf was quoted 15K C$.

  39. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Eiji Toyoda 1913 to Sept 2013 applied Dr Deming system.
    2) “Dr. Deming” by Rafael Aguayo and “The Toyota Way” by Jeffery Liker
    are the best books about Eiji Toyoda era. Six Sigma became management most important tool, until the tsunami in 2011.
    3) When Akio Toyoda took over in 2009, Lexus grille became
    flashy sporty and aggressive, but interior was kept clean and conservative.
    4) Lexus beat Acura and Infinity for two decades. The Germans introduced entry levels to compete with Lexus. Kia is sneaking in.
    5) Ford and GM are dropping passengers cars. Nissan is in troubles. Toyota will stay. They will never drop Corolla and Camry

  40. Micheal Engel says:

    Turkey produce 150K Toyota Corollas per year.

  41. Micheal Engel says:

    1) The dollar is falling. EURUSD & JPYUSD are up, while the Turkish Lira is plunging relative to the major currencies.
    2) Turkey’s population is angry because they are in big troubles.
    2) The Europeans and the Japanese car mfg benefit from the cheap Turkish labor. They sell their products all over Europe and the ME. making higher profit.
    3) Europe will not backup France Macron fearing Erdogan and the angry Muslim boycott.
    4) Europe is more divided than US, after Brexit.
    5) Turkey industrial sector is mighty. Turkey produce advance weapon systems for export and their own army and airforce, the second in Europe.
    6) The Turks are very friendly players on the soccer field, but don’t face them on the battlefield…

    • nick kelly says:

      Number 5 is related to number 2.

      Turkey has financial problems largely because of over expenditure on its military. It has lots of conscript boots but not much homegrown hardware. The Turks are asking the US to sell them up to 100 F 35s, the most expensive fighter ever built. To fight who?

      The same ‘game of thrones’ virus infects Russia, which at least builds its own military stuff. But can it afford to do this, when its car manufacturing is a joke?

      A few years ago, Putin fired Minister of Finance Alexie Kudrin for telling Putin that Russia could not afford a 500 billion dollar arms build up. Kudrin had to be partly rehabilitated after yet another ruble crash. This was all before the latest oil crash.

      Erdogan is trying to recreate an Ottoman empire and Putin is trying to recreate the Soviet Union. (He’s actually said the S U demise was a great tragedy, but the former members and satellites do not agree)

      It’s quite likely that these two do more than just cross swords in the future.

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