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New cars rise average £121

The price of the average new car rose once again last month. But the rate of increase has now slowed for the second month in succession.

According to the latest Glass's New Car Market Trends report, new car list prices climbed just 0.9% over the past year (to the start of March), equivalent to a rise worth £121.

New car prices rose just 0.1% during February, compared with a 0.3% increase in January. While sales of new cars to business users and company fleets continue to perform strongly, consumer demand continues to ease. That will make it harder for manufacturers to introduce further price rises, despite mounting steel and energy costs.

Even if list prices do climb, transaction prices, says Glass’s, may not follow suit as more retail customers will realise the strength of their bargaining position.

The latest New Car Market Trends report, produced by Glass's Market Intelligence Service, indicates that the compact family hatchback sector (eg Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Renault Mégane) once again saw the biggest list price rise - up 2.6%, year-on-year.

Glass's says average list prices in this sector will have been influenced by the discontinuation of low-priced models from Kia and Proton, as well as by the arrival of the new Citroen C4 that replaces the lower priced run-out model Xsara.

The sectors to see the next highest rises in average list prices, year-on-year, are the compact MPV (Renault Mégane Scenic, Vauxhall Zafira) and upper-medium family hatchbacks and saloon sectors (Ford Mondeo, Toyota Avensis), both of which climbed by 1.9%.

Superminis also saw above-average rises in their list prices, up 1.5% over the past 12 months. This is partly due to the arrival of several new budget models - including the Kia Picanto and Chevrolet Kalos – which helped to push down the average list price for the sector as a whole.

List price rises continue to be less evident among the prestige brands.

New car prices in the compact executive sector (Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series) have risen by just 0.6%, despite the impact of the face-lifted Audi A4 coming in at a higher price point, and the recent price rises for the Lexus IS200 range. In the large executive sector (Audi A6, Mercedes E-Class), average list prices fell for the second month in succession.

Partly influenced by the discontinuation of the Lexus GS range, prices in this sector were down 1.1%, year-on-year.

In the Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) segment, prices rose by a meagre 0.1% over the past year, while large MPV list prices rose by just 0.3%.

The biggest list price changes: the single largest upwards price rise in during February 2005 was for the Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG Coupe, up by £1,610 (a 1.7% uplift). The biggest cut in list price was for the Daihatsu Terios 1.3 Sport Station Wagon, five-door, which fell by £2,010 - a significant 15.1 % drop.

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