Why Isn’t Anybody Buying a Cheap Car Anymore?

GM’s Chevrolet Spark

Customers across the country looking for a cheap, new car often run into trouble finding one. But why? Surely not for lack of options. Nissan, for instance, recently came out with its new Versa sedan, reasonably priced at $12,780. The only problem is that auto dealerships rarely keep the cheapest models in stock.

One main reason, reports USA Today, is that most of the cheapest models operate on manual transmission. There is a great percentage of Americans who cannot, or will not, drive manual, thus always opting for the automatic transmission (and its $1,000 price tag). A simple visit to the Chevrolet website illustrates this point. Customers interested in purchasing the Spark can build their own customization into the vehicle. The manual transmission version of the Spark retails for $12,995, while the automatic version is available at a starting price of $13,920.

Another reason is that even if you could drive stick, you would still likely be without the most gas-efficient model. In order to obtain that, customers usually have to spring for a car with CVT, or continuously variable-ratio automatic transmission, which is another $1,000.

Factor in that automakers say the “take-rate” for dealerships is anywhere from two- to five-percent, and it’s no wonder they don’t carry the cheapest models around.

Toyota Yaris

What are buyers missing out on. The following is a list of the cheapest cars on the market compiled by kbb.com and USA Today:

  • Nissan Versa S Sedan, $12,780
  • GM Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Spark LS Hatchback, $12,995
  • Ford (NYSE:F) Fiesta S Sedan, $13,995
  • Ford Fiesta S Hatchback, $14,995
  • GM Chevrolet Sonic Sedan, $14,995
  • Toyota (NYSE:TM) Yaris 3-door, $15,165
  • Hyundai Accent GLS Sedan, $15,340