Prices, Production and Inventories Over the Automotive Model Year
38 Pages Posted: 24 May 2005 Last revised: 6 Apr 2022
Date Written: April 2005
This paper studies the within-model-year pricing and production of new automobiles. Using new monthly data on U.S. transaction prices, we document that for the typical new vehicle, prices fall over the model year at a 9.2 percent annual rate. Concurrently, both sales and inventories are hump shaped. To explain these time series, we formulate a market equilibrium model for new automobiles in which inventory and pricing decisions are made simultaneously. On the demand side, we use micro-level data to estimate time-varying aggregate demand curves for each vehicle. On the supply side, we solve a dynamic programming model of an automaker that, while able to produce only one vintage of a product at a time, may accumulate inventories and consequently sell multiple vintages of the same product simultaneously. The profit maximizing pricing and production strategies under a build-to-stock inventory policy imply declining prices and hump-shaped sales and inventories of the magnitudes observed in the data. Further, roughly half of the price decline is driven by inventory control considerations, as opposed to decreasing demand.
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