The thing I don't understand is how people are still able to afford to buy new cars. It seems to me that the increase in the price of cars has far outstripped any increase in wages; this would seem to be confirmed by the figures listed here:
The price of cars has increase at a rate about double that of wages, since 1970. I bought my first car in 1987, and have owned a total of 4 vehicles, COMBINED purchase price of $600 + $1500 + $3000 + $8000 = $13,100. Average new car costs over $30K? Won't be buying one of those anytime soon.
My most recent commuter bike purchase was $100 off of Craiglist. I could own quite the fleet for $31K.
The price of cars has decreased lately, at least on the low end. A buddy bought a lower model/trim Civic in the late 90s and paid about 13K and the car had very few creature comforts and I believe a 3/30000 warranty. I bought the lowest possible trim Kia Soul two years ago, and it came with every possible safety feature, power, 15 inch wheels plus a 10/100000 warranty, and I paid about 14,500. That's progress.