Old body styles are sold as new models.

Frustrated with the rising price of new cars, but don’t want to buy used cars?

Now you may be able to find the optimal point: a new car that is cheaper because it is not really so new.

Car manufacturers are testing a different approach to the long-standing process of phasing out models and introducing new ones: as always, they are implementing redesigned cars, vans and SUVs in showrooms with new technology and style. But they also continue to make and sell the body style of the previous model year.

That means customers have a couple of options: they can save thousands of dollars by choosing the previous design, obtaining a vehicle that could be free of the problems that often need to be solved in redesigned models. Or they can choose the redesigned vehicle with better safety systems and technology that could maintain its value for a longer period.

Case in point: the Ram truck.

The recent decision of Fiat Chrysler to continue manufacturing the previous Ram, and calling it “Classic” Ram, while selling a redesigned model, has been a success. The strategy helped drive the truck beyond the Chevrolet Silverado for the first time, which it did the second best-selling vehicle in the United States in 2019 behind the Ford F-series truck.

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The achievement may not have been possible without the strategy of selling an “old” vehicle as “new.”

The Classic Ram is the right choice “if you are looking for a work truck and are less worried about the bells and whistles,” said George Augustaitis, director of automotive industry and economic analysis of the CarGurus vehicle purchase site, and noted that a Classic Ram buyer might “just need something that can be towed, that has a large payload, has a rear bench and can accommodate five or six.” This is how Ram was able to beat Silverado in 2019, ”Augustaitis said.

Fiat Chrysler, Ram’s parent company, declined to comment because its strategy is competitive and sensitive.

The price difference between the previous model and the new one can be significant. In 2019, the average transaction price for the redesigned manned Ram truck was $ 50,199, according to car valuation firm Kelley Blue Book. But the average transaction price of the Ram 1500 Classic crew-cab in 2019 was $ 43,649.

For buyers looking for a new vehicle, there are reasons beyond the price to consider when buying the previous generation of a new model. They could prefer the older design or assess a reliable history of novelty. Models that have been manufactured for several years tend to have fewer errors than newer models, which may take some time to eliminate, said Karl Brauer, executive editor of Kelley Blue Book of Cox Automotive and Autotrader

While it may seem counterproductive for an automobile manufacturer to sell the old body style with a discount to the latest model, there is a good reason for that. The automaker has generally already paid the factory and engineering investments required to make the original model.

The solid results of the new Ram 1500 truck helped raise FCA profits in North America.

“When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense,” Brauer said. “The cost of the vehicle is much lower than the new one, so every time they sell one it is a huge profit margin for them.”

In addition, automakers sometimes like to extend the lifespan of the previous model to sell excess inventory or catch a flock of consumers looking for a discount, said Jeff Dyke, president of Sonic Automotive, one of the networks of largest car dealers in the country.

“They are getting the most out of a consumer who likes the old body style,” Dyke said. “So, it actually improves sales. They are producing it to ride that wave. “

Another recent example was the Volkswagen Tiguan. When VW redesigned the Tiguan in 2017, making it more elegant and large, the company continued to sell and manufacture the previous model SUV for approximately two years at a significant discount.

The price difference between the two vehicles was more than $ 5,000 in 2018, according to Kelley Blue Book: an average of $ 28,068 for the new SUV compared to $ 22,975 for the Tiguan Limited, which was suspended after the 2018 model year. The company sold 19,220 units of Tiguan Limited at the time it was available.

“The idea behind this was quite simple: the new Tiguan was bigger and a little more expensive, so we sold the Limited along with the new car for anyone who wanted the smallest package,” said VW spokesman Mark Gillies in an email

Further back, Nissan continued to manufacture and sell the previous version of its most popular SUV, the Rogue, as Rogue Select for at least two years, while launching the redesigned version in 2014. In 2015, the price gap between those vehicles was almost More than $ 5,000.

“There is definitely that phenomenon in which you have a large audience that likes that old body style,” said David Smith, CEO of Sonic Automotive.“And, in general terms, there is some incentive to buy that previous model. Maybe they get 0% financing. Maybe the new model doesn’t have that.”

CarGurus augustaitis said automakers may consider expanding the strategy due to the increase in vehicle prices, which averaged $ 38,377 in December, 3% more than the previous year, according to the car research site Edmunds

“As affordability becomes an obstacle, this is something I think brands will have to start looking at” more often, he said.

Undoubtedly, the previous model is often aimed primarily at fleet buyers, which include car rental companies, other commercial buyers and governments.

But smart shoppers can probably track the previous model. Brauer said the vehicles of the previous generation are also usually available to retail buyers.

“I don’t know if he advertises so aggressively,” he said. “But I think if you went to a dealership and knew and said, ‘Hey, I know this is still for sale, can I buy it?’, They would probably say ‘OK’ and hopefully get some sort of price reduction.”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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