IRVINE, Calif. — Thanks to market demand quickly backing away from cars, average transaction prices in July rose 2.9% from a year ago, or $985, to $35,359, Kelley Blue Book reported this week.

Cars are expected to make up only 31% of July sales, down from 36% in the year-ago period. This decline is pushing transaction prices up as consumers opt for pricier SUVs and trucks, the firm said.

“Prices also are likely to strengthen as the average days in inventory has begun to recede for the first time this decade,” said Kelley Blue analyst Tim Fleming, “which is a sign automakers are managing production well in the post-peak demand era.”

Volkswagen Group’s average transaction price grew 4.1% in July, primarily on the strength of the Volkswagen brand. Volkswagen prices increased 5% due to the company’s Atlas and Tiguan SUVs, which have brought the brand’s sales mix of utility vehicles from 15% to nearly 40%. The redesigned Jetta also performed well, with its average transaction price rising 6%. Audi transaction prices were flat for the month, though the Q5 did show strong improvement with a 4% increase in its average transaction price.

Another great performer was Ford Motor Co., whose average transaction prices grew 4% in July 2018. Lincoln’s average transaction prices increased 10%, thanks to the meteoric rise of the new Navigator (up 33%). Ford also reported a big month. Its average transaction price rose 4%, thanks to the 5% increase in the average transaction price of its refreshed F-150. The new Expedition also was strong, with its average transaction price rising 14% — pushing it near the top of the full-size SUV segment.

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