n Pent-up demand, easier loans drive surge" /> Auto sales up 10 percent, starting to get ‘back on track’ -- SoMdNews.com



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The number of new vehicles sold in the state increased 10 percent in 2012 from 2011, greater than the 7 percent year-over-year rise in 2011, according to new figures from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

As in 2011, used-car sales were about level last year.

The value of both new- and used-vehicle sales increased in 2012 from 2011 by 11 percent to $9.3 billion for new vehicles and by 5 percent to $5.6 billion for used.

Pent-up demand and looser financing are two key factors for the rise, said Peter Kitzmiller, president of the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.

“The problem we had with buyers getting financing from late 2007 through at least 2009 is pretty much not a problem anymore,” Kitzmiller said. “Then, a lot of people are back in the market. Demand is up. ... We’re starting to get things back on track, though we’re not near where we were in 2006.”

The nearly 290,000 new cars and light trucks sold in the state last year was about 110,000 fewer than sold in 2006. The 628,000 used vehicles sold was about 70,000 below the 2006 level.

But the average new-car purchase price last year — $29,312 — was up 12 percent from the 2006 average, while the average used price of $8,893 was 6 percent higher than in 2006. Those rises stem mostly from inflation, Kitzmiller said.

Darcars Automotive Group of Silver Spring saw its sales volume grow about 12 percent last year from 2011, said Tamara C. Darvish, vice president of the dealership group.

“People are having to trade their vehicles in sooner or later,” Darvish said. “Interest rates are about as low as they can get. Consumers can purchase a new vehicle [for] close to the price of one that is three to four years old.”

Nationally, sales of new cars and light trucks rose by 13 percent to 14.5 million last year from 2011, according to industry research company Autodata Corp.

Cars jumped 19 percent, and light truck sales increased 8 percent.

Toyota and Volkswagen saw the largest percentage increases at 31 percent and 27 percent, respectively. Mitsubishi, Saab and American Suzuki were among the few companies that posted declines.

The top-selling vehicles last year were the Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado pickup trucks, along with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Honda Civic, according to Cars.com.

kshay@gazette.net