Md. sales of new cars slow down

March 17, 1995|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland's long-running new-car sales boom continued last month, but at a considerably slower pace than it started the year.

According to figures compiled by the Motor Vehicle Administration, new-car and truck sales rose 8.6 percent last month, compared with the same period a year ago.

While last month's increase kept intact a 21-month string of higher sales, it was far off the almost 30 percent jump recorded in January.

For the country as a whole, sales of new cars and light trucks were off 4.2 percent last month.

"It is better to have an 8 percent gain than a 4 percent decline," said Michael Conte, director of regional economic studies at the University of Baltimore. But Mr. Conte said the state's overall economy is not growing at the pace of new-car sales, and he doubts those figures can be sustained.

Mr. Conte said the rise in interest rates has taken some of the pep out of the sales of big ticket items, such as cars, housing and furniture.

The Motor Vehicle Administration figures show that 20,116 new vehicles were bought last month, compared with 18,523 in February 1994.

The average price was $19,295. This was $1,231 more than the average new vehicle price in the same month last year.

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