Md. sales of new cars, trucks rise 7.2% Factory incentives aid June turnaround

July 25, 1996|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff

Incentives helped snap a protracted slump in the auto industry as sales of new cars and trucks in Maryland increased 7.2 percent last month, according to figures released yesterday by the Motor Vehicle Administration.

The performance was the industry's best monthly gain since February 1995, when vehicle deliveries rose 8.6 percent.

A flurry of sales in June broke a string of three months in which sales were lower than in the same period of the previous year. Sales were lower in 11 of the past 12 months.

"I think it has something to do with the tremendous amount of incentives and rebates being offered by the manufacturers," said William A. Hurwitz, president of Fox Automotive Inc.

Hurwitz said the manufacturers wanted to avoid rebates because they cut into profits, "but they are back and they seem to be working."

But he also said improved consumer confidence in the economy helped boost sales.

"I think people have less fear of losing their jobs now than in the past, especially the government workers," Hurwitz said. "Consumer confidence seems to be going up."

John Sophocles, general manager of Jerry's Chevrolet in the Parkville section of Baltimore County, said there's been a change in the type of buyer coming to the showrooms.

"We're seeing a lot more 'want' people versus 'need' buyers than we had in the past," he said.

"People seem to be more optimistic about their financial situation. They are not freewheeling, but they seem to be a lot more comfortable in making big purchases," Sophocles added.

According to MVA figures, dealers sold 33,350 new cars and PTC light trucks last month. That was up from the 31,098 vehicles sold in the same period last year.

Dealers had 20 selling days last month, compared to 22 in June 1995.

Sales of used cars declined slightly, according to the MVA. Sales totaled 49,183 last month, compared with 50,678 in June 1995.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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