October sales of used cars rose 3.2% New-vehicle business down 2.5% in state

average price $21,884

Luxury brands did well

New-car sales slump in 5 of past 6 months seen in MVA records

November 28, 1997|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Maryland motorists bought fewer new cars last month than during the same period last year, but used-vehicle sales were up 3.2 percent, according to figures released by the state Motor Vehicle Administration.

New-car dealers sold 2.5 percent fewer vehicles in October, continuing a slump that has affected five out of the past six months.

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group of 19,500 new-car and truck dealerships, the average profit on a used car last year was $350. That compares with $77 for the average new car.

Business has been a little slow over most of the past six months, said Robert C. Russel, president of R&H Motor Cars Ltd. in Owings Mills and chairman of the Maryland New Car and Truck Dealers Association, a trade group representing 320 new-car dealers.

He said the rising price of the average new car is an indication that luxury cars are selling fairly well.

This was shown in national sales figures compiled by Automotive News, an industry trade publication. Mercedes-Benz was the big winner last month, posting an 82 percent gain in sales over the same period last year. Mercedes was followed by Porsche, which realized a 70 percent jump in sales. The more affordable Kia was third, followed by two more luxury vehicle nameplates, Lincoln and Infiniti.

According to the MVA, the average price of a new car was $21,884 in October, up $401 from September. Since July the average price of a new car has risen $1,502.

The average used-car price was $6,543.

Based on its title registration figures, which equate to sales, the MVA said consumers bought 28,677 new vehicles in October. This compares with 29,407 during the same period last year.

The MVA reported total used-vehicle sales in October at 47,764 units. This compares with sales of 46,295 in October 1996. Across the country, car and light-truck sales were off 1.6 percent last month.

Pub Date: 11/28/97

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