MVA reports 1.2% rise in new-car sales last month

Auctioneer says trend is up for May and June


June 29, 1999|By Rachel Sams | Rachel Sams,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Marylanders are buying more new cars than they were this time last year.

According to figures released by the state Motor Vehicle Administration, new-car sales for May were up 1.2 percent from May 1998.

Raymond C. Nichols, chairman of BSCAmerica Inc., a Baltimore-based company that operates six automobile auctions throughout the country, says he has observed an increase in new-car sales in his interactions with new-car dealerships throughout the region.

"I think, based on our discussions with hundreds of new-car dealerships in the region, the trend has been up for May and June," Nichols said.

"There is a fair amount of demand across the market as we see it, both for new and used cars."

Jerry Fader, president of Heritage Automotive Group of Owings Mills, also reported an increase in sales. He attributed the increase to manufacturer incentives and a strong economy.

"People feel good about job security, and they're more willing to take on automobile debt," Fader said.

Nichols believes periods of slow sales in 1997 and 1998 also may have contributed to the trend.

"Cars are lasting longer, and people tend to drive them a little longer," he said. "You have periods when you need to replace those cars, and I think we're seeing such a period. A lot of people who didn't purchase or lease cars in 1997 and 1998" are doing so now.

Based on title registrations, which equate to sales, the Motor Vehicle Administration said 32,655 new cars were sold in May, up from 32,268 new cars sold in May 1998.

New-car sales in May declined 1.4 percent from April. The MVA reported that 33,133 new cars were sold in April.

The average purchase price of new cars rose $930, from $20,789 in May 1998 to $21,719 in May 1999, according to the MVA.

Sales of used cars were up 6 percent. According to the MVA, 51,438 used cars were sold in May, up from 48,514 used cars in May 1998.

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