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New-car registrations in ’12 top past 3 years

By David Smith

This article was published December 29, 2012 at 2:19 a.m.

— More new vehicles have been registered in Arkansas in the first 11 months of this year than in any of the previous three years, according to figures provided Friday by a Kentucky auto-research firm.

About 88,500 vehicles have been registered in Arkansas through November, higher than 81,700 registrations for all of 2011; 66,800 registrations in 2010; and 64,100 registrations in 2009, said Cross-Sell of Lexington, Ky., which provides market analysis for the automotive industry.

Cross-Sell has furnished statistics on registrations since June 2008. No state agency provides the number of auto sales or registrations in Arkansas each month.

There were 6,878 new-vehicle registrations in Arkansas last month, 11.6 percent higher than 6,165 registrations in November 2011.

The pattern in Arkansas is following the national trend in sales, said Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“The auto-sales sector is actually recovering pretty well from the recession,” Pakko said. “National figures are showing rapid growth over the past year and may be starting to level off at a more sustainable rate of growth.”

Arkansas’ 11.6 percent growth rate compared with November last year and its 10 percent increase in October indicate a leveling off from annual increases of 20 percent in September and 35 percent in August.

The success of new 2013 models offered by manufacturers helped boost registrations last month, said Dennis Jungmeyer, president of the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association.

Closeouts on 2012 models also performed well because of incentives offered by dealers and manufacturers, Jungmeyer said.

Volkswagen offered $6,000 cash back on its Routan and $5,750 on its Touareg. Mitsubishi offered $3,500 back on its Galant.

In addition, $3,000 cash back was available on the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and the 2013 GMC Sierra 1500.

The winter storm this week, and fears about what decisions will be made about the federal budget, could affect auto sales in December, Jungmeyer said.

“And there is always a bit of a downturn in January every year,” but forecasts for auto sales in 2013 are positive, Jungmeyer said.

“The [national] forecasts are that 2013 will be better than 2012,” Jungmeyer said. “Hopefully, that will be the case for Arkansas, too. Nationally, they’re predicting another 2 million sales on top of 12 million. That’s going to be pretty robust.”

Chevrolet was again the top make of vehicles in Arkansas last month, with 1,122 registered. The top models were Ford F-Series pickups, which accounted for 468 registrations.

The No. 1 segment of vehicles registered last month was full-size pickups, which accounted for 1,739 registrations, or more than 1 in 4 of vehicles registered in the state.

In November, nearly 13,600 used vehicles were titled by auto dealers, up from about 9,300 used vehicles registered in November 2011.

In addition, about 21,800 used vehicles were registered as private-party transactions last month, compared with about 15,900 in November 2011.

Totals for vehicle titles aren’t a precise comparison to vehicle sales from month to month because Arkansans are given 30 days to register cars or pickups after purchase. Thus, November titles represent, for the most part, actual sales in October.

Business, Pages 25 on 12/29/2012

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