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Vehicle registrations up 17% in Arkansas

By David Smith

This article was published February 6, 2013 at 12:53 a.m.

— Nearly 96,000 new vehicles were registered in Arkansas last year, a Kentucky auto research firm said Tuesday.

That is up about 17 percent from about 82,000 registered in 2011, said Cross-Sell of Lexington, Ky., which provides market analysis for the automotive industry.

The 17 percent improvement is down from a 22 percent annual increase in registrations in 2011.

Since 2007, Arkansas has been “digging itself out of a pretty deep hole” with auto registrations, said Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

From 2007 through the first quarter of 2009, auto registrations were down more than 40 percent, Pakko said.

“Now we’re getting back to more normal levels,” Pakko said.

One reason for the double digit increase in registrations last year was a continued pentup demand for new vehicles, said Dennis Jungmeyer, president of the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association.

The average age of vehicles on the road is about 10.5 years, Jungmeyer said.

“And used car prices are unusually high,” Jungmeyer said.

Because of that, consumers often opt to buy a new vehicle, which is not much more expensive than a late-model used vehicle in many cases, Jungmeyer said. Low interest rates also make it easier to buy new cars than used cars at higher interest rates, Jungmeyer said.

And consumers can get a 100,000-mile warranty on sev-eral models of new vehicles, Jungmeyer said.

There were more new Chevrolets registered in December than any other make. Ford F-series pickups were the best selling model in December, according to Cross-Sell.

Nationally, vehicle salesreached 14.5 million last year, and are expected to hit 15 million or more this year, Automotive News said.

Pakko said he expects registrations to continue to grow in Arkansas this year, but not at the high rate of increases in recent years. Monthly increases of 20 to 40 percent have been common in the past few years.

For 2012, there were nearly403,000 used vehicles registered in Arkansas after sales at dealerships, up some 5 percent from about 384,000 used vehicles registered in 2011.

In December, there were nearly 7,100 new vehicles registered in the state, up 7.8 percent from about 6,570 in December 2011.

In December, about 15,800 used vehicles were titled in private party transactions in Arkansas, up 60 percent from about 9,900 used vehicles registered in private deals.

Totals for vehicle titles aren’t a precise comparison to vehicle sales from month-to-month because Arkansans are allowed 30 days to register their cars or trucks after purchasing them. So December titles represent, for the most part, actual sales in November.

Business, Pages 25 on 02/06/2013

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