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New-vehicle titling soars 7% in state

By David Smith

This article was published January 25, 2014 at 3:24 a.m.

More than 100,000 new vehicles were registered in Arkansas last year, the highest total since title information became available in 2008, said Cross-Sell of Lexington, Ky., an automotive research firm.

Titles for new vehicles rose 7 percent to 102,262 last year compared with 95,594 in 2012.

Dennis Jungmeyer, president of the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association, wasn’t surprised by the rise in registrations last year.

“We heard from an economist today who said he’s looking at 16.5 million to 17 million[auto sales] nationally in 2014 and for the next four years, barring any fuel crisis,” said Jungmeyer, who was attending the National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual convention in New Orleans.

Nationally, there were more than 15.5 million vehicles sold in the United States last year, an increase of about7 percent from the previous year.

Auto sales nationally bottomed out in 2009 during the recession, said Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“Since then, there has been pretty steady progress,” Pakko said, noting that this has been the trend for the state and the nation.

He expects a more normal pace of growth for new vehicle registrations in the state this year, unlike last year when some months saw increases of 20 percent or more over the same period in 2012,Pakko said.

Registrations in December last year jumped almost 45 percent to 10,246 compared with 7,087 titled in December 2012.

Jungmeyer speculated that year-end rebates and incentives offered by auto manufacturers contributed to the big jump in registrations.

Last year, there was finally an increase in Arkansas home sales as well as in auto sales, Pakko said.

“Both of those are durable goods that have more of an investment nature than immediate consumables,” Pakko said.

“In other words, they are goods that people can postpone purchase if they are in hard economic times. So it’s a pretty good sign that people have the confidence to sink their money into those investments.”

There were 14,979 used vehicles titled in Arkansas last month after sales by auto dealers, an increase of almost 46 percent compared with 10,265 used vehicles registered in December 2012. An additional 29,082 used vehicles were titled as part of private-party sales, up 84 percent from 15,786 in December 2012.

Unlike most states, the number of registrations issued in Arkansas doesn’t match vehicle sales each month. That is because Arkansas auto buyers have up to 30 days to register vehicles after buying them. Many of the December registrations were for sales made in November.

The number of autos sold in Arkansas each month is not available from the state unless a substantial fee is paid to cover agency expenses, the Office of Motor Vehicle said.

Business, Pages 27 on 01/25/2014

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