Car sales continue to rise -- Gazette.Net


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Tamara C. Darvish remembers the lean times during the recession when dealers tried to lure buyers through “cash for clunkers” and other programs.

Therefore, seeing another jump in new vehicle sales — the fourth consecutive annual statewide increase since the decade low point in 2009 — in 2013 from 2012 is a welcome development, even if sales figures have yet to return to prerecession levels.

Darcars Automotive Group, where Darvish is vice president, saw sales rise by 17 percent last year, higher than the 6 percent statewide increase.

“Consumers are feeling more confidence,” said Darvish, a member of the board of directors of the National Automobile Dealers Association, representing Washington-area franchised new car dealers. “We have great finance rates and incentives available.”

The roughly 335,000 new vehicles sold in Maryland last year was the most since about 378,000 in 2007, according to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. The average sales price continued to climb to more than $30,000, as the $10.1 billion worth of new cars sold in the state was the most since $10.4 billion in 2006 and greatly improved from $6.7 billion worth sold in 2009.

Used vehicle sales statewide rose 3 percent from 2013 to about 645,000 and $6 billion.

Maryland’s new vehicle sales increase was slightly below the 8 percent nationwide jump. The federal government shutdown and sequester budget cuts could have something to do with that, said Peter Kitzmiller, president of the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.

“That didn’t help us,” he said of the shutdown. “A big part of our market here is government workers. While they mostly got paid, a lot of contractors didn’t.”

Besides the improvement in the economy, more accessible financing and pent-up demand were factors for last year’s better year, Kitzmiller said. The much better fuel economy with the new vehicles is another reason, he said.

“A lot of people have put off buying vehicles for a long time,” Kitzmiller said.