New vehicle registrations in El Paso County grew during 2011 by the biggest percentage in 17 years, though the annual total shows the local automobile industry is still a long way from returning to pre-recession levels, according to a report from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
Registrations last year jumped 17.5 percent from a year earlier to 17,720, the biggest annual increase since 1994. But the total was still 1,500 fewer than the number of new vehicles registered in 2008 and down nearly 5,800 from the 2007 total, according to data from the clerk’s office. The percentage gain, though, was larger than the 10 percent sales increase reported by the nation’s automobile dealers for 2011 or the nearly 14 percent statewide increase in registrations during the first 11 months of the year, compared with a year earlier.
Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group for 250 new-vehicle dealers statewide, attributed the increased registrations and sales to improved consumer confidence stemming from recent job market gains, more readily and easily available credit at affordable interest rates and the need by consumers to replace aging vehicles. The average age of vehicles nationwide is a record 10½ years as many consumers kept vehicles longer as the U.S. economy struggled to recover from the last recession, he said.
“The indications are that this trend will continue this year,” Jackson said. Figures for statewide registrations in December are not yet available, but he said early dealer reports are that sales continued to surge last month. In El Paso County, December registrations were up 35.2 percent from a year ago to 1,827.
Registrations in the county of nine of the top-10 selling brands increased last year by double-digit percentages, and five makes — Kia, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Jeep and Dodge — reported annual gains of more than 30 percent. Registrations among luxury brands were the exception, with many declining from 2010.
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