After a slow start, new-vehicle registrations with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office are off to the fastest start in nearly a decade.

Registrations, which generally happen about 45 days after a new vehicle has been purchased from a dealer, are one of the best measures of local vehicle sales. Registrations for the first four months of the year are up 20.9 percent from a year ago to 8,180, the most for the first four months of the year since 2004.

Registration numbers started the year barely ahead of last year's pace in January and February before jumping 33.7 percent in March and 31.1 percent in April compared with the same months a year earlier.

The biggest percentage gains so far this year have come in upscale brands: Lincoln is up 94.4 percent. Volvo is up 80 percent and Buick is up 50 percent, but together the three brands account for fewer than 200 registrations. Among top-selling brands, Ford is up 16.9 percent, Toyota is up 20.9 percent and Honda is up 33.1 percent. The only brands posting declines during the same period: Acura, Chrysler, Hyundai, Mini Cooper and Suzuki.

Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group for 250 new-vehicle dealers statewide, said sales are surging across the state this year and are at the highest level in several years. He attributes the gains to pent-up demand from buyers delaying purchases during and after the recession and keeping their vehicles longer, historically low interest rates on financing, greater availability of credit to purchase vehicles and new technology, designs and higher performance of new models that are attracting buyers to dealer showrooms.

'Used car prices have risen in the last few years because people are keeping their vehicles longer and there are few trade-ins. Rental car companies also are keeping their vehicles in service longer, which also has reduced the inventory of late-model used cars, ' Jackson said. 'As a result, buyers also are more willing to purchase new vehicles because they seem like a better value than paying too much for a late-model used vehicle. '


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