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New car, truck sales in Colorado Springs area fall slightly for second straight year in 2017

January 8, 2018 Updated: January 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm
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FILE - In this Friday Feb. 20, 2009 file photo, new Land Rover Freelander vehicles are stockpiled outside the Jaguar and Land Rover factory in Halewood, Liverpool, England. The British car industry association said Friday Jan. 5, 2017, that automobile sales in the country fell in 2017 for the first time in six years and are set to fall further this year largely because of subdued economic growth. (AP Photo/Paul Thomas, File)

El Paso County's new car and truck market slowed slightly last year for the second consecutive year, remaining essentially flat with 2016 and 2015.

The 26,420 new cars and trucks registered in 2017 with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office were down 121 vehicles, or 0.5 percent, from 2016; sales that year were boosted by a major summer hailstorm that triggered more than 50,000 auto insurance claims, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, but were still down from 2015. Even with the slight declines in the last two years, registrations in 2015-17 together represent the second-best three-year period in the county's history after 2000-02.

Registrations declined last year as a result of falling more than 20 percent in each of the final three months of the year, largely because the July 28, 2016, hailstorm inflated the totals during the fourth quarter of 2016. The December total was down 24.2 percent from December 2016, the biggest percentage decline since August 2009.

Monthly totals for eight of the top 10-selling makes fell in December from a year earlier with Subaru, Toyota and Ford, the top three-selling makes, accounting for nearly half of the decline. The only makes that increased among the top-selling were Jeep, up 9.3 percent, and Ram trucks, up 27.6 percent.

While number on statewide new vehicle registrations won't be available until later this month, chances are better than 50-50 that the annual total will break the record set in 2000, said Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association in Denver. Registrations in the first 11 months of 2017 were up 6.4 percent from the same period in 2016, with a 9.9 percent jump in new light truck registrations more than offsetting a 1.5 percent drop in new car registrations, according to data compiled by Experian Automotive for the dealer group.

"The influx of population is the biggest factor, along with a very low unemployment rate," Jackson said. Strong demand for new vehicles also comes from "low fuel prices, affordable interest rates, readily available credit for most buyers and attractive manufacturer and dealer incentives."

Nationwide, new vehicle sales were down 1.8 percent last year from 2016 to 17.2 million, with a 10.9 percent drop in new car sales more than offsetting a 4 percent increase in light truck sales, according to Autodata Corp. December new vehicle sales were off 5.2 percent, with car sales down 17 percent and light truck sales up 1.7 percent.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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