Colorado’s new vehicle market set another record in 2018, but barely, according to a report from the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.
New vehicle registrations edged up 521 cars and trucks, or 0.2 percent, to 211,653 from 2017’s record total, the group said.
The small gain resulted from back-to-back increases in November and December that reversed a year-to-date decline through October. Registrations were up 9.3 percent from the same month a year earlier in November and 1.9 percent in December.
Dealers association President Tim Jackson said sales picked up in the last two months of the year as manufacturer price increases leveled off and because of the threat of higher prices triggered by new emission standards adopted recently by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission.
“We predict that new car prices will increase by as much as $2,000 to $3,000 per unit on average. New car and truck customers may be buying now before expected higher cost vehicles,” Jackson said.
Light trucks, which include sport utility vehicles, kept the new vehicle market from shrinking.
Light-truck registrations last year were up 6.2 percent from 2017, while passenger car registrations fell 14.9 percent. Most of those gains likely came from SUVs, which made up 54 percent of all new vehicle registrations last year, up from 50 percent in 2017.
Passenger cars were 24 percent of the market, while pickup trucks and vans were 22 percent.
Registrations of vehicles from U.S. and European manufacturers last year rose from 2017 by 4.4 percent and 3 percent, respectively, while registrations of vehicles Japanese and Korean manufacturers fell during the same period by 3.6 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
The biggest gains for dealers came from late-model (7 years old or newer) used cars, which last year increased registrations 5.1 percent from 2017 to 271,633.
Used vehicles made up 56.2 percent of all registrations in 2018, the highest market share for used since at least 2011. Used-vehicle registrations finished the year strong, jumping 8.9 percent from December 2017 to 19,625 in December.
Registration numbers tend to lag sales by about two months since buyers have 60 days to register a new vehicle.
Due to a change in the software system used by the Colorado Department of Revenue to process transactions, county-level data is no longer available.