The number of Colorado new automobile registrations declined in the first half of 2022 compared to last year, due to continuing supply chain issues and rising inflation, according to a report from the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

Buyers registered 109,793 new cars through June, which is down 11.3% from the same period in 2021. Of those, 94,761 were light trucks. Nationally, the number of car registrations slipped 17.9% below year-to-date 2021 numbers.

“Registrations in the first half of this year exceeded the pandemic lows of 2020, but declined 15% versus the average total from 2016 through 2019,” according to the state report, also noting registrations fell below the seven-year average.

The report points to the “lingering microchip shortage and pandemic-related supply issues” as factors causing the decline, in addition to inflation and a possible recession.

“New vehicle sales almost always decline during economic downturns, but lean supplies have already pushed sales to very low levels,” the report states. “It would take a deep recession for sales rates to decline further.”

“Other factors for sluggish sales are related to price increases, higher interest rates, and higher gas prices,” said Association President Tim Jackson in a news release.

The report forecasts there will be 236,500 cars registered in 2022. If so, that will fall below the 2021 mark of 242,936.

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"The news is mixed for Colorado's new vehicle market during the first half of 2022. While new vehicle registrations are down in Colorado for the period, the state continues to outperform the U.S. market,” said Jackson. “Further, considering that new vehicle inventories at dealers statewide are exhausted, there is a silver lining. All three categories of big battery (electrified) car sales are up, which include battery electric vehicles (BEV), pure hybrids and plug-in hybrids (PHEV).”

The sales of hybrid vehicles took a larger market share of all vehicles compared to 2021, increasing 8.7% in 2022, to 9,580. Battery electric vehicles market share went up 6.4% to 6,975.

Colorado buyers preferred Toyota vehicles, which held 14.7% of the total market, followed by Ford, 11.3%, and Subaru, 8.9%. The bestselling model was the Ram pickup, 3.9%, followed by Ford F-series, 3.9%, and Toyota RAV4, 3.8%.

The largest markets in the state, by county, are Denver, 12.4%, El Paso, 11.3% and Arapahoe, 10.4%. Interestingly Pitkin County, which has less then 1% of the state’s market share, was the only county to show an increase in registrations, 2.3% over the same period last year.

The registration of used vehicles fell 7.1% in the first half of the year from 2021 levels, but the report gave no numbers.

“The state used vehicle market should remain relatively stable in 2022,” according to the report. “Depleted new vehicle inventories will boost demand for used cars, but historically high prices will limit any possible gains.”

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