Annual Washington area auto sales rose 3.5 percent in 2016

Annual Washington area auto sales rose 3.5 percent in 2016

Washington area auto sales once again outpaced U.S. sales in 2016, with area sales up 3.5 percent and national sales eking out a 0.3 percent gain over 2015. Fourth quarter sales in the Washington area rose by even more, at 4.1 percent.

Much of the gain came at the end of the year, as Washington area auto sales jumped 14 percent from November to December and U.S. sales rose a higher-than-expected 5 percent. The year overall logged record sales 337,805 in the Washington area and 17.54 million nationally. Washington area figures are from WANADAês Area Report based on R.L. Polk new-vehicle registration data, available by clicking on the link below. U.S. sales are from Automotive News.

Washington area sales for the 12 localities in suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia totaled 82,521 for the fourth quarter. Area sales were slightly higher in November (26,142) than October (25,821) and were much higher in December (30,382). Each of the three months saw higher sales than in 2015.

Sales of new imports in the Washington area made up 67.7 percent of total sales, down a bit from last yearês import share of 69.5 percent. Imports (non-Detroit 3) made up 79.4 percent of all area new car sales, down half a percentage point from 2015. Imports made up 58.9 percent of area truck sales, down 1.5 percentage points from the year before. Washington area buyers have long favored imports, even as more buyers here are choosing utilities and light trucks.

The regional move toward light trucks was noticeable in 2016, as passenger truck sales jumped 12 percent from a year earlier. New-car sales, by contrast, dropped 6.1 percent in the Washington area. Those trends speeded up in the fourth quarter, when car sales fell 7.9 percent and light truck sales spiked 13.8 percent.

The increase in truck sales meant that in 2016, trucks made up 57.2 percent of all new-vehicle sales in the Washington area, up several points from a year earlier. The region can still claim to be import-heavy, but the local preference for cars as opposed to trucks is fading. The continuing low price of gas and the carlike drive and maneuverability of crossovers make it easier for an increasing number of consumers to choose them for everyday driving.

For the complete WANADA Area Report on fourth quarter and total 2016 Washington area new vehicle sales, WANADA members can click here and log in with their user name and password.

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