DC area sales up 3.6% in first quarter; light truck share rises to 55%

DC area sales up 3.6% in first quarter; light truck share rises to 55%

Washington area sales rose again in the first quarter of the year, up 3.6 percent. Nationwide, first quarter sales were up just 2.1 percent. WANADA Area Report figures are from Polk new-vehicle registration data are available at the end of this article. U.S. figures are from NADA.

Unusually for our region, light truck share of sales continued to rise, to 54.8 percent. Passenger trucks made up just 50.7 percent of Washington area sales in the first quarter of 2015, which meant area truck sales spiked 12 percent from first-quarter 2015 to first-quarter 2016. Trucks include crossovers, which make up a large part of DC area light truck sales. Area buyers, like buyers elsewhere, are snapping up CUVs and SUVs as gas prices remain low.

Nationally, truck sales rose a more modest 8.3 percent through March as trucks made up 58.2 percent of first-quarter truck sales. National truck sale share remains higher than regional share, but the gap is narrowing.

Washington area sales for the 12 locality region in the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia totaled 72,274 for the first quarter, which, of course, included a couple of heavy snowstorms that affected sales. Following the weather pattern, sales were highest in March (28,127), followed by January (21,760) and February (21,370).

The non-Detroit Three share of Washington area new-vehicle sales dropped slightly to 69.5 percent in the first quarter from 69.8 percent in first-quarter 2015. Though not a major shift, that slight decline could reflect the increase in light truck sales traditionally a strength of the Detroit Three. Indeed, imports made up nearly 80 percent of car sales, up a couple of percentage points from first-quarter 2015, and 70 percent of truck sales, down two percentage points from a year earlier. Nationally, non-Detroit Three sales made up just 21 percent of the total.

For the complete WANADA Area Report on first quarter Washington market new vehicle sales, WANADA members can click here and log in with an email and password.

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