Washington area sales drop 5% in first quarter; truck percentage grows
Washington area vehicle sales fell 5 percent from a year ago in the first quarter, more than the 1.6 percent drop nationally. Washington area auto sales are generally more stable than in the rest of the country, but the uncertainty of a new administration plus widespread talk of cutbacks in federal jobs could have dampened enthusiasm for buying a new car in some quarters. WANADA Area Report figures are from Polk new-vehicle registration data and can be found through a link at the end of this article. U.S. figures are from Automotive News.
In keeping with a national trend, but fairly new regionally, light truck share of sales rose in the Washington, DC region. Regional truck share was 56.7 percent in the first quarter, up from 54.8 percent a year earlier. Nationally, trucks took up 63 percent of light-vehicle sales. Light trucks include crossovers, which are especially popular in our region. Area buyers, like those elsewhere, continue to take advantage of the low price of gas by buying crossovers and SUVs.
The Washington area tracked the rest of the country as car sales fell substantially 9 percent in our region and 11 percent nationally. Trucks were a different story, down 1.7 percent locally but up 5.4 percent in the country as a whole.
Washington area sales for the 12 localities in the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia totaled 68,644 for the first quarter. Sales were highest in March (25,522), with February (21,933) and January (21,043) closely tracking one another.
The non-Detroit Three share of Washington area new-vehicle sales rose to its usual robust showing, at 72.8 percent, up from 69.5 percent a year ago. Though the passenger car market may be shrinking, a whopping 83 percent of it was imports, up from 80 percent last year. Nearly 65 percent of truck sales in our region were imports, down from 70 percent in 2016.
For the complete WANADA Area Report on first quarter Washington market new vehicle sales, WANADA members can click here and log in with their email and password.Download Bulletin PDF