The effects of the Trump administration’s effort to “drain the swamp” in Washington may be starting to be felt in the automotive sector in this region. Washington area auto sales dropped 4.3 percent in the first quarter, as they rose 2 percent nationally.
Another reason for the different figures is that the Washington area has generally had a more stable economy without the volatility often seen in other parts of the U.S. Washington area auto sales didn’t fall as far as they did nationally during the recession, so they didn’t have as far to climb in recovery. WANADA Area Report figures on new vehicle sales are from R.L Polk and can be found through a link at the end of this article. U.S. figures are from Automotive News.
Light truck sales continue to rise in the Washington area, though the share is still less here than nationally. Regional truck share – much of which is compact utilities and crossovers – rose to 59 percent in the first quarter, up from 56.8 percent a year earlier. Nationally, light trucks made up a whopping 68 percent of the market, just before Ford announced that it was cutting much of its car line. In the U.S. during the first quarter, truck sales jumped 9.5 percent.
The brunt of the Washington area sales decline fell on cars, which saw sales drop by 9 percent in the first quarter. The drop in light truck sales was just 0.8 percent.
Washington area new vehicle buyers have always been fond of imports, and the 72 percent first quarter share of non-Detroit Three vehicles is just below last year’s share of 72.8 percent. Passenger vehicle sales fell in the Washington area, but the consumer clamor for imports is especially strong here, with 82 percent of car buyers choosing imports in the first quarter. That’s down slightly from 83 percent a year ago. Area light truck sales also showed a large share of imports, at 65.1 percent. That’s slightly above last year’s figure, 64.8 percent.
For the complete WANADA Area Report on first quarter Washington market new vehicle sales, WANADA members can click here and log in with their user name and password.Download Bulletin PDF