New-vehicle sales on Maui are off after 3 quarters

A gauge of new-vehicle sales showed Maui totals down 8.4 percent for the first nine months, compared to last year, the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association reported Wednesday.

Through September, there were 5,011 new retail light vehicle registrations, the association’s “Hawaii Auto Outlook” said. This was down about 460 vehicles from the first three quarters last year.

Oahu, with six times more new-car sales volume than Maui, was down 6.5 percent. Kauai showed a 2.8 percent increase, though its sales were less than half of Maui’s. Hawaii island sales, which were slightly higher than Maui’s, increased 0.5 percent.

The report did not give a specific reason for the Maui and Oahu declines but it did cite general conditions, such as rising interest rates and the increased availability of used cars. For more most of the current decade, there has been tight supplies of late model used vehicles, likely due to the Great Recession in the late 2000s and consumers holding on to their vehicles longer. This narrowed the price gap between new and used vehicles, making new cars more attractive.

That dynamic has changed with recent strong sales of new vehicles that was widened the price gap between new and used vehicles. With the price of used cars significantly less, new-vehicle sales could take a hit, the report said.

Toyota remained the top selling new-car brand on Maui with a quarter of sales. Honda was next at 19 percent, followed by Nissan, 9 percent, and Ford, 8 percent.

The light truck sales comprised about three quarters of the new-vehicle sales on Maui, jumping 5.2 percentage points to 74 percent.

Maui sales totals reflected a statewide trend of declining new-car sales for the first nine months. There was a 5 percent drop, about 2,500 vehicles, compared to 2018. The report projects the first decline in sales in 2018 after eight straight years of increases. In 2010, 32,649 new vehicles were sold; the projection for 2018 is 57,100 vehicles.

The Honda CR-V was the most popular new car sold in Hawaii through September with 21 percent of sales, followed by the Toyota RAV4, 16 percent, and the Nissan Rogue, 15 percent.

The market share of electric vehicles increased 3 percent through the third quarter.

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