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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:40 p.m., Friday, January 31, 2003

Local auto sales highest since 1990

Advertiser Staff

More new cars and trucks were sold in Hawai'i last year than any year since 1990, the Hawaii Automobile Dealers' Association said.

Hawai'i consumers bought 54,188 new cars and trucks in 2002, up 5.2 percent from 2001, as dealers offered zero-percent financing to entice shoppers into showrooms.

That's the highest number sold since 54,544 were driven off lots in 1990.

"Unbelievable," said Dave Rolf, executive director of the association. Rolf said the 1990s were the "lost decade" for auto dealers with sales dropping to a low of 40,673 in 1998 before starting to recover.

The rebound in the past three years was due to a combination of a strengthening economy, pent-up demand, dealer promotions and more advertising, Rolf said.

Imports grabbed slightly more market share last year, accounting for 45.9 percent of total new car and truck sales. Among automakers, the leader in the Islands is General Motors with a 20.3 percent share, followed by Ford at 17.6 percent and Chrysler with 16 percent.

Toyota leads importers with a 13.5 percent market share. Nissan was a distant second, grabbing an 8 percent share of the overall market, up from 6.9 percent last year.

Sales of new cars and trucks to rental companies adds another 38,297 to the total. Rental sales made up about 41 percent of all vehicle sales in the state.