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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 10, 2006

New vehicle sales down 3.6 percent in Hawai'i

 •  Toyota scores big on dependability

Advertiser Staff

In a sign that Hawai'i's economic growth is beginning to slow, new vehicle sales fell 3.6 percent in the second quarter compared with a year earlier.

Sales of cars and light trucks in Hawai'i are likely to total 68,109 this year, down 3.1 percent from the 70,268 units sold last year, according to Hawaii Auto Outlook, a publication sponsored by the Hawaii Automotive Dealers Association.

"It appears the market is indeed poised to soften during 2006 and most likely into 2007," Auto Outlook said in its latest update.

The publication suggested several reasons for the slowdown:

  • Consumer debt levels at near record highs.

  • Negative household savings in the first half, meaning households dipped into savings to fuel spending.

  • Softening housing market.

  • Fuel prices at record highs.

  • Inflation creeping back into the picture.

  • Interest rates moving higher.

    "It's easy to see why consumers are likely to apply the brakes to their spending habits over the next year or so," Auto Outlook said.

    Hawai'i's economy is still expanding but at a slower pace. The state will likely mark 10 consecutive years of economic growth this year, the longest continuous expansion since 1974.

    But economists say the growth has reached a peak and future expansion will plod along at a much slower pace.

    The Hawaii Auto Outlook projected a decline of 4.9 percent in car and light truck sales in the third quarter of this year and a gain of 2 percent in the fourth quarter. New vehicle sales declined 4.8 percent in the first quarter.

    In addition, Auto Outlook said Toyota, including its Scion brand, increased its top ranking market share in Hawai'i in the second quarter to 26.6 percent. Nissan was No. 2 at 11.9 percent, followed by Honda at 11.3 percent, Ford at 9.2 percent and Chevrolet at 5.6 percent.

    Sales of Japanese cars and light trucks will likely rise by 0.8 percent this year while sales of Big Three U.S. cars and light trucks will likely fall by 10.9 percent, according to Auto Outlook.

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