published Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

New vehicles titled hit 3-year high in Hamilton County

A line 2012 Prius sedans await buyer at a Toyota dealership in the south Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo. Toyota said its sales rose 12 percent as its inventories finally return to pre-earthquake levels.
A line 2012 Prius sedans await buyer at a Toyota dealership in the south Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo. Toyota said its sales rose 12 percent as its inventories finally return to pre-earthquake levels.

APRIL SALES

The number of new cars and trucks titled in Hamilton County during April was the highest this year since 2007:

• 2012 - 1,134

• 2011 - 838

• 2010 - 900

• 2009 - 587

• 2008 - 1,097

• 2007 - 1,167

• 2006 - 1,129

• 2005 - 1,357

• 2004 - 1,320

• 2003 - 1,327

Source: Hamilton County Clerk's Office

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Poll
Are you planning on buying a new car in the next six months?

Larry Oxford, of Chattanooga, was checking out a new Volkswagen Passat displayed outside the Tennessee Aquarium on Wednesday, but he's not ready to spring for a new car yet.

"I'm looking ahead," he said. "I'm hoping I've got another year or two."

But the number of people who pulled the trigger last month and bought a new vehicle in Hamilton County hit a three-and-a-half year high.

New cars and trucks titled in the county rose to 1,134, the best month since September 2008 at the onset of the Great Recession.

New registrations rose 35 percent in April over a year ago, according to the Clerk's Office. For the year so far, registrations are nearly 18 percent higher.

Phillip Ashmore, new car sales manager at Long Hyundai, said the Chattanooga dealership had "a great March and April."

"The economy is turning around," he said. "Our problem is keeping enough on the lot to sell."

Hyundai Motor Co. announced earlier this week it plans to hire 877 more workers to add a third shift at its Montgomery, Ala., assembly plant so it can churn out added Sonata midsize cars and Elantra compacts, according to The Associated Press.

David Hicks, a sales manager at Capital Toyota, said the dealership has plenty of product to sell as the automaker has regained its production footing following tsunami-related shortages last year.

"We won't be short of cars," he said.

Toyota on Tuesday posted an April U.S. sales surge of 11.6 percent on continued demand for the Camry sedan and Prius family of hybrid vehicles. The company said consumer confidence was improving and it expects "sustained industry growth in the months ahead."

Jeff Hullender of Ringgold Chrysler Jeep Dodge said April wasn't record-breaking but the dealership had "good numbers."

"We sold a ton of used cars," he added.

Chrysler Group on Tuesday reported a 20 percent gain in April U.S. sales on strong demand for its Jeep and Chrysler brands. Hullender especially cited the Jeep Wrangler model as "very strong."

Hicks said that with gas prices still relatively high, people are eyeing fuel savers on the lots.

Paul Huinker of Soddy-Daisy said outside the Aquarium that he owns two hybrids.

"I put a lot miles on," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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