Car sales fall 17.4% in quarter
Hawaii car sales have likely reached the bottom with year-over-year new vehicle registrations plummeting by 17.4 percent during the first quarter, according to the latest report by the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association.
The state's decline in car registrations in the first quarter was steeper than the 7.6 percent drop in the nation, according to a report released yesterday by the local group.
Arizona and California saw the highest declines in the quarter with new car registrations falling 20.1 percent and 19.3 percent, respectively.
In Hawaii, vehicle registrations fell below 12,000 units in the quarter. First-quarter registrations declined on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island with the smallest drop on Oahu, down 14.8 percent, and the largest on the Big Island, down 26.3 percent.
For the year, the report forecasts a 9.7 percent drop to 51,921 new car registrations. However, the market is projected to improve with a 3.1 percent increase in 2009 and greater growth in 2010.
American auto sales are projected to fall year-over-year by about 1 million to 15 million vehicles in 2008, according to Autodata Corp., while Toyota predicts its annual sales will drop for the first time in nine years for the year ending March 31, 2009.
But HADA says it is unlikely the market will fall much lower, despite record gas prices, turmoil in the credit markets, rising inflation and higher household debt levels reining in consumer spending.
"At this point, we believe that the market has reached its low point," the report said.
An improved economy, pent-up demand and new technologies are expected to give the market a boost within two years, HADA said.