Colorado auto registrations drop 11.3% in first half of year on inventory shortages

Colorado consumers registered 11.3% fewer new cars and trucks in the first half of the year than they did in the first half of 2021, according to a quarterly update from the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

That decline was smaller than the 17.9% decline nationally in vehicle registrations but larger than the 7.1% decline in Colorado in used vehicle registration, which includes vehicles 7 years old or newer.

“The news is mixed for Colorado’s new vehicle market during the first half of 2022. While new vehicle registrations are down in Colorado for the period, the state continues to outperform the U.S. market,” said Tim Jackson, president of CADA, in comments accompanying the report.

Jackson noted that “new vehicle inventories at dealers statewide are exhausted.” Higher interest rates, vehicle price increases and higher gasoline prices all weighed on sales.

Despite higher gasoline prices, the light truck category, which covers SUVs, trucks and vans, maintained a dominant 86.3% share of registrations in the second quarter, up from an 85.9% share a year earlier. Registrations overall were down, with 45,064 registrations in the second quarter compared to 51,292 last year.

Top sellers in the state remain Ram Pickups and the Ford F-series of trucks, with Toyota the top selling brand at 14.7% of registrations.

Cars, despite having higher fuel efficiency as a group, only had a 13.6% share with 7,111 registrations in the second quarter versus 8,392 a year ago. That represents a 12.7% decline.

Colorado buyers are opting in larger numbers for alternative vehicles. Hybrid vehicles saw registrations increase to 9,580 in the second quarter versus 8,186 in the same period last year. Battery electric vehicle registrations rose to 6,975 registrations versus 5,146, while plug-in hybrid vehicles rose to 2,706 from 1,790.

The Auto Outlook blamed the lack of supply for the decline in purchases rather than reduced demand, estimating that about 52,600 new vehicle purchases have been postponed since the pandemic started in March 2020. But the report also acknowledged that a recession could crimp future demand.

“New vehicle sales almost always decline during economic downturns, but lean supplies have already pushed sales to very low levels. It would take a deep recession for sales rates to decline further,” according to the Outlook.

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