Triangle watch: Auto sales

Staff WriterAugust 31, 2006 

Higher gas prices could be taking a toll on Triangle consumers.

In July, people shopping for new rides showed a decided preference for cars over less fuel-efficient trucks. The number of new cars registered rose 7 percent to 4,166 from July 2005, according to data from the N.C. Automobile Dealers Association.

Meanwhile, sales of new trucks sagged. During the month, 4,822 trucks, excluding heavy-duty models, were registered. That was down 4 percent from July 2005.

Nationwide, truck sales also have dipped but the drop might not be entirely linked to fuel prices. General Motors has revamped its full-size models and plans to start production in October. Some people might be putting off purchases to get the updated vehicles.

Despite the shift in vehicle choice, local dealers fared about the same in overall sales. They sold 8,988 vehicles in the eight-county Triangle region, compared with 8,926 in July 2005. That's pretty good news for the local economy. When times are good, people are more likely to splurge on a new vehicle. In tough times, they put off purchases or opt to buy less-costly used models.

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