Maryland new-car dealers sold more vehicles last month than in any November since 1995, according to figures released yesterday by the state Motor Vehicle Administration.
The 6.9 percent increase in sales here also helped put dealers across the nation on track to their second-best sales year ever.
"There's no doubt about it, sales were very strong last month," said Jerome H. Fader, president of Heritage Automotive Group of Owings Mills, one of the state's largest auto dealers with 24 dealerships.
Fader attributed the boost in showroom activity to strong manufacturer's incentives and low interest rates. "People decided if they are going to buy, now is the time to do it," he said.
Fader said that light trucks, including vans and sport utility vehicles, paced the sales gain.
"A lot of Ford dealers sold more trucks than passenger cars," he said.
Based on title registrations, which equate to sales, the MVA said consumers bought 23,690 new vehicles last month. That compares with 22,162 bought during November 1997.
In November 1995, Maryland dealers sold 25,010, which was a 7 percent decline from the 26,978 vehicles sold the previous November.
An increasing number of car buyers turned to the used-car lot last month to meet their transportation needs.
Sales of previously owned vehicles totaled 41,608 in November, up 12.2 percent, from the 37,093 units sold in November 1997, the MVA reported.
Dealers had 18 selling days in each period.
According to the MVA, the average price of a new vehicle was $22,484 last month -- up $281 from the average price in October. The higher price reflects the increased demand for expensive sport utility vehicles, according to industry officials.
For the nation as a whole, sales were up 2.1 percent last month.
Year-to-date sales are running 2.5 percent ahead of last year's pace and puts the industry in position to close out its best year since 1988 when the industry sold a record 15.5 million cars and light trucks.
Light trucks accounted for seven of the 10 bestselling vehicles last month, according to Automotive News, an industry trade publication.
The top-selling car was the Toyota Camry, which trailed behind the Ford pickup truck, Chevrolet pickup, Ford Explorer and Dodge pickup.
Honda Accord was the sixth bestseller, followed by the Ford Taurus, Ford Ranger, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Expedition.
Pub Date: 12/30/98