Colorado automobile registrations rebounded strongly in the first half of 2021 from pandemic-depressed levels, and the gains would have been stronger if dealers had enough new vehicles to sell, according to an update Monday from the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.
Buyers registered 123,723 new cars and trucks in Colorado in the first six months of 2021, which is 20.6% more than the number they registered in the first half of 2020 when restrictions on dealership operations and consumer concerns about jobs and the economy limited sales.
Registrations still aren’t back to the pace seen in the first half of 2019, but they are above the 10-year average (101,270) for the first half of the year.
Rising wages, low interest rates and pent-up demand from postponed purchases are all helping boost demand. But a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and a potential loss of consumer confidence, combined with ongoing supply shortages, especially of microchips, could prevent 2021 from being a record year.
“In Colorado, we’re predicting a 9.3% increase for the new vehicle market for all of 2021,” CADA President Tim Jackson said in comments accompanying the report.
Colorado buyers continued to show a preference for SUVs, pickups and vans, which accounted for a record 86.2% of the registrations in the first half of the year, the second-highest ratio in the nation. Those light truck registrations were up 25% compared to the first half of last year, while car registrations fell 0.7%.
Cars, which tend to be more fuel-efficient, lost ground despite a sharp rise in gasoline prices, which have gone from an average of $2.42 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Colorado a year ago to $3.56 a gallon Monday, according to AAA.
Consumers, however, are buying more hybrid and electric vehicles, which accounted for 6.6% and 4.1% of all registrations respectively. Electric vehicle registrations are up by 50% compared to the same period last year, and Tesla was the only brand to even come close to doubling its registrations this year.
New vehicles are in such short supply this year that lightly used models are selling for more than new models in Colorado and across the country. The gain in used vehicle registration this year, at 24%, is also outpacing the gain in new vehicle registrations.
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