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BIZ autoshow11p The Chrysler 200 is the top-selling single model locally this year
through June with 328 bought from dealers.
The Chrysler 200 is the top-selling single model locally this year through June with 328 bought from dealers.
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Published: Tuesday, 7/24/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Ford is '12 top-seller in 2 local counties

Lucas, Wood counties buy 1,521 new cars by company

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Based on what's built here, Toledo may still be a Jeep town. But so far this year, new car buyers are favoring Ford vehicles.

Through the first six months of the year, buyers in Lucas and Wood counties purchased 1,521 new Ford cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles -- the most from any single automaker.

According to figures from the Toledo Auto Dealers Association, which include buyers from Wood County, Chevrolet was second, at 1,313, followed by Dodge, at 1,093. Honda was fourth, and Toyota was fifth. Chrysler tied Kia for sixth at 613 units.

Jeep, which builds all its Liberty and Wrangler SUVs in Toledo, placed eighth, with 601 sales through June.

Still, Chrysler did take the honor of having the top-selling model through June. The dealers association reported 328 of the midsize Chrysler 200 were sold in the year's first half. Second place went to the Ford F-series pickup; dealers reported selling 304.

New car sales in the Toledo area continue trending upward after falling sharply in 2009.

Bernie Quilter, Lucas County clerk of courts, said 11,490 new cars were registered in Lucas County through the first half of the year, an increase of a little more than 6 percent from the same period last year.

That puts new car sales in Lucas County on pace to beat last year's total of 21,022. However, local sales still aren't likely to recover to prerecession levels this year.

The number of new car sales numbers reported by the dealers association is lower than the number reported by the clerk of courts, but dealers association spokesman Dan Zinni said there is some lag time between titles being registered with the county and data being received by the company that prepares their reports.

He said dealers have been mostly happy with how things have gone.

"It's been pretty good," Mr. Zinni said. "The first quarter was excellent. Things have trailed off in comparison to that, but I think the outlook is still pretty good. I think you're going to see some of the manufacturers bringing out more incentives as well that will boost some things up."

Though U.S. auto sales were exceptionally strong coming out of the gate this year, analysts expect sales to cool somewhat going into the year's second half.

"We've had some pretty strong sales numbers, especially toward the beginning of the year," said Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis for AutoPacific, "We'd gotten into the 15 million [annual rate] range briefly, but our forecast definitely reflects growth somewhat slowing in the second half of the year."

AutoPacific is projecting 14.2 million new cars will be sold in 2012, which would be an 11 percent increase over last year. Kelley Blue Book is also projecting 14.2 million units, and Edmunds is projecting sales of 13.9 million.

Mr. Kim expects several factors to slow car sales somewhat, including uncertainty about the coming presidential election, weakening consumer confidence, slightly higher unemployment numbers being reported, and concerns that the European financial crisis could have some tangible effects in the United States in the second half of the year.

Volatile fuel prices, however, don't seem to be keeping consumers out of the showroom, partially because automakers are consistently improving the fuel economy of most of their lineups.

Though Chrysler isn't top dog in Toledo, the automaker is still making considerable strides.

"All the Chrysler line with us continues to be strong, and Jeep is our No. 1 seller in total volume among Chrysler Group brands," said Doug Kearns, general manager of Yark Automotive Group.

Mr. Kearns said Jeep sales at Yark are up nearly 30 percent over last year. Nationally, the Jeep brand was up 28 percent through June.

AutoPacific reported Chrysler Group's market share for the first six months of the year was 11.4 percent, up from 9.6 percent in the first six months of last year

"It's tremendously impressive," Mr. Kim said. "Certainly Jeep has had an enormous hand in that."

Though Toyota and Honda are back to full manufacturing capacity after last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Mr. Kim said the brands have struggled somewhat, with longtime buyers looking elsewhere when inventories were lower -- something that was a boon to domestic automakers.

"A lot of those shoppers really started looking outside of Toyota and Honda and finding out there are a lot of great vehicles out there that aren't Hondas and Toyotas," he said.

Toyota has increased its U.S. market share this year versus last year, though Honda's has remained the same, he said.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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