Jeep and Kia couldn’t be much more dissimilar, but the two car companies do have one thing in common — they’re selling quite well in metro Toledo this year.
Sales of Jeep sport utility vehicles soared 66 percent in the first half of 2014, making Chrysler Group LLC’s Jeep the fourth most popular brand among buyers in Lucas and Wood counties. Kia Motor Corp. sales improved by a respectable 18 percent, putting the Korean brand in sixth place and making it the second most popular imported brand behind Honda.
The two automakers’ success combined to push Toledo-area auto sales slightly higher in the year’s first six months, with the Toledo Auto Dealers Association reporting that dealers sold 8,269 new cars and trucks to buyers in Lucas and Wood counties through June, a modest 3 percent increase from the same period last year.
Credit for nearly all of that belongs to Jeep and Kia. Sales trailed off for each of the region’s other five top-selling brands. Chevrolet suffered the most, with sales dropping 10 percent compared with last year. Honda sales in Lucas and Wood counties were down 8 percent, while Ford fell about 7 percent.
Jeep’s success here is of little surprise: Jeep has been successful everywhere. Its U.S. sales are up 44 percent this year, partially because Jeep didn’t have a compact SUV in its lineup last year until the Cherokee went on sale in late October. Officials aim at selling 1 million Jeeps worldwide this year, a number that would be a new record for the brand.
Adding to that is the fact that Toledo is the home of two of the automaker’s most popular vehicles, the Wrangler and Cherokee.
The Cherokee, in fact, is one of the most popular vehicles of any kind in Lucas and Wood counties.
The association said buyers purchased 285 Cherokees in the year’s first six months, making it the area’s third most popular model. Leading the Cherokee were two full-size pickups, the Ram and the Chevrolet Silverado. The Ford F-Series pickup was fourth.
Kia’s local surge follows the brand’s growing success nationwide. The company had its best first half for U.S. sales ever and has grown sales more than 7 percent year-to-date.
The Kia Rio subcompact was the area’s best-selling vehicle in May and the fourth best-selling in June. The Forte also has sold well locally.
Data from the Lucas County Clerk of Courts also shows an improving auto market. Through the year’s first six months, the office processed 15,723 new-car titles, an 11 percent increase from last year. That figure includes titles of vehicles purchased elsewhere by Lucas County residents and some out-of-area buyers whose counties send titles to Lucas County for processing. Though an inexact way to look at the market, Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter said it’s confirmation that car sales are rising, while foreclosures are falling.
“They’re all great signs of the economy getting better,” he said.