By Brad Rollins, Special to the Hays Free Press
New vehicles sales grew at a considerably faster rate in Hays County than in the Austin metropolitan region as a whole during the first quarter of 2014, according to research by the Freeman Auto Report.
During the first three months of the year, dealerships in San Marcos, Kyle and Buda sold 1,883 new vehicles, 18.2 percent more than the 1,593 units sold during the same period in 2013 and 39.97 percent more than the 1,322 units sold in the first quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, new auto sales in the Austin area — Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties — increased at a decidedly healthy rate of 5.67 percent, markedly better than the United States but, in relative terms, markedly behind Hays County.
About 29,600 new vehicles were sold in the seven-county metro area during the first quarter compared to 28,008 units during the first quarter of 2013 and 23,036 units during the first quarter of 2012.
Robust local sales contributed to a tiny but measurable increase in Hays County’s share of the region’s highly competitive new auto market. Hays County sales amount to 6.36 percent of all new vehicles sold in the Austin area so far this year, compared to 5.68 percent at this point in 2013.
New auto sales — often treated as a key economic indicator because they comprise a significant portion of consumer spending — increased at the county and regional level at higher rates than the United States as a whole. During the first quarter, dealerships nationwide sold 46.9 million new vehicles, 2.47 percent more than the first quarter of 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
“If car dealers are selling cars then that must mean consumers have a job where they’re capable of producing discretionary income. Moreover, it also tells us that consumers are comfortable to spend that income,” Hefty, an Auburn, Ind.-based investment advisor, writes in a March 2014 white paper. “The recent trends in auto sale sheds an optimistic light on consumer discretionary spending and has historically been a positive for the environment.”
In Hays County, buyers continued to show a strong preference for cars manufactured by companies headquartered in Asia. In January, February and March, local dealerships sold 318 Hyundais, 249 Nissans, 243 Hondas and 191 Toyotas — 77.7 percent of all vehicles sold.
However, when buying new trucks — a category that spans big rigs to pickups to sports-utility vehicles — buyers in Hays County showed a preference for U.S.-based companies. While 171 Toyota trucks and SUVs were bought in the first quarter, domestic brands — led by Ford, Chevrolet and GMC — collectively sold 383 units, 64.4 percent of the total new truck market.
New car sales in Hays County, 2014 vs. 2013
In the first quarter of 2014, Hays County dealerships sold 1,288 new cars, a 23.13 percent increase compared to the same period in 2013.
New truck sales in Hays County, 2014 vs. 2013
In the first quarter of 2014, Hays County dealerships sold 595 new trucks, an 8.78 percent increase compared to the same period in 2013.
New car sales in the Austin Metro Area, 2014 vs. 2013
In the first quarter of 2014, dealerships in the Austin Metro area — Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties — sold 21,963 new cars, a 5.71 percent increase compared to the same period in 2013.
New truck sales in the Austin metro area, 2014 vs. 2013
In the first quarter of 2014, dealerships in the Austin Metro area — Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties — sold 7,633 new trucks, a 5.55 percent increase compared to the same period in 2013.