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Cold, snow hit January car sales on Long Island

Snow-covered trucks sit in the lot at Smithtown

Snow-covered trucks sit in the lot at Smithtown Ford in St. James on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. It's not been an easy winter for dealers, as the brutal cold and snowstorm after snowstorm reduced showroom traffic to a trickle. Credit: Ed Betz

New figures show just how bad a month January was for most Long Island car dealers: Registrations of new vehicles fell by 9 percent from the same month a year earlier.

Dealers had told Newsday in February that the winter so far had been an especially tough one for them, as the brutal cold and snowstorm after snowstorm buried inventory stored outside and reduced showroom traffic to a trickle, while snowplowing, heat and other weather-related costs had increased.

Now, auto data provider R.L. Polk & Co. reports that Long Islanders registered 14,655 new vehicles in January, 1,441 fewer than in January 2013.

Among the high-volume brands, exceptions were few to the lower numbers. One was GMC, General Motors’ all-truck brand, and another was Jeep. Registrations of GMC and Jeep vehicles rose 22 percent and almost 20 percent, respectively, the apparent result of snowstorms sparking interest in four-wheel drive SUVs. Nissan registrations rose by 1 percent, to 1,536 new vehicles.

Some lower-volume brands whose lineups include SUVs also had an increase in sales. Acura registrations rose 15.6 percent year-over-year to 282 new vehicles; Buick was up 6.6 percent to 130; Lexus, up 11.3 percent to 422; and Subaru, known for its all-wheel drive cars as well as SUVs, up 10.6 percent to 531 vehicles.

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