The 2012 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan.

The 2012 Honda Civic EX-L Sedan. Credit: Honda

The metropolitan area's new vehicle market is recovering this year a bit faster than that of the nation as a whole, says a report to the region's major car dealer organization.

An analysis of new vehicle registrations data done for the 400-plus-member Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, based in Whitestone, says registrations are up 27.2 percent this year through April from a year earlier, compared with 26.9 percent for the nation.

Association president Mark Schienberg says the 0.30 percentage point difference is significant because the market in the nine-county area the report examines did not decline as much as that of the nation as a whole. "It needs to be taken in comparison to how far down everybody else was," he said.

The report, done by a consultant, Auto Outlook Inc., in Malvern, Pa., says the region's new vehicle market bottomed in 2009 at about 343,000 vehicles, down from almost 430,000 in 2007. The report forecasts a total for this year of more than 427,000. Schienberg said he thinks that projection still is valid despite the industry's weak sales last month, as reported by the carmakers this week. He says much of that weakness was due to temporary shortages of some Japanese models because of the March earthquake and tsunami. "When they come back on line," said Schienberg, "I think those predictions are still going to hold."

The report credits the sales recovery partly on pent-up demand for new cars due to delayed purchases during the recession. It says the recovery in car sales still is being impeded by the "shaky housing market and still-high unemployment rates," both of which are hurting consumer confidence. The report also cites the recent surge, now abating, in gasoline prices.

The report says that, despite the earthquake, the region's top three brands by volume so far this year were Honda, Toyota/Scion and Nissan but that the combined market share of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler rose from 18.9 percent in the first four months of last year to 22.2 percent in the same period this year.

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